Saturday, April 14, 2012

A Foggy Day in London Town

What do I want to do in London? Countless things. Really. But because this is a class assignment and I have to choose, here are 5 that seemed both educational and appropriate to include in something that is going to be graded.

1. The British Library

I love reading and am a huge library nerd, so naturally, this would be especially interesting to me. The British Library used to be part of The British Museum, but separated itself from the museum by way of the British Library Act 1972. It serves mainly as a research library, holding over 150 million items, including old manuscripts and historical items that date back to 2,000 B.C. It houses over 14 million books, which puts it in second place next to Library of Congress for the most books in a library. But that is not all. They also have a huge collection of special items, things that not only have historical relevancy but cultural and social importance. Some of these include Jane Austen's original writing desk, Shakespeare's first folio, two original copies of the Magna Carta, and the napkin on which Paul McCartney first wrote the lyrics to the song "Yesterday." Awe-inspiring, right?

2. Highgate Cemetery

Debatably one of the most beautiful cemeteries I've ever seen a picture of. I hope to soon be able to say I've been there, too. It's split into two sections, the East Cemetery and the West Cemetery. There are a number of important, influential, and interesting people here, including Charles Dickens' parents and wife and Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Karl Marx is buried in the East Cemetery, and on the 9th of May there is an event called An Unfinished Revolution -- Karl Marx and Abraham Lincoln. Apparently, Marx's ideas had a huge impact on how things were reconstructed after the Civil War. The event opens at 7pm and Robin Blackburn starts his presentation at 7:30. It's only £5 for students, and there are refreshments and "nibbles" served. I'm going to this.

3. Little Angel Theatre

Because, let's be honest with ourselves, who doesn't love puppet shows? On 24 November 1961, a troupe of puppeteers, led by John Wright, transformed a simple hall into a magical theatre for their marionette shows. Though based in Islington, they toured all over the United Kingdom. Their shows developed and their troupe grew in number until they had three touring companies on the road at one time. Since they have been around so long, Little Angel is a highly respected and beloved aspect of the London theatre scene. Their shows now integrate every type of puppet and incorporate a variety of different themes, cultures, styles, and stories. They sell discounted student tickets at only £5. There are multiple shows every week, and a schedule can be found here.

4. London Kings Cross railway station

All you Harry Potter fans, which I know is at least 99% of you, this one's for you. And for me. Mostly for me. This railway station has been in use since 1852. It has been rebuilt and transformed multiple times since then, and in 2013, the whole thing will have been reconstructed. Urban legend of the area suggests that the Kings Cross is built on top of the body of an ancient tribal queen, Boudica. Allegedly, Boudica's ghost haunts the passages under the station. Very cool. But what's even cooler is that Kings Cross is the very same station that is featured in Harry Potter! When the film Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was released, a "9 3/4" sign was installed between platforms 9 and 10. About a fourth of a trolley sticks out of the wall; all Harry Potter fans must get an extremely touristy but awesome picture of themselves pushing the trolley through the wall and to the Hogwarts Express. I know that's what I'm going to do.

5. Baker Street

And now for all the Sherlock Holmes fans. Who wants to visit 221B Baker Street? Although the detective's address was fictional, it is now home to a Sherlock Holmes Museum. The house is protected by the government because of its cultural and historical value. It's open every day of the year, with the exception of Christmas Day, from 9:30am to 6:00pm. Tickets into the museum are £6. The street itself was laid out in the 1700's by a man named William Baker, who, obviously, coined his work after himself. Originally occupied by high class residents, the street is now filled with shops of all kinds. In December 1967, The Beatles set up a retail store called Apple Boutique. It closed half a year later and is now just a pile of demolished remains. But it would still be cool to look at it and think that The Beatles were once there.

Honorable mentions (aka concerts I want to go to):
New Kids on the Block & Backstreet Boys at The O2, Peninsula Square. No explanation needed. I have to go to this.
- Foster the People at Brixton Academy in London.
- Latitude Festival. Granted, I've only heard of two of the musical groups in the line-up, but this seems like a British version of Coachella or something. Yes please.

And that's about it! I can't believe I'm going to be in London in ten days. TEN DAYS YOU GUYS! What do I even do. Do you want souvenirs? Just tell me what you want, and you'll get it. Promise. Okay, within reason. Buying souvenirs for other people is one of my greatest joys.


  1. How long will you be there? Will you have time to go to any other places? If you can get to Cambridge, go! It's beautiful! Also, one thing I did that I've never regretted - the last time I was there I took a bus day-trip to Stonehenge and Bath. Roman history AND Jane Austen in the same place? Yes, please! You're going to have a blast! Enjoy each moment!

    1. I'm going to be there for 8 weeks! As a group, we are taking trips all over the place, and I know that Stonehenge and Bath are on our schedule. We're probably going to Cambridge as well. :)

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