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London Calling

London, England

This is a travel blog once more! Well, not really. I am in the UK for a conference, with a small amount of time in London to adjust to jetlag, and to explore, before I reach my final destination of Cambridge.

First a recap of my visit to the UK five years ago. In short, it was a whirlwind of touring – Westminster Abbey, Windsor Castle, Tower of London, St Paul’s Cathedral, Stonehenge, City of Bath, the London Eye, and the National Gallery. At least, these are the highlights I remember. To my dismay, I did not see Buckingham Palace, because it was occupied by the royal family in expectation of Kate Middleton’s first child, whom she gave birth to during my visit. I was able to tour the Royal Mews and look at the horses, which is, of course, not as satisfying.

Today, I thought, would be different. Upon arriving at the hotel and taking a long nap, I called up an Uber and requested to be chauffeured to Buckingham Palace, the way one of my social standing does. I arrived, there was no entourage waiting, so I asked a few random well-dressed ladies nearby how to get in. I was told to go to the guard and show my passport, which was safely back in the hotel. So, I went to have a chat with the guard and see what could be done, and so I learned that Buckingham Palace was closed until July. I guess the ladies assumed I had royal business to attend to, but alas I was only there to take pictures. I will see Buckingham Palace sometime in the future, hopefully.

The Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace was open, so I decided to get past the disappointment and explore what I could. Fortunately, the gallery did not disappoint. It is a beautiful collection of artwork, illuminated manuscripts, and artifacts from the Indian subcontinent, either collected by the British or given to them as gifts. The intricate patterns, and inlays of gems and gold and silver are stunning. Just take a look at some of the photos below.

After the gallery I had my evening appointment at the Globe Theatre where I had booked a seat to see a Shakespearean comedy, “The Two Noble Kingsmen.” This had been another missed opportunity during my first visit to London, and I was excited to sit in the replica of Shakespeare’s original Globe Theatre and take in the experience of watching one of his plays as they were performed in the 16th century (or about as close as one can get). It was a fun show with a simplistic plot, highly entertaining and immersive, with bards playing music, and actors joking, dancing, fighting, and lamenting at various times. Certainly a memorable and worthwhile experience.

That was it for today’s tour of London, for the most part. The walk from Buckingham Palace to the Globe Theater had me passing through St. James Park, past Westminster Abbey, past the London Eye once more, and through the financial district. What can I say, I got lost, and the weather was a gorgeous and sunny 85F. I had lunch at a small café with copies of random old books with titles like “Dairy Cows and their Management” and “The Observers Book of British Birds.” Despite it being a brief, jet lagged, travel-worn stay, I still managed to have a fun day. Tomorrow, I make my way to Cambridge and get down to business, but perhaps there will be a nugget or two to write about nonetheless. When everything around is new, there is usually something worth commenting on.


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