One in a million tourists

I got the day off today from my Mr. Mom job to do some exploring. It was a long week with the boys and Heather thought I needed a little break. I think she was right and thank her for the opportunity to do a little London exploring. While I explored, she enjoyed a sunny, warm day with the boys on Hampstead Heath. They flew kites and went to the wading pool near Parliament Hill.  I met up with the for dinner at our favorite Italian restaurant. It turned out to be a great Saturday for everyone.

I started my trip with a tube ride on the northern line to Euston Station (below). It is right on Euston road where there are several museums.

I wandered over to the British Library which is one  of 12 museums in the Museum Mile. There is a cool statue of Isaac Newton at the entrance to the museum (below).

 

The library is huge, with lots of very old books (which you can peruse if you become a registered reader). They have taken many of the library treasures and placed them in a single room. Within 20 minutes I saw the Magna Carta (there is no single copy, there are 4 remaining copies, 2 at the British Library), notes from Da Vinci’s workbook, original scores from Hadyn and Beethoven, the Gutenberg Bible and a copy of the original Shakespeare folio.

After spending an hour at the library I wandered south toward the Charles Dicken’s museum, which is just north of Holborn.

On the way I stopped to take a picture of the impressive Victorian era St. Pancras Renaissance London Hotel. (left). As I was taking this picture, some kid on a bike rode by and tried to grab the camera out of my hands (I was looking through the viewfinder so I didn’t see him coming. Luckily I had a good grip on the camera and he didn’t manage to get it.

 

 

 

The Dicken’s museum was a bit of a disappointment. It is currently undergoing a massive and much needed renovation in time for Charles Dicken’s 200th anniversary on Feb 7, 2012.  The current house has been a museum for over 80 years and not much has changed in that time.  The displays weren’t really documented so you didn’t know what you were looking at. The best part was a 25 minute film about his life. I learned his family was in debtors prison in London for a year because his father mismanaged their finances. He was one of six children and had nine children himself. He died at age 57 of a stroke. Below are a few photos from the museum.

After the museum it was time to find something to eat. I have meant to visit the Borough Market many times previously but never seemed to fit in on my explorations. This time I decided I was going to get there. I headed south to the Chancery Lane station (below) which is at the border of the City of London.

I took the central line to Bank and then the northern line to the Borough stop. (pronounced “Burra” in London). By this time it had turned into a warm, sunny Saturday in London. This translates into lots of tourists and that means lots of packed subway cars with sweaty people and stagnant, dirty air. Fun times!

 

 

 

I should have also known that the Borough Market would be a zoo. A note to myself, next time go early on a weekday and you might actually get to look at some of the stalls and get a bite to eat.  The lines were a mile long for all the food and it was elbow to elbow foot traffic (below).

I quickly left the market and decided to just pick up something to eat on the way to my next stop, St. Pauls Cathedral.  After fighting the crowds at the Borough market I decided when I arrived at the Cathedral that I wasn’t ready to fight another set of crowds inside the church. Next time I’ll go visit the church during the week.

 

I had about 1 1/2 hours before I need to meet up with Heather and the boys so I quickly came up with a new plan. 

I decided to just walk west from St. Pauls Cathedral through some neighborhoods I had never been to before. I wandered through Little Britain, past St. Bartholomews Hospital and over to Smithfield Market before walking to the Holborn tube station for the ride home. I really enjoyed wandering the narrow streets of Little Britain. Below is a typical street view.

I’m looking forward to my next day off to do more exploring in this great city!

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