18.10.07

Westminster & South Bank

Today I tooled around Westminster and South Bank to see some sights. After a nothing day yesterday I made some ambitious plans to go around Westminster, South Bank, backtrack a bit to Tower Hill and then go back west to the West End to catch a play.

Most of that came to fruition at least. I took the tube from Mile End to Westminster and got off the train and walked around for a bit before making my way over to Parliament. There were literally cops EVERYWHERE around there, which doesn't surprise me, but the automatic weapons many of them carried looked a little out of place. I wanted to get a picture of one of them but didn't think it very appropriate to ask one if I'd be allowed to snap a shot or two. Nonetheless I got a bunch of pictures of Parliament and St. Stephen's Tower (what most refer to as Big Ben, which is incorrect as Big Ben is a bell at the top of the tower, not the tower itself. The more you know...). After a while I made my way over to Westminster Abbey and took some more pictures or the churches and surrounding area before going inside to walk around and check out the tombs.

I was highly disappointed that they didn't allow photography inside there. I figured they'd allow it (my research this morning was obviously insufficient), but despite having to pay £10 to get in photos were verboten. I knew there was no way I was going to remember all the folks entombed there so I wanted to take some pictures to remember as many as I could (even if I'd heard of few of them). So, as unfortunate as it is, no photos could be taken. Needless to say a lot of the tombs (and not just those of monarchs like Elizabeth I or Mary Queen of Scots) are very intricate, ornate and detailed. One thing that bothered my was my lack of Latin knowledge. A lot of the inscriptions and descriptions are in Latin and while I could understand some of what was written, not all of it was legible to me.

After an hour or so in the Abbey and around the property I left and crossed Westminster Bridge (made famous, of course, in the Doctor Who episode "Rose"...) to go around the South Bank area by the BA London Eye. That thing is impressive in photos but even moreso in person. It's freakin' huge to say the least, especially considering it's just a big ferris wheel. Before I left for here, my sister was in Edmonton for a visit and she was walking me through the construction and deployment of the Eye (she'd done a research project on it at school; she's in Engineering) and the way it was set up was amazing. It's really a cool thing to see when you know the history (such as it is, considering it's less than a decade old).

I'd decided to end the day by hitting the west end for a play, and while I'd hoped to see Joseph (after watching some episodes of the reality show a la Pop Idol choosing the next Joseph) I guess tickets aren't on sale (I have no idea when it opens to be honest, but I'll find that out today for curiosity's sake). I saw a playbill for it at a tube station though... naming the Adelphi theatre even...). Hmm, after looking, there are 4 performances in November but nothing until then, thus the inability for me to buy tickets.

Anyhow, I hopped the tube to Leicester Square and went to the TKTS booth (half price -- or so -- tickets can be had there, and at about a dozen other places around Leicester Square station) and I wound up choosing Spamalot since it seems so English to see something developed from Monty Python work. The finalists were that and We Will Rock You, a musical about/by Queen. Either seemed cool but Spamalot seemed more *fun* so that won out. It's nearly 5pm as I type this and the show is at 8:00. I'm at an internet cafe down the road from the theatre killing some time until I can take my seat, so despite the horribly uncomfortable chair I'm sitting in I'll see if I can last until 6:00 or so before departing to have some dinner. And they're playing American radio here... internet stream radio I expect, maybe satellite, but like, this is ENGLAND... should I not expect to hear more Oasis or something rather than Avril Lavigne and Eminem?

Anyhow, if there's a viable net connection back at the flat (it's spottier than a teenager) I'll see about getting some of today's photos posted when I get back.

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