October 13, 2011

October 13, 2011

London, Day 3: Churchill, Van Eyck, and Attempt 1 at Harrod’s

(Day 2 can be found here.)

Day 3: Tuesday, October 4

We started the day by seeing part of the Changing of the Guard. Specifically, the marching of a band and the movement of the horse guards. Apparently, the entire ceremony takes an hour, and you have to arrive quite early to see the good stuff. Eh.

Our next stop was the Cabinet War Rooms and the Churchill Museum. Anyone who’s seen The King’s Speech knows that WW2 was one of Britain’s finest hours. In my opinion, Americans under similar duress wouldn’t have fared nearly as well. We just don’t have the same mettle. The Cabinet War Rooms are the underground quarters where Churchill and his staff worked and lived during the height of the bombings. The eerie “we could die at any minute” atmosphere is preserved, along with lots of furniture, pictures, etc.

We passed on the Churchill Museum, though I’m told it tells you everything you ever wanted to know about the man, and lots you didn’t.

That afternoon, we enjoyed a bit of Trafalgar Square’s ambiance before Gillian guided us around the National Gallery. This was the first of several times when I compared the American version of a thing to the British version of a thing and found I preferred the American version. It’s not that the British National Gallery is lacking. It’s just that the American National Gallery is one of my very favorite museums, ever. I would’ve enjoyed looking around a bit more after our group dismissed for the day, but I was dead on my feet by this time.

We went back to the hotel (picked up sandwiches en route) and relaxed for a bit. Our hotel was pretty close to Harrod’s, so we decided to give that a try. Unfortunately for us, it closes at 20:00 and we got there at 19:30. At least we were able to pick up a store guide (you need one at that place) and study the menu at the ice cream parlor.

We didn’t give up so easily, though, and headed instead to Piccadilly Circus. It’s the Times Square of London. M&Ms Store, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, street performers, the whole shebang. Felt a bit like home: overlit, crass, and commercial.

Tomorrow: St. Paul’s, more museums, and another round with the Beefeaters.

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