July 6, 2011

Day 4 London:

Onward!  Today we went to the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace!  We got there just a tad late, so we could only see parts of it.  Pretty much every tourist in London converges on Buckingham to see this – it was really neat hearing the band that marched the new guards in play during almost the whole exchange.  (Allison's Note: The band is dressed to the nines in military guard uniforms... and playing music from... the "Incredibles" movie... must have lost "God Save the Queen" in the wind on the march over)  

Buckingham Palace - no Queen at the moment

Roll your feet!!

Allison and Daniel and I walked back to Trafalgar Square where the National Gallery is.   They also put up a really cool sign for the 2012 London Olympics:
388 days left!
It’s going to be so great to see those next summer right after we have been here!  (Does this mean we get to visit London again???)  After that, we took a double decker bus to Piccadilly – basically a (very very) small version of NY’s Times Square.  We had a nice video for you but we've been having internet issues over here - WiFi is much harder and more expensive to come by over here, particularly at fast speeds :-(

We weaved our way through Piccadilly and the West End theater district to find our incredibly random lunch spot, Belgo Cenraal, which is an odd little Belgian place that specializes in mussels and has a sprawling underground seating area.  The place also has only one bathroom for boys and girls.  That was a little weird, although I could’ve played on the foot operated faucet all day.  (I definetly went into what I though was the girls bathroom and saw a guy in it, and then really embarrassed, turned and went out.  Then went back in and discovered it was a combined girl/boys bathroom thing with a shared sink thing in the middle.  I went out the restaurant and made Andrew and Daniel go to the bathroom... : )  Then I stood and took pictures of it with some Japanese tourists.  

Good times here in London
We walked a short way over to the British Museum – a must-see if you come here.  The museum consists of a HUGE beautiful building pretty much filled with other peoples’ stuff.  I think several parts of it are controversial since the countries from which the artifacts came from kind of want their stuff back.  It’s fascinating, though, and we got to see the actual Rosetta Stone (the giant slab of written-on rock that helped people decode Egyptian hieroglyphs and other Mesopotamian languages for the first time), real mummies from ancient Egypt, and all kinds of amazingly preserved artifacts from pretty much every civilization on Earth.  You probably won’t see everything unless you stay there all day, particularly if you’re a history buff.  I have a feeling a history teacher could spend 2 or 3 full days just there.  We saw a few musical instruments – a few ancient Mesopotamian lyres, but one in particular caught our eye – the citole.  This forerunner of the guitar was something that neither of us had ever seen before.  It looks like a violin, but with a deep carved body.  Those carvings you see on it below are incredibly detailed!

The medieval citole (sort of)
One thing I was surprised about was that the F shaped resonating holes on the top of the instrument (that you see on today’s string instruments) were there on an instrument from the 1300's!  I was thinking they were a 1500-1600s development.  Luckily we checked on it and and found this:
"There is a surviving instrument from around 1300 from Warwick Castle which is now in the British Museum, albeit at some point, probably in the sixteenth century, it was converted into a violin with tall bridge, 'f'-holes and angled fingerboard; thus the image of the instrument's top is not representative of its original appearance."
This is an amazing find because it is the only surviving instrument from the 1300's!  This is a modern version of what the actual instrument looked like:

Very cool!  (Very nerdy.)  We saw as much as we could before it closed (about 2 hours) and went off for a REALLY quick stop at Harrod’s department store.  For more on that and the rest of the day, I turn you over to my colleague, Allison J. Redmon.  Allison?   

Yes well, I was proud of the guys for traipsing across London to see and eat at Harrods during rush hour... for the record, I've never stood so close to so many people as I did on the Tube at 5:30 PM.... scrubbed extra hard in the shower tonight.  Harrod's is like a 5 story mall, but all in the same building.  Very posh, very expensive.  

We purchased tickets to see "The Lion King" and it was just unbelievable.  Everyone needs to see this, it is a completely unique experience in theater and worth every penny.  I had goosebumps for the first 20 minutes of the show.  Go see it if you are in New York!!  (I'm not a huge theater-goer but it was one of the coolest things I have ever seen and SO much fun!  The costumes were amazing and the music was, of course, fantastic.  It helps when you already have an emotional connection with the music before you see the show.  Lioon King is the best music of the Disney movies in my opinion.  Not to mention the old Sega video game version with all the music from the movie!!  Anybody?  Anybody?

Ok, fine.  Take my word for it!


  1. Love your updates you two! I bet The Lion King was amazing. I saw it in Houston (or was it New Orleans?) years ago!

  2. Sounds like you two are having a GREAT time. Regarding the bathroom sink, it has never taken much to entertain Andrew. On your flight home, just have a Rainbow Brite tape available and you won't hear a word from him!!

  3. Your blog is excellent. Riveting first-hand narrative, funny traveller vignettes, real learning about early music. Keep up the good work, you are doing a great job. It is Wed. morning here in Houston and guess what the weather is like today? ____ and ____. [words start with H and D] Love,

  4. Long time no...talk, see or otherwise. I'm so jealous of your travels bro. Looks like you're doing it right. If you're so inclined, tip back a stout for your old friend. Cheers and Godspeed

    Rick C