Shakey Graves at the Jefferson Theater, November 17th, 2013
- 7 months ago
- 7 months ago
- 8 months ago
London bears a lot more in common with New York City than Dublin. Dublin is a tiny city, less than 50 square miles and populated by a measly 1.3 million people (and that’s one of the more liberal estimates). New York City encompasses almost 500 square miles and has a population of near 8.5 million. London is just a little bit bigger and slightly less populated.
That was just to put things in perspective. London and NYC are totally different. Thanks to all of the fires and bombs dropped on it in WWII, London’s buildings constitute a medley of different styles. Unlike New York City, London boasts buildings that date back to the late 11th century. What makes it unique and so appealing is that these buildings ( one of which predates the First Crusade) coexist alongside the kind of modern buildings you find in NYC. Old and new are peppered chaotically throughout, almost like paint on a piece of modern art.
So Lucas and I are in the heart of London. It took us a long time to get all of the Harry Potter jokes out of our systems. We rode buses for hours around, seeing all of the bridges and major tourist attractions. It was scorching weather for London, almost 85 degrees Fahrenheit. We were sweaty and disgusting with all of our possessions strapped to our backs, decked out in jeans and long shirts. We got off the bus around London Bridge in an attempt to see Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. The attempt was a bust; the thing is surrounded by newer buildings and you can’t go in unless you pay. Luckily, we passed Borough Market on the way and ate delicious Catalan stew.
St. Paul’s Cathedral is incredible. It survived the bombing of London during the Great War. Thankfully it was only hit by incendiaries. Cheapness seemed to characterize our London trip as we left St. Paul’s after being told we had to pay to see the rest of it. Fortunately, Sunday’s are free for those coming in to worship so we got to see the beautiful ceilings and arches of both St. Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey without emptying out our wallets. Westminster Abbey is the most beautiful church I have seen. I might not be able to say that in two weeks after seeing the Vatican but I will at least be able to say it is the most beautiful Protestant church I have seen. The sermon we heard was refreshing and the building itself was inspiring. “Splendor” is the word that comes to mind when I think of what I saw there.
Buckingham Palace was alright. Those guys sure do wear funny hats. Before leaving we also saw the Twining’s teashop which has been in the same location since 1706. One of my favorite stops was Samuel Johnson’s house, right off of Fleet Street (of Sweeney Todd fame). No one else was on that back street when we visited. It was strange but relaxing to be the only people on a street in London. Dr. Johnson (not to be confused with Shakespeare’s contemporary, Ben Jonson) was the man who wrote the dictionary that was Britain’s most commonly used for 150 years.
I did a lot more than I have written but even still I wish I had had the time to do more. If you’re ever in London, go to the restaurant underneath London Bridge on the side south of Thames. Lucas and I went there and got the biggest meal I have eaten since being in Europe. It was immensely enjoyable and we felt like regular Londonites, since all the other customers were construction workers.