London is one of my favorite cities in the world. The two times I had visited it previously, it was part of a tour. This time, after spending a week in Paris with my brother and his son, I took the train to London all on my own. This was quite exciting. The Channel is an experience!
I stayed at the Comfort Inn on Hyde Park. It was in a lovely section of London, near so many wonderful sights. There was a tube station and a bus stop a little over a block away and the rooms were really nice and big!
I am so glad that I was able to experience London on my own. I didn’t have to rush through places, merely glancing at things as I’m hurried along. I like to experience the history, psychology and atmosphere of a place. I believe that dramatic historical events leave a psychic impression on communities and buildings.
The first & second day I walked around the area and bought a 24 hour bus tour ticket. I used this to scope out different sections. While walking around Trafalgar Square a woman asked me if I’d take a picture of her & her husband. I said sure & while I was doing that I got dropped on by a pigeon. I took that very personally; I mean, I was just trying to be nice!
My real adventure began on my third day in London. It was really cold out so I decided to take ‘The Romantic England Tour’. It was a tour of Oxford and Stratford-upon-Avon.
Oxford is really a world all its own. It is the oldest English speaking university in the world, there has been an educational institution in Oxford since 1096 and many of the present day buildings date back that far. Lewis Carroll, the author of ‘Alice in Wonderland’; C. S. Lewis, author of ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ and J. R. R. Tolkien, author of ‘The Lord of the Rings’, all went to Oxford at the same time. They would meet at a pub called ‘The Eagle and Child’. I ate lunch there and had a wonderful time imagining the three of them sitting at a table and fantasizing about alternate realities and worlds.
Our next stop was Stratford-Upon-Avon, Shakespeare’s home. The town itself was awe inspiring because so much is still like it was in the 1500’s. There were also little groups discussing his life and works going on in every gathering place.
We got to visit Canterbury. You wouldn’t believe the Canterbury Cathedral; it is so grand and beautiful! It overwhelms you to walk around inside and imagine Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury being killed there. There is also a wonderful Chaucer museum in Canterbury where there are little role-plays being put on based on Chaucer’s stories. It was mesmerizing to walk around this area and just soak up the history, energy and thoughts of the people that have lived and died in this wonderful city.
I next ventured out to Somerset House; if you ever go to London, be sure and visit this beautiful place. I hate to call it a house because it was spread out over an area the size of an American block. It was huge, with an open area in the middle containing diverse gardens and dancing fountains. I spent most of my time in the section called the Courtland Gallery; it had a fantastic collection of Renaissance and Impressionist art.
I also got to check out the Sherlock Holmes Museum at 221 B Baker Street. It is a cornucopia of scenes and characters from the many books about the Sherlock Holmes escapades. From the Sherlock Holmes Museum I took a bus to Bloomsbury. This is one of my favorite sections of London. I walked by Virginia Woolf’s home on Fitzroy Square where she would often stand looking out the window while she worked on her books.
After a lot of walking around I finally found the Charles Dickens Museum; in case you can’t tell, I’m fascinated by authors. It’s in the Dickens’ Bloomsbury home. The most exciting part of this excursion was when I went to the basement. In the study there was a professor conducting a round table discussion about the works of Charles Dickens. I sat and listened for a while and learned some interesting information about what was going on in London during Dickens’ lifetime.
This was by far my most exciting, fun and educational trip I’ve taken so far. I began saving for my next trip the minute I got home.