Last day in London

London Travel Blog

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I woke the next morning feeling less than fully motivated for some reason. I guess I'm not 18 anymore. Or 21. Or 32. I dragged myself out of bed, and seeing that the day was fixing to be wet, I decided to make it an indoor day and headed over to the Imperial War Museum.

I spent several hours there, taking a half a bazillion pictures. I'd been here on my previous visit, but a fair amount had changed above and beyond the special exhibits. The last time i had been there, I had chaffed a bit about a placard about the Battle of Arras (right next to a soldier wearing a Canadian WWI era uniform) claiming that 'British' troops had taken Vimy Ridge. It now read 'Commonwealth' troops which is a lot more accurate. I'll put that up to the letter writing campaign that I diligently put off for several years since my last visit.

The museum itself is a great place for military buffs and kids who are nerdy like me. A blend of your standard static exhibits with other more interactive and atmospheric ones. There's the 'London in the Blitz Experience', which simulates being in a 12 person shelter during a bombing raid. After and escalating series of explosive noises which culminates in what you can only presume is a direct hit on the shelter, you are lead out an exhibit to a shattered London street while survivors tales tell of their experiences during the Blitz.

Another part of the museum has a winding line of Western Front styles trenches, which fairly realistic manikins of British Tommies engaged in various acts, from escorting wounded prisoners, to writing a letter home or going over the top.

It's dark and they have done something in there to give it a stench that is hard to describe, and knowing what they might be trying to simulate, I'd prefer to not try.

That evening since the weather was looking to clear up, I decided to take a walking tour and chose the London Walks Jack the Ripper tour given by Donald Rumbelow, who is recognized as an authority on the subject. The group was huge, which I think detracted from the overall experience. It would take so long to get everyone together and then he would have to shout and still people couldn't hear him half the time. It was a pity too, because I think we and he would have enjoyed more if there were fewer people so that he could go 'off book' a bit instead of spending all the time herding tourists.

It was still a facinating tour, and seeing the distance between the locationms and how little and much London has changed since then was very interesting. Seeing with your own eyes where one murder occured no more than 12 steps away from a police station. Some of the anecdotes about things that have happened on the tour are funny as well.

As I had an early train trhe next day, I head back to the hostel right after the tour. I'd planned to eat before hand, but then stoppsed to take a bunch of pictures of unexpected interesting things, like memorials to Merchant Mariners, and remenants of Roman walls. As such, I stopped to grab a quick sandwich for dinner, and anotherr which I'd have for breakfast. I double checked that I had finished all my packing and then hit the sack.

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photo by: ulysses