How many places have you traveled to in your life that have had a Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum? How many times have you glanced at it and walked by without entering? For us, it has been a lot…and that’s just on this trip. Those places are everywhere…Amsterdam, Las Vegas, New York, Paris… Today we decided to try it out. The London Madame Tussaud’s is actually the original. The woman herself came to London to create death masks after doing the same job in France during the revolution. Today the museum is not filled with dead revolutionaries but celebrities, politicians, athletes and super heroes. The visit included a “Spirit of London” ride (that told us of London’s history using wax figures), a haunted house area and a 4D superhero movie, but basically it is a couple of hours spent posing for photos with different well known figures. We think our subject & posing choices say a lot about us for these categories…
We decided that after such frivolousness we should try something educational. It’s so nice that we could just pop into the British Museum for free! This country knows how to attract people to their cultural/educational sights: don’t make them pay! We walked through the most famous/visited part again (you may recall that we did a Rick Steves audio tour of these areas last time we were in London). Egyptian mummies and Greek sculptures are always worth a view! Otherwise we wandered kind of at random. We picked a room and strolled through it and into a connecting room, making sure to read the title plaque when we entered so we would know what part of the world and what period in time we were dealing with. One of the more random rooms was the one featuring clocks & watches from the first models to a 2008 alarm clock.
We thought we should have just donated Grandma & Grandpa’s to this display:
An interesting display was just set up in the foyer at the top of the main staircase; it was the story of the design that will be used for the London Olympics medals. We also got to see a copy of the medals for both the Olympic games and Paralympic Games.
Random walking from the museum took us back to our favorite place in the city: Trafalgar Square. When we got there we expected the large Christmas tree and crowds of people. What we did not expect was that the majority of that crowd would be dressed as Santa Claus…
It was an insane sight to see hundreds of peope in Santa suits all congregated together. It felt like a holiday edition of Where’s Waldo? And, hilariously, we did see one guy dressed like Waldo…and one that was a creepy snowman…and some reindeer and elves and presents and a tree and every take on Santa people could think of (Cowboy Santa, Army Santa, and, of course, Slutty Santa).
In case you’re curious (because we sure were!) this was the 2011 London Santa Pub Crawl, which is literally just hundreds of people getting dressed as St. Nick, gathering in random places around the city (including Trafalgar Square & Tower Bridge) and getting right drunk…so random and ridiculous!
The British National Gallery sits at the top of Trafalgar Square. It is extremely grand from the exterior, with it’s large staircase climbing out of the square’s center and towering columns, but we hadn’t actually seen the interior. It is also grand! And is packed with great art. We had planned on just stopping in for a quick peek but ended up walking through the majority of the gallery. It is our kind of place because it isn’t too large and has a lot of variety. To put it into perspective, it fits into one medium art museum what Paris has in 3 extremely large buildings. We gazed at some soft Monet’s and contemplated the works of the crazy van Gough. All in all it was an enjoyable cultural experience.
We took a stroll away from the square to find a good pub for supper. We were there a little early so we first enjoyed a hot mulled cider and did a bit of blog writing. When we ordered food we decided to go for the ultimate British classic: Fish & Chips. It was most delicious!
After supper we took the underground to the Tower stop and walked around by the Tower of London. It was all lit up in the darkness and had cheerful Christmas lights on all of the trees. There was also a skating rink set up on the green in the old moat. We wanted to be out there, but it was awfully busy so the urge was a little less.
After staring wistfully at the ice we grabbed a tea from Starbucks and headed back up Tower Hill to the large sundial. This was the meeting point for out nighttime walking tour. It is one of the paid tours offered by Sandeman’s New Europe here in London. There are plenty of creepy evening tours offered in this city (as it has a pretty sketchy history) but we knew this one wouldn’t operate on cheap gimics and would actually be educational alo g with entertaining.
Our tour began on tower hill. With the famous Tower of London in the distance, this hill was the spot for numerous beheadings throughout London’s history. We walked towards the Tower of London and our guide told us the stories of some of it’s famous inmates and executions. Since it was chilly, he only elaborated on one: Anne Boleyn. You may remember she is one of our top historical figures and as a result we know a lot about this young woman and her fate. We were disappointed and kinda began to question him when he messed up his Anne Boleyn story and ended up combining a three wives into one. Come on now, there’s only six wives to keep straight. 😉
The emphasis of the second part of the tour was the unsolved murders by Jack the Ripper. London in 1888 was home to a string of horrible murders, each involving a prostitute having her neck slashed (always from left to right) and her body mutilated to varying degrees (thought to depend on how long the killer could remain undisturbed with the body). There are thought to be anywhere from 3 to 11 Ripper victims, although it is decided pretty unanimously that there were at least 5. The facts are pretty scarce in the case too as that time in history lacked good forensics and details were often skewed by the newspapers (which were a new invention with no legal regulations and a thirst to sell as many copies as possible). The main reason that there is little known about the killings though is that “Jack” was never caught.
One a happier note (because its always nice to wrap up with something that doesn’t depress your audience), we saw the Tower Bridge go up! Our tour guide got super excited because this is apparently really rare so most tourists never get to experience it. It was only a shallow opening to let through a river boat cruiser. We were told that it only opens the full way for the 2 or 3 times a year that a really large boat has to sail that far up the River Thames or for when the Queen takes a boat down past it.
Today we’re going to throw another question at ya…remember, we offer participation points for answering, but encourage everyone & anyone to answer! What has been you’re absolute favorite blog post? You may have liked how entertaining it was, or how much you learned from it, or you just thought the photos were really pretty…whatever the reason, we want to know which post you liked best!
What We Miss:
Mexican food…*hint* *hint* Mom P…*cough*Dec 23rd*cough*…
Love, Luck & Lady GaGa,