The Day I Got Lost and Other Stories

Trip Start Dec 27, 2011
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Trip End Jan 11, 2012


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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Sunday, January 8, 2012

I was lost in the least desirable place in London in which to be lost. The morning had started out rather tame. I took the No. 17 bus down to the Tower with a group of girls, Patrick, and Francis. Instead of going in to the Tower, I opted for a tour of Tower Bridge (something I had not done before). On the way to the Bridge I passed Traitor's Gate, which still gives me the willies when I think about the people who went through it and how it was likely they would not come out of the Tower alive. I headed up the stairs past Dead Man's Hole, which is where the bodies would be collected from the Thames when the Tower threw them out. The exhibition at the Bridge only cost eight pounds, and it was well worth it if only because of the views. 

After paying, I took the lift to the top of the North Tower. You could see the Olympic stadium from the outer window of the tower, as well as views of the Tower of London. The tour was basically about the history and building of the Bridge. I learned a lot of interesting tidbits. For example, there have been a number of stunts attempted on the Bridge. In 1952, the driver of the No. 78 bus jumped the opening Bridge. In 1912, Frank McClean flew through the Bridge in a biplane. In 1968, a Hawker Hunter was flown through the middle of the Bridge. Also, 432 men were employed to build the bridge, and although there were no safety regulations at the time, only 10 men died. Tower Bridge was never bombed during WWII because it was used by enemy planes as a landmark for navigation. 

I headed down the south tower, followed the blue line, and ended up in the engine rooms, where the coal was turned to steam and the steam was turned into hydraulic power to open the bridge. The tour spit me out in Tower Plaza, which didn't look particularly familiar, but I hadn't really been paying attention. I knew I needed to find the Tower of London to get back home, but the farther I walked, the less likely I was to find it. I figured I had gone East instead of West and would eventually see something familiar. However, much to my dismay, the farther I walked I was still not on my map. After a good forty minutes of walking, I found a Barclay's bike rental stand, and using the map on the side was able to deduce that 1) I was in Southwark, 2) I did not/should not be in Southwark, and 3) I had no idea how to get back because I was entrenched in Southwark. I ended up following the Barclay's maps one by one until I was able to find a tube stop (Elephant and Castle, which is the end of the Bakerloo line). I was lost in an area that not even the tube dare go. I was asked by one shady looking individual if I wanted to buy some Louis Vuitton sunglasses. I passed a homeless woman who had put dog food out for her stuffed dog. After a while, my goal went from getting home to just getting out the area with all of my money. I finally found the tube stop, which was on the other side of a giant roundabout. The only way to get to the other side was to go through a tunnel. It was not my favorite experience in the world, but there was another normal looking person and I tail winded her to the stop. I was lost for a total of one and a half hours before I made it back to the Picadilly line and familiar territory. 

I was happy to be back in the room, but I had told Erin and Joe that I would go with them to the British Museum. I took 15 minutes to regroup and then we headed out. It was very close to the Goodenough Club (about a 5 minute walk). The first thing we ran in to when we strolled in to the museum (because all of the museums in London are free) was the Rosetta Stone. The stone carries an inscription in different languages that helped unlock the code of the Egyptian hieroglyphics. At the top, it was written in hieroglyphics, the traditional font for monuments. In the middle, the same decree was written in Demotic, the everyday language of the Egyptians. Finally, the phrase was written in Greek, the language of the government. 

We wandered through the Egyptian rooms until we got to the Greek scultptures. The first room we stumbled upon was of a tomb from Lykian.It is called the Nereid Monument, named after the figures of Nereids, daughters of the sea-god Nereus, which are seen between the columns. 

We finally got to the Parthenon room where the Elgin Marbles were kept. The entire room was filled with marbles that were taken by Elgin from Greece. On the far left were sculptures that more represented rubble. However, on the far right side were statutes of gods which I really liked. Among them were Hebe (cup bearer of Zeus), Demeter and Persephone, and a young Dionysos. We continued around the museum and saw the Easter Island statute, the Enlightenment room (which essentially was meant to house the library of King George III's library, although his library is now somewhere else), and "The Wave" by a Japanese art named Katsushika Hokusai (the exhibit was on its last day). 

After the museum, we were all starving. We ate across the street at the Museum Pub, which was fairly decent. I had a "jacket potato," which is essentially a baked potato with cheese. After finishing our pitcher of Mule, we headed back to the Goodenough Club to relax before heading to Leicester Square for a showing of Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows at the Empire Theatre right on the Square. 

It felt appropriate that if I was going to see a movie in London, it would be one about Sherlock Holmes. What made it better was that the movie did not disappoint (it was actually very good). After Sherlock, we made our way back to the Goodenough. I stopped by to see the people who went to Oxford at the Lamb before retiring for the night. 
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