Day 1: The British Museum & Library

Below is the first journal entry recording the events of the trip Carolyn and I took to England and France in July of 2006:

Tuesday, July 18, 2006 London, England

Yesterday Carolyn and I took British Airways flight 224 to Heathrow Airport in London, England. We landed about 8:20 p.m., but it was another two hours before we got through Customs and took a bus to the Tube station. Then it was about another 45-60 minutes before we got to this Bed & Breakfast.

It is hot. We like the place, but AC seems to be rare in London. Not only that, but the local newspaper headlines are talking about the record-breaking heat in London. Great.

The weirdest thing: We went to sleep around 1:00 a.m., but woke up around three hours later with the sun lighting up the world outside. What’s up with that?

This morning we had breakfast with another couple staying here. They’re opera singers/teachers from Hamburg, Germany. (He’s actually from Galveston and Austin, Texas, but has lived in Germany for the last 20 years.)

Today we took the Tube to the British Museum and the British Library….

The British Museum

This is the front of the British Museum.  Carolyn fulfilled a lifelong dream in going here.  She planned out our trip.  Funny that we went here the first day, huh?

It was incredible! They have a ton of ancient stuff. Very cool. We saw the Rosetta Stone…

The Rosetta Stone

The Rosetta Stone, which helped people in our day crack the Hieroglyphics Code.

…the Gutenberg Bible, the Magna Carta, the original handwritten copy of Alice in Wonderland, and that weird-looking stone that contains Sennacherib’s account of Assyria’s dealings with Judah…

Sennacherib's account of events

Weird as it looks, this is actually King Sennacherib’s notebook.  It’s his written account of his attempted invasion of Jerusalem, as recorded in the Bible in 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles, and Isaiah.  By the way, he lied.

We saw arrowheads from Assyria’s invasion/siege of Lachish, a ton of stuff from the Greek Parthenon, and some B.C./early A.D. Roman busts. We saw statues from ancient Egypt…

Statue of Pharaoh

Thanks to this ancient statue, I couldn’t get the song “Walk Like An Egyptian” out of my head.

…including a piece of the Sphinx! And a lot of this stuff wasn’t behind cases or anything–it was out in the open, where you could walk up and touch it (if you’re one of those people). We saw mummies that were about 4,000 years old–including cats, dogs, alligators, snakes, eels–even a fish; and one mummy lady wasn’t wrapped in mummy stuff. They had lots of mummies. They had lots of everything. We saw a pile of human hair that was several thousand years old. We saw ancient money, weapons, and church artifacts. We saw bricks inscribed with Nebuchadnezzar’s name. We saw King George III’s enormous library. We saw handwritten lyrics by the Beatles (written on scrap paper, with some lyrics crossed out and replaced by the familiar ones), musical compositions by Beethoven, Bach, and Mozart, and handwritten letters from Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin. We saw pages from Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks. We saw handwritten copies of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book and Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. We saw an original edition of Shakespeare’s First Folio from 1623. We saw a 1,000-year-old copy of Beowulf. (Some of these things were at the British Library.) This is a small fraction of the things we saw! We also saw an original edition of the King James Bible, a Tyndale Bible–that belonged to King Henry VII–and the oldest complete Greek New Testament, from the third or fourth century. Oh yeah–and we saw Handel’s original, handwritten Messiah.

We took a break for lunch at a cafe nearby–very good chicken and cheese sandwiches.

We stopped at the room for a couple minutes and went to a nearby Italian restaurant for dinner.

Tomorrow we’re going to Stratford-upon-Avon, the hometown of William Shakespeare.

Published in: on April 24, 2007 at 8:11 am  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I was at the British Museum the Monday after you were there. That’s pretty cool.

    Though I didn’t do a very good job at looking at stuff. I saw the Rosetta stone from far off, and enjoyed the significance of that. But I didn’t know where to find anything. I kept trying to get to the Biblical stuff but I couldn’t find it, I think it was a magical wing that you could get to via disappearing staircases. Or I’m not very good at reading maps. So I wandered around looking for weapons. I had a head ache so I figured weapons might cheer me up a bit :).

  2. Too bad you didn’t find the biblical weapons–that would really have helped.

    That is pretty cool that you were there the week after us!

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