London Calling: 14 Hour Stopover

Big Ben. Scaffolding had been removed just weeks before!

After leaving Bern, I took the train to Karlsruhe followed by the bus to Flughafen Karlsruhe / Baden-Baden. There I said hello to my surly RyanAir friends and took the plane back to London. I took the Stansted express back into the city. Once again, they were checking tickets so make sure you buy the dedicated airport ticket rather than just swipe through the turnstile with your phone/general e-ticket.

I landed mid-afternoon and had decided that I really wanted to see some of the incredible artifacts at The British Museum. I checked my bag in at a local shop via an app so I didn’t have to deal with it at the museum. First, I went to the special exhibit, Feminine Power: the divine to the demonic. What a name! It was a compilation of sacred objects and fine art from different cultures showing representations of the divine/sacred in feminine form. It wasn’t the largest exhibit, but it was an interesting concept. It was manageable for the time I had, but I also could have stayed longer to take it all in.

Other exhibits were calling though, so I went to other galleries. I saw the Rosetta Stone, which was really neat to see in person. It’s amazing what soldiers can stumble across and find!

I saw the Parthenon Sculptures (née Elgin Marbles). I saw friezes that I had only seen in books and were now right in front of me! The Nereid Monument was pretty wild as it’s a small temple reconstructed within the museum.

After taking in the antiquities, I went to the second floor to see other highlights. I was following the museum map that showed where highlights of the collection were located. I saw the monumental carillon clock, the Lewis chessman, the Sutton Hoo helmet (AD 600s, Anglo-Saxon England), and the Lycurgus cup.

Finally, on the way out, I walked through the Parthanon Gallery again. I tend to like double-backing in museums (much to SMS’ delight) and today was no exception.

Theater between British Museum and the Strand Duchy House

The guards herded everyone out and I walked to my hotel (Strand Duchy House via AirBnB), which was a dorm room for a college currently not-in-session. It was quite nice, albeit basic. I quickly headed out towards the Thames, although I did get a nice recommendation to stop at Gordon’s Wine Bar.

I walked along the river. It was a beautiful evening with perfect weather. A heat wave was set to roll in the next day but this day was amazing. I saw a boat turned bar (old passenger ferry) called Tattershall Castle and I went aboard for a G&T. The G&Ts are served in large glasses, which I hadn’t see before. It’s supposed to allow the aromatics to be fully appreciated. I’ve only seen G&Ts in small glasses or cans, but I can learn to appreciate goblet-style!

I was hoping to see 10 Downing St, which didn’t happen. But as I walked towards St James Park, I heard a band performance. A quick internet search showed that it was “The Massed Bands of HM Royal Marines Beating Retreat.” It was super cool and later in my walk, I came upon them again as they marched down the mall from Horse Guard Palace to Buckingham Palace.

Yes, I did see Buckingham palace! Be still, my royal family gossip loving heart!

I went to Gordon’s Wine Bar which, as advertised, had a really neat vaulted cellar that was mostly candlelit. I grabbed some tapas at Port House and then headed to bed. The next day, I took the train to LHR. I left a lot of time, which is unusual for me but I had heard LHR horror stories and I did not want to miss my flight. As a result, I had a few hours before my flight but it was a nice airport. I grabbed a snack and read for awhile. Then it was time to board, head home, and get ready for a major road trip with SMS in just two days!

2 thoughts on “London Calling: 14 Hour Stopover”

  1. What a great picture of Big Ben!

    I always feel a pang of regret that I don’t live in a city with a major museum. I think it would be dreamy to go every single day for a year or something close to that frequency to really soak it all in (and to appreciate each new special exhibit). It looks like you really got to see some amazing highlights and the weather on this trip seems spectacular! It makes such a difference in how a trip unfolds.

    A few years ago my husband and I went to Paris and it was supposed to rain the whole time we were there. In the end I think it drizzled once at night and was HOT and SUNNY our entire trip. I couldn’t help thinking how miserable it would have been to fit in all our stops in the rain. We seem to manage great luck with the weather when traveling. In 2019 we did a week in the Dominican Republic and, once again, had stellar weather. But the week after we left it literally rained every single day!

  2. I have been REALLY lucky with weather during my travels and, yes, I think it majorly impacts the trip and impressions of an area, fairly or unfairly.

    I also loved the museums! I grew up in the Washington, DC area and it was such a gift to be able to go to the Smithsonian museums so frequently. What’s also nice is that you can just go for one exhibit and then leave since it is 1. so convenient and 2. free.

    I was very impressed with the museums in London. And I only scratched the service- I think there’s several smaller ones that are quite impressive. I will definitely be back.

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