Today I managed to fit in Westminster Abbey, a visit to Grosvenor Square, a trip to Foyle’s, and dinner at Nando’s one last time.
My throat was still sort of sore. I think it’s all the air conditioning when I really don’t need it. Who needs air conditioning when it’s 70F?
The other major annoying thing today– tourists. If I had a major city, I would never let tourists in. They can be the most rude and obnoxious people sometimes.
Case in point number one. I’m standing in line at Westminster Abbey. I look up for 2 seconds, the line moves 2 feet, and 4 people cut in front of me. I’m tired at the time, so I decide not to make a scene. I mean, really, if it looks like there’s a line, and people are standing in it, even if there’s a bit of a break in it, don’t you usually ask, “Hey, are you standing in line here?” just to make sure you’re not cutting? Because cutting is just one of the lowest forms of line behavior I can think of.
But that’s not the bit that really annoyed me. What really bugged me was when nine people walked up to one of the cutters and start babbling in Dutch about how glad they were he saved them a spot in line.
Seriously? Is it me, or is that rude? I think it’s beyond rude. If you want to stand in line, then get in the back like everyone else. Don’t make your kid hold a place for you.
In this case, a father made his son stand in line for him, then brought the rest of the extended family along later, while they brought food with them. Must be nice.
Westminster Abbey. No Matter What I Say, You’re Still Going to Go There, Aren’t You?
Welcome to Westminster Abbey, where you can see all of the famous dead people in England, all piled in one place, and walk on top of their tombs.
It’s kind of a creepy place. I suppose it’s because the whole idea of walking over other peoples’ graves doesn’t sit well with me. The architecture is beautiful, but I can only see so many dead people before my eyes start to glaze over.
Poet’s Corner was kind of nice, in that it was a Norton Anthology of English Literature, all dead and piled in one corner. (Or I suppose the Dead Poets’ Society is more apropos?)
What I did not like was the abusive use of audio guides. If you didn’t give them £5, you weren’t going to find out anything about anything, unless you were up for some exhaustive tomb-reading.
The map’s sole purpose was to show you what buttons to press on your audio guide, and provided scant information otherwise. They already shook me down for £18 just to get in the building, so the least they could do is cough up some info about the place. It was the same feeling I got visiting any other major tourist trap.
It was a pretty building, and it was somewhat impressive, but I did not like the shakedown game.
Oh, and forget about taking any photos there.
One cool thing: they have the practice crown jewels in the museum. They look just like the real things, so you can avoid the huge line at the Tower of London and just look at the fakes. Unless you’re a jeweler, you’re not going to be able to tell the difference.
OMG. Where Is He Putting That Stick???
Here’s my gross Westminster Abbey story (skip it if you’re about to eat lunch): Before you can go into the admission office to cough up your £18, a security guard has to search your bag. He was using some sort of a drumstick or something to poke through everyone’s bags.
At the security point, there’s also a place where you’re supposed to throw out your gum. Well, security guy sees that disgusting tourists have been being disgusting tourists, and using the gum trap to throw away half-eaten sandwiches. So what does he do? He uses the stick to wad up a bunch of gum and half-eaten sandwiches and tosses them out in another trash can.
Yikes. Then he goes back to poking that same stick in everyone else’s backpacks. Double yikes. Fortunately, he had already gone through mine, but God only knows where that stick had already been.
If I can, I’m going to boil my backpack.
Westminster Abbey in a nutshell: pretty building. Lots of famous dead people, lots of obnoxious tourists, and a place that will try to shake every pound off of you.
But you’ll probably go anyway, because every guidebook says you have to, and it’s part of the “London Experience,” whatever that is.
Just tell the guy not to put that nasty stick in your bag.
After that, it was off to Grosvenor Square to see the new statue of Ronald Reagan, because I promised a childhood friend who is a huge Reagan fan that I’d snap a few photos for him. To find Ronnie, I got off the Tube at Bond Street, which has a neat shopping center attached to it.
From there, I went to Grosvenor Square Park, where I found a statue of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and a monument dedicated to 9/11, but no Ronnie. I headed across the street to the US Embassy, and found Dwight Eisenhower in his General’s uniform on one corner of the embassy, and when I went to the other corner, I found president number 40, 10 feet tall and bronze.
I took my photos and headed back to the station and did a little cold-prevention shopping, just in case. Then it was off to Tottenham Court Road and Foyle’s.
I’ve been wanting to go to Foyle’s for a very long time. It’s one of the great bookstores in the world. They have a huge selection of books. I spent some time just wandering around, looking at books. It was a lot of fun.
I went to their Japanese section, and to my surprise, I found books in Japanese. I wound up buying a copy of “The Little Prince” in Japanese, as well as a book on Japanese Linguistics. I headed downstairs, and bought some postcards and a couple of Whitelines notebooks.
I’m keen to give the Whitelines products a try, because I usually just use copy paper, but copy paper can make for messy work. What would be ideal would be Whitelines products made for Japanese, or at least just graph paper pages with bigger boxes.
Then it was time to head back to Earls Court. I stopped by Gregg’s one last time for tomorrow morning’s porridge, cleaned up, then headed out to Nando’s for a last dinner on the high street. I’m going to miss that delicious chicken.
On the way to Nando’s I stopped by an internet cafe and printed up my boarding pass.
Group 2. Yatta!