High Culture

London Travel Blog

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The Great Court, British Museum

Our second full day in London was spent visiting sophisticated cultural attractions. First stop: the British Museum, full of a huge collection of priceless colonial loot. The Museum building itself was beautiful. As you enter, the Great Court opens up before you and provides a nice mix of classical and more modern design. At the centre is the Old Reading Room, which houses an impressive collection of books and an even more impressive domed roof.

Emma had been here before, so we split up to look at different wings. While Emma studied the Enlightenment section with great detail, I headed to the Ancient Egypt and Classical Greece sections, which did not disappoint. The very first thing you see when you walk in the door is the Rosetta Stone, the famous key to Egyptian Hieroglyphics.

What are you looking at?
A very impressive collection of Egyptian statues, monuments and sarcophogi filled the rest of the huge space. It is quite surreal to imagine the giant head beside you was carved millenia ago for some self-important pharoah. The section on Greece was equally impressive, consisting of pieces removed from the Parthenon and "sold" to the British Nation (by a British diplomat, Lord Elgin). To give an idea of the size of the space and the extent of the collection, they even had a room with a fully reconstructed Nereid Monument in it. Emma has this to say about the Enlightenment displays: I found treasure in a Sloane's special cocoa cups, miniature chess pieces, and a model replica of Bethlehem.

Next, we sped off to the National Gallery before it closed. This too had a very impressive collection. The very first painting we spotted when we walked in was Van Gogh's famous Still Life sunflower painting.

Catching our train from King's Cross
In the interest of brevity we'll only mention our favourite paintings from the vast collection. Emma's was Rain, Steam and Speed - The Great Western Railway by Turner (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Turner-rain-steam-and-speed.jpg) and mine was Ulysses Deriding Polyphemus, also by Turner (http://www.victorianweb.org/painting/turner/paintings/polyphemus.html).


On Tuesday, our last day in England, we went exploring further afield. We caught the train to Cambridge and wandered around the centuries-old university and its town. We had a picnic in a beautiful park and watched people drift away their afternoons boating down the Cam river. We snuck fleeting peeks inside the various colleges' grounds, but we were too cheap to pay the entry fees to go in and have a real look around. That evening we returned to London to watch a play at Shakespeare's Globe. The play was Titus Andronicus and we had the best seats in the house, at only £5 apiece. The play was wonderfully done, but very gruesome (Emma screamed a few times). Apparently there is a death every 97 lines of dialogue. To cap off our time in London, we wandered across the Millenium Bridge over the Thames, taking in the beautiful lights of the city by night.

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The Great Court, British Museum
The Great Court, British Museum
What are you looking at?
What are you looking at?
Catching our train from Kings Cro…
Catching our train from King's Cr…
The best seats in the house at Sha…
The best seats in the house at Sh…
London by night
London by night
London Sights & Attractions review
The Globe is a reconstruction of the Elizabethean threatre were many of Shakespeare's plays were performed. Overlooking the Thames, just ste… read entire review
photo by: ulysses