November 19, 2013

London Travelogue: Day 4, British Museum

17. Oct, 2013
Day 4 was so full that I've been intimidated to attempt to chronicle the highlights.  I'll have to tackle it one venue at a time, starting with the British Museum.  This post has been simmering away in my mind, and I've been researching more from home, so hopefully I can do the day justice.

I was up and out early, and hit the British Museum.  It is an enormous building, and holds the most amazing objects from around the world.  These guard statues from Assyria were incredible!  The rediscovered ancient Assyrian palaces are such a treasure.  I'm in awe of ancient people: the depth of their accomplishments impresses me here-and-now!

Assyrian Palace guard statues, palace friezes in background.  © Neil Howard
I saw the Rosetta stone, and geeked out over the cuneiform exhibit.  It's interesting to see how practical the introduction of language was: the first clay cuneiform tokens marked the contents of storage containers, then agricultural transactions.  The pictograms eventually rotated 90 degrees and became more abstract.  A key to cracking cuneiform, and hieroglyphics, was realizing that the symbols represent syllables rather than full words.

I really enjoyed the ancient Egypt section, especially the early mummies.  It's amazing that this young man's body has been preserved for almost 6,000 years.  He made ancient Egypt relatable to me in a way that preserved mummies and sarcophagi did not.

"Gebelein Man"
The Parthenon sculptures and friezes are beautiful, and seeing a Parthenian column demonstrates the temple's tremendous size.  This sculpture of reclining goddesses retains some original paint:

Three Goddesses of Athenian Parthenon

The British Museum used to house the British Library, with the Reading Room its hub.  Now used for special exhibits, here's a panoramic photo as it was:

I think that heaven must look like this
The British Museum's covered courtyard, and Reading Room at center:

Central Courtyard, © Greg Knapp
The British Museum is a jewel, and I wish I'd had more than one day to wander through it.  What I did see, I loved.  The courtyard is a fascinating place, blending exterior and interior.

November 5, 2013

London Travelogue: Day 3

16. Oct, 2013
Wednesday's agenda was simple: visit my friend Pauline.  Anything else was gravy.

I took the tube to Hyde Park Corner, which is one of the busiest intersections in London and thus completely mad.  I got lost in the middle of the giant roundabout: I believe I was confusing the Artillery and Machine gun memorials, silly me.  I eventually found my way and caught my bus.

Hyde Park Corner
I had a lovely visit with my friend!  It was very nice to be in a comfortable, homey place just chatting.  After so many new sights and experiences, familiarity was very welcome.  She's the first long-distance internet friend I've met :)

I rode the bus back, watching the sun set pink against the white stone buildings of Baker Street.  When I returned to the hotel it was time for dinner, where I chatted with a friendly Londoner with a Cockney accent.  It may not sound like the most eventful day, but I had a lovely time :)

November 4, 2013

A Conversation (only in London)

Sitting and reading on our hotel beds:

Mom: "Do you know what people are saying when they say bollocks?!?"
Me: (can I say balls to my mom?) "...Yes, it means testicle."

I then informed her that fanny has a very different meaning than in US English.  It was an interesting evening!
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