Apologies but this might be a long post. Just wanted to summarize my 4 day trip to London, before getting into the more important stuff, digging at Jalul and researching Safut.
The plan on Friday was to do the hop on hop off bus tour. We got on the bus at speakers corner on the edge of Hyde Park (at the marble arch, which used to be the entrance to Buckingham palace before Queen Elizabeth 1 wanted it moved). All of the tour guides we had were very funny (I think cheeky might be a better term), except one who was very informative. We just missed the changing of the guard but the bus tour ticket was 24 hours so we could do it on Sat. We got off and walked to Big Ben/Parliament, it was free to go into the house of commons, so we watched some session on special education reform or something like that. It was really neat to see the room, it looked exactly like it did in the movie Amazing Grace. From some reason we didn’t go in Westminster Abbey at that point, not sure why. We then went on a Thames River cruise down to the Tower of London. It was an enclosed boat so we were all starting to fall asleep, having gotten varying hours of sleep on the plane. We decided not to pay to go into the Tower of London, but I got some good shots around the outside. We then got back on the tour and saw St. Pauls, Trafalgar Square, and various statues.
We got back on the bus Saturday morning and went to the starting point for the changing of the guard walking tour. It was a nice tour, we walked along the whole boulevard, stopping at the place where the guards come out and the soldier band plays, we then followed them down the boulevard and cut over to the next street to watch the other guards (?) wearing black come out. We then went and took pictures next to the two guards in there booth (or whatever it was called). That was really fun running around and trying to get pictures of the soldiers. I decided to go tour Westminster Abbey, I’m really glad I did. It was probably the highlight of the trip so far, such a cool place, so much history I did the audio tour, narrated by Jeremy Irons (very nice).
The bus for the Bath-Stonehenge-Salisbury trip came Sunday morning Every day there was typical Britain weather, sunny and warm one minute and raining and cold the next. Of course on Sunday the weather decided to be bad all day. It was generally okay because at Bath and Salisbury we were inside most of the time. Bath is a cute little town, with very nice Victorian architecture. Apparently in the town circle Nicolas Cage has a house, very random. The Roman Baths were really cool, quite extensive remains, including a temple. They are the largest Roman remains in all of Britain. There were a lot of artifacts and parts of the temple and other buildings on display, so I spent 1.5 hours of our allotted 2 hours there. It was pouring rain outside and the Abbey was closed so I ran to river to take some pictures of it and the valley and then grabbed a sandwich for lunch before getting on the bus.
Our next stop was Stonehenge and unfortunately it was not only rainy but really cold. We had 45 minutes and everyone was back on the bus about 10 minutes before then. I would have liked to have more time to walk down to the burial mounds. Despite the cold it was really cool to see everything and I’m glad I got to walk around it and hear the audio tour (although I walked as fast as I could). Of course as soon as we get back on the bus the sun peaks out, oh well.
The third and final stop for the day was Salisbury, the sun came out a bit and it was really an enjoyable place. Its another little old British town with this church in the middle which is the tallest in all of Britain. We walked through the town for a bit with all of these quaint little houses (some dating back to the 1500’s even). The church itself is very impressive, they were having service (being Sunday) but I could still walk around most of the church (just no pictures on the inside). The church also has one of only four copies of the Magna Carta, so that was really cool to see. It is the most unique one too, because it was the one written by the bishops and submitted to the king. It was remarkably well preserved as well because it was misshelved in the church library and sat there for a couple hundred years. I had a little time to walk around the town to, I tried to go to the museum which has remains from Stonehenge and other ancient sites in the area but it was closed. So I just meandered through some of the lanes and took pictures. So that was it we drove back to London, the guide pointed out things while we were driving. So we saw thatched roof houses, the smallest police station in Britain, and the sight that caused the biggest stir, the air force base where Prince William is training.
We all slept in a bit because the British Museum didn’t open until 10:00 AM. We spent the rest of the day at the museum, till it closed at 530. It is sooo big and I just saw the Ancient Near East, Greek/Rome, Egypt stuff and not any of the medieval or other exhibits. Very impressive and I could go back a few more times.