Sunday, March 25, 2012

A Tale of Two Rivers - Part I: The Thames

So a long while back in 2010 I had a posting of cool things I'd been lucky enough to do in my life (Already in the Bucket). I thought often of that posting in the last few weeks of traveling that I had to do for work.

I was fortunate enough to be asked to attend 2 meetings in Europe for work - one in London at the beginning of March, and one in Basel, Switzerland last week.

First off, before you think I'm cool or anything, I have to admit that traveling like that - spending a couple days overseas, flying home, having our stupid early time change here in the US, then flying out to Switzerland, staying for a couple days and coming home.......HOLY COW it did me in. Last Wednesday coming home from the airport, I just about made it home I was so freaking tired. How do people travel all the time? Am I just a huge wimp? Wow. I might have shaved a few years off my lifespan these past few weeks. But don't worry, I have a trip to Jamaica later this year where I'll add them back on. :-)


So while in London for the London meeting, I was able to spend a few hours sightseeing and was truly fortunate to be staying in a hotel right across the Thames from Big Ben. And when I say, right across, I mean, RIGHT ACROSS. Here's the view from my hotel's front door.

So I got to walk across the bridge and over the Thames river like Jessie and LeStat at the end of the Queen of the Damned movie (yes, sorry, I do enjoy that horrible horrible movie and how could I not think of it while crossing that bridge) and marched myself right over to Westminster Abbey with the Kidneythieves song from the movie ending playing in my head.

I'd been to Westminster Abbey once before while actually on vacation and had really enjoyed it, so I thought it would be wonderfully decadent not only to go again, but to listen to every single word of the tour and really just wallow in it. And I did! I spent a good 2 1/2 hours there just really soaking in it in, reading every plaque and listening to every option on the walking audio tour. They don't allow pictures inside, but I took many in the cloisters and outside areas.

One funny note, at least it was funny to me, is that they had Jeremy Irons doing the spoken audio tour. Now, I really like Jeremy Irons as an actor, but the last thing I'd seen him in is the Borgias series where he plays the not-so-holy Borgia Pope.

So hearing him speak so nicely about the Abbey and inviting me to stay for a service if I liked felt kind of ironic, but in a fun way. :-)

The sheer volume of famous people buried at Westminster is a bit hard to grasp. And when I say "famous", it's not just plain old famous, but more like legendary, at least to a student of English history like I am.

Below are a few of the pics I took where I was allowed to take pictures. I actually bought a big fat hard-back coffee table book as a treat to myself that has all the inside pictures (but much better of course) that I would have taken.

I also managed to squeeze in a visit to the National Portrait Gallery where I spent time mainly in the wing for 12th-15th centuries, and a visit over to the Temple Church (famously shown in the Da Vinci Code movie).

At the National Portrait gallery I bought my second huge coffee table book to lug back to the states - a big old book on ossuaries (places where the bones of the dead are stored). I can't help it, I just love really old churches/cathedrals and cemeteries/crypts!!!

And yes, I realize I could have gotten both these books on amazon or wherever, but it's much better to look at my bookcase and say, there's the book I lugged back from London, and over there's the book I bought while traveling through in the Trossachs and then of course there was that one time I was sailing past Majorca (just kidding on that last one... who gets the reference?)

So anyway, here are a few pics of the Temple Church and Trafalgar Square outside the National Portrait Gallery.

I'm so glad I had a few hours to walk around London on this trip!!! I feel very fortunate.

In Part 2, I'll talk about the trip to Switzerland!


  1. These are WONDERFUL photos and of course I got the arcane reference. ;->

  2. Looks like our UK weather wasn't too bad for you :-) Nice to see the Temple Church as I live not far from Rosslyn Chapel which is small, but a must-see next time you come over.

  3. Thank you Bill!!! And yes Jo, the weather was not too bad, I couldn't ask for more to have a bit of sunshine! I was lucky enough during a previous vacation to see Rosslyn Chapel - LOVED it!!!! I really want to see it again though, during our visit there was scaffolding outside for preservation.