Based on zero planning besides “we should spend at least three weeks in England, so June 1st makes the most sense for our flight to London” we arrived the day before the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee activities were set to begin. Fortunately, our usual dumb luck with things had us find a very nice accommodation just far enough out to avoid the worst of the crowds but remain within easy distance to things we wanted to see. Dan decided we should go to the British Museum before they started to return some of the artifacts as they would be easier to see while they were all in one place, and we could always travel to see them again. While we were very close to a tube stop, there were numerous closures and schedule changes due to the Jubilee, construction, and intermittent “labour actions” so we will have to return to really experience London’s transit.

The British Museum. We booked our free entry tickets on line for opening time, and while there was a good sized queue before they opened the gates, the crowds were not bad for the early part of our visit. The building is lovely, with large halls and galleries in the older part and a very large expansion done as part of London’s Millenium building binge. I know there is a lot of controversy about the expansion, but I thought it was good space and it managed the large crowds that were in the museum as the day progressed.
For some reason we are always surprised by the age of some artifacts – this one, in part because it was glass and remains in amazing shape.

We spent a fair amount of our time in galleries displaying British items, including the finds of archaeological digs of Roman, Celt, and Viking communities. There is a room devoted entirely to timepieces – clocks, watches and such. The level of artistic and mechanical detail was amazing. There was a Middle Eastern room that included a lot of information about coffee; Dan’s favorite item learned was how in one place the host served you strong coffee until your hand shook just the right amount. We then moved on to the Egyptian collection and WOW, the amount, the variety, the sheer audacity of the collection. The comments about the looting and arrogance of the collection are based in truth and well deserved. It was also extremely popular and somewhat informative, however the sheer volume, especially of burial artifacts, was overwhelming.

The Tower Bridge. The Jubilee meant there were large crowds in central London, and road closures meant there was some interesting traffic patterns on the bridges. The walkways along the Thames were busy, but a really good way to spend the day.
In the heart of London – which is just one mile square, and is the central business area – holds most of the really ancient buildings. This is the remains of a very old church.
The Clock Tower, Big Ben resides behind that clock face and rings out the time!
For some reason, this view from the top deck of the Hop On/Hop Off bus tour tickled my fancy. Near Hyde Park, but I am so far behind on blog posts, I can’t remember any other details.
We like to take the Hop On/Hop Off tours in big cities. It is a nice sampler platter to determine where to spend more time, and is also useful in figuring out where and how far away some places really are.
The London Hop On/Hop Off offers a River tour too – son here’s another view of the Tower Bridge.
We tried Marmite – it is a fermented yeast product with a tangy, umami flavor.
Butter and peanut butter improve the taste, at least for us!

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