Noi6 means "the 6 of us" in Romanian.

We are five, you are the sixth one.

We thank you for joining us in our trip around the world...

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Visiting United Kingdom's Capital

We are so spoiled! 

After so many months on the road, we are complaining of a little bit of deprivation of sleep due to uncomfortable chairs. Like all the night buses should have recline-able chairs with a hood to shelter your face as in Japan! Spoiled or not we are sleep-walking to our hostel, where we find out that we can’t enter our room until 3 o’clock. It looks like a dorm one... Well, we’re on a budget, it will do.

After a good night sleep we can’t wait to pick up our girls from the airport. Happy to be together, sad that they don’t have a new stamp in their passports. 

They brought bagels! 

And talked, every second until we got home, and then some more!

But we have no time for this, we’re on a tight schedule here, so it’s British Library for us to see Magna Carta and other stuff. They are guarded in a special room, with special lighting, and no pictures and we got lost in Leonardo d’a Vinci’s journal (we could flip its electronic pages) or Jane Austin “History of England” that she wrote when she was 13. In the same room there were the Bible, printed by Gutenberg, the Qumran, some Hindu scrolls, maps before Columbus’ discovery and the words for “A Hard Day’s Night” by Beatles. From Magna Carta, the famous document that limited for the first time the king’s rights, only three articles are still used.Getting out, there was a whole wall with frames, all containing stamps.

The rare Romanian stamp

Next day we go again to the airport, this time to pick up the grandparents. We didn’t see them since China, and we’re happy to spend some days together. 

Red, yellow and blue, the Romanian flag between others

Even the underground is decked for the olympics.

We catch them in our whirl, and go to Westminster Abbey. What could have been a nightmare in the morning (because of the crowds) is a peaceful visit in the evening. The church is softly lit and quiet. Ileana keeps going on long and weird ways in order not to step on the graves (Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Lawrence Olivier and many others). We take our time and visit everything there is to see, and we get to listen to the rehearsals of the choir.

A series of graceful sportive sculpture decorate the city.

The cloister of Westminster Abbey

Big Ben, Parliament Building and the Ferris Wheel

Next day the children are treated by the grandparents with Buckingham Palace, as the Queen is spending the month of August somewhere else (the parents skipped this one, as they’ve seen it and didn’t want a repeat). 

Only in UK!

Then, British Museum. 

Alaskan totem poles

Finally a place where we could take pictures inside. We’re trying to follow Rick Steve’s comprehensive tour, as we two did two years ago, but now we’re five, there is a crowd, and the tour is not the most easy to follow.

Rossetta Stone with its three writings that cracked the code.

The different types of wood used in building one sarcophagi

Hunting lions, detail of a Mesopotamian bas-relief

 In this museum are hosted the friezes of Parthenon, the temple dedicated to Athena, built on the Acropolis, Greece. They are faded, most of the faces are eroded or broken, but you feel like they are momentarily frozen, on pause, for sure they would continue to move, if let. 

There is a debate: the Greeks want the friezes back, its their patrimony; the Brits say they saved them from sure disaster, they preserved them and they have better possibilities. In Greece you have to pay to visit the Parthenon, British Museum is free. What would be the solution to this problem?

And the next day we are first in line at the Tower of London, to see the crown jewels. The grandparents are briefed, they are ready to jog and skip all the photo opportunities, 

we enter the building and... we are blocked by a mass of olympics! Fortunately they have a guide, who has to talk and show them different things, very important if you’ve never seen them, so we pass and have all the crowns, all for us (if we don’t consider the yeomen), for 7 minutes. They are not that old as other regal crowns, Oliver Cromwell had them melted, still, they are beautiful. Beside them there were trays and punch bowls made of solid gold, so much gold it almost seemed kitsch.

Then we just moved around, saw the White Tower with the armory exhibition and walked on the wall.

The next objective is just a short bus trip away:

St. Paul: we visited ground level with every nook and cranny,

 admired Henry Moore's "Mother and Child",

 underground with all the burials (Lord Nelson), whispered in the inside cupola, climbed all the claustrophobic stairs to be on top of the outside dome, took the view in. 

I talked with the pastor, asking him why do they have Orthodox icons in their Anglican church. He said that St. Paul is an international church, they would like everybody to feel included, after all they had a memorial service for a Muslim, aren’t I glad to have the icons there? 

This is actually from the airport, but illustrates their wish of including everybody.

The last day we went to the National Gallery where we split up, leaving each and one of us to view whatever he/she wanted in his/her rhythm. Having my brain in a strike, refusing to receive any more information, I just looked, for something to catch my eye, for something original, and then, and only then, I would look for the author. 

Tsk, tsk, wake up!

The rest of the afternoon we spent it with the grandparents in the Trafalgar Square, watching paralympics on a huge screen. 

I remember vaguely when they started, as olympic games for people with handicaps. It’s my first time watching it. And I am impressed: sitting volleyball, for people who have knee or ankle problems, or a kind of blind ball game where they are hearing the direction of the ball, beside cycling with a missing arm or leg, basketball from a wheelchair and so on. I realize there are so many young people with a physical handicap, I wonder if it has anything to do with wars. And that many are from the so called first world countries and none from the third world ones. This is a reality that many able bodied people are not aware of... Twenty two years ago this square was empty of commercial things. Two years ago I was negatively impressed by the huge podium, that blocked the view of Nelson’s column and it’s lions. But now my heart is warmed, the gigantic screen brings together the people that surround me. I see a little girl with Down syndrome, a woman in a wheel chair, all the tourists and Londoners waving British flags, clapping and cheering for every achievement, no matter from what country.

London! This is no longer a Londoner’s city, it’s a cosmopolitan one with Turks, Greeks, Italians. At the hostel I noticed a small group having dinner. I couldn’t figure out from where they were. They were talking in German. Then two of them started in French. Another guy joined the group and talked in Portuguese and the others understood! I presume they all knew English. I wondered what chance has an American here?  

There is much more to see in it, but we have to leave something for the children to discover by themselves, if they choose to do so. 

Good bye London! 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comment form message here