03/24/2010 - 03/24/2010 6 °C
Those of you familiar with London know that the Soho and Bloomsbury areas are chock-a-block full of all kinds of things to do and see. We'd already toured around Bloomsbury when we went to the British Museum (we still need to retrace our steps and take in the Darwin Centre that we never got to!), and various trips to Leicester Square, the Strand, and the theatre district have familiarized us with Soho and the West End.
Heading south (of Bloomsbury) toward the Thames and east (of Soho and Leicester Square), you stumble upon Covent Garden--originally home to the now-gone vegetable garden of the convent attached to Westminster Abbey and the accompanying fruit and vegetable market. Covent Garden remains popular,with its arched galleries dating back to 1832, the various iron and glass market halls, and the area surrounding the squares and plazas where you can lose yourself in all kinds of stores, boutiques, craft stalls, cafes, restaurants, and street entertainment.
Jubilee Hall is the place to be if you want souvenirs, clothing, ornaments, trinkets, knick-knacks, and anything weird and/or original, from furries to footballs:
Of course, there's always The Old Standbys (oldies, yes, but always goodies):
And every so often, something unexpected:
After the Sensory Overload that is the Jubilee Market, it was time for a tea and crumpet break:
Then, it was off to explore the many terraces, courtyards, shops and restaurants:
You never know when someone might break out into song:
Next, it was on to Apple Market, an open-air craft market, with artisans and craftspeople of all walks set out amongst rows and rows of stalls. I couldn't resist, gave in to temptation, and bought some photography:
What I really love about London is how you never can tell when or where you'll run into some amazing "back alley" where lord knows what you'll see (it's hilarious what is and is not considered an "alley" here):
I rest my case. I mean ... WTF is this??
We did eventually reach the Royal Opera House, again, another impressive structure:
In case you were thinking that a day at Covent Garden is enough to exhaust anyone, well, that wouldn't include Experienced Sightseers named J & J, now would it?
So, it was off to the London Transport Museum, which is a whole 5 feet from Covent Gardens. We spared no effort to seek out the most hidden of the city's jewels.
The LTM preserves a rather impressive history of London's public transportation system. Now, before your eyes roll back in your head and you nod off, let me assure you that it is actually a very informative, interesting, and fun place to visit! I wasn't expecting all that much (frankly, this one was an impassioned negotiation--I lost--for all of J's outstanding, planning, itinerizing, navigating, and general putting-up over the last five weeks), and hey, I must admit I resented coughing up £10 when almost all London Museums are free. However, after a major refurbishment completed in 2008, the LTM has easily earned its reputation as "one of the capital's best-loved attractions." It's open, airy, bright, highly interactive, and well laid out, with something for sightseers of all ages.
You enter on the top floor and are immediately set back in time to an age of horses, buggies, carriages, and river boats:
Soon, you are learning about trams, trains, and tubes, as London moves into the next century and beyond:
This wall quotation made me think of my grandpa, who was himself a train fireman and, later, driver. He would have really loved the LTM, no doubt:
As you move to the end of the top floor, you look down from the vaulted glass ceilings on to the lower floors, where the major engines, trams, trains, tubes, buses, and cars are kept:
The displays are very visitor-friendly, as one is free to climb aboard, roam around, and explore:
Quick snooze interlude:
Then more playing in traffic:
I even got to drive a REAL BUS!
Sadly, I brought my Canadian Middle Finger with me it seems:
J was decidedly more polite (what a surprise! NOT.):
One of the best parts of the museum was the transition from the urban to the suburgan, as London's development and sprawl gives way to various new routes, tube lines, and communities (including J's, Sudbury Hill):
George Orwell had a few thoughts on the matter:
It was fun to watch the development and progression of the various tube lines and cars, from rickety wood to sleek steel, from rail lines to underground tunnels:
On the way out, you are met with a giant interactive tube map showing the changing lines year by year:
Aaaaaaaaaand ... today:
Who knows what the future will bring?
I know that the end of this day brought us to the LTM cafe and some much-needed chips!!
And, once more, homeward bound, we availed ourselves of the London Underground, although as much more educated travellers!