Saturday, September 02, 2006

Day 4: Wednesday, August 9 (London)

We got up early (are you sensing a trend?) to tour the Tower of London. The Tower is a cool place.

It still houses the crown jewels...
And at one time was the most famous prison, torture and execution site of anyone who dared oppose the monarch.

Tours are led by the Beefeaters who live and work at the Tower (and know a lot of bloody trivia).

After the Tower, we walked through 'The City' and Fleet Street, the financial heart of modern London. There was something for everyone, from Shakespeare's old stomping grounds, to Christopher Wren's masterpieces, to glitzy shopping and international banking.

Some highlights included: The Royal Exchange...

Old Bailey (criminal court) and the Royal Courts of Justice (civil)...

The Somerset House...
Bow Lane...
And of course, St. Paul's Cathedral. The greatest of all the great Christopher Wren creations. It survived the Blitz of 1940 and is now as much of a war memorial as it is a church. The basement is a crypt with the final resting place of such big-wigs as Horatio Nelson and Charles Cornwallis.

We popped back to Trafalgar Square at the National Gallery. It was an amazing collection of Europe's art and I only wish we had more time to spend there. It has our favorite Botticelli, 'Venus and Mars.'

Right outside the gallery is this enormous statue that is strange and beautiful. It prompted BVZ to remark, 'You can only look at so many Madonnas or assholes on horses. Give me a pregnant chick with no arms any day.'

Even though it was getting late, I dragged BVZ to the South Kensington neighborhood. He perked up a lot when we found the highly recommended Khymer Pass and had an excellent Indian feast.

We tried to have a late night at the Victoria and Albert Museum,

But there was some kind of hip party going on and so only one wing was still open.

So, we toured that wing and enjoyed the reggae music in the background.

In the spirit of the party we tubed it to Notting Hill and found a hipster dive bar called the 'Prince Albert' (that was far too hipster and dive-y for pictures) to have a few drinks.

When we got back to our Tube station there were about 20 policemen with riot gear on the station platform (and I thought it probably best not to take a picture). I turned on CNN as soon as we were at the hotel, but it wouldn't be until the next morning that we heard about....

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