this bird can sing.

Friday, October 3, 2014

England 2014, Part Four

For our last full day in England, we knew we wanted to do another day in London. Plus, I had arranged to meet up with my cousin Phil who lives in London. And so, on September 18th, we got up and headed toward the Guildford train station. We decided to drive this time instead of taking the bus, because we didn't want to have to worry about getting back too late. Also parking for the day is about the same cost as two bus tickets.

We parked in the station car park and ended up having about a half hour to kill before our train into London. We headed to the coffee shop in the station, Costa. I believe this is a bit like English Starbucks. I got a latte and we shared biscotti.

After our train was moved to a different platform, and the crowd meandered over, we were able to get on board. We arrived at Waterloo and hopped on the Underground like old pros. We headed up to Westminster Abbey first.


You can't take pictures inside the Abbey itself, but it was breathtaking. I was slightly skeptical because of the steep admission fee (about £38 for both of us), but if you come all the way to London, it's a must see. The architecture and the history are indescribable.

There is an audio tour that takes you around the Abbey. So many historical, amazing figures rest here. Kings and queens, including Elizabeth I and Mary I (buried together). Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. William III and Mary II (of William and Mary fame). Mary Queen of Scots. It was difficult to comprehend that these people were actually right there.

Sir Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin are there. In Poet's Corner, there is a who's who of literary figures: Chaucer, Dickens, Browning, Tennyson, Kipling, among others. Handel is also buried here.

After exploring the main part of the Abbey, we moved on to the cloisters and chapter house. You can take photos in these areas.

When you walk toward the chapter house, you pass a door with a sign claiming that it is Britain's oldest door.

The chapter house isn't quite as ornate as what you see inside the Abbey, but it's sunny, light-filled, and beautiful nonetheless.

After we finished up at Westminster Abbey, we took the tube over to Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. There isn't really a close tube station to here, but we got off at one and walked the rest of the way. Because they had a play going on that afternoon, we were able to tour the exhibition only.

Front of the Globe Theatre.
There was a lot of information about the history of this spot, and the theatres that have stood there.

I liked reading about frost fairs that would take place when the Thames freezes in the winter. I also liked seeing all the costumes on display, as well as musical instruments that have been an integral part of the plays.

We were about the only people in the entire exhibit, so we walked around, read the displays, and took it all in at our own leisure. 

We enjoyed the view of the Thames outside the theatre before moving on to our next destination.

Next we walked over to the Borough Market which is nearby. My cousin had recommended it, both as a place where her husband worked (as their accountant) and as the place where Bridget Jones's Diary was filmed. Her apartment is right down there in the movie.

The market is a really fun place to explore, with all kinds of stalls of various foods. We walked around and looked at everything. We probably would have bought a lot more, except that we had a flight to Ireland the next morning. We ended up sharing a duck confit sandwich.

We took the tube to Covent Garden after finishing up at Borough Market. We ended up meeting my cousin Phil in this area. He took us down to the Porterhouse, which is an Irish-based craft beer bar. We ordered drinks and chatted for several hours.

Phil had to run to a work gig after that, so we explored a few souvenir shops in the area. We also sat outside and ordered a late dinner at a restaurant called The Sussex.

After eating, we debated how to get my boarding pass printed (mine had an error on it and needed to be reprinted). We were messaging Wendy to ask her how to do this when, all of a sudden, we looked up and noticed an internet cafe across the street. It seemed fated. So we printed out my boarding pass and took the tube back to Waterloo. On the train back to the Guildford, the guy behind me was hacking up a lung the whole way home. Convinced I had now contracted some sort of deadly illness, we made our way back to Wendy's house. We had to get up very early to make it to the airport and to Ireland.

We were sad that our time in the UK had come to a close, but we really enjoyed everything. I knew that there was going to be a lot of wonderful history to see, but I don't think I fully understood how awe-inspiring it was all going to be. English history and literature are my favorites, and I feel that I barely brushed the surface of this wonderful place. I hope to go back before long and see so much more.

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