"The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page." St. Augustine
Sunday, June 20, 2010
June 17, 2009 "...but I believe that I am a glow worm."
Today I decided to start with The Cabinet War Room and The Churchill Museum. I got there early before the crowds. By the way, London is not an early morning town. It seems like nothing opens or really get started until 10 A.M. Until then, everything, except the traffic, seems sleepy and slow moving. I can't quite get use to it.
Anyway...the Churchill Museum was very interesting. You walk through the actual bunker where Churchill and his staff lived and worked for a large part of the war. His wife also lived in the bunker with them. Somehow, I thought she would be holed up on their estate, Chartwell, in southern England. Perhaps she would have been too much of a target, or maybe it was because that part of England was so heavily bombed by the Germans.
The Cabinet War Rooms are right there in the thick of things on Whitehall, under the Foreign Office, around the corner from Number 10, and a block from The Ministry of Defense. One of the funniest things I saw in the exhibit was a quote from Churchill. He famously said, "We are all worms, but I believe that I am a glow worm." Now that's some healthy self-esteem!
Next, I wandered around the Victoria Embankment, trying to decide what to do next. I stopped and asked a young man which bridge I should cross to get to the London Eye. I thought he was a construction worker because they were doing something very loud in the street, and he was wearing one of those bright, day glow orange vests. It turned out that he was an archaeologist! The area they were digging up use to be the original Whitehall Palace owned by Cardinal Wolsey. They always keep an archaeologist around for the frequent times they find some hidden historical gem. They just recently found Wolsey's wine cellar. Turns out that Wolsey "gave" Whitehall to Henry the Eighth in an attempt to stay in his favor. It didn't work! That Henry, he was quite a rascal!
Next, I crossed Westminster Bridge by Big Ben and Parliament. It's an elegant bridge and a great spot for pictures. Next, I rode the London Eye. That was great after I got into the car, amazing views of the city. But on the ground, it felt a little like Six Flags on a summer day. Lots of people. Lots of fair food. And, lots of crying kids. I didn't stick around to soak up the atmosphere!
After The Eye, I zipped over to the National Portrait Gallery. I'm so glad I didn't skip this museum! It houses all the portraits of famous people in British history. There was even a famous portrait of George Washington. Because it is the 500th anniversary of Henry the Eight's reign, the museum had a special exhibit of portraits of him. I also saw that famous portrait of the Bronte sisters painted by their brother, Bramwell. It's the only picture we have of Anne and Emily Bronte! They died so young and before anyone really knew how amazing they were. We have a few of Charlotte because she lived a little bit longer. The museum had many portraits of writers, portraits I've see on dust jackets and "About the Author" sections of Penguin Classics. It thrilled me to see the real paintings with my own eyes. I'm such a nerd!!!
Around half five, (5:30) I went across the street to St. Martins in the Fields. What a beautiful, little church! It is to Westminster Abbey what Mozart is to Bach; light, uplifting, but just as complex. Since it was supper time and I didn't want to compete with the brutal rush hour traffic, I decided to eat in the Crypt. I know! It's strange to think of eating on top of dead people, but I believe it was the best meal I've had in London! I'm sooooo sick of sandwiches.
Still not ready to come home!
Sherrie St. Martin's in the Field
A view of The Houses of Parliament from The London Eye.
The London Eye from Westminster Bridge
One of the carriages on The Eye. They hold between 25 and 30 people.
From inside one of the carriages looking up through the supports.