Saturday, August 1, 2009

Counting Down the Days in London (August 1)

So my days in London are numbered and im getting kind of sad about it. I can’t believe I have been here for four weeks, it has flown by. Today I slept in a little bit and then went running. After that I went over to watch the changing of the guard (which if anyone ever has a choice to go see…don’t do it, it’s not worth it). I was supposed to meet up with my friends there but unfortunately that didn’t happen. I wasn’t about to waste a full day so I went out and did things on my own all day. My first stop was the Museum of London. It took me a while to get there but I managed. The museum itself was great. It was split up into four sections, one called London before London (which was about ancient civilizations), a second about Roman London, another about Medieval London, and the last exhibit was all about the London Fire. The first gallery was pretty cool; my favorite part was a woman skull that had facial reconstruction so we could see what she looked like. It was especially fascinating because the skull dated back to 3100 BC. The roman section had many cool artifacts also, but my favorite was the coins that they had on display. The medieval section was great too; it had a lot of history on the Black Death that reached Europe in1348. It was spread by fleas on rats but many English people of the time believed that it was a punishment from God. It killed over 50 million people in Europe alone and it usually was deadly within 48 hours of the first symptoms. This would have been an ugly and painful death, the side effects were numerous including puss covered sores, fever and vomiting blood. It is said that there were more dead bodies than people knew what to do with, and apparently the whole city smelled like rotting flesh. Isn’t that a great picture?
My favorite part of the museum was the exhibit on the Great Fire of London. I learned a lot there and it really interested me. I apologize but I am going to write a lot about it…it was one of the most famous disasters in world history. It started at a bakery in pudding lane on Sunday September 2, 1666. It destroyed an astonishing four-fifths of the city of London. At the time (just like with the Black Death) people believed that it was a punishment from God. In fact they had one picture at the museum that showed a statue of a fat boy. According to the commentary many people believed that the fire was caused by the sin of gluttony (eating too much). The statue is still standing today. It was not a huge surprise when it happened, London was common in London-there were at least six serious fires in the 1600s. This fire obviously was particularly bad. They do have recordings from diaries that wrote about the experience. Thomas Vincent said that “if at any time the sun peeped forth, it looked red like blood.” He also said that wooden scaffolding on St. Paul’s cathedral caught on fire and the lead on the roof melted causing the stones to fly like grenades. The fire itself lasted 5 days and spread wildly because of the strong wind. It was eventually put out because the wind died down and the people of London had torn down houses to create a gap. The city destroyed thousands of homes and left millions without a place to live. The city took nearly 50 years to rebuild and St. Paul’s cathedral wasn’t completed until 1711. I can’t even imagine how terrifying that must have been!
After the museum I took the tube to Bakers Street where I found a small market. I walked around, tried a couple of different foods and then decided to go to dinner. I found this little vegetarian restaurant where I kid you not I had the best food I have ever had in my entire life. I had this butternut squash pie or something…it had red onions, squash, goat cheese, rosemary, zucchini and a balsamic glaze. It was topped off with toasted bread crumbs. It was soooooo good. I know I sound like a dork but this kind of stuff is my life haha. For desert I splurged and had a toffee bread pudding. It must have been covered in butter or something because it was so good. It was definitely worth it. In fact, it was all so good that I asked them for the recipes and they are going to email them to me. Im weird I know.

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