Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Day 2 (part 2): Westminster Abbey

When we got outside of the Globe, it was pouring rain! Luckily, we brought an umbrella with us.
In London, when it rains, it RAINS. I live in an area where it rains pretty consistently; but it's more of a persistent drizzle. In London, even the individual rain drops seemed bigger than the ones where I live.
When it rains where I live, it's almost a sign of weakness to pull out an umbrella. Instead, people run for cover like rabbits. In London, when it starts to rain, umbrellas pop up everywhere. Every different type of umbrella imaginable! Every shape, every color, every design.

(And, evidently, everyone wants to cross the Millennium Bridge at once...)

On our way to lunch, we walked past the house the Benjamin Franklin lived in when he was in London.

Pretty exciting! But why is there a skeleton in the third floor window on the right...?

Next, lunch at...

The Sherlock Holmes pub! This is where I ate fish 'n chips.
What a cool restaurant! Downstairs, they had a bar, where they were playing Sherlock on TV. Upstairs, there was the restaurant! They had a display in one corner, modeling the sitting room at 221b Baker Street complete with the bust Sherlock Holmes made of himself for The Empty House story (to trick Sebastian Moran into thinking he was in the window, when he really wasn't. Tintin uses the same trick in Tintin in America)


It was like playing Spot the Sherlock Holmes Reference. In the corner stood a harpoon, on the chair sat his violin, on the table were visiting cards from Lestrade and Dr. Mortimer and Charles Augustus Milverton and several other familiar names. The correspondence was stuck into the mantlepiece with a knife. Science equipment was lined against the wall, and above it the initials "V.R." had been shot into the wall. On the sofa was the key to The Dancing Men, and on the table two ears, packed in salt, were waiting to be investigated. 

After that, we took the bus to Westminster Abbey for an Easter service; Lessons in Carols.

There was one place that I wanted to see in Westminster Abbey, and that was the Poet's Corner (with monuments honoring those such as The Bronte Sisters, Jane Austin, George Frederick Handel, Shakespeare, Chaucer, Spenser, and others). Because it was Easter, they weren't doing tours, and weren't letting anyone wander around. Seats were set up everywhere for the services. Do you know where they sat us? Us in the Poet's Corner!
I must say that now that I think back to the event, it's quite amazing, but at the time, I was too awed to notice. 
Westminster Abbey is the first big, regal cathedral that I've ever been in. Being in such an old place of worship, where thousands of believers over the centuries have gathered - and were gathered that day! - to worship our Creator overwhelmed me with emotion. All I could think was, Who wouldn't want to worship our God? 
Some people in the church just wanted to get a look at the inside, and when the service started, got up and left after the first song or two. My thoughts changed to, How can they just walk out like that? Why aren't they falling to their knees in submission to God?
Those architects who built Romanesque and Gothic style buildings believed that people could be converted just by walking into their churches and seeing the splendor of them. In a place like Westminster Abbey (which, I believe, is Gothic... but I'm not sure), I can believe it!
The service was very interesting. The priest would read some Bible verses, and then a men and boy's choir would sing a beautiful song to accompany it. At one point they lit incense, which only happens at special services like on Easter. I thought that was pretty cool.
It was especially nice because I've been studying church history and I know the history behind the church now. I have so much more appreciation for services like this. While I think that having a personal relationship with Jesus is the best way to go, there is something to be said for giant, mass services like that in Westminster Abbey. It was really quite amazing.

Even though technically you aren't allowed to take pictures inside... my dad sort of sneaked a few on his phone.

(The ceiling, which makes me think that maybe this church is build in the Romanesque style. All the old church in Holland have this sort of ceiling. It's really beautiful!)

(Part of the Poet's Corner. See Shakespeare in the middle? He's sticking his calf out to show it off!)

We were going to go and see Big Ben, but since it was pouring when we got outside, we decided to just go back to our hotel.
We passed Nelson's Column...

And a big blue chicken...

And many a red phone box.

Name that Tintin book!

The weather turned nice - and even a bit sunny! - late in the afternoon/evening, and my dad and I decided to walk to find the Allies Bench.
In World War II, the three major powers fighting against Germany were Winston Churchill and England, Joseph Stalin and the Soviet Union, and Franklin D. Roosevelt and the United States. They were called "The Big Three."

(You gotta love Winston Churchill. You just have to.)

There's a bench dedicated to "The Big Three" in London and my dad and I went and found it. 
Only it's missing someone...

After that, we walked to where the Embassies are, to find the American and the Canadian ones.
The Canadian Embassy (and all the other countries) is really nice... it's just like a house with a Canadian flag on it... it even has a nice little balcony...
And then you turn to the American Embassy and it has electric fences surrounding it, and those things that come out of the ground to stop cars (in National Treasure 2, Ben drives over them to get away from the police in the parking lot of the Library of Congress), and there are guards posted every few feet. And not just nice guards. Guards with HUGE GUNS. Though one did nod at my dad as we passed. 
You'd think we were the world's most hated country or something...

After that, we took a detour through Hyde Park to get back to our hotel. We walked passed Speaker's Corner, where people gather of a Sunday and speak about whatever they want. We didn't stop to listen too long. As we were walking away, we heard this guy say to his girlfriend, "I mean, really? Don't those guys have a life or something? They should go get a life!"
Hyde Park is really gorgeous - and HUGE! It would be fun to go back and explore it. 

Thus ends Day Two of our adventure!
Stay tuned for Day Three...

Live long and prosper.


  1. Well, you'd make a good Stalin 'sit-in'... if you only grew a moustache, lost the glasses, changed your theology, did something different with your... oh, never mind; I like you much better just the way you are.

  2. Thoroughly enjoying your travel posting, Abbey. The Globe Theater one was very informative. Imagine dressing like that! And I had a chuckle at the picture of you guys walking across the bridge - gramma with her hands behind her back. So typical. Looking forward to the rest of your trip.