Sunday, November 04, 2007


Before coming back to the States, I spent a day and a half in London, including two nights in the World's Smallest Hotel Room.It was considered a bargain at the (discounted) rate of about $110 per night.

Two of my friends from school were working as TAs for a Study Abroad group in London, and they were kind enough to show me around town. We got lunch at the Borough Market, and ate on the banks of the Thames. Here are Elisabeth and Anna, with the Gherkin in the background.

I wanted to see the Tower of London, so we walked down to the river to the Tower Bridge.
We stood by the bridge for a while and talked about life, and England, and grad school, and politics ... it was like a Hemingway novel, but without the absinthe and the existential despair. We must have stood there for close to an hour. It was a beautiful day, sunny and perfectly mild. As I stood there with my friends, suddenly I thought that I had been waiting my whole life to stand under that bridge and look at that river, and I had never known it until I was there.

We crossed the bridge and walked around the Tower, but I didn't go in and take the tour ... I'll have to do it next time. Note to Sir Walter Scott: this is what a real castle looks like.

I look really cheerful here, for someone who's standing in front of a notorious dungeon.

At some point on the way from the Tower to the British Library, we passed a random stone wall left by the Romans. You can walk right up to it and touch it and everything. With all due respect to Robert Frost, I totally love this particular wall.

So it turns out you're not allowed to take pictures in the gallery at the British Library. In my defense, I would just like to say that A) I wasn't using a flash, and B) there aren't any signs saying that you can't take pictures, which I thought there would be if they didn't want you doing it. I only got a few shots before I heard one of the guards admonish someone else for taking pictures, and put my camera away. The color isn't great because I had to adjust the image to make it more visible, but here's a page from The Canterbury Tales:You can just barely make out the gold illumination at the bottom of the page on the right.

Seeing this manuscript was a very serious thrill:Of course the originals of old manuscripts and documents must exist somewhere, but I couldn't believe I was looking at the actual, physical copy of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

This is the only other thing I got a picture of - it's Sir Thomas More's last letter to Henry VIII.

I could have spent days and days in the gallery. They had an amazing exhibit of sacred Jewish, Christian, and Islamic texts in addition to all the "usual" stuff. You know, like the Magna Carta.

Later that night we went to a play at the National Theatre. It was in the Cottesloe, which is very small and intimate. The play we saw was The Enchantment, by 19th-century Swedish author Victoria Benedictsson. Yeah, I'd never heard of it either, but it was a good production. On the way back to Kensington I got some night shots of London, including Parliament and Big Ben

and the London Eye.

The aquarium had storm troopers on the roof. I do not know why.


Heidi said...

What... you're sneaking photographs in the Library/Museum... and you DIDN'T TAKE A PICTURE OF THE PICTURE OF THE BEOWULF MANUSCRIPT???????? What is this? lol.

Nicole said...

i LOVE london--i wish you could have had a little bit more time there. although i have to say that in all my three visits to the city, i have never seen storm troopers on the roof of the aquarium. or anywhere else, for that matter. you are one lucky lady.

Melynn said...

Tave, I just visited your blog for the first time and read through your entire trip to England. Wow. I'm envious, but grateful. How did life pull me from this for which I yearn (sounds like a quote, but it's not), and drag me to the sands and tombs of Egypt? I feel torn between my love for "home" and the path my feet have been placed on. Thanks for sharing the pictures!

Sara said...

hey, that London B&B room seems to be even smaller than the one in Grasmere... :)

Octavia said...

Yeah. A lot smaller.

prism said...

[looking at the last few posts]
Tave, thank you so much for posting those photos - they are wonderful. Thank you for sharing.