My First Solo Trip: Day 5
The events from the day before derailed me a bit and I woke up feeling a little unsure what to do with myself on this morning. I felt that it would be wise to avoid crowded locations and the main tourist attractions, until more information was known about the attacks. Several people had mentioned Sir John Soane’s Museum to me and I also knew that it was close to the Hunterian Museum so I thought I might spend my day in that part of London. The house is a collection of Soane’s art and antiquities, that he amassed over his lifetime. It’s all very eccentric with items stacked one top of each other in a somewhat haphazard fashion. I wish that there had been more to see at Sir John Soane’s or that I had been able to take a tour with a guide. I believe they do offer occasional tours of the upstairs apartments, but there were none that coincided with the timing of my visit. They do have several volunteers located in the various sections of the home, but they seemed to be ensuring that nothing was touched or vandalized and didn’t offer much further insight than what was provided in the museum guide.
As for the Hunterian, it is actually a medical museum located inside the Royal College of Surgeons, which is just across a small park called Lincoln’s Inn Fields, from John Soane’s. The Hunterian is free to enter, though you are required to stop at the front desk where you are given a visitors badge to wear for the duration of your visit. I wouldn’t recommend the Hunterian for the squeamish because it has practically every specimen you can imagine ensconced in glass jars that line the shelves of the museum and it does entail the history of surgery after all. I was able to appreciate a number of the displays the Hunterian had to offer, thanks to the fact that I’ve received training as an Emergency Responder in the States. I particularly enjoyed the exhibits on iron lungs and early open heart surgeries. I kept thinking about how much my Paramedic friend would have enjoyed the museum and history of surgery.
After the museums, I decided to wander for a bit. I had thought I might head to the British Museum, but decided I was tired of museums at this point. I continued walking west until I inevitably found myself on Bond Street, which one of the major shopping streets in London. I found my way into Zara and wandered around for a bit. They have the most adorable children’s clothing, but I didn’t end up buying anything. Sorry nieces and nephew! Next I wandered into Liberty of London, which I really enjoyed. It’s so much better than Harrod’s (nicknamed “Horrids” by many a Londoner, a place I had visited on my previous trip). Liberty is famous for their print fabrics so I made sure to go upstairs to the fabric halls and purchase a few small gifts for my mother, who quilts as a hobby, from the Haberdashery. Don’t you just love the term “haberdashery”?
Shopping completed, I ended up wandering all the way over to Hyde Park, stopping to admire the Animals at War Memorial on my way. I had recently read the book No Better Friend by Robert Weintraub, about Judy the dog who survived a Japanese POW camp, and was glad to have the chance to pay my respects. Heading out of Hyde Park, I saw another helicopter and police cars with sirens in the general direction of Westminster. Alarmed, I asked a British couple walking next to me there had been any more attacks. The woman assured me that nothing more had happened and then advised me to steer clear of the area around Westminster. Considering the location of my hotel was only a few blocks from the scene of the attacks, there was not much I could do to heed the kind woman’s advice. I ended up wandering through both Green and St. James’ Park enjoying the quiet green space.
By late afternoon, I had made my way back to the area of my hotel. Along the way I stopped to thank a police officer for his service and offer my condolences on the loss of Officer Palmer. The officer was very kind, though I felt my words seemed extremely inadequate in light of all that had happened. The London Metropolitan Police really do an outstanding job in all that they do and I’m forever impressed by their public relation skills whenever I’ve had the privilege to observe them interacting with the local population. I know that they receive a lot of criticism because most of them do not carry lethal force weapons, but their ability to talk to and deal with individuals is a skill that law enforcement officers from all over the world would do well to emulate.
I think I ended up grabbing dinner at the McDonald’s inside Victoria Station, at least I remember stopping in the Sainsbury there to grab some snacks. I’m ashamed to admit it, but sooner or later, I feel like the road inevitably leads to the Golden Arches.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on my trip report or just London in general. Please feel free to comment below.