Of more museums and really expensive chocolate

Trip Start May 06, 2008
1
6
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Trip End Jun 06, 2008


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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Sunday, May 11, 2008

"Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind." - Seneca




Day 4 : 11th May 2008 (Sunday) Of more museums and really expensive chocolate

Lui couldn't believe the walking we were doing everyday, and he was going to find out soon enough how hard it is to be a tourist in London:) We decided to head straight for the Natural History Museum and took the tube to the nearest stop. As we approached the museum we found the outside of the building was pretty amazing in itself, it looked more like a cathedral than a museum, and so we took a couple pictures (of course!) And it's free. We'd heard it can be quite crowded but we walked right in to be greeted by a dinosaur skeleton... The museum is well laid out and there are lots of interactive exhibits. Lui and Ashok were greatly impressed by the slice of the gigantic 1300 year old sequoia tree. There even was an animatronic T-Rex moving about and snarling to the squeals of children and the delight of the crowd. Much of the museum is aimed for young children, though. We exited via the beautiful lobby of the Earth Gallery.

We then headed to the Science Museum next door. This one was relatively empty compared to the NHM. We split up and decided to meet at the cafe area.The galleries have fantastic collections of technology, science, industry and medicine but I was a little tired and didn't really appreciate it like I should have. Again, this is a fantastic museum for kids and the guys really enjoyed the Formula 1 and aircraft section. There's lots of weird and wonderful stuff to explore including missiles used in the war and the world's first train. But I'd had enough so Godwin and I headed to the cafe to get a bite to eat. Ashok, Glynis and Lui showed up soon after so we had lunch. The gift shop next door was very interesting too.

We were contemplating what to do next, and although I was tired of museums by now, Glynis and I thought it was worth dropping by the V and A. The guys were even more tired of museum hopping than I was, and Ashok and Lui refused to set foot inside another one... So we left them back at the Science museum, chilling at the cafe, catching up I suppose. Godwin escorted us girls to the V&A, kind fellow that he is. The entrance is kind of nondescript and we thought it was closed. Godwin asked the security guard and he said it was indeed open. Did I already mention how I love that museums in London are free?? I am so glad we decided to go, because as soon as we entered the door and saw a room full of Italian Renaissance sculpture, I think Glynis and I both uttered the word 'wow'. We walked around in wonder, and thoroughly enjoyed all the exhibits including the silver, tapestries and the stained glass. Glynis took a lot of pictures to show Ashok what he missed but I don't really think you can capture the atmosphere on camera. It was quiet, dignified, beautiful. We then chanced upon the lovely dining halls which are spectacularly tiled, a sight to see by themselves. What a shame we had so little time. We got back to the guys and gushed about the museum while Glynis showed them the pictures. I still don't think they were impressed...

Up next was a visit to Harrods, after all how can we come to London and not see it... The Egyptian rooms were nice, but it was quite crowded and loud, more like a themed park or something rather than a department store. And it is HUGE. It was lovely to walk in from the heat and dust outside into the cool air conditioned interior though. As we were walking through the watch section, Glynis shot down a pushy salesman (figuratively)  by grabbing my wrist and shoving my tag in his face saying she's got a pretty nice watch already... We bought a few souvenirs and moved up the Egyptian themed escalators to the upper floors. There was a live opera singer in a balcony overlooking the escalators. It was much quieter upstairs. Godwin liked the sports section and wanted a soccer jersey with his name on it. He loves the England soccer team and he's a big Chelsea fan. Unfortunately, they didn't have the letters and number he wanted. So we moved through the stores towards the food halls. I needed to buy some Turkish delight for Ali. The food halls were pretty amazing and full of delectable looking edibles. We were looking at some heavenly looking freshly made liquor chocolates wondering if we should splurge when Lui decided to treat us with some. We then rode the escalators to the bottom floor and saw the memorial that has been created for Dodi and Diana.

We then decided to walk to Hyde Park. It was a nice, warm, sunny day and the park was pretty crowded. We walked along the serpentine lake area for a while. There were a group of people jamming with some musical instruments that we watched for a while. There were people laying about in the lovely grass just about everywhere. Its a lovely place to unwind, smack in the middle of busy London. So we found a patch of our own grass to lay on, people watch and eat the expensive chocolates. Maybe my expectations were too high but I was disappointed. I thought they'd be better. Oh well. I watched some people trying to learn how to do cartwheels. I guess its harder than it looks, their futile attempts were pretty amusing. It was so peaceful in the grass under the trees that we literally had to drag ourselves up if we wanted to get to Speakers Corner in time to see some action. We weren't disappointed. There were the usual weirdos but some of the speakers were very good. It was quite entertaining, listening to them rant about their subjects. The topics ranged widely from Socialism to Marxism to just plain ramblings. Definitely absorbingly unique and worth the 10 minute walk to get there. I was watching this guy going on about the middle east, he was quite well informed on the subject (well, obviously he had to be) and it was quite interesting especially because an equally well informed spectator kept throwing questions at him. It was more like a debate than a speech. I was enthralled. And to think such entertainment is free. Then Glynis found me, she needed me to join her in a quest to find a bathroom. No easy task in the middle of a big park. There weren't any around, and we walked quite a while looking. Finally, we gathered the men and thought we'd head to the Marble Arch tube stop, there had to be one there. There wasn't.

Fortunately, we spotted a McDonald's across the street. What luck, they had to have a bathroom. And Godwin needed to refuel. So we made a quick run across the street while Lui waited for us by Marble Arch. We took the tube to Leicester square and went on to explore the Soho area and Chinatown by foot. Ashok wanted a tour of the strip clubs. We passed by some but of course Glynis would never have us enter anything like that under her watch... Ashok was disappointed. We eventually found ourselves back Leicester square where there were lots of street performers doing their thing. Godwin and I went to some of the souvenir shops near by while the others watched and bought a couple of things for Ali. It was getting late, we found a restaurant to go grab some dinner. There was a restaurant right on the square and we went in to find us a table. It had been a pretty long day and poor Lui had almost disappeared into himself... He needed some good steak and strong beer to replenish him... He couldn't believe we had walked so much. Poor guy.



Steps walked: 20075
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Where I stayed
Bunga's house

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