After a very busy Saturday with hours of walking and lots of good food I opted for a slightly slower Sunday. I slept in a bit longer and took my time getting myself together and out of the hotel. My first stop was to the British Museum which should be renamed the “Museum of Human Civilization”! Like many other extensive collections like the Vatican Museum or the Louvre it is impossible to see and appreciate the entire collection in 1 day. You would need several visits in small chunks to look at and take in the thousands of artifacts that range from recent history back to the earliest known humans.
The sheer magnitude of the open expanse in the main hall is breathtaking. If the Tate were like a layer cake then the British Museum is like a wedding cake. The pristine white walls and floor soaring skyward is a remarkable architectural feat. For me the space evokes a feeling of open mindedness and a blank slate signifying that knowledge is never complete. That the space of our mind should always continue to be filled with new information. I think the engraving on the floor by Tennyson is apt.
I moved through the museum quickly trying to take in as much as possible and see the main highlights. My first order of business was to see the Rosetta stone. The tiny markings perfectly aligned across this mammoth rock are stunning. I love the connection you feel with humanity across the ages. After walking through Assyrian wall drawings from 700 BC and Egyptian mummies from 3000 BC I came across a sculpture of a human form dated to 7200 BC. Looking at this object made almost 10,000 years ago is both satisfying and humbling. Satisfying since I feel part of something greater than just me and my lifetime. Humbling because of just how short and relatively insignificant the life of one person is in the grand scheme of the universe.
After my visit at the museum I headed north to Camden Town at the recommendation of a colleague. It is difficult to describe the atmosphere in this part of town. It was a cross between the mayhem of commerce and people on Canal Street in Manhattan, the lights, sounds and fervor of a county fair in summer and the food court style of Boston’s Quincy Market at Faneuil hall. I wandered into the Stable Market set in an above/underground former horse stable that was once a burgeoning economic hub to transport goods up and down the river. There has to be hundreds of vendors selling both higher end and tchotchke items of all sorts. The circuitous tunnels and passage ways lead you deeper into the heart of the market. There are multiple levels and spokes leading out from the market’s center where throngs of people sit and relax to eat, drink and even smoke hookah.
By Monday I was exhausted. The weekend of running all over had worn me out. I had my 2nd client meeting during the day and then on my last night in London I chose a quiet evening at the hotel. I went to the lobby cafe area to have traditional tea. I sat and sipped on my hot tea while I ate crumpets and finger sandwiches while listening to smooth jazz being played. As my week in London came to an end I felt grateful to have had the experience. I look forward to my next travel adventure!