Tuesday, April 3, 2012

That's a Wrap: Part 1

Robin and I were on different flights home. A couple of years ago a flight scheduling mix-up had resulted in her having to buy a round trip ticket home, which meant the return half of the ticket was always back to London. So to get home this time, she had to buy a one-way ticket back home. A one-way ticket on my United flight was so outrageously overpriced that she booked another airline. Still overpriced, but a bargain compared to United. So we had coffee together in Terminal 3 at Heathrow, then said "See you in Albuquerque" as we parted to look for our gates.

The final photos of our three-month journey are below and in the next blog or two. Meanwhile, memories of London, Uxbridge, Oxford, Paris, Istanbul, and Ireland are echoing in our heads. 

On our last trip in to London, we passed by this statue of Boadicea, on the edge of the Thames.

Boadicea, legendary warrior who lead her people against the Roman invaders in 61 A.D.

View of the Thames and the London Eye from the Boadicea monument.

Another view of the Thames from the Boadicea monument.

One of our quests of the day was to find The London Stone, an ancient stone that no one knows the origin of, and that the Romans used as the place from which all distances were measured. We found the general vicinity, then asked a postman who was delivering mail to a building if he knew where The London Stone was located. He didn't have a clue. Had never heard of it, in fact. But a woman entering the building gave us directions and we were about a half block away from it. See the small grill built into the wall above. Yep, that's it. It's behind the protective grill. In most places this artifact would be the star attraction. Here, it's just a minor piece of rubble that hasn't been tossed yet.

If you get really close and look through the grill, you can barely see a stone behind a pane of glass. The glass reflection made it impossible to photograph. Notice the lack of wonder and amazement of local passersby. They probably wondered why in Heaven's name we were shooting photos. Crazy American tourists.

A few steps away from the actual stone is the London Stone pub. Aha, they're certainly aware of the stone. Nope, nice try. As we take the steps downstairs into the pub, a sign says "Welcome to the World of John Dee and Magic!" John Dee! Wow. He was Queen Elizabeth's astrologer and alchemist, he was closely associated with Mary Sidney and her family, and he took on Mary's brother, the famous and beloved Philip Sidney, as a student. Guess what... you know what's coming... the employee inside had never heard of John Dee. Even though there's a larger sign as you enter, and the interior of the place is designed to look like an alchemy laboratory from the 15th century, and theres a framed document on the wall explaining who John Dee was. Notice the chalkboard on the right says "We're the sexiest basement pub in London." Yes, if sexy means an atmosphere of 15th century occultism, alchemy, and magic. After reading the sign, we assumed it was some sort of porno pub. But then we saw the John Dee sign and thought "our kind of place." 

Very John Dee, as far as I can tell. 

Robin examines the alchemy cabinets. I'd call it 15th century "Chili's" or "Friday's."

Probably a popular place at Halloween.

Robin educates the help on who John Dee was. He promised he'd read the John Dee document on the wall.

15th century versions of cubicles.

 15th century booth. Slightly creepy, but fun.

On the left, stairs lead to the street. Lots of book cases built into the walls.

This way to the ladies room. Perfect.

After a quick visit to the National Portrait Gallery at Trafalgar Square, we crossed the street for lunch in the Crypt Cafe. This crypt, underneath a historic church, has been converted to a very good cafeteria-style cafe.

Sculptures by a Polish artist greet us as we enter the Crypt's street-level entrance.

The cafe's food line.

Very crypt-ish. 

I guess this means people are still buried here.

A great place for lunch if you're in the area.

Hey pal, what're ya doin'? Waitin' for a shoe shine? Read the sign.

Tube passengers. At least two of them are having fun.