Phantoms and Ale
London Travel Blog› entry 5 of 16 › view all entries
May 19th, 2004
This would be the last day of my first stop in London this trip (I would be coming through on my way back) I had no particular plans for the day, but had lots of options to choose from.
As usual, I was up entirely too early, so I started heading in the vague direct of my first stop. The meandering took me through a corner of St. James Park and looped around Westminster Cathedral before arriving at my destination, the Churchill War Rooms.
(Yes, another geek place. Get used to it.)
This underground bunker complex is where the War Ministry moved during the Blitz. Well laid out and of relatively modern design, it gave a great overview of how the war was managed and how Churchill lived during the war.
From there I went to a pseudo-museum exhibit doohickey called the Britain at War Experience (they tacked on the ' Winston Churchill's ' after I was there as well. The Churchill brand is blowin' up, y'all.) Over priced and very short, this museo-thingy was interesting. Creepy as hell by yourself in the dark, as you stumble through faux-flame lit street rubble in the near pitch dark, while audio of aircraft, bombs whistling and explosions echoes throughout the room.
My next stop was the H.M.S. Belfast, a British light cruiser converted into a museum ship, which had seen action throughout WWII, taking part in the Battle of North Cape as well as providing fire support at Juno Beach on D-Day.
I hoped on the tube and a train and made my way out to the RAF Museum London, which is surprisingly enough, the RAF's museum in London. It was a big building in the middle of the suburbs containing planes. I wish I could sound more enthusiastic, but it really was just a big ole pile of planes. I was also feeling a bit beat after a few days of going hardcore and I just wasn't in the mood for it at the time. I called it a short visit and headed back to the hostel for a quick nap.
That evening, I went on a guided tour with London Walks, specifically I went on the 'Ghosts, Gaslight & Guinness tour. This two-hour tour took us from a church supposedly haunted by the ghost of a deranged young woman who committed suicide when the location was a private home, through many a haunted pub where we heard tales of royal dalliances and haunted theaters. The tour ended with a stroll through a haunted tube stop before the guide dropped us of at Covent Gardens with offers to provide directions to nearby haunted pubs. Myself and a young lady from New York didn't feel like ending the tour, so we went to one of the pubs together and spent the rest of the night getting drunk on British beer before hitting an after hours club (I finally found one.)