Europe Photoblogging, Part 2: London
By Dwip September 9, 2014, 3:43 pm Comments (0) RSS Feed for this post

Being various photographic evidence of my time in London from 3/27/04 to 6/13/04.

That’s the Royal Air Force Memorial on the Thames. My very first picture taken for this trip, and more to say about that in a moment.

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This is the Globe Theatre, as seen from the boat we took down the Thames on my second or third day in country, and as described in this post. Somewhat later in my stay, this is where I will see Romeo and Juliet.

The photo at the top of this post of the RAF Memorial was also taken from this same boat.

This is a replica of the Golden Hind, the ship captained by the legendary Sir Francis Drake on his circumnavigation of the world in 1577-1580. I’d actually seen it before from its role in the Shogun miniseries. As it happens, I never did actually get the tour. Too much to see and do.

This is the HMS Belfast, a light cruiser who participated in a number of the more interesting events of the Battle of the Atlantic in World War II. Today she’s a museum ship and one of the things I’m extremely sad I never got around to seeing in London. The days, they were packed.

This is Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square, built to commemorate Lord Horatio Nelson, of Battle of Trafalgar legend, where the British won the greatest naval battle of the Napoleonic Wars.

Trafalgar Square is at one end of the Mall, a road and extremely scenic bit of London that leads to Buckingham Palace, and more on that later.

These take some explanation. The first picture is two people in a glass box performing, such as it is, the artist On Kawara’s Reading One Million Years. The second is a postcard detailing precisely what we’re dealing with here.

And what we’re dealing with here is two people sitting in a box. One of them reads a date up to one million years in the past, and then the other one reads a date up to one million years in the future. And then they alternate back and forth, apparently for seven days and nights, though I didn’t stick around to see.

This is modern art, folks.

At the time I was there, St. Paul’s Cathedral was undergoing cleaning and restoration. As you can see from the first pic, a hundred odd years of gunk had dirtied the thing up considerably, and so most of the exterior was under those white tarps and scaffolding. They were nice enough to do a drawing of the facade on the one side in black and white, which I thought was quite a nice touch.

This is the exterior of the Royal Courts of Justice, which may be 19th century and not medieval as it appears, is still very likely nicer than whatever lame courthouse you have in your town. If you’re going to show up somewhere in an orange jumpsuit, at least show up somewhere cool, right?

This is Cleopatra’s Needle on the banks of the Thames, and it’s the first of many Egyptian or faux Egyptian obelisks that we’re going to be encountering over the course of my travels, sort of like an Egyptian Where’s Waldo – in any given European capital, where’s the Egyptian obelisk?

Do you like cultural appropriation? Boy do I have some good news for you on that front.

This, of course, is some random clock tower tacked on to Parliament. You can also kind of see Westminster Abbey in the background.

We’ll have better views of this whole thing, but this was the first set I took – all the preceeding pictures were taken either on the tour boat ride, or directly after the tour boat ride when we all broke up into little groups to explore.

Speaking of groups, this is one of my few people shots – Dustin, Katie, and Laura all taking the same picture I just took of Big Ben. Don’t ask me why, but for some reason I find taking pictures of people taking pictures of famous things quite amusing. I have my quirks.

This is a bunch of cars parked under a statue of Richard the Lionheart at Parliament. Because, to you and me, it’s an architectural marvel, one of the great buildings of the world, home to one of the great representative bodies of one of the great nations.

To those guys, it’s where they go to work every day.

Now we leap ahead to Easter. This is Stephanie and I in front of Buckingham Palace. For those of you not around in 2004, Stephanie was a friend of a friend who I got set up with to go forth and explore the wilds of London. Later, we’ll do the Erik and Stephanie 2004 Western Europe Tour of Brussels and Paris and fun times will be had. This Easter, however, we confined the meyhem to London, which was also fun and which I described here.

This is one end of St. James’ Park, just southeast of Buckingham Palace. It’s every bit as beautiful and scenic as it looks here, moreso if you’ve just spent a while wandering through the built up urban wilds of London.

I confess to you that, while I have taken many photographs on this tour, and one ought to love one’s babies equally, I think this one is my favorite. I took it from the bridge in the middle of St. James’ Park, looking towards the Horse Guards and Ministry of Defense buildings. All these ducks just so happened to come down right then, and I got kind of the perfect shot of what I later decided was my favorite spot in London.

It’s a kind of magic.

Somewhere after the park excursion, we had the bright idea to go check out Westminster Abbey, which is not the building shown in this photo – it’s kind of off to the right. As you can see, we were not the only people to have this idea on Easter, and that line of people stretching out of view is the line to get in. We left them to it.

We found this quaint little sculpture in Berkley Square Gardens, sort of on our way up to Grosvenor Square and the US Embassy, which we went and saw for some reason or other.

In any event, this is a rabbit cavorting with a donkey, which while it is not a deer precisely will have to do for our purposes.

Here we skip ahead again to the AHA group trip to Hampton Court Palace, a rather fabulous brick royal palace with all sorts of interesting decorative elements, almost none of which I have pictures of because either we weren’t allowed to take them or because I was too dumb to do so. I suspect the former but would not be surprised by the latter. I go into a bit of detail about it here.

Skipping ahead once more, this is the Roman theater at Verulamium, near modern St. Alban’s. I’d actually been there twice before this particular trip for my Roman Britain class, trying to meet up with a guy I knew a bit online. Never did find him. Did see these ruins though, which were nice, though as you’ll see there will be nicer ones later.

These are tiles bearing the silhouette of Sherlock Holmes forming the silhouette of Sherlock Holmes on the wall of Baker Street Tube station.

I’ve been a little coy about my unabashed love for the London Underground thus far, but I’m just going to come out and say that it’s the best public transportation I have had the privilege of riding. For a thing started in the 19th century, it’s quite clean and nice (unlike New York City’s), the trains are all on time (unlike many others), it’s extremely convenient from street level (again, unlike many others), the maps make some sort of sense (go to hell, New York City), and every single station is filled with character, like these heads (again, in contrast to many places). Each station has its own unique character, and I once took a day to ride the Tube about mostly just to check out station artwork.

I could keep going, but I think you get the point.

Yeah, there’s probably going to be one of these sorts of pictures at the end of just about everything. These are various tickets and things from the London stages of my trip. Left to right, top to bottom:

* My American Airlines flight to London Gatwick from Portland via Dallas-Fort Worth. My chief memories of that flight are of some Japanese kid sacking the hell out for the whole thing while I tried and failed to sleep despite having barely slept the night before.

* Admission ticket to the Cabinet War Rooms used during the Second World War as a command post for Churchill and gang. Very neat place, but not well lit and my pictures are fairly low quality. Definitely worth half an hour of your time, however.

* My Oyster card for the Underground. I paid a rather obscene sum for this as part of my AHA package, but the upside of it was that I could ride the Tube at any time to anywhere within London just by swiping said card. No ticket hassle, nothing. Very convenient, and one of my most used day to day items. Again, not to gush about the Underground some more, but these things are amazing.

* A pink Underground ticket that I used to get from Eastcote into the city on my first day. Thereafter replaced by my Oyster card, to the relief of all involved.

* Pamphlet from the Tower of London, which we will return to anon.

* Map of the British Museum, which we will likewise return to at some length very shortly.

* Pamphlet from Westminster Abbey, which I did finally get to go and see towards the end of my time in London as part of an AHA trip. We didn’t get to take pictures, and I was kind of sick, so my memories are a bit spotty, and mostly involve people tromping on the grave marker of Oliver Cromwell. I talk a bit about the experience here.

* Pamphlet from Hampton Court Palace, which I discussed above. Despite my rather short description of it, it really is a marvel and you should go check it out should you ever be there.

* Admission ticket and pamphlet from St. Paul’s Cathedral. I didn’t really talk about it much in this post (for that see this, but St. Paul’s was a fairly central landmark while roaming about the city, and I went by it a number of times before actually going in for the tour near the end of my stay. Most of my pictures are from on top, with lots of London skyline shots you aren’t going to see because I have far superior ones from the London Eye, which we’ll get to later.

Despite my giving it short shrift here, St. Paul’s is one of the few things you absolutely must see in London.

* Various tickets and boarding passes for trips to and from St. Albans. That particular saga is summed up by this post.

* A ticket for the London Eye, which as I have said we will return to later.

* A ticket for the Museum of London, a place we visited on an AHA trip when I was abysmally sick. I don’t think we were allowed to take photos as I have none, and frankly at this late date I remember nothing of the place.

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