4.12.07

London Transport Museum

Today I decided to take a trip to the London Transport Museum, a museum operated by Transport for London (TfL) celebrating the history of public transportation in and around London.

I began the day in earnest, going to get a haircut at the barber down the road. That was a good thing except it's always a pain in the butt to get a haircut and then not go home to rinse out all the little hairs that get left on your head and neck, so for the first while afterward I was of course scratching my neck and trying to rub away the remnant hairs. Such a hassle.

I hopped the tube well west of where I needed to be as I figured I'd get off by parliament and take a walk along the north bank along Victoria Embankment, one of the original embankments put in place to prevent flooding from the Thames and to sculpt the shape of the river. There's really not a great amount of stuff to see along there, though on a clear and warm day it would make for a great place for a leisurely stroll. Today was halfway there, getting to about +14 or +15, but it's been overcast and cloudy all day. The forecast called for rain, but thankfully that didn't happen other than a bit of drizzle.

After walking east from Westminster bridge to Waterloo bridge, I headed north toward Covent Garden where the museum is located. I walked around for a bit seeing what was there, and strolled around the Covent Garden Market (one of the famous London flea market style destinations), but since arts & crafts and jewelry and the like really don't interest me, I didn't stick around for long. I left the area in search of somewhere to grab some lunch as I'd not yet eaten, and wound up going to the Pizza Hut near Trafalgar Square for the lunch buffet.

I gorged myself, went downstairs at the restaurant to use the facilities, and thanks to a lack of signage didn't notice the ceiling in the restroom was lower than everywhere else and proceeded to smack my head quite hard where the lower ceiling began. No blood or cuts were involved, but I was definitely dizzy for a while afterward. I stumbled (almost literally) back up the steps and out along The Strand, making my way back toward Covent Garden Market, nearby which is the entrance to the London Transport Museum.

I spent well over an hour and a half, maybe even closer to two hours, walking around and enjoying the exhibits. The museum covers everything from riverboat services over 200 years ago to the development of rail services, the use of horse-drawn carriages, the Underground, buses, taxis, trams, the DLR and so on. The definite highlight for me was the giant electronic map of London and area where they displayed things like current traffic congestion, various live CCTV feeds, demonstrations of travel times and methods to get around (with video footage on a screen above while the map has the route drawn on it simultaneously).

One quite nifty thing was a presentation showing the development of the Underground system from its beginnings as a regular rail system to the massive conglomeration of today. I've captured video footage of the presentation (it runs about 1m20s, and I've stripped the audio) and embedded it here (QuickTime plugin required):



A little after 4:00 I had finished with the museum and decided to just head back, so I left, went to a different tube station than where I began (I went to Westminster initially, and got on one stop east at Embankment for the return leg) as I often try to do (to learn or reinforce geography as I go about) and made my way back. I expected very heavy traffic on the tube given it was rush hour, but thankfully the crowds were minimal. I only had to go one stop before a seat became available.

Tomorrow I think I need to catch up on some laundry...

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