Day 1,661 of Traveling the World | London, UK – Part 4 | August 20, 2022

This post will wrap up our doings in London. It felt so luxurious to stay in one place for over three weeks, rather than moving every few days. We are planning to spend more time in London next year, since we enjoyed it so much. We will then visit more of the places and things we didn’t get to see this time!

As we always tell people, when you are traveling 365 days/year, you can’t treat your life as a vacation and fill every day with sightseeing. While here, we mostly just picked one thing to do. Sometimes it was a local attraction, sometimes a movie. Yes, we go see movies on the road. If we don’t, we don’t ever see them! The good thing about Great Britain, of course, is that we don’t have to ask what language it is in. In many other countries we find many movies in English with foreign (i.e., local subtitles), but we always have to ask. By the way, one day we didn’t go anywhere, other than our daily walk, was yesterday. The tube (subway) and bus drivers held a one-day wage strike, so we couldn’t travel very far. We felt bad for those who rely on public transportation to get back and forth from work. It is a major inconvenience for them, but minor for us.

So today, you will see a quirky find that we discovered – Sir John Soane’s Museum. Soane was a neoclassical architect who died in 1837. Years before, he had arranged that upon his death, his home would be granted to the government so as to bypass his son inheriting it, as he disliked him greatly. The museum is filled with artwork, statuary, and all sorts of curiosities. It is almost like walking through an antique shop, but of really cool – and valuable – stuff. There is artwork by Canaletto. There is the 3,000-year-old sarcophagus of Seti I. You wander from room to room, floor to floor, at your own pace. Every turn is like a “Eureka!” moment. Admission is free, but donations are encouraged and accepted (of course!).

Novelty Animation is another quirky place. It is filled with old novelty games that you can actually play for 1-2 pounds. These are not pinball machines, nor are they very sophisticated. One machine is a pair of “hands” that fill with air to frisk you! Another is Bicycle Pong, where you pedaled hard to be sure you are in the right place to hit the ball and play pong! People were laughing and enjoying all the silliness.

We expected Kensington Palace and Gardens to be spectacular, but the drought has yellowed and withered green spaces all over London. You can see in the photos how barren and dry Kensington Gardens look, when due to abundant rain, England is generally very lush and green.

One day, and one day only, it sprinkled all day long. It was too unpredictable to walk any distance, so we visited the Tate Modern Art Museum, a walk of about three minutes from our hotel. Like many of the national museums, admission is free, while exhibitions cost a few pounds. It was quite crowded inside, and like all modern art, some of it was interesting and some of it was befuddling. A canvas painted the same, one shade of blue is “art.” A lopsided wooden structure with ripped white fabric hanging from it is “art.” Our photos show two things that we found enjoyable, however. There is always something, somewhere, for everyone wherever we travel.

A busy room with a great skylight in Sir John Soane’s Museum.
A different kind of light!
One of the many interesting ceilings.
There is amazing, historical stuff…..everywhere!
And downstairs is the 3,000-year-old Egyptian sarcophagus!
More of the Golden Room.
Looking out to the inner courtyard.
An interesting sculpture fragment, just hanging on the wall near the sarcophagus.
Just a “bio” building we spied while walking.
Sicilian Avenue, which looks amazing.
We kinda like this guy peering out at us behind a fence. (A few days ago, this building was all over the news, as black smoke was billowing from the roof, and the subway nearby was shut down for the day.)
There was nothing around that identified this piece of art…he was just standing on a random corner.
The “Prudential Assurance” building: large, red, and proud.
A pub called the “Cittie of Yorke.”
…and its hanging shield.
She practices medicine at Novelty Automation.
These hands fill with air and frisk you – for a price – at Novelty Automation.
Fishcotheque has some of the best fish and chips in London. It looks tiny from the outside, but has a surprising number of tables inside.
A walk down the famous Carnaby Street of the 1960s.
On Carnaby Street is this pub, Shakespeare’s Head, serving food and drinks since 1735. It was once owned by a relative of Mr. Shakespeare. The figure of Shakespeare overlooking Carnaby Street has only one remaining hand, as the other was blown off in the London Blitz and never replaced.
Walking by this lovely scene, we had to capture it. It looks photoshopped to us, but is people sitting and picnicking outside the Natural History Museum.
Queen Victoria commissioned this memorial for her husband, Prince Albert, after his death in 1861. In today’s dollars, it would cost well over $10 million.
Kensington Palace, former home to William and Mary, Queen Anne, Princess Margaret, and Princess Diana, who raised her sons William and Harry here.
Memorial to Princess Diana in Kensington Palace’s Sunken Gardens.
One of the lovely tree tunnels surrounding the Memorial.
Sadly, these are the Kensington Palace Gardens, dried up and yellow due to Great Britain’s severe drought.
This is the only occupant of one of the rooms at the Tate Modern Art Museum. The piece is titled Babel (Cildo Meireles, 2001) and consists of hundreds of radios all playing different stations at the same time, so no two experiences are ever the same. It was like walking into a sci-fi movie!
“Alpine Ibex” (Jimmie Durham, 2017), made from a real ibex skull and wood, plastic, glass, and other materials.
We passed this structure on our way to the National Theater, which you can see between two of the “domes.” Do we really need the warning? – “Keep off this roof: falling from or through this roof could result in fatal injury.”
A mounted frog’s head. It was the most interesting animal head in our hotel restaurant, only because at this scale, the frog would have to be as big as a horse!