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The traveler: An expected journey This time it's the Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Sweden & Norway before England again for several weeks and on to Croatia.

Back Again

UNITED KINGDOM | Friday, 30 March 2018 | Views [191]

I'm back again across the pond, this time with a little more familiarity, but still plenty of opportunity to add to the "do this differently next time" list. I'd say 1 in 3 people still smoke, they still have a great accent, the underground is now somewhat less of a novelty to me, and I know exactly how to "top up" Oyster cards for the underground and get new SIM cards for phones. The time around the time change didn't seem quite so bad, though my eye lids still droop in the middle of the day after getting up at what used to be about midnight. Come night the tiredness fades (after all it used to be afternoon!), but it's still easy enough to fall into bed.

An hour and a half after landing in Heathrow I was on the bus again to a place I'd very much been looking forward to visiting: "The 1940s Experience". It is mostly used as an education/experiential center for children, hence it's only open one Sunday each month, and it happened to be the Sunday I arrived. Luckily this time I'd learned I needed to write down directions not only to stations, but from stations to where I actually wanted to go in the town. I made it to the 1940s Experience with 15 minutes until closing! Taking a quick walk through the interior rooms, I took quite a few photos to peruse later for the details I wouldn't remember, even if I'd had all day to look. As the people (all dressed 1940s style) were closing up I hung around, and eventually asked one if there was a window into the "village evacuee school" that I could look through. Instead he went and unlocked it for me to have a quick look around at the higglty-pigglety desks with their ink wells, and perhaps sadly total lack of windows. Back with the other group of employees, or volunteers (I don't know which) two more of them took a fancy to talking to me, and also went and unlocked the museum for me to have a quick look around. I now have an invitation to write them personally with any questions. (Admittedly I did use the fact that I'd just arrived in Heathrow that morning to my advantage in coming so late.)

Day two in London seemed to be spent either walking somewhere or standing in a line. First it was off to the grocery store, then to the tub and out again to walk quite a few blocks, only to discover that the place I was in search of no longer existed. So back on the tube and out again near the Churchill War Rooms. I was intending to eat lunch in the park, but after seeing the line into the museum I decided I'd better eat a standing lunch instead. (If you ever intend to go here buy tickets ahead of time so you can hope into the quick lane.) An hour and a half later I, and the two European ladies I'd been talking to to pass the time, finally made it inside. With an audio description for each room I made my way through the narrow underground halls, and small rooms that were command central for Britain during WWll. Apparently some of it was left exactly as it was the day Japan surrendered, and after 6 years of practically living there everyone simply went out the door. Decades later when news finally got out about what the rooms used to be the man, who I believe was in charge, or custodian for the building was asked to start giving tours. Some time after that the Imperial War Museum bought the place and refurnished it to look exactly as it did during the war years. There certainly wasn't a lot to the furnishings because people were either sleeping or working in tight quarters. All the old maps with the pins depicting battle lines (even someone's sketch of Hitler) were up on the walls as well as the typewriters, and old encrypted phones up set up in the rooms with wax figures in uniforms in the midst of their work.
In the middle part of the tour was a largish museum all about Churchill. Quit different from the rest of the experience it is packed with information, display items, photos, and film clips. I spent rather too much time here for my taste (I quite like simplicity in the amount of written information displayed), and was somewhat hurried out of the museum at the end as everyone made their way out at closing. Either the benefit, or the downside to everything (museum and tourist related) in London is that it closes between 4-6 pm.

So off to St. James park I went, which was by far my favorite last time. Rather than green leaves there were thousands of daffodils this time, and the first pink blossoms on some of the trees. Along with the flowers it was also rather more popular with the people, despite being a brisk evening! Summer is no doubt in the air with the longer evenings, probably getting dark around the same time Colorado does.

Tags: churchill war rooms, london, st james park


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