Wednesday, May 7, 2014

London: Day 1

My day really began yesterday, the 6th, ad hasn't really stopped until now that I'm sitting in my hotel room smack in the center of London just two blocks away from Euston Square tube station. For about a miute and a half a few days ago, it loked like the tube would be on strike, but thankfully that was cancelled becuase taking the tube is becoming my favorite thing to do. 
But I'm getting ahead of myself. 
I took a red eye flight that was actually shorter than I expected. It was only seven hours and fifty minutes. I watched three dfferent movies on the flight and then tried, without success, to sleep. 
I was impressed, though, with the quality meals American Airlines provided. I'm so used to getting a stale bag of pretzels to munch on that an acual meal felt like a serious luxury.
The flight as predictble, though, so I won't give you a play-by-play. 
Going through security at Heathrow took about a month. I was carrying my backpack and another small bag and I thought  was going to keep right over waiting in that endless line. It was a relief to finally go through the, very dramatically titled, UK Border, and step firmly onto a city I've been dreaming of visiting since I first started reading Sherlock Holmes in fourth grade.
I am not a patient person on the best of days and after a seven+ hours on a plane whatever patience I'd had was long gone, so I bought a ticket to teh Heathrow Express, which makes it out oof Heathrow to Paddington in 15 minutes, unlike other options, which take much longer. 

Paddington was less complicated to maneuver through than I'd expected, but the machines from which you buy Underground tickets are a nightmare. I don't know why I'm surprised, though, because the Miami machines are just as bad. When I finally got my pass, things got better quickly.
Okay, yes, the tube system is complicated. It is a series of tunnels that feel more like an animal's burrow than a train system, but that's why they are so fabulous. I am seriously in love with the tube. It's a little pricey, but the experience of using them with quasi-competence is rewarding.

So I came to Euston Square Station, a couple of blocks away from Arran House Hotel.

 My room is small, and it doesn't have a bathroom of its own because, well, it's London and space is limited.

A simple yet cute bed which I haven't tried yet, so more on that tomorrow.
That's the view from the door. Like I said, small, but it's in an ideal spot. As soon as I could put my heavy bags down, I headed to my very first stop: The British Museum.

Voila! Yeah, the toxic orange cones take away a bit from the magesty but there were so many people around that I just wanted to get inside. Which is where I saw this beauty:

Isn't that just glorious? I stood for a good few minutes staring at that roof. But there was a lot to see. Floors and floors of incredible artifacts and information. There's no way to see everything in one visit. I did my best, though. Here are some examples of the beauties I saw:

That was from the Chinese section, which was in such a lovely room, full of natural light. Not how I usually picture museums.
This was my favorite room, though. It was about trading in Europe and it had artifacts from all over the world. Not to mention that the walls are lined with cases of ancient books. My paradise.
It was astounding to stand next to her. There's no glass, nothing to separate you from something whose age is measured in millenia. You can't touch any of the statues, but there's no need. Their presence is enough.
Another great statue, or bust, this one of Minerva. The details were amazing.
And look at this. This is a part of a Roman mosaic mural. All of those little pieces are handcut and meticulously placed to create the images.
The same technique on the one above, too.
Gorgeous stuff. The amount of ancient pottery in that museum is enough to make anyone nervous. I was walkng around trying not to breathe too hard in case I knocked something over.
This was in the African section. There were a number of gorgous pieces of artwork, including modern pieces.
I dragged myself out of the museum becuase I was tired and it's hard to keep reading tiny signs explaining what everything is when your eyes are burning from lack of sleep.
Of course, I had my first taste of London's shifty weather as I was walking back to the hotel. It is surprisingly like Miami in that respect. It can be sunny at one moment and then it can look like the apocalypse iis upon you.
And just as quickly, it was over and I could head out to Covent Garden. Where I saw this poor man trying to imporess the crowd with the threat of breaking his neck on an eight-feet tall unicycle. 
He juggled tennis balls, yoyos and even swords, but his tour de force was the unicycle. I didn't stick around to see if he actually survived the afternoon.
I didn't take as many pictures of Covent Garden as I wanted because it was too beautiful to see it from behind a camera, but I'll probably end up going back before I leave.
I stopped at Cafe Nero, one of the most popular cafes in London and had a great cappucino and then I headed over to the nearests Tesco supermarket to stock up on some essentials like water, extra shampoo, etc. I also got this because it wouldn't be a real English adventure without them.
And, with the Jammie Dodgers, I will leave you for tonight because I am a degree beyond exhausted, but stop by tomorrow for more!

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