Aug. 6, 2017

Day III London

The size of London is not something that one can come to grips with unless one is standing in it ~ and then, the feeling of being very small comes washing over, and it's not just the size, it's the enormity of what has unfolded here over time.  I won't pretend to say I know much about that but I certainly do marvel at the little I do know, in that it was started so very early by the Romans, endured the Dark Ages, the Crusades, the constant sacking by Scots and Vikings, Royalty that plotted and killed one another, marrying cousins and such, Two World Wars, a Great Fire...and Jack the Ripper.  

Our footsteps took us through narrow chases and up and down worn steps, past higgelty piggelty half timber construction and then past massive churches and structures built in Romanesque and Gothic design, and of course the classical Roman and Greek forms - it seemed everywhere we looked there were facades of Ionic columns and Pediments.   One of the largest we did see, was that of the Royal Museum.

The outside of the building is classical indeed and yet as soon as one steps inside, we are greeted by an indoor atrium, consisting of a modern building in the centre of its courtyard, with a glass roof spanning from its circular walls out to the original structure.  It's quite a sight to see and 'brilliant' in its design and purpose, since it houses washrooms, coffee shops, and souvenir shops with beautiful merchandise.

On the main floor of the atrium you'll find a regular fast food cafeteria with pre-made sandwiches and yogurt and a lineup a mile long... but if you hike up to the third level you'll find a sit-down restaurant with a lovely menu that includes a High Tea after 3:30pm.   I ordered Prosecco and a plate of delicate salmon with sprigs of watercress, capers, a boiled egg, and pickled red onions, all served on a pretty plate and with Sheffield sterling silver cutlery.  Aris ended up choosing a ham pate as a small appetizer which came with some chutney and mustard.  A side of sourdough and unsalted butter topped it off.   I washed it down with a Coke after that, as I was not only tired, but drowsy from the Prosecco!

Controversy swirls around several of the items in this Museum, since it is felt by many that several items were 'stolen' from where they originally belonged.  I might be inclined to align myself with those thoughts except that we know little of the governments of some of the countries from whence these items came at the time ~ were they equipped to even want to preserve and restore their own antiquities?   Perhaps Lord Elgin did Greece a disservice but it's only been in recent years that Greece itself did anything to preserve and restore the Parthenon.   London's safekeeping of the antiquities that were taken from Greece and Egypt and other countries is still a valid preservation and the location means that they are accessible by many more than would see them otherwise.

At any rate, we viewed incredible items from Mesopotamia and Anatolia, Assyria from as early as 10,000 BC.    We encountered the mummified body of Cleopatra, remnants of Greek ruins found in Turkey, a figure from Easter Island, some of the findings from the dig at Sutton Hoo (uncovered in England in 1939) the one Caryatid from the Erectheon, and several pieces of the frieze of the Parthenon... and my favourite ~ the Rosetta Stone!!   

We finished our day by walking up Haymarket past Piccadilly again, and found a Japanese restaurant just a bit off the beaten track, named Yoshino ~ a humble location down a small alley, with a minimalist interior, but the food was presented perfectly and with panache...Japanese presentation is always perfect, but this seemed to outdo the most beautiful presentations I've seen.  We each ordered the 2 course plate for L26.  They brought us a pork dumpling, then a bowl of miso soup, then a plate with assorted sashimi, sushi, and salads, including soft shell crab, and marinate tuna belly!  I chose a glass of Plum wine (very sweet and I loved it) and Aris had sake which he also enjoyed.   The service was very polite and helpful and the washroom smelled of jasmine.   Go, if you like sushi!   

Knackered, we headed back to our hotel but had time to stop on the way back at a Patisserie Valerie to grab a pecan tart, which we ate while sitting at the edge of Trafalgar Square, watching passersby for amusement.   We had to pack up early as the next morning we were scheduled to leave the city and make our way South/East to Canterbury.