Thursday, October 4, 2012

UK Day 8 - London

London is huge.  It's not something you can see in one day, or even 1.5 days, which is the amount of time I have here.  Earlier, I decided to go to Buckingham Palace and a museum.  Quartney went with me to the palace (she had never been) and then took off to head home while I went to the British Museum.

Buckingham Palace is everything you would think proper British royalty is.  Enormous rooms?  Check.  Fancy staircases?  Check.  Huge portraits of your family tree?  Check.  More forks than you can shake a scepter at?  Check.  Unfortunately, they didn't allow photography of the exhibitions, so I don't have many pictures to share of the occasion.  I can tell you that they have an enormous collection of art, furniture, tableware, and gold rope...

Oh, and they have diamonds, too.  We saw a large collection of the royal diamonds, over 10,000 of them, in various articles of royal attire.  When the British want to make something glitter, they know how to do it.  In any other context, I would have thought I was looking at the world's largest collection of costume jewelry.  Instead, I shuffled by several, several million pounds worth of bling.

Outside the palace, you can take as many photos as you want, so I've got some of those to share:

The palace guard (you know, the guys with the funny hats) were out but well beyond the gate.  I was kind of hoping to put Quartney next to one of them for the comical height difference in a photo.  However, it didn't appear that any of these guys were actually outside their gate.  Oh well.

Before I left Poland, I spoke to some British guys about what to see in London.  The British Museum came highly recommended.  One fellow described it as "imperialistic kleptomania," and that's a pretty good assessment.  There are a lot of things here that you really stop and wonder why they're in Britain.  I took a lot of photos, but let's hit the highlights here.

First of all, the grand hall in the museum is enormous.  It's really hard to get a good sense of the size, but I've tried.  This is from the upper level.  Notice how small the people are.

I got to see Cleopatria.  Yup, that one.  She's been hanging out in London since the early 1800s.  She looks pretty good, considering her age.

I also got to see the Rosetta Stone.  No, not the software to help you cram for a Spanish test - the random laws written in triplicate that helped crack the code of hieroglyphics.  Here it is.

I also got to see pieces of the Parthenon in Athens.  Again, what are they doing in England?  Not really sure, but they're here.

There were many, many other items I didn't take pictures of (I'm not building a catalog here) or that weren't of such wide interest.  I've never been to the Smithsonian in Washington, but I think this is basically the British equivalent of it.  It was really nice to see, and I didn't get to experience anywhere near all of it. 

Tomorrow is the flight back home to Indiana.  I've had a great time in Europe, and I'll write a few closing posts at some point (but probably not tomorrow).

One thing I want to say before I step off this continent is thank you to all my friends who made this summer memorable and helped me out along the way.  If you had a meal with me, thank you.  If you explained how some silly, ordinary item worked (especially translating Polish), thank you.  If you walked home with me, had a conversation with me, or invited me over for awhile, thank you.  If you told me the best route to take or the thing I had to make sure to see, thank you.  Although the massive buildings, the graves of heroes, and the historical artifacts are great, it is really friends that make the experience for me.


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