The test’s over. My brain still resembles Jell-O, but it’s time to be a tourist.
So let’s start off big. How about the British Museum? Is that big enough for you?
It’s big enough for me.
I headed off to the Russell Square tube station, and encountered a sort of tube station that I haven’t encountered before. There are no escalators, just 3 giant elevators, and a spiral staircase with 175 steps and a warning that was no joke.
When my train pulled in, the access to the
lifts elevators was jam-packed. It looked like it would take a while, so like a dummy, I thought, “Well, it’s only 175 steps. How bad can it be?”
Remember how I said I’ve seen people make luggage mistakes before? I saw someone make a luggage mistake that looked like it could very well have been fatal– she was trying to lug a giant suitcase up these stairs.
I was having a hard time just trying to get my chunky American frame up the stairs. 175 steps… that has to be what? 12 stories? I stopped more and more frequently as I got near the top, because I was starting to see bright lights and hear the voices of what could be long-dead ancestors beckoning.
Turns out it was just the main station.
The downside of my stupid escapade on the stairs was that it took a lot out of me. That was energy and strength that I would need for my assault on the British Museum, which is no less of a monster than the stairs at Russell Square Station.
Getting There is Half the Fun
To get to the museum from the station, I cut straight across Russell Square Park, which is a lovely green area, then dodged the crazy traffic in the circle, walked down a street, turned a corner, and bam! There it was.
The British Museum is not to be trifled with.
It’s free to get in (you ought to make a donation), but things like maps, guides, and audio guides all cost money. If you want an audio guide, be prepared to leave some sort of photo ID, like a driver’s license or a passport behind.
The museum is camera-friendly. Take pictures of whatever you want. Seriously, go for it. They don’t care one bit. I had fun, because most American and Japanese museums would wig out at that idea.
Here’s the rub– if you take the audio guide and you carry a camera around your neck, you are in for some suffering. I had both, and both annoyed the hell out of me. I wound up never using the guide, anyway, as everything in the museum is well-labeled.
Skip the audio guide, unless you can’t read.
The Treasures of the World–Now the Treasures of Great Britain!
First off I took a look at the treasures of Ancient Greece. They had lots of neat stuff, none of which I can remember the names of. I am a terrible and uncultured person. But it was all very impressive, and I took lots of pictures.
The bits they took from the Acropolis were very moving, as were the sculptures of the heads of the four major philosophers, and the sculpture of Alexander the Great.
Then it was off to Egypt. I was more interested in the sculptures than the mummies, to be honest. I always thought that the obsession with the display of old dead bodies to be kind of gruesome, yet that was the part of the museum that was the most jam-packed. Figures.
I think there should be a rule that any archaeologist that displays a body in a museum also has to be displayed in a museum when they die so hordes of sweaty future tourists can gawk at them.
It’s only fair.
After those two sections, my legs were starting to die off, because this museum is HUGE, and my hiking shoes are 4 years old, and on their way out. I knew I only had one more section left in me, and then I’d have to turn tail and run back.
I decided to head to the Japan section. (Hey, that’s my main interest.) It was a nice display that carries you from the Joumon period all the way to modern Japan.
By then I was totally beat, so it was time to shuffle back to Earls Court.
I went to the office supply store on the high street on the way back to the hotel to buy boxes, packing tape, and a magic marker, because I need to get rid of these books I don’t need. I don’t want to have to carry them back with me on the plane, and I want to have more room for souvenirs.
At least that’s the logic.
Not sure about dinner tonight. Nando’s again? Or maybe just more sandwiches?