I went to pick my dad up at Heathrow an hour too early, but again, as fate would have it, he was bumped to an earlier flight and arrived an hour earlier. I cried when I saw him, as I feared I would. Living so far away from my family has made me more sensitive to their presence, but seeing my dad again was amazing!
We took the Tube from Heathrow to King's Cross where I made a reservation for him in the Travelodge. Were it up to me, I would have gotten him a nicer hotel but since the Travelodge is right next to my office and the tube station, I thought it'd be easier and more comfortable to meet up.
I worked until noon the next day so I could go wander around London with my dad for the rest of the day. He had to leave London for Gatwick at 6pm so that gave me around 6 hours with him. I decided to take him to the British Museum which neither of us had been to before.
We were amazed at the amount of stone statues, granite busts, carved coffins and ebony images of Ancient Egypt. Anubis, Isis and Horus were ever present amid faces of ancient pharaohs and their queens. I felt so small surrounded by such ancient power and might, but the inevitable question came up: shouldn't all this be in Egypt? My dad and I debated as we walked through the halls and salons. We both agreed that it was definitely wrong for the British to take so much of the heritage of so many nations, but as
we walked through the most amazing display of Assyrian war relieves and statues of gryphons and sphinxes, we came to the conclusion that these wonderful art works of the ancient world would probably not even exist today if the British Museum hadn't taken and preserved them throughout these years. But whatever the ethical discussion, my dad and I were absolutely mesmerized by all we saw.
We came across the infamous Rosetta stone, which I was surprised to find and immediately recognized. I didn't know it was held in the British Museum! But then again, where else would it be? It was hard to get a good look as people huddled around it to get a good look at the amazing detail of the hieroglyphs and the classical Greek writing.
We turned the corner and Assyrian turned into Greek, with the most graceful marble statues of young men and women in their physical prime and beauty. We entered a great hall and found that it was in this hall where the Parthenon sculptures were kept. I had no idea. I had always foolishly thought that the Parthenon of
Athens was still holding its rich friezes and elegant carvings. This saddened me: it just seemed so stupid to have to enjoy two parts of the same glorious building in two different parts of the world. Nonetheless, the sculptures still bore the kudos of the ancient Greek classical world, in the climax of their wealth, power and cultural evolution.
We quickly breezed through the rest of this monster of a museum, through the mummies and funerary boxes, through Roman golden jewellery and the Hellenic amphorae, and the Nordic ironwork and Celtic wooden crosses. We needed an entire day to go through the entire museum, and even then it might still be too short a time. We exited the building with a full understanding of why this was the mother of all museums when it came to archaeology.
I wanted my dad to have a traditional English lunch in an old pub, and we were in the right part of town for that. We entered a beautiful old pub, the kind where the old floors creek under your feet, but where the furniture and wooden panels still retain the same elegance from years back. We ordered beer-battered fish and chips with mushy peas and tartar sauce and a pint of cold Amstel to down it. Absolutely delicious.
We still had 3 hours to kill and I wanted to show my dad my favourite part of London. We weren't too far away and it was a lovely day for a walk so we followed the street signs to Covent Garden. Thankfully, this was a part of London my dad had never seen and he quickly expressed his liking to the narrow cobblestone streets and the avant-garde and quaint little shops and cafés.
We continued walking past the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, past Big Ben and Westminster Abbey, past Buckingham Palace and St James's Park. My dad got his compulsory after-lunch ice cream and as we strolled through the park, I realized this had been the park that we had also strolled through in our 1995 visit. We giggled at the cheeky squirrels begging for food and the ducks and swans waddling peacefully in the sun-covered lake.
We reached Wellington Arch and realized it was time to start heading back as my dad had a plane to catch. We called Ed who had just gotten off work and agreed to quickly meet us to at least swiftly say hi and goodbye to my dad.
I cried again at King's Cross station, as I knew I would, and continued sniffling all the way home but luckily I had Ed with me to hug me and make me laugh at how silly I looked.
Nonetheless, I was really happy I had been able to show my dad around and spend some quality time even if it was for a few hours...just him and me.
And about the dream I had, well, next time I know what to do if I want anyone to come visit!
The strangest thing happened. I had a dream that my father would come visit me in London. At the moment this seemed highly unlikely because in my dream he came alone, and if there was a visit to be paid, it would include both my parents. But as fate and scary premonitions would have it, a few days later my dad announced that after a short business trip to Paris, he would stop over in London for a day to pay his eldest daughter a short but meaningful visit. So literally, my dream was coming true!