June 17th, 2014

While in England I stayed with some family outside of London in Carshalton and would take the train into Victoria Station in London for days of adventure and exploration about this world city. My first trip into London began with the British Museum since all museums in London are entirely free, which is a breath of fresh air after the outrageously expensive museum entries I have begrudgingly paid for over the semester.IMG_2550 IMG_2545

With impressive sights like the Rosetta Stone and East Island Tiki Men, it was an interesting museum to walk around. I hadn’t realized going in that the Rosetta Stone was housed here which was particularly exciting to me seeing as it was something I had always wanted to witness.

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The Lion hunting room was also pretty incredible with an entire room lined with these reliefs of people hunting down lions with chariots and bows and arrows. Brutal, but a beautiful exhibit.IMG_2515 IMG_2507 IMG_2522

The world’s oldest chess set was one of my favorite with tiny figurines delicately carved out of what I think was bone. IMG_2540 IMG_2542

After the museum I just set about wandering London by foot, taking in every alley way, courtyard, and building that interested me. Whether they be streets lined with the old fashion telephone booths, or sculptures picturesquely placed amidst green trees, it was a beautiful day of wandering.

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Covent Gardens was the first place I visited because I had a free walking tour with Sandemans schedule for the day that was meeting there. Before the tour I explored the market area that was truly a wonder to behold, it was easily one of my favorite places in London because it is a center for street performers. Performers of all sorts of talents gather at this rather touristy spot to entertain and earn some money. When I first arrived there was a lively string quartet playing down below, dancing with cellos, whirling violinists and instruments that sang out loudly under the covered roofs.

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Our tour began by walking through Covent Gardens, telling us the history of how King Henry the Eighth turned what once were the gardens for West Minster Abbey into public markets. Afterwards we then moved on past St. Martin in the Fields to Trafalgar Square, a central point of sorts in London with the National Gallery, abounding statues (including a giant blue rooster) and a nice fountain.

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From Trafalgar square we wandered for quite a while through London visiting various palaces and buildings of importance finally finding ourselves in front of Buckingham Palace after crossing through lush green gardens. IMG_2631

Sadly the Queen wasn’t in and you cannot visit at the time of year I was there but it was still a pretty cool thing to see. IMG_2634

And no trip to Buckingham Palace is complete without a couple of photos of the famous British guardsmen marching away in their red coats and funny hats. IMG_2648 IMG_2651 IMG_2641

Next they took us through St. James Park with lakes. swans, pelicans and more. IMG_2664 IMG_2654

We came out on the other side of the park and found our way back to the iconic Big Ben and some more wonderful red telephone booths. IMG_2667 IMG_2671 IMG_2675

We ended our tour sitting looking at the incredible British Parliament buildings which are just a wonderful expanse of intricately detailed buildings ending with the towering Big Ben that rings out deep and low like thunder when the time is right. IMG_2684 IMG_2690 IMG_2686 IMG_2693

When the tour was over I went back to Covent Gardens and went back to many of the places we saw on the tour to do them at my pace and enjoy the sights with some more leisurely time. IMG_2707 IMG_2713 IMG_2592

Back at the Covent Gardens I sat and watched a wonderful professional opera singer raise her voice to the rafters of the markets while I ate some delicious paella for dinner. I have never heard such a loud voice ring out of a woman that small, her voice commanded everyone in the market area and you couldn’t help but marvel at the strength of her voice. IMG_2760 IMG_2763

Afterwards I then watched a Charlie Chaplain look a like ride a unicycle on a tightrope (what.) in addition to a man on a really tall unicycle juggle knives. It was pretty interesting to see all these performers in such a small place with such diverse talents. I spent quite a while there just enjoying the warm sunny air, some coffee, good food, and London life revolving around me.IMG_2768 IMG_2771 IMG_2745 IMG_2723 IMG_2782

After my time in Covent Gardens I walked everywhere, letting the sun guide me down streets and people lead me to different sights and impressive spectacles. IMG_2793 IMG_2812

I even found Chinatown where I watched a woman expertly make dumplings from a seat in her restaurant window.

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By the end of the day my feet where deeply exhausted since I had walked so much so I took a break and watched some more street performers for a while. IMG_2853

I decided to end my day in St. James Park since I had enjoyed it so much there when we walked through it briefly on the tour. Wandering through Green Park through green avenues of billowing trees as the sun began to withdraw, the light was fantastic and the heat of the day died off leaving everything perfectly pleasant. IMG_2874 IMG_2868

St. James was full of geese, swans, squirrels, and even some pelicans that had been given to the Queen from Russia. It was a wonderful place to stroll was the last light of day vanished from the sky behind Buckingham Palace.  IMG_2903 IMG_2925

I lay under the trees watching the sun set and it was a fantastic end to my first day in London, I couldn’t wait to go back in and explore even more in the days to come. IMG_2881 IMG_2939

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