Being already half way across the world it seemed self-evident that we simply must pause in London for several days on the journey back from Africa. (See previous post.)
We had four days to cram as much of London into our souls as possible. Of course, this only whetted my appetite for further acquaintance.
Naturally, the first thing to do after stuffing our luggage into the tiny, retro-decorated, no-screens-on-the-windows, hotel room and falling into exhausted heaps on the beds (and giggling at the dichotomy of one bed being as springy as a trampoline and the other as hard as a stone)…was to seek sustenance. Wrapped in our mittens and caps, we sat on the terrace of a pub eating fish-and-chips while a young father regaled his impossibly cute offspring with mythic tales and a scruffy drunk contemplated his bottle. People are fascinating.
We spoiled ourselves with tickets to the theatre every evening. First up was David Suchet (Hercule Poirot if you’re up on British TV) in the classic comedy, “The Importance of Being Earnest”. We sat in the highest, steepest balcony and felt as though we were in the living room of Algernon Moncrieff’s flat.
St. Martin’s-in-the-Field which is on…
Trafalgar Square! There was some sort of football festivities cluttering up the view.
Also, on the Square is the National Gallery. We spent all morning wandering through the works of Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, and Monet. It was glorious to take all the leisurely, meandering time we wanted.
I realized a bit too late on that taking photos was allowed. Oh well.
All afternoon we explored the treasure-filled labyrinth of the British Museum.
It was hard to comprehend just how ancient the oftentimes enormous artifacts are.
In the evening, we had supper at the Bad Egg before immersing ourselves in the experience of getting to watch Benedict Cumberbatch play “Hamlet”. #1 of Top Three Things We Did in London. Utterly mesmerizing and completely riveting.
The Monument to Wellington and the Battle of Waterloo.
We and a bazillion other tourists decided it would be a good idea to go see the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace. Mostly we got to see the band and the tops of their hats, but, still it was an experience.
From the bridge in St. James’s Park. Looking toward the London Eye. (The view the other direction was Buckingham Palace.)
Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.
Oh you know, just the Cabinet War Rooms.
Outside the Red Lion where we dined upstairs on delicious pies and learned that it was a favorite haunt of Charles Dickens and various Prime Ministers.
Another Top Three Favorite: The centuries of living and worshiping enfolded in the exquisite walls of Westminster Abbey give off an atmosphere of compelling weight. We loved it immediately and visited twice. The first time to tour and the second time to an amazing, free, organ recital of Mendelssohn and Schubert.
The purposeful frenzy of the Subway Station.
Phantom of the Opera!
St. Boltoph’s-without-Aldersgate/London City Presbyterian Church. Unassuming on the outside…beautiful on the inside.
Last of the Top Three: London City Presbyterian Church.
After the greatly inspiring church times in Uganda I was expecting church in London to be rather stuffy and lukewarm in comparison. Ha! Never discount the Spirit’s ability to work in very different ways and places. The church we visited was tucked in a leafy courtyard just off a rather dull, modern, industrial street. It’s an Anglican building rented by the Free Church of Scotland (Scottish Reformed) and it was marvelously alive! Full of extremely friendly, welcoming people of all ages and nationalities just as passionate about Jesus and the Gospel as those in Africa. It was an extremely encouraging, challenging, and energizing morning of worshiping through song, prayer, and the preaching of the Word with fellow believers. (Besides which they served us biscuits [cookies] and real, loose-leaf tea after the service. :) )
St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Harrod’s was like a Willy Wonka, movie world, department store. I had been told previously (and correctly) that the best of the glittering array was the “Food Court”. There I overheard a gentleman buying 100 pounds worth of caviar, stared at mountains of chocolate and walls of tea, and purchased a scrumptious duck and orange meat pie and a superb pear and dark chocolate dessert.
The looming White Tower which forms the central fortress of the Tower of London.
The entire layout of the Tower is enormous and we could’ve spent hours there. As we were rather short on time we concentrated on the Crown Jewels and the armories of the White Tower. Fascinating history. The quaint building in the left-hand photo is presumably one of the residential sections that the Tower guards or caretakers live in.
Tower Bridge as seen from the Tower of London.
The Thames and Parliament as seen from the London Eye. The Eye had “mechanical difficulties” while we were on it and we ended up being “stuck” near the top for a good 20-30 minutes which was perfect.
Lovely end to an excellent visit.