Our day started out a bit soggy to mark the Flotilla celebration of the Queen’s 60th coronation. Everywhere we looked there with British citizens decked out in the national colors. All the regalia and pageantry in the city is really overwhelming. To see so much national pride and all the excited citizens, I felt really fortunate to be here for the party.
We decided we would take in the British Museum and follow it up with a visit to the Tower of London. Hoping on the Tube, of which I’ve now declared myself, The Tube Master, we made our way easily. Thinking all the locals would be down at the river and celebrating in the many local pubs, we thought we would be greeted by nice open galleries and no crowds. Boy, were we wrong. The museum was packed to the gills. And huge! The collection of ancient Egypt & Greece was unlike I’d ever seen. So much genuine ancient history that you could literally reach out and touch as many of the pieces were not under glass. Although there were signs everywhere not to touch, every set of tiny fingers walking by anything seemed to reach out. They had collections of historic Asian, British, and even North American artifacts and culture, but the highlights were definitely ancient Egypt and Greece for me. Not that I know anything about it really, but I did find it interesting to look at and even learned a few new things. Which I’ve now forgotten.
After soaking up the museum, we made our way down to the Thames to take the Tower of London tour. This was also the idea of the best viewing spot for at least 25,000 British nationals hoping to catch a glimpse of the Queen as she floated by on her royal barge with the rest of the royal family including my favorite, Princess Kate. Imagine, if you will, the river Thames loaded with over 1,000 boats escorting the Queen’s barge past the adoring masses of 1,000,000 strong followers shouting, waving flags, and bells ringing in the background. Really quite a sight and to see the excitement and swelling of national pride, I found myself wanting to be British if only for the day.
The rain continued to soak us, but we’re all very prepared and doing very well staying waterproofed and comfortable, and being from Seattle, we could give a shit about the rain to be honest. We all feel right at home. 🙂
The Tower had been closed for the day so we decided to walk. And walk. And walk. It was great to just stroll through the London streets, some packed, some completely empty, taking in all the was going on around us. Figuring we wouldn’t be able to find any of the “sights” open, and every pub bursting at the seams with people, we thought it would be grand to take a train to the funniest sounding name and find a bar somewhere a bit out of town. The funny name we came up with was Edware Road. It’s not that funny, but they certainly would have a friendly pub? Right? Wrong. We wound up in Little Beirut. At first, we weren’t quite sure if this was for us, but no one paid us any attention so we set off on another stroll. The gentlemen splayed out on the couches lining the front s of every eating establishment smoking their hooka pipes was a new one to me. I would’ve loved to sit down and partake, but they didn’t seem to be the most jolly fellows so I walked on. I asked a shopkeep where I could find a pub or tavern and he told me, “not on Edware Road”. We decided to walk south.
Not too far away we arrived at Hyde Park (quite by accident), and found a nice drinking establishment where we decided to take in a Jack The Ripper tour out in Jack’s old stomping grounds of the White Chapel neighborhood which was the anus of London in the late 19th century. A rough-and-tumble place and I didn’t think it had changed much. This area was a bit dodgy, but the tour and our guide were fantastic. A great show and we all enjoyed it.
Another long, fun day, out and about we made our way back towards Victoria Station near our hotel where we figured we’d have a nightcap before heading off to bed. This wound up being one of the best parts of our day as we met two locals, Ramon & Christian who were very jovial and colorful Englishmen. They appeared just as interested in us as we were in them and we had a marvelous time laughing and drinking with our new friends. Perfect ending to a great day.
Cheers your Majesty!