by Nicole Willson
On Saturday morning, Bill and I went to the British Museum.
Unfortunately, every other tourist in London had apparently had that exact same idea.
This unfortunate person was beaten to death when he got in the way of someone’s iPhone shot of an Egyptian statue.
The building was gorgeous, though.
We escaped to a higher floor and were rewarded with the very interesting and seasonally appropriate Witches and Wicked Bodies exhibit.
After Bill nearly got elbowed off of his seat at lunch because he had the nerve to be in the way of some jerkass’s perfect shot of his family at the table (“Here we are eating! Isn’t that so exciting!?”), we’d had enough and decided to head out. We walked to the Bloomsbury district in search of a bookstore Bill had read about prior to our trip.
An aside: London, I am insanely jealous of your bookstore scene. The night before, we’d gone to a huge Waterstone’s bookstore in Piccadilly. Six floors — a restaurant and bar on the top floor and a cafe in the basement. We got temporarily confused during our search for the Bloomsbury bookstore, but passed two more used bookstores within two blocks of the place we were looking for. And I spotted several other new and used bookstores on our various treks through London. Stores like that are dying on the vine in the US, and I don’t understand why.
Anyhow, we stopped for a pint in a wonderfully quiet pub. We were both amused that this quiet pub — the first one where we’d had no trouble finding a seat and settling in — was next to a university. Something about that just seemed wrong.
I loved the birdcages hanging from the ceiling of the pub.
We went to the Tate Gallery on Sunday. I’d been interested in this place almost exclusively because I’d heard that the building offered stunning views of London; frankly, I can take or leave a lot of modern “art”. But the promised view did not disappoint.
This piece from a Louise Bourgeois exhibit made me laugh.
Afterwards, we walked out on the river walk by the museum.
I really liked watching this Grim Reaper freak people out. Folks didn’t realize there was a human in there until the Reaper would suddenly stretch a hand out at them. The Reaper was cool. (And I’m still not entirely sure how s/he appeared to be levitating.)
Bill and I took a walk over the Millennium Bridge and back. I’d only ever seen that bridge being trashed by Death Eaters in the beginning of “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.” I’m happy to report that it’s all better now.
And then Bill suggested that we follow the river walk and head for the London Eye. We’d been planning to go ride the Eye on Monday morning, but the day was beautiful and I still felt reasonably energetic, so why not?
Now here’s the thing: I’ve seen the Eye in lots of shows like “Sherlock” and “Doctor Who.” I know that sucker is big.
But when we finally reached it and I looked up and saw that it appeared only slightly shorter than the Washington Monument at its top height? Something inside of me reacted like this:
I didn’t realize how afraid I’ve become of heights until that moment.
However, we’d walked all that way and I didn’t want to be taunted by any glimpses of the Eye in future TV shows. “Ha ha, you big wimp — remember when you chickened out like a big baby?” So I swallowed my nerves and asked Bill to go ahead and get me a ticket too.
The wait for tickets was probably longer than the actual wait to get on the Eye, and soon enough we were moving. Each car holds about 20 people with a big bench in the middle for those of us with sore feet. The Eye takes about 45 minutes to go through one rotation very slowly, so slowly that when I’d spot it from elsewhere in the city I often thought it wasn’t moving at all.
Nice view of Parliament from the bottom of the Eye.
I tried to distract myself from being scared by taking selfies and making stupid faces. It didn’t really work.
Higher and higher …
I started to relax once we’d gone over the top. Just as we were getting really close to the bottom and I started looking out at the street scene below and thinking “Hey, that restaurant over there could be interesting for dinner …” the damn thing stopped and then started rotating back UP. A gaggle of kids who’d been standing nearby all turned around to look at me, as if of course I’d know what the hell was going on. Boy, were they looking to the wrong grown-up for reassurance.
Anyhow, the Eye stopped moving again before we reached the top a second time and rotated back down to the wonderful, beautiful, amazing ground.
I think half the reason I do these things is because it feels so awesome when they’re over and none of my worst fears came to pass. There was a very convenient Tube stop nearby and we headed over there, rode home, and ate at a nearby pizza place for dinner, where I had a big glass of “How cool is it that I didn’t die?” wine, followed by a “Hey, I’m still alive!” pint at the Nellie Dean, the pub closest to our hotel.
I loved the name of this beer (and the beer itself wasn’t bad).
Part III to come shortly.