Cool Britainia Part 2
Trip Start Aug 06, 2011
144Trip End Ongoing
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Where I stayed
Given that our primary purpose for being in London was to secure our Brazilian visas, the second week had us moving to a hotel closer to the Brazilian embassy. We were giving up our passports for up to two weeks and we wanted to be readily available to jump through any bureaucratic hoops that the visa people might come up with so we located ourselves right around the corner. We filled out the relatively silly on-line application (which stopped just short of asking us how often we flossed), showed up at the embassy at our strictly appointed time, and handed over enough information to facilitate identity theft (photo copies of recent bank statements??)
As we waited for officialdom approval we managed to visit Hyde Park (Speakers Corner was abandoned as a result of the snow- apparently ranting and raving on a soapbox is a fair weather sport), the Marble Arch, Wellington Arch, St James Church, the National History Museum, and so on. We even had a peak into Harrods which offered up a collection of very high prices that proved scarier than the dungeons of London Bridge.
And what trip to London would be complete without an outing to the Sherlock Holmes museum. Vic and I are both fans of the erstwhile detective however I, for one, (sound of my foot stomping the ground), choose to believe that he was a real guy and not a fictional character. Holmes is famous for his logical reasoning, his ability to adopt almost any disguise, and his use of forensic science skills to solve difficult cases (editors note- despite being piped out of the Toronto Police Service DH sees many parallels between her detecting career and that of Holmes and is anticipating a TPS callback in the role of "consulting detective" and, as a first step, she dragged me across town in order to solve the Jack The Ripper case ).
A nighttime walking tour of Jack The Ripper - of course we had to participate in that!!! Very cold night, middle of the week, and there were 24 others on the tour! Anyway, the story of this serial killer has continued to horrify and fascinate for over 120 years
"He came silently out of the midnight shadows of August 31, 1888. Watching. Stalking. Butchering raddled, drink-sodden East End prostitutes. Leaving a trail of blood that lead........nowhere"
Between August and November 1888, the Whitechapel area of London was terrorized by a serial killer dubbed " Jack the Ripper". He is responsible for five brutal murders although some 'ripperologists' suggest there is also a sixth victim. All the women murdered were prostitutes, and all except for one - Elizabeth Stride - were horribly mutilated.
There has been much speculation as to the identity of the killer. It has been suggested that he or she was a doctor or butcher, based on the evidence of weapons and the mutilations that occurred, which showed a knowledge of human anatomy. Many theories have been put forward suggesting individuals who might be responsible. One theory links the murders with Queen Victoria's grandson, Prince Albert Victor, also known as the Duke of Clarence, although the evidence for this is insubstantial.
As we walked, the guide certainly brought to life the appalling conditions folks lived in during that time. We did walk to, and inspect, several murder sights and followed in Jacks footsteps. Jack the Ripper was never caught and he is not thought to have killed again after November 1888 (editors note: DH’s investigation continues but my own theory is that Jack is actually ex-Brit Dave B who is now hiding out in the guise of a retired copper in the suburbs of Toronto- I’m pretty sure he told us that he had emigrated toward the end of 1888)
We did take advantage of British comfort food over the course of our time in London- fish and chips, bangers and mash, (Bangers are sausages in England and the reason sausages were nicknamed bangers is that during wartime rationing they were so filled with water they often exploded when they were fried.), liver and onions, a complete roast beef and Yorkshire Pudding dinner, a Full English ( a breakfast of eggs, bacon, sausage, toast, baked beans, fried mushroom and tomato), bacon sarnies, and of course, the ever-present cups of tea. I also have to admit to the copious consumption of dolly mixtures, jelly babies, winegums, shortbread cookies and an unhealthy amount of licorice during one sitting (I should have listened to Kevin H), and of course Cadbury chocolate especially “The Flake Bar" (crumbliest, flakiest, milk chocolate in the world" as per Vanessa W).
Per the British slogan , "Keep Calm and Carry On" , we managed to persevere and secure our Brazilian visas, and we even found a cheapie flight but since it is leaving from Lisbon Portugal we are exiting England with plans to return very soon and explore the rest of what this country has to offer.