London!
Day 3 – Parliament, Westminster, & Shakespeare

image
Breakfast: fast, from the very first Pret A Manger ever, near the St. James Court Taj Hotel.
image
Entering Parliament! It looks a whole lot sunnier in this picture than I remember it being.. entering a no picture zone, of course.

It was pretty interesting to tour parliament and re-learn through the audio tour about the House of Lords, House of Commons, and the ceremonial powers the Queen still has. Kind of irritating that we were banned from sitting in any of the seats there, which are reserved for members of parliament only, I guess. This was a much more real way to experience where the American founding fathers came from in political heritage, and what they had in mind when they set up the United States the way they did. I also felt a great appreciation for the relative ease with which you would be able to move about the legislative buildings in D.C..

We took a tour of Westminster Abbey, home of so many famous people buried there you couldn’t not step on their burial places (e.g. Isaac Newton, William the Conquerer, Elizabeth I, Mary Queen of Scots, Charles Darwin). I found this somewhat troubling, but was apparently the only one who felt this way. I particularly enjoyed the Poet’s Corner, full of writers I was made to read in school, like Chaucer and Handel. I even found my friend’s distant relative, Robert Southey! Again, no pictures allowed, so here is a drawing of the outside.

image
Westminster Abbey, freehand doodle by yours truly.
London street scene near Big Ben.
London street scene near Big Ben.

Tour guide K cleverly led us by bus past Trafalgar Square to Soho for an Eater-recommended lunch.

image
Top left: one photo before I got the notice, of Sir Thomas More’s plaque in Westminster. Top right: in the upper deck of a bus! Bottom right: Trafalgar Square. Bottom left: bus exterior.

We made it to Bao in Soho just the right amount of time before they opened to snag a prime seat for lunch!

image
@Bao: waiting at the spot we snagged at the front of the line, Bao storefront.
image
@Bao: surprisingly delicious blood cake at top center, pretty amazing how it made me rethink blood cake in general.  The bao, the daikon soup, the rice with a beautifully poached egg yolk, and the fried chicken were delicious. We pretty much got one of everything, what else would you do if you may never be back?

Bao was right around the corner from the John Snow pub I was at the night before, so pretty easy to find again.

image
municipal street art

After lunch we headed across the Thames via the Millennium Bridge to catch a play on the grounds of the Globe Theatre!  I had a moment of hesitation when I saw the run time for Pericles was about 2 hours and 50 minutes, but it was very well done, and I do not wish it was shorter. You can’t tell from this picture below, but the atmosphere was very cozy and intimate. While the wood was so fresh you could smell it, you could still imagine the crowds that gathered from back in the day to watch a good play. They also used a lot of candles, a _lot_ of candles..

image
Inside Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, before the opening of Shakespeare’s Pericles.
image
In Sam Wanamaker Playhouse: early manuscript of Pericles!

After the play we took a stroll around the Christmas Market in front of the Tate Modern, and took a quick run through the Tate too.

Christmas near the Tate Modern!
Christmas market near the Tate Modern! The bratwurst and mulled wine were pretty good. I felt like I was wandering the set of some elaborate holiday movie set, in the best way.

After this was about the point where I realized carrying the Rick Steve’s London guidebook, plus all the other stuff in my purse, was giving me back pain from walking around with it for 8+ hours, so I started taking snapshots of helpful info and storing it via Evernote in my phone so I didn’t feel the need to carry the book with me.

Leave a Reply