After a stop at TKTS to buy theatre tickets first thing in the morning, we headed off to The British Museum. Or as I like to call it, The British Museum of Pillaging and Thievery. Due to the British having the biggest and strongest army/navy for so many centuries, they’ve stolen every antiquity across the Western Hemisphere and put it all in one huge museum. I’m not complaining; The chances of me getting to Thebes or Athens are slim-to-none. I just find it a little appalling that they somehow think that they have the right to keep all the good stuff for themselves.
At any rate there it all is in a big museum. And it’s free. Which is utterly wonderful. There is a big plexiglass case in the entry hall where you can slip some money for a donation. It isn’t necessary and nobody keeps track of the amount you donate. But it’s rather rude to not donate something.
Rick Steves has some audio tours of this place that we downloaded ahead of time. We tried to listen to them but he really is insufferable. His dorky sense of humor is not funny at all and we barely learned a thing. So back into the pocket went Rick and we chose to read the very well-marked exhibits instead.
Here’s Cleopatra’s mummy. She was only seventeen when she died and you’d think they could have found a better artist to paint her mummy. She looks like Olive Oyl.
Also on display are the Elgin Marbles. These were taken from the Acropolis in Athens because, hey, why not? And to rub salt on the wound they’re not called the Parthenon Marbles or seomthing that makes sense like that. No, they’re named after Lord Elgin (that’s Elgin with a hard -g. Which is how we pronounce the town in Texas), the guy who took took them back to England. Supposedly Britain paid for them. But they received permission from some Turkish Sultan so how does any of it make sense?
This section was from the pediment. Even after all this time, that drapery still looks gorgeous.
The British Museum has things from just about everywhere. This is a statue from India called a Garuda. It’s the creature that Lord Vishnu rides around on. Personally, I think it looks like a Pokémon.
The British Museum is a place that everyone should visit at least once. There’s quite a lot of remarkable things to see. It also has the best café of any museum I’ve ever been to. Look at this snack bar!
I really wanted to visit the Geffrye Museum after the British Museum, but I realized that this was our last full day in England and I hadn’t done any bra shopping yet, so this was my last chance. Yes, you read that right. Bra shopping. Ever since my eyes were opened to properly-fitting bras I just can’t bear to buy poorly-fitting American ones. British ones tend to fit me the best. In the U.S. they’re upwards of $65 a piece. So I thought I might stock up while I was in the Motherland. Surprisingly the men of the family were not too interested in this. So off they went to have lunch and ride the London Eye (being terrified of heights I was happy that they could do it without me).
I found some great bras that were much cheaper than in the US but I managed to lose my Oyster card in the process (you get your £5 deposit for the card refunded if you turn it back in when you’re done with it). Since we still had the rest of the day of traveling in London, I went and bought a one-day pass. It was over £8. Moral of the story, Travelcards are a better deal and you should try not to lose yours.
After shopping (I bought several t-shirts for the kids at Next which has lots of affordable clothes for children and adults) we met up with the menfolk at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. This Globe isn’t the original. It’s a reproduction based on the few clues about the original Globe Theatre that have been found over the years. It was built using authentic construction methods; the only differences being modern safety features. After the Great Fire in 1666, thatched roofs were outlawed. The roof at the Globe (it was built in the mid-1990’s) was the first one to be built since then (with lots of sprinklers installed, naturally). The plaster on the walls was traditionally mixed with hair, so the Globe used hair too–goat hair. It’s such a remarkable place. When we were touring it, the crew was breaking down a set from that afternoon’s performance.
In addition to the theatre itself there is an exhibit describing what London was like back then (only technically the Globe wasn’t in London proper), how buildings were built, how costumes were made and cleaned (hint: fermented urine was used), and what musical instruments looked like. This scene shows a typical costume workshop back in the 1600’s (but cleaner).
This costume was used for a production several years ago. Talk about a complicated dress! (Make sure you read the explanation that follows.)
All the tour guides at the Globe are actors. As you might be able to tell by our tour guide who could not resist my camera. He was trying to give us a brief synopsis of the opening scene of Hamlet.
Mister just adores Shakespeare so you know we hit the gift shop on the way out. I wish we could have stayed for a production but they had been sold out for months, even the standing-room-only tickets. We thought about queuing up for returns but since there was a chance we wouldn’t get any, we decided to get tickets to something we would for sure be able to see. Which turned out to be a new production of Jeeves and Wooster, the hapless rich playboy and the butler who gets him out of one jam after another.
Did you ever read the Jeeves and Wooster series of books? They were written in the 20’s and 30’s by P.G. Woodhouse. They’re so veddy uppah-clahss British; charming, witty and droll. There was a Jeeves and Wooster TV show in the 90’s starring Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry. This production was nothing like that. I mean, it was. The story is one of P.G. Woodhouse’s but it’s a brilliant new adaptation called Perfect Nonsense.
The cast is only three men who play every single character. They’re fantastic actors who do such a great job. There’s quite a lot of physical comedy and the set is just super. It won an Olivier award (the British equivalent of the Tony’s) for best comedy a few weeks ago and it’s well-deserved. We laughed our heads off; I can’t remember a play that I’ve liked as much as this one. It’s charming, hilarious, and just perfect.
We headed back to our neighborhood just as it was starting to rain AGAIN. We had dessert in a cozy, snug pub then went home to pack for France.
5 thoughts on “Europe, Day 5 (London)”
What are these British bra brands you’re so ga-ga about?
I spent oodles of time in the British Museum back in the day. It’s enormous and exhausting!
My favorites brands are Fantasie and Curvy Kate. They’re the best. And I found a few great bras at that store Debenham’s (it’s like Macy’s) that had some house brand bras that fit really well too.
Fry & Laurie… well, if those two can play the characters, I now need to read the books!
Thanks to my husband, we own all the Jeeves & Wooster episodes on dvd. 🙂 I didn’t realize they were books- I’ll have to find them!
btw- what a COOOOOOL trip!!! I am loving your posts!