London by Foot (Day Three)
Trip Start Aug 16, 2012
27Trip End Oct 01, 2012
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I came across the Monument, a towering column which commemorates the Great Fire of London and was actually designed by Christopher Wren, the architect behind St. Paul's Cathedral. People are able to walk up the stair to the top for a small fee, but it wasn't open by the time I got there. From here, I wandered around the City with it's winding medieval street layout. This was the site of the original city since the it was settled by Romans, but is now the heart of the London's financial industry. Since it was a Sunday, the streets were empty and everything was closed. On a weekday, I'd expect it would be packed with people.
I headed towards St. Paul's again and was actually able to go in this time. It was a Sunday, so the public is welcome to go inside and attend services for free. When I arrived, the service was over, however there was a choir scheduled to be performing. I walked inside and saw the stunning white and gold interior illuminated with light coming in from the windows and the dome. Although we were only allowed at the back of the cathedral, the voices of the choir could still be heard; echoing beautifully throughout the building.
Church bells and chines rang constantly while I was walking along Fleet Street and the Strand. By now, the streets were starting to become more crowded as I got closer to Trafalgar Square. I arrived at the busy square and immediately started heading down towards the Houses of Parliament. It was around noon, and the weather was becoming quite hot and humid. I took a break under a statue across from 10 Downing Street and watched the crowds of tourists walk by.
I walked over to the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey and stopped at a small park just south of there. I chose a bench overlooking the Thames and sat in the cool shade of a chestnut tree. I had a nice view of the London Eye and enjoyed the breezes that occasionally came off the river. After resting there for a while I decided to go to the British Museum, hoping that it would be air-conditioned.
I got a little lost trying to find the museum. I didn't get off at the right stop and had to wander through Bloomsbury and the campus of the University College London. I finally found it just as it was starting to drizzle and quickly ran inside. The British Museum was really cool - but unfortunately not temperature-wise. It was warm and stuffy inside, and it probably didn't help that it was crowded with people. Nevertheless, I quite enjoyed walking through all the exhibits. I'm a big fan of archaeology and ancient history and was really impressed by the collection they had there. Rosetta's Stone is one of the museum's more famous items, and was constantly surrounded by people taking photos. After touring the exhibits for a while, I wandered into a large room that looked like a library. I thought it was the best room in the museum because when I walked in, I felt the immediate coolness of air-conditioning!
I stayed in that room for a long time, sitting on one of the benches near a replica of Rosetta's Stone. When I finally felt it was time to leave, I exited the museum back into the afternoon heat. I decided I was rested enough to do some more exploring so I walked through Soho and London's Chinatown to Leicester Square. Satisfied for the day, I went back to the hostel and went to bed early.