Wednesday, August 29, 2012

London, the Middle: Part 2 - Sunday & Monday


Katharina and I decided to sleep in a bit since we still hat a bunch of time for adventures and I got up at 7:30 AM but we didn't leave the house until about 10 AM. While I waited for her to get up, I read some and had breakfast and made plans to meet with Uncle Chris later in the afternoon. 
This is just a plastic cup
not the mug that I got
with my drink

Katharina and I began our day by visiting Covent Garden (not an actual garden, or park mind you) and there was a market there. I bought a scarf for 3 GBP and it's the perfect colors for me, a green and teal mixture. In case you haven't noticed by now, scarfs are "all the rage" in Europe and they are an accessory that goes with nearly every outfit. As we wandered the market, we found a Food Network UK set up and we got to watch a recording of a show all about making hangover busting foods. Amazing! After the show, we both bought some food from the vendors around the recording area and I bought a Jeremiah Weed and Katharina bought something from Starbucks. With my drink, I also got a Food Network UK bag and a Jeremiah Weed mason jar mug. Once I finished my drink, Katharina and I decided to walk to Helborn Tube station, about nine minutes by foot, so that we could go to Harrods.

On our way out of Covent Garden, we stopped to watch "the most dangerous magic show in Europe" at which I was made fun of for being American and visiting London to "learn the language." Once the show was over, we quickly walked away as to not get accosted by the magician any more.

We walked to the Tube station and then went to Harrods. Dear lord is that a big store, and of course, everything was expensive. Even the teddy bears cost 25 GBP and it's only because it had the name of the store on the foot. We went through all the floors and I found out, how I never knew is beyond me, that all the major brands... You know... D&G, Burberry, Guess, the expensive ones... All have a children's line. I mean, who doesn't want to spend 200 GBP on a jacket for their 6 month old child only for them to outgrow it in a few weeks. The best part is that there were people buying it! I should have asked for a donation to the "I'm broke and would like to fund my travels" fund. When we had had enough, Katharina and I left the store, empty handed, mind you and went to a Starbucks to find some food. I used to be addicted to Facebook, and don't get me wrong, if I have Internet, I'll check it, but after my traveling and not knowing if I will have Internet access or not, I seem to have gotten over it. Katharina, however, has not. Every opportunity she had to get her iPhone hooked to the Internet was taken. It's not a bad thing, since most of those stops were at Starbucks though. While there, I checked my email and my cell. We were still trying to finalize plans with Uncle Chris for the afternoon but after an hour or so of waiting at Starbucks, Katharina and I decided to go our separate ways and find our own adventures for the day. But we agreed to meet back at 6 PM at Oxford Circus station again.

I decided to go to the British Museum but it took me a while to find it. I got on the Tube and got off at the station where it was located but it took me another 10 minute walk to get there. Once I walked in though, I remembered everything from my last trip to visit this particular museum.

I only had an hour to see a museum that you could spend a week in. What was I going to do?! Luckily, I bought a map of the museum for 1 GBP, not bad considering the admission is free, and while looking over the map I noticed.. Wait, it couldn't be so. Was this map speaking to me? I felt like I was on Dora the Explorer with how well the map read my mind!

Okay, so not really, but the map did have a section that said, "If you're short on time, visit the objects marked on the map section on the other side of this leaflet to experience some of the highlights of the magnificent permanent collection. Start upstairs with the Lewis Chessmen..." How perfect! The items on the list included:
The Lewis Chessmen
Oxus Treasure
The royal Game of Ur
The Portland Vase
Samurai Armour
Cloisonne jar with dragons
Ife head
Easter Island statue Hoa Hakananai'a
The Rosetta Stone
Assyrian Lion Hunt reliefs
Parthenon sculptures
Images of many of these items are shown here along each side of the blog post. I did get to see all of them even!
If I had to choose a favorite, it would be between the Easter Island statue Hoa Hakananai'a and The Rosetta Stone. So I'll give you some history on each of those.

Easter Island statue Hoa Hakananai'a

Easter Island is famous for its stone statues of human figures, known as moai. Hoa Hakanania'a means ‘Stolen or Hidden Friend'. The moai were probably carved to commemorate important ancestors and were made from around AD 1000 until the second half of the seventeenth century, when the birdman cult became more central to the Easter Islanders.

When Captain Cook's crew visited Easter Island in 1774, William Hodges, Cook's artist, produced an oil painting of the island showing a number of moai, some of them with hat-shaped stone 'topknots'. Hodges depicted most of the moai standing upright on stone platforms, known as ahu. With the adoption of Christianity in the 1860s, the remaining standing moai were toppled.

This example was probably first displayed outside on a stone platform, before being moved into a stone house at the ritual centre of Orongo. It was collected by the crew of the English ship HMS Topaze, under the command of Richard Ashmore Powell, on their visit to Easter Island in 1868 to carry out surveying work.

Islanders helped the crew to move the statue, which has been estimated to weigh around four tons. It was moved to the beach and then taken to the Topaze by raft.

The Rosetta Stone

A valuable key to the decipherment of hieroglyphs, the inscription on the Rosetta Stone is a decree passed by a council of priests. It is one of a series that affirm the royal cult of the 13-year-old Ptolemy V on the first anniversary of his coronation.

In previous years the family of the Ptolemies had lost control of certain parts of the country. It had taken their armies some time to put down opposition in the Delta, and parts of southern Upper Egypt, particularly Thebes, were not yet back under the government's control.

Before the Ptolemaic era (that is before about 332 BC), decrees in hieroglyphs such as this were usually set up by the king. It shows how much things had changed from Pharaonic times that the priests, the only people who had kept the knowledge of writing hieroglyphs, were now issuing such decrees. The list of good deeds done by the king for the temples hints at the way in which the support of the priests was ensured.

The decree is inscribed on the stone three times, in hieroglyphic (suitable for a priestly decree), demotic (the native script used for daily purposes), and Greek (the language of the administration). The importance of this to Egyptology is immense.

Soon after the end of the fourth century AD, when hieroglyphs had gone out of use, the knowledge of how to read and write them disappeared. In the early years of the nineteenth century, some 1400 years later, scholars were able to use the Greek inscription on this stone as the key to decipher them.
 Of course I didn't see the whole museum, but it was still great to see some of it! I had to head out after seeing those 11, highlighted items though and Katharina and I met to grab some dinner. Apparently I was much closer than I thought I was because after a two or three minute bus ride, I was there. I did some shopping this time and I bought a few things from Forever 21 and Katharina and I met up to grab dinner.

We walked a bit and found a place where we wanted to eat but neither Katharina or I were that hungry so we were just going to order  something small but we were told that someone had to order a full meal or we weren't allowed to sit there. How rude?! We left and went to another bar for food and I had fish and chips and a beer and Katharina had a salad and a cider.

When we were done with our food, we walked back to the Piccadilly Circus station and took the Tube back to Chris & Anne's. I read some then went to bed.
Katharina and I had an argument over if we should leave the window in the loft open during the day and she said there was no wind so it would get too hot but I said that the heat from the rest of the house collected during the day up there and it needed to escape. I don't think she realized that even if there was no wind at ground level, there was still wind higher up, like, say at the top of the house. Of course, she neglected the fact that every night when we got home the window was open (maybe Anne's doing...)


With the ISE card, International Student ID, that I have I get discounts on certain items while in Europe and traveling. The tickets for the London Eye are nearly 20 GBP each but with this card, I go them for 12 GBP each so Katharina and I decided to pick up our tickets. Unfortunately, we couldn't pick a time to visit though so we bought the tickets and went in to see the 4D presentation that comes free with the ticket. Yes, I did say 4D, there was wind and water involved even! Super cool! You can find more information on the 4D experience here.

When we were done we decided that the line was short and it was probably a good idea to just go then. It never disappoints. Though I've been there before it was still amazing to see the city from above! The ride takes 30 minutes and when we got off we decided to do some more walking.
We walked south bank of the Thames river and went toward St. Paul's Cathedral. It's really a beautiful building. I was surprised that Katharina was the one who wanted to go but when she found out she had to pay we didn't go in. It's still a sight to see from the outside though.
We then stopped at Starbucks for lunch, I had a New York style pastrami sandwich and a coffee. We just sat there a while Katharina used the internet then we went back to Oxford Circus to see some more of the Oxford Street shops, part of the West End shopping district. Again, Katharina surprised me by suggesting that we go to the Photographer's Gallery located there. It was small and wasn't much to see though it was free so I guess I can't complain. 
Look at that squirrel!
Since Katharina was being agreeable, I thought I would do the same and we both went to Green Park to relax and layout in the sun / shade. I read my book and Katharina listened to her iPod. After a few hours, maybe two..? We got up and went over to St. James' Park. We saw squirrels and birds ( this was the same park with squirrel feeding and pigeon incident all those years ago.) 

Then we took the bus to took the bus to Leicester Square and stopped for Pizza Hut pizza hut and some more people watching. There was another movie premier there and we tried to catch a glimpse but couldn't see anything. The film was Keith Lemon, must be British, since I don't know of it.

We didn't have anything else to do, so we decided to catch a movie and bought tickets to see Step Up 4. All in all, it was a decent film, but I would have rather seen Ted honestly. Katharina assured me that it was a film for men though.

After the film, we took the Tube back to Chris and Anne's house. When we arrived, Chris and I made plans for the trip back to Germany since our flight left at 6 AM and the airport is about 40 minutes by car away. We would get a taxi to pick us up at 3 AM and it would cost 42 GBP, not bad split between two of us.

Since Tuesday was our last full day in London, Katharina and I made plans for the day then I read my book and went to bed. Seeing a pattern in my nightly activity yet?

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