Day 11: London Calling
Woke up this morning with a sore neck, the beds were not against the wall and I may have slept on the metal frame. Stacey still sounds bad and has a sea of tissues by her bedside. Stephanie was already gone when I woke up and I’m guessing she’s probably had the same situation as Stacey.
Stephanie joined us at breakfast and sounded like Hell just like Stacey. She also had the same cold-shower hell that I had last night as well so I’m sure that didn’t help her cold. After breakfast, we loaded up on the train to Kings Cross. I always thought going through tunnels in trains would be cool, but it is, in fact, quite the opposite as nothing but constant ear-popping would occur as we went through the full duration of “tunnel time”.
We arrived at King’s Cross and bought oyster cards, which despite the name doesn’t get you an awesome tray of oysters, nor does it give you access to “The Oyster Club” where you and other oyster aficionados can discuss oysters while eating oysters. Rather, the oyster card is the card used as fare for the busses and Underground in London. After we got our oyster cards, there was one very important, yet crucial task we had to do before going outside into London: find platform 9 ¾!!!
We went to where it should be, but due to construction and tourists, it was moved to the outside of the station. Stacey and I did the touristy thing and posed for a picture with the half-disappeared luggage trolley-cart as if we were about to leave all the “Muggles” (like Stephanie and Josh) behind and board the Hogwarts Express just like they did in the Harry Potter books and movies.
“Be Right Back! Dumbledore needs us!”
We made it to our Hostel too early to check in, but they let us store our luggage anyway. With Stacey and Stephanie still very much under the weather, we opted to not explore too much and just visit the British Museum, mostly because it was indoors and also because we were staying directly across from it.
But first, we decided to eat lunch and tried a burrito chain called Chilingos which Josh had raved about it being one of his favorite haunts in London when he lived there. The manager was real nice and it turned out he’s from Commerce City, which is just 10 minutes away from our house, so we talked about the rapidly approaching ski season. On the comments section of the feedback card, Josh encouraged them to open a location in Denver since Chipotle opened a location in their hometown (London), so it would only be fair that they open a Chilingos in Chipotle’s hometown (Denver.)
After Lunch we started our tour of the British Museum. Like we did in the Scottish National Museum, we split up. Stacey and I began in the Room of Enlightenment, which was cool, but very overwhelming as there were things like several very rare books, dinosaur skulls/teeth and Ancient Greek pots scattered throughout without being labeled, so after leaving the room, Stacey and I had the feeling that we may have missed something important. We made our way through Roman Britain and we blazed through the North American section since we see that stuff in nearly every USA museum. There was an exhibit on ancient and modern money, which was cool and all, but something about coins just bore me. So the room didn’t wow me as other exhibits had. We pushed our way through to the Egyptian mummies, which greatly interested me. In addition to mummies and sarcophaguses, there were mummified kitty cats as well.
I can haz a mummy form??
After touring the Egyptian section, it was time for us to go back to the hostel and check in. Our hostel is part of the Astor Hotel Museum…which we’d later find out is not a museum at all, but just a name since they are across from the actual museum. We’ll be in a quad room for the rest of our trip, so there won’t be any snoring or coughing keeping us up unless it’s from us. I took a nap while everyone rested from walking around. Between lugging around that annoying gym bag and walking around the British Museum, I was pretty bushed.
After a 30-ish minute break, we went to finish out the museum. Having seen one side of the museum, Stacey and I decided to tour the west side of the museum. Immediately, the Egyptian sculpture section became my pre-determined favorite part of the museum. The Statue of Ramses II was amazing as were some of the other statues and sculptures. Before even entering the room, you find yourself just inches away from quite possibly one of the greatest archeological finds ever: the Rosetta Stone! The stone stood front and center in the entryway, protected by its glass case. I couldn’t get a decent photograph of the stone but it was kind of cool to see it in person. In the Room of Enlightenment, there was a replica, which I think that they offered to send to Egypt for the grand opening of the Egyptian Museum. The funny part to that is that Egyptian Minister of State for Antiquities, Zawi Hawass made a somewhat threatening appeal for the British Museum to return the Rosetta Stone to Egypt but then asked if they could “borrow it” , but it would be like when you loan someone a pen and they never give it back. So cheers to them for saying “no”, because I was happy to see it “in the flesh” or shall I say “in the stone?”
The next room had another acquired group of relics that another country wants returned: The wall fragments of the Pantheon and sculptures! I had no idea that this much of the Pantheon was in The British Museum. Although we see the beautiful white marble now, back then, they were into painting stuff with vibrant colors! Today the sculptures would look tacky as shit, but thankfully the paint wore off. My favorite portion of this section was some marble sculptures of nude men punching centaurs. At first I thought they were punching horses, but since they were punching the “man-part” meaning head and torso and not penis, it was OK since this wasn’t a cruelty to animals thing. With this exhibit, there were pamphlets explaining more or less that Greece wanted the sculptures returned and since they got a “permission note” to keep everything, the British Museum is more or less told them to “suck it!”
Not too far was the Assyrian gallery. At first it was fun and interesting with the giant bearded “man-birds”, wall carvings and statues, but then I saw a section called “The Lion Hunt” and HOLY SHIT! Although it was amazing and interesting, it was a “lovely room of death”. A long stone sculpture wall was vividly illustrated by carving some Assyrians shooting tons of arrows into a lot of lions. It was really one-sided and the lions had some really detailed faces, so it made you feel sorry for them. Stacey and I decided we didn’t like this room too much…amazing for archeological value, but kind of sad to see for cat lovers.
After finishing the museum, it was more or less dinner time. We picked a pub nearby called The Plough. Outside of the pub was a mural talking about the people who used to live in the neighborhood. It turned out that Charles Dickens, J.M. Barrie, and Virginia Woolf all lived in this neighborhood. I ordered Fish n Chips along with an Abbot Ale (there were plenty of “heeyyy Abbot!!!!” jokes around.)
Since we had a miserable night and an even worse morning, we went back to the Hostel to crash out. Josh left us when we first checked in to go visit his friends, so he was out and about. Tomorrow we’ll explore London better, but sleep is what I want to “visit” most right now.