JWU student blogger Samantha Riley hops on over to London for a culturally rich weekend overflowing with museum trips and visits to historical haunts.
“London Bridge is falling down, falling down, London Bridge if falling down, my fair lady,” sang the mother to her toddler-aged daughter as they strolled along the notorious bridge mentioned in the song. Praying the song would not come true, my cousin and I made our way from the bridge to the Tower of London before moving on to another well-known bridge, the Tower Bridge.
If Italy is the home of impressive ancient ruins and Ireland is the home of breathtaking scenery, than London is quite a contrast with a skyline dotted with modern iconic architecture from The Shard to the Houses of Parliament, making it quite a sight to behold. The view from the London Eye, after only a fifteen minute wait in line before entering the famous glass fishbowl, was even more spectacular overlooking the city below. From there it was time to appreciate more than just the innovative outward style of London but the inside of those buildings as well.
The first stop was to Westminster Abbey where I was given an audio guide and spent over two hours reveling in its rich history. I walked the path where countless prominent figures had walked before me, stopping along the way to see the actual Coronation Chair. Next it was off to the Tate Modern, a museum which contains, as its name states, modern works of art. The museum is in the process of being renovated from six stories to an impressive ten. As extraordinary as it is now, I can only envision what it will be like when completed. It has over two floors dedicated to free exhibits containing a variety of types of art. There were classic Dali and Picasso pieces along with videos, photographs, signage, sculptures and more. As an avid modern art fan, this museum took everything to an unimaginable new level. For example, one entire room was dedicated to an exhibit that featured car bumpers and human hair, something I had never seen before. The inspiration behind the piece is that in India hair is tied around car bumpers to ward off bad luck. She “observes the paradox that ritual and superstition endure and co-exist alongside modern urban and economic transformation.” After spending a few hours there on Saturday, I returned on Sunday to finish the remainder of the museum.
Our final destination was to the British Library. My love of libraries has followed me everywhere I travel and is always included in my itinerary. Unbeknownst to me, the British Library was no ordinary museum, inside I was able to view historical pieces of literature from the Magna Carta to the lyrics of a song scribbled on scraps of paper by a Beatle to a hand-written page of Jane Austen’s “Persuasion.” This surprise was the perfect conclusion to a long weekend trip to the classiest place around.