Sunday, August 07, 2011

Trip report: England; Day 3; Westminster Abbey and the London Eye

Again, I'll just say what I wore and what we did, although I have no pictures, because I have to use my husband's laptop. There will be photographic evidence aplenty after I arrive in Canterbury tomorrow.

I wore

  • white Banana Republic scoop neck t-shirt with satin trim at the neckline
  • periwinkle blue BR boyfriend cardigan
  • Not Your Daughter's Jeans, medium rinse, bootcut
  • black Chanel Cambon flats
  • black Chanel Cambon wallet-on-a-chain
  • travel guides, umbrella, bottles of water, etc., in the Coach Poppy tote
  • black Nordstrom rain anorak
This worked out perfectly for a day of walking. And I'm so very glad I brought the umbrella!

We got started bright and early to make the morning Eucharist at Westminster Abbey. Luckily for us we made good time, because we had to change routes due to the rioting that took place in North London yesterday.

Our new route took us further west, so we drove by Hyde Park, Chelsea, and Sloane Square. The sight of all the shops didn't evoke moans of longing from me. But it was a close thing.

I felt a little underdressed for church ... until I saw the rest of the congregation.

Westminster Abbey

I'm hardly an expert on English cathedrals, having been inside a total of five, plus one in Wales ... but frankly, Westminster Abbey benefits greatly from the masses of history in which it is steeped. Because parts of it look like an English cathedral (with a soaring nave and a positively exquisite ceiling) that has become an antique store specializing in Victorian statues. There is a lot of pompous marble around, and it's trying very hard to be poignant.

But then you start reading the plaques and seriously, it's a name-drop-athon of notables. And that's not to mention various Coronations and the very recent Royal Wedding.

After church, we went across the street to the Methodist Great Hall to use the restrooms in their basement, and yes, I am aware that worshipping in one church only to run into the competition to use their bathrooms looks tacky.

We made up for it by eating lunch in their cafe. It was pretty good--and cheap! The Methodists have gone in one day, from being my liturgical first cousins once removed to my favorite branch of Protestantism. Way to go, Methodists! 

The London Eye

Then we walked by Parliament and Big Ben and over Westminster Bridge. It started mizzling, but we forged on. I come from New England, and we like to think we're even hardier than people from Old England. What's a little rain? Pffft!

Of course, then it poured.

We decided to abandon our original plan of heading to Camden Locks Market and hunker down in the vicinity. We also decided that with the rain and clouds and whatnot, the lines for the Eye would be shorter than usual, because the visibility would be so bad that the entire experience would be kind of lame.

As you will shortly see, we were absolutely right.

Here's the deal with the London Eye; it's only impressive if you live somewhere with no skyscrapers. Unfortunately, I live in the epicenter of skyscraperdom. The Sears Tower and the John Hancock building are both taller than the Eye and afford more dramatic views. I can also state that the Empire State Building, Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Montmartre, Coit Tower in San Francisco, and the outdoor restaurant at the Forum Hotel in Rome have better views than you'll get from the London Eye.

Especially if, like the Buxom party, you have just climbed to the top of St. Paul's Cathedral. If you've done that, you've already seen the view. So don't fall for the Yelp reviews and don't listen to your teenagers; skip it. It's lame. And overpriced.

The London Film Museum

When we got off the Eye, it was raining again, so for me to decide which of the tourist attractions in the immediate vicinity was the most compelling was the work of an instant. The London Film Museum won because the Museum of the Moving Image closed before I got a chance to see it; I'm a film geek; I had teenagers with me, and it was still raining.

It's actually a fun museum in a large, rambling, repurposed space. They have props, costumes, clips, scripts, and hands-on attractions. Also a few places to sit. And completely ridiculous photo ops. Which you'll see soon enough.

And then we walked the long walk in now sunny London to head back to the hotel for dinner. My feet appreciated the change out of the Prada loafers but would really like a nice long soak in the hotel sink.

Verdict: my outfit, while a bit casual for Sunday morning services, was perfect for splashing through puddles, gawking at monuments, judging Victorian tomb sculptures, feeling a new empathy for the Parisians who thought the Eiffel tower was a blot on the landscape, posing for pictures with R2D2, and warming up to Methodism.


  1. And the shoes are holding up in the wet?

    I'll tell you, I like to travel vicariously with you and yours.

  2. So happy to hear the Methodists could win you over. I am enjoying "our" trip through England.

    Don't know what is up with the wifi and hotels, but isn't Marriot a Mormon organization? Is there a connection?

  3. Yes, I am not a big fan of The London Eye either, in fact I skipped it.
    Sorry about the rain ...

  4. I'm enjoying your posts on London.

    Technically, Methodists are the children of Anglicans, not cousins.

  5. Darnit, that comment is not from Pete Kohrs; it is from Carol


Gentle Readers:

For the time being, I've turned off comment moderation. Please don't spam; it's not nice.

xxx, Poppy.