Today for our BLC trip was the British Museum, which I was very excited about (www.britishmuseum.org). As I mentioned, London museums are free. It was very crowded inside and out when we walked in, but luckily we had a tour guide.
In the main entrance room you can see the outside of the Reading Room. I could have gone inside but I didn’t want to pay an obscene amount to see the Chinese Terracotta warriors. You also had to have tickets way in advance, and I wanted to see the warriors for the first time in China. If you were never going to China, I would understand paying for the exhibition, but otherwise I would not. It was the first time any of the warriors had left China to be shown, which I thought was an interesting fact.
Seeing the Rosetta Stone is a highlight. But beware because there is a copy because so many people are always around the real one. Make sure you see the real one. My guide said it would be hard to get a picture of it, but just be aggressive and you can get a picture of one of the greatest historical artifacts. (Stupidly, while my family visited me at Drapers, I told them and my coworker Steve that I saw the Magna Carta at the British Museum. My brother quickly corrected me, but it was funny because Steve said he would believe anything I said.)
The museum also has a ton of pieces from the ancient Assyrian Palace of Sargon including the ‘dying lioness’ relief and the winged bull creatures that guard the palace. I was excited to see this work because I studied it in an art class and I love ancient art.
A large room is also devoted to the Parthenon and Ancient Greece. The museum has many portions of the east pediment of the building and many friezes from inside the Parthenon. Although the Greeks just built the Acropolis Museum, I don’t think the British will be giving these artifacts back anytime soon.
We were also shown the Lewis Chess pieces that I saw in Scotland. And another popular highlight is the mummy room. You’ll know where you’re in it because it’s so crowded and mummies surround you. The mummies were hard to photograph around all the people and glass reflections.
The British Museum also houses some artifacts from the Sutton Hoo ship burial from about 625 A.D. That was neat to see also because I studied it in high school in British Literature (in the book Beowulf).
My group’s tour was over and I decided to look around a little while longer. This is not an easy museum to see quickly. I went to see the famous Lindow Man who was discovered in England in 1984 and he was from the first century. I also went back to photograph the Royal Game of Ur. It dates to about 2500 B.C in Iraq and the game was one of the most popular ancient games.
My DK Great Britain guidebook also pointed out the Shiva Nataraja from India so I visited that too. When I walked out, I saw a hot dog stand. It made me realize how badly they were attracting tourists. There were also many shops with copy museum artifacts. I did buy my brother a small Terracotta warrior figure because my brother likes Asian history.
I still had plenty of the day to use, so I went to explore Regent’s Park and the London Zoo (www.zsl.org). Regent’s Park is located in the northwest area of central London. It’s a beautiful park. It was a decent day temperature-wise so I took out my packed sandwich and people watched.
And I’ll just mention this: people think it rains all the time in London. It really doesn’t.
Anyway, after I finished lunch I strolled to the middle of the park to the zoo. I don’t know what really possessed me to go to the zoo, but it was something to do. I had a bad feeling standing in line that the zoo was not going to be good. I still paid the crazy fee of 12.40 pounds (13.90 for adults) and they try to get you to pay a voluntary donation fee of 1.60 pounds.
I walked around disappointed. St. Louis, Missouri has one of the best zoos and the only one that has really compared is San Diego. In my opinion, the London Zoo is a waste of time unless you live in London and you want to take your kids.
I did see gorillas, giraffes, cats and birds. They do have an African area, which was neat because I saw some African wild dogs (I saw some information about them on the awesome Plant Earth series). But overall, a lot of things weren’t out and most of these animals I could see back home in St. Louis for a lot cheaper.
The one thing I wanted to do I forgot to do: see the reptile house because the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone zoo snake scene was filmed there! I don’t think I’ll be paying again to see it.
Although I didn’t like the zoo, I was happy to enjoy the scenery and walk around Regent’s Park. It was a new area of London that I had never seen.