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noe’s report of selected UK sights (and sites): Glasgow, Edinburgh, York, Salisbury, London

noe’s report of selected UK sights (and sites): Glasgow, Edinburgh, York, Salisbury, London

Sep 16th, 2006, 06:34 PM
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noe’s report of selected UK sights (and sites): Glasgow, Edinburgh, York, Salisbury, London

I am trying to hurry to post this UK trip report before I leave for Romania in 5 days! I�ll start with a little intro, but mostly this report will be the individual sights I saw, sites I visited, and meals I ate.

After adjusting for travel time, I had 17 available days in mid-August in the UK: 11 days in Glasgow and 6 in England.

My two college-aged daughters play with a bagpipe band, which is what brought us from the US to Glasgow. The band�s performances and competitions provided some structure to the first part of the trip. There was a large group of people that I could hang out with or share a meal. At the same time I was on my own a fair amount (the girls were occupied with practices and with their band mates, and my husband came a week later than I did).

My husband, 18yo daughter and I added 6 days after Glasgow to tour in England and London. My older daughter flew from Glasgow to return to her university.

My goal for my free time on this trip was to see some museums and galleries that I have not seen on my 3 prior trips to Scotland and 1 previous London visit. I have a degree (very long time ago) in Art History; I know western art the best, and prefer early medieval through the 16th century. I do enjoy some art/artists from nearly every period of history.

Another love of mine is old churches � so much so that my daughter told me �Mom, your dream trip would be one very long street of nothing but churches.� Add in a few museums, and I think she�s right.

Here is a summary/preview:

Medieval Cathedrals visited:
Glasgow (St. Mungo�s);
Southwark (London).

most of these are free/donation requested
National Gallery of Scotland (Edinburgh);
Museum of Scotland (Edinburgh),
Gallery of Modern Art (Glasgow);
Kelvingrove (Glasgow);
Museum of Transport (Glasgow)
Burrell Collection (Glasgow);
Yorkshire Museum (York);
National Rail Museum (York);
Royal Academy of Art Summer Exposition (London)
British Museum (London);
Tate Modern (London);
Tate Britain (London)

The Barras (Glasgow)
Bridge of Alan Highland Games
Piping Live! festival, performances in George Square (Glasgow)
World Pipe Band Championships (Glasgow)
The Shambles/Market (York)
City Walls (York)
Bankside Walk, South Bank (London)
Borough Market (London)
Camden Market (London)

St. Mungo�s Catholic Church (Glasgow);
St. Helen�s (York),
�See How They Run� (London theatre)
St. Martin in the Fields, Brass Rubbing Centre (London)
Thames boat ride (London)
Ceremony of the Keys, Tower of London (London)
Farm Street Catholic Church (London Mayfair);
St. Etheldreda�s Catholic Church (London Holborn)

I will give little report of most of the above, with each city a separate post on this thread:
Glasgow sights
Glasgow food
London sights
London food
noe847 is offline  
Sep 16th, 2006, 07:44 PM
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In Scotland we were based in Glasgow. We had no car this time around, so I didn’t range very far afield. I was glad to have time to explore Glasgow.

I love the way everyone in Scotland says “hiya” and “bye bye” (and, of course, “aye”). When you are in a queue, they will say “first” when they’re ready for the first person in the line (makes sense!)

I did have a few times in Glasgow where I found the accent completely incomprehensible. This happened with a few cab drivers and with the guy at the security office at our accommodations. I just smiled and gave noncommittal replies. Hope they weren’t saying anything crucial.

The city of Glasgow owns and operates 13 museums, including the ones we saw: http://www.glasgowmuseums.com/


This combination art and natural history museum is housed in a magnificent 1901 building. For the past 3 years, the building has undergone complete renovation and was just reopened to the public in July. On the beautiful August afternoon that I visited – the week before school began – the museum was filled with families enjoying the venerable institution. A WWII Spitfire airplane hangs in the West Court above Sir Roger, a stuffed Indian elephant beloved by generations of Glaswegians. Hanging in the East Court is a group of white fibreglass heads with crazy expressions.

I concentrated on the art collection. Highlights for me: Dali’s Crucifixion of St. John of the Cross, the gallery with the ‘Glasgow Boys’ and the ‘Scottish Colorists’, the Mackintosh Tea Room furniture settings, van Orley’s Virgin and Child by a Fountain (loved the detail on this one), Botticelli’s Annunciation, the Veuillard and Degas pastels, Walter Crane’s Briar Rose (pre-Raphaelite triptych). The La Faruk Madonna was unusual and quite moving – it is a religious triptych painted during WWII by an Italian prisoner of war on the back of flour sacks.

The museum has taken great care to keep its art exhibits from being just a series of pictures hung on the walls. There are interactive displays. In one, museum visitors can type what they think the people in a painting are thinking, and the words appear in thought balloons on the wall.

Burrell Collection

A light and airy purpose-built 1980’s structure in the middle of beautiful park land houses an extraordinary collection that was bequeathed to the city of Glasgow many years previously by Sir William Burrell. The collection includes many architectural remnants and stained glass windows, which were incorporated in the planning and construction of the building. The most striking is a 16th century portal from Hornby Castle, which faces the sculpture courtyard (many Rodin pieces and a huge Roman vase).

The collection is especially strong in medieval art and in textiles. There is an astonishing collection of needlework samplers. The small painting galleries contain some real gems – Cranach, and my favorite of the French Impressionists: Degas and Manet.

The café has a wall of windows facing the park, so we saw lots of people and their dogs enjoying the beautiful day.

Gallery of Modern Art

I was underwhelmed by this collection. The main gallery contained an exhibit of sculptures from the municipal collection. I liked one or two of the works there, and a few scattered pieces/artists in the rest of the building.

Museum of Transport

My husband went to this one by himself. He reports that the movie about the Clyde side is excellent. The exhibit on naval ships was quite good, with an example (model) of every type of ship built on the Clyde. He also had fun seeing the various cars: Austins, Citroens, Jaguars, Morris Minors, etc. The museum also had exhibits about the streetcars of Glasgow.

The Barrows (Barras)

I have always heard about this famous Glasgow flea market that happens on weekends only. There are many stalls in covered arcades or out in the open air. Lots of new manufactured stuff at prices that weren’t as cheap as I expected. Electronics, toys, underwear, knit goods, sports wear. There was a yarn (inexpensive not fine) and button booth where I purchased some cotton yarn and knitting needles to give me something to do during down time on the trip.

I did find a building full of stalls that were selling antiques and vintage things. I bought a few things, such as a horn spoon. I especially enjoyed a booth that had a lot of bakelite and vintage plastic jewelry. I bought some cool lucite bangle bracelets, a tortoise cuff, and a carved bakelite ring for my daughter. http://www.glasgow-barrowland.com/market.htm

Glasgow Cathedral (St. Mungo’s)

I had not been to the cathedral since 1999, and I was very glad to see it again. It is a beautiful gothic church, and I explored the crypt as well as the main level. There is a lot of clear glass in the windows and a stunning wooden ceiling. http://www.glasgowcathedral.org.uk/

Piping Live festival/World Pipe Band Championships

This festival is the second week of August every year, and celebrates the music of the bagpipe, especially the Great Highland Bagpipe. There are lots of performances, demonstrations, and recitals that happen at venues all over Glasgow. I attended two of the lunchtime pipe band performances in George Square. The festival culminates with the World Pipe Band Championships on Glasgow Green, this year on Saturday, August 12. In addition to 300 pipe bands, the day featured Scottish highland dancers, heavy athletics contests, and vendors of food and wares. http://www.pipingfestival.co.uk/

Here are our pictures of Glasgow:
You should be able to view them without signing in, by clicking on “view pictures.”
noe847 is offline  
Sep 16th, 2006, 07:57 PM
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It was great to be back in the land of baguette sandwiches. Our favorites were the mozzarella/tomato/basil from Prêt a Manger (on many street corners) and the bacon/cheese from Upper Crust (in many train stations). We stayed at university self catering accommodations, so fixed many of our own meals.

My girls were thrilled to reconnect with IronBru, that neon orange soft drink. I was unable to find plain chocolate HobNobs, so had to make do with regular HobNobs and McVities Digestives.


This bakery/sandwich shop has branches all over Glasgow. It is perennially packed with people. I went in just before closing and bought one of just about everything. It was all delicious. Unfortunately, I had to give away the steak pie, but I heard it was good.

Wee Curry Shop (Indian)

My very favorite Glasgow restaurant! I ate there twice this trip. It is tiny, with about 5 small tables. The week we were there they installed little shelves over the tables – there’s now a place to put the wonderful H2O pitchers. Because the place is so small, the menu is quite limited, but everything we've ever ordered there has been tasty. The pakoras are a wonderful starter - very spicy and not at all greasy. I always order the chicken curry and the chapattis. This is a cash-only operation (maybe checks also?).

Mother India (Indian)

This is the mother restaurant to the two Wee Curry ones. I was excited to finally eat here, and we were not disappointed. We ate upstairs, which I think is cozier. The menu was varied and the food was really great. I had a halibut special which I enjoyed immensely. The three others all had different chicken dishes. Good nan. Partway through the meal I remembered that we had almost no cash with us. I worried through dinner that the restaurant would not accept credit cards (because the Wee Curry Shop doesn’t) but to my relief credit cards are welcome. Didn’t have to wash the dishes after all!

Loon Fung (Chinese)

My companions enjoyed their meals, but I didn't end up liking what I ordered. Also the service was slow. In the end I had to get up and track someone down in order to pay.

Ristorante Caprese (Italian)

This is a family run trattoria - complete with red checked tablecloths. The food was good and the service friendly and attentive. Great homemade tiramisu. Located at the top of Buchanan Street, very convenient to the Royal Concert Hall.

Oran Mor

We had a large group dinner at this converted church which is now a bar, restaurant and pub. It was a nice day, and the outside patio was hopping. We ate downstairs (the pub menu). I enjoyed my haggis, neeps and tatties, and the sticky toffee pudding was really nice.
noe847 is offline  
Sep 16th, 2006, 08:03 PM
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great report so far! I appreciate the detail on the musuems.

Having only passed through Glasgow on the train, I never knew there really was a St. Mungo's. I thought it was something JK Rowling made up (the hospital in Harry Potter).
5alive is offline  
Sep 16th, 2006, 10:04 PM
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Wonderful details - really enjoying your report. I'll be away for a few days so looking forward to the other installments when I get back.

". . unable to find plain chocolate HobNobs, so had to make do with regular HobNobs and McVities Digestives." The milk choc versions just can't compare w/ plain chocolate.

I'm lucky, in my neighborhood are 3 stores that sell plain, plain chocolate and milk chocolate hobNobs, and plain and milk choc Digenstives. But I have to drive 20 miles to find plain choc digestives which are my personal favorite.
janisj is online now  
Sep 16th, 2006, 10:08 PM
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thanks for your response, janisj.

I order my plain chocolate HobNobs online. The first thing I did when we got back from out trip was to go to the cupboard at home, find my last unopened package and dig in! I had wanted them the whole trip!

I will post the Edinburgh bit now - the html and picture link is already done. Otherwise, I'll look forward to your response when you get back.
noe847 is offline  
Sep 16th, 2006, 10:09 PM
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I took a day trip from Glasgow to Edinburgh, traveling by train on a ‘cheap day return’ – (around £10, the conditions of the fare being to take a train from Glasgow after 9:30am and returning from Edinburgh on a train that departs before 4:45pm.). The Fringe was in full swing, and the city was full of people, with performers and street entertainers everywhere.

This was not my first visit to Edinburgh, so I had already seen many of the major sights. This time, I wanted to see museums and re-visit the Royal Mile. It was great just to be back in this city, even for a short day trip.

Pictures (a few) from Edinburgh:

National Gallery of Scotland

This art gallery is located on the Mound between Princes Street and the Royal Mile, not far from the train station. It is a relatively small collection but really packs a punch. I saw an exhibit of Rembrandt prints that was small but wonderful (ended August 27). I enjoyed the Scottish artists that were displayed on the lower floor. Other highlights: Hugo van der Goes’ Trinity Altarpiece, Gaugin’s Vision after the Sermon, Botticelli's Virgin Adoring the Sleeping Christ Child, Filipppini Lippi’s Nativity. http://www.natgalscot.ac.uk/

Museum of Scotland

I enjoyed this museum, which is fairly new. I didn’t have time for the entire museum, so visited the two floors of the earliest history – prehistory, Romans, Vikings, early Christianity, medieval and post Reformation. Some of the displays were quite innovative. It took me a little while to get used to finding the dates of the objects in a different place from their descriptions. The absolute highlight was seeing the Lewis Chessmen. Of the 93 pieces found on the Isle of Lewis that are still around today, 11 are in the Museum of Scotland and the rest are in the British Museum. I am now totally obsessed with these ivory figures.
http://www.nms.ac.uk/nms/home/index.php (Museum of Scotland)
http://www.thebritishmuseum.ac.uk/co...goto?id=OBJ566 (Lewis Chessmen)

The Royal Museum (natural history, archeology, decorative arts) is next door/attached to the Museum of Scotland but I didn’t get to check it out.

Royal Mile

The Mile was packed with people and had quite a festive atmosphere. I enjoyed just walking along, people watching and window shopping. I didn’t see my favorite shops from last time, but they may well have been there. I did poke around in a children’s book shop. I made sure to stop at Plaisir du Chocolat, on the Canongate part of the Mile (towards the Palace), which I had read about on this forum. I sat at a sidewalk table, and enjoyed a hot chocolate and a yummy rhubarb pastry. The menu had several choices of hot chocolate, with detailed descriptions of each. I wish I had time to visit the Queen’s Gallery, but alas, I had to catch a train.
noe847 is offline  
Sep 17th, 2006, 03:36 AM
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Terrific trip report.

Please share your online link for plain choc HobNobs.

SandyBrit is offline  
Sep 17th, 2006, 06:00 AM
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SandyBrit, I have used http://www.britishdelights.com/ for the HobNobs and also blackcurrant jam, Rose's lime marmalade, and Yorkies (Not For Girls) chocolate bars. Not cheap, but they are sure nice to have.

Another source is: http://www.ukgoods.com/, but the prices are higher for comparable items.

5alive, St. Mungo is a 6th century saint, also known as Kentigern, bishop of Strathclyde, who founded a wooden church on the site of the present cathedral. Apparently his name means 'dear friend.' Legends about St. Mungo are the basis for Glasgow's coat of arms and motto: http://www.saintmungo.org/stmungo.html
noe847 is offline  
Sep 17th, 2006, 11:28 AM
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We took the train from Glasgow through Edinburgh to York. The train ride was pleasant, with some nice views, which would have been nicer views if the weather weren’t so drizzly.

One word describes York: “historic”. The downtown is so full of old buildings it almost looks unreal. The area is compact and very walk-able. With just an overnight visit, there was much more to do than we had time. Next time, we’d like to see more of York and explore Yorkshire.

We stayed at the Dean’s Court Hotel (Best Western), which is right in the Minster’s front yard. I loved exiting the hotel and being face to face with the Minster! The room was quite comfortable and a full Yorkshire breakfast was included (the sausage was fabulous). York was a real favorite with all of us. My 18 year old daughter wants to live there. She has good reason: she did some great shopping and got a fabulous haircut in York.

Our York pictures:

York Minster

This may be the most amazing cathedral I’ve ever seen (well, Westminster Abbey may give it a run for the money, but is it technically a cathedral?) York is the largest cathedral in Northern Europe, or so they say. We toured all around the main level. What I loved the most was that most of the Minster’s windows are the original medieval stained glass. The windows are beautiful and really add to the spendor of the building. The octagonal chapter house is quite nice, with a patterned tile floor and tons of little stone carvings up on the columns. The coolest ones were those of the Green Man.

We also took the tour of the lower level, which I highly recommend. There are excavations down there of the previous Roman building that stood on the site (different orientation) and the Norman cathedral, whose foundations were re-used as support for the aisles of the current church. There was even some of the original Norman stained glass displayed in the lower level.

For ₤10 we sponsored 2 minutes of the cathedral’s upkeep. In return, the resident calligrapher wrote our names on a beautiful certificate (we got to choose from 2 colors and 2 sizes). We stayed at the Cathedral for 2 or 3 hours.

The top floor of the Marks & Spencer provides the best vantage point for a view of the entire length of the Minster. On her shopping trip, my daughter popped in and took a picture for me. http://www.yorkminster.org/

The Walls

Almost all of York’s original (Norman) defensive city walls are intact. There is a path on top of the walls, and you can walk the circuit. I think it’s somewhere between 2 and 3 miles. We climbed onto the Wall at the Bootham Bar and walked a short section. We had nice views of the Minster through the tree leaves. I’d love to walk the whole path on the next visit. http://www.york.gov.uk/walls/index.html

The Shambles (and other streets)

It was great fun to walk York’s medieval streets. The Shambles is probably the most famous. I was able to catch this one in early morning when it was empty. http://www.yorkshambles.com/ Stonegate is another nice old street.

I came across the church of St. Helen’s in my wandering. This is a lovely old church with an open stone lantern on the roof. The organist was practicing, and it was lovely – at least it was once the woman who was sitting in a center pew speaking at full volume on her cell phone left. The green ceiling beams are striking.

St. Helen’s is near Betty’s tearoom. We had hoped to have a snack here, but the queue was out the door and down the sidewalk. I have since heard that there is a satellite location of Betty’s on Stonegate; it might be worth a try at peak hours.

The streets of York were full of people. Looking out the window at dinner, we saw a ghost walk – a guide followed by a huge crowd of people. I have no idea how they heard the guide. Plus, it wasn’t even close to dark. I think the ghost tours leave at the same time every day, no matter the season.

Yorkshire Museum

I was determined to see the special Constantine exhibit commemorating the 1700th anniversary of the proclamation – in York! - of Constantine as emperor in 306. There were artifacts from lots of museums gathered for this exhibit – an impressive amount of material relating to early Christianity. I enjoyed the objects, but for some reason I was a little disappointed in the exhibit. I have no good explanation for this.

The museum also has a solid collection of Roman, Viking, Anglo-Saxon and Medieval objects. The Middleham Jewel (c. 1460), a diamond-shaped gold pendant with oblong sapphire, an inscription, and engraved images of the Trinity and the Nativity, is truly stunning. http://www.york.yorkshire.museum/

National Railway Museum

My husband went to this museum solo, and he really enjoyed it. His favorite part: one of the locomotives had been cut away and you could see how the engine operated – very cool. Also he liked seeing the roundtable with all the trains. He says this is a great spot for major train enthusiasts, and that it would be ‘nirvana’ for kids. http://www.nrm.org.uk/home/home.asp

St. Williams College

This timbered building dates from 1465. We enjoyed a delicious dinner at the restaurant there. I ordered smoked venison with rhubarb chutney for a starter (apparently this pale pink rhubarb is a bit of a regional specialty) and prime rib with sweet potatoes for a main. Dessert (chilled summer berry pudding) and coffee were in the courtyard – it was a beautiful evening and the food was excellent.
noe847 is offline  
Sep 17th, 2006, 11:57 AM
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You bring back fond memories of our trip to UK a few years ago. We have been to all those places, except Glasgow.

And yes, we liked very much the mozzarella/ tomato/ basil from Prêt a Manger. And the tomato with basil soups from elsewhere.

I've looked at your photos too. I like them. Thank you!

Now hurry up with the rest of the report, 'cause you don't have much time left till you gotta leave.

By the way! Have you packed your luggage yet?

Have a pleasant trip to Romania!

And give us a trip report when you return, with details as to how have you found the places, what did you think of them, etc.
gabrieltraian is offline  
Sep 17th, 2006, 12:34 PM
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thanks, gabrieltraian! You are so right. Luckily this trip report is written, just needs some edit/format as I post. Also, a little bit of organizing the pictures for each section.

I'm mostly packed for the next adventure, but still have a big list of things to do before I leave. I will definitely write a trip report for Romania; they are few and far between. Your recent one is a great addition.
noe847 is offline  
Sep 17th, 2006, 07:14 PM
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Compared to York, the town of Salisbury was a little bit of an anticlimax. There were some nice old buildings, though, and little streams and canals seemed to be everywhere. Here are our pictures from Salisbury/Stonehenge:

We rented rooms from Sarum College, which is a sort of ecumenical retreat house (also does regular b&b), located right inside the cathedral close. The close is quite large and walled, and the cathedral sits on a large swath of green grass, surrounded by old buildings on every side. Our sitting room looked over a lovely garden and the town, and the bedroom window gave a wonderful view of the cathedral. In the evening the cathedral spire, the highest in England, is illuminated. The gates to the close are locked at night; we were given a key to get out since we were leaving early in the morning for Stonehenge. Everyone at Sarum College was very nice, and we got to watch a cool video in the library about a guy who scaled the outside of the cathedral.


We had a good meal at this Indian restaurant. We were lucky to eat there – the place was packed. It was Thursday night = magic night, with a roving magician who went from table to table. On the walk back to the close, we ran across the youth of Salisbury, going clubbing.


We arranged for the stone circle access with English Heritage, the folks who are in charge of Stonehenge. With this access there are several time slots per day that a limited number of people are admitted to go inside all the fences and ropes and walk in among the stones for one hour periods. These are before and after the normal opening hours for the site. www.english-heritage.org.uk/stonehenge

A 15 minute cab ride from Salisbury brought us to our 7:30am admission. From the road, Stonehenge looks very small. Even from the normal visitor vantage path it is hard to sense the scale of the stones. When you get into the circle, it is as if the stones grow.

It was surprisingly easy to get pictures of the stones without people in them. Not so easy to drown out the voice of the one tour guide that had a group with him. We were relieved when after 40 minutes he announced, “Bath calls,” and they moved on. By the end of the hour, we had Stonehenge to ourselves.

I had heard lots of mixed reports about Stonehenge, but I am glad that I got to see it, and that I saw it this way. I know that I would have been disappointed with what I saw had I walked around the regular visitor path with crowds of other people.

Salisbury Cathedral

I love the way the cathedral sits in the middle of a spacious green lawn, and how the walled cathedral close is such an oasis of peace and calm. At the same time, this makes the cathedral feel somewhat removed from the town. Apparently, the sight of the cathedral across the fields has been voted the ‘best view in England,’ and was a frequent subject for Constable.

We had arranged to take the 11:15 Tower Tour. A guide takes a small group up into the cathedral’s tower – 300+ steps in stages. My daughter is afraid of spiral staircases, and the ones in Salisbury were a challenge. We learned lots of interesting facts about the cathedral. There’s a section on Salisbury Cathedral’s website called “What’s Special About Salisbury Cathedral?” that has good information: http://www.salisburycathedral.org.uk/

The cathedral is home to Europe’s oldest medieval working clock – only it wasn’t ‘working’ that day. Otherwise we would have been standing next to the bells in the tower when it struck noon. Darn!

When we reached the top of the tower (the beginning of the actual spire), we got to walk out these little doors onto narrow vantage places on all four sides where we had views of the town below and the surrounding countryside. Apparently, back in the day, boys used to race up the outside of the spire.

The chapter house displays an original Magna Carta (supposedly the best preserved of the 4 extant).

There’s a nice café with hot food and lovely baked goods.

That’s all we had time for in Salisbury. Other things we would have seen were the ruins at Old Sarum and the stone circle at nearby Avebury.
noe847 is offline  
Sep 17th, 2006, 07:26 PM
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What a great report and how wonderfully organized! How do you keep bold and underlined words? I tried to do that in my trip report. However, I lost all these when I copied it over.
misha2 is offline  
Sep 17th, 2006, 07:36 PM
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misha, here is a web page that shows how to do the html effects, including colors (which I think generally distracting): http://lkrakauer.home.comcast.net/tags.htm
There is a current thread about this:

I do my report in Word first, add the html commands, then paste it into the posting box. Make sure when you use the html that you hit "preview my reply" before you hit the post button, because if you type the html incorrectly it will mess everything up. If it isn't right, "delete" the post from the box, repaste it, fixing the html. I had one situation where my finger had slipped and hit the "?" instead of the "<" - The preview showed the entire post in bold!
noe847 is offline  
Sep 18th, 2006, 01:59 AM
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Talking of Salisbury and Old Sarum reminds me of

There was a young curate of Salisbury
Whose manners were quite Halisbury-Scalisbury

He wandered round Hampshire
Without any pampshire

Till the Vicar compelled him to Walisbury
Josser is offline  
Sep 18th, 2006, 04:55 AM
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Thanks so much for this report! I am planning a similar trip for this spring, and your report is very helpful.

Can you tell me how far the train stations in York and Salisbury are from the center of town? Is it possible to walk to hotels? Or would we need to plan on taking a cab?

I am traveling with my inlaws who aren't easily able to walk long distances, so this is an important consideration for us.

Thanks again!
mindylt1 is offline  
Sep 18th, 2006, 05:26 AM
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I would take a cab in both places, especially given what you say about your in-laws.

The train station in Salisbury was farther from the city center than in York. I'd say 1/2 mile from station to cathedral in York and closer to 1 mile from station to cathedral in Salisbury. Of course, your hotel could be farther or closer - we just happened to stay near the cathedral in each town.

The cab fares won't be all that much, and you'll be splitting them several ways. I wouldn't schlep luggage and waste your in-laws' supply of good walking energy!
noe847 is offline  
Sep 18th, 2006, 05:30 AM
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Exactly what I needed to know. Thanks!
mindylt1 is offline  
Sep 18th, 2006, 09:38 AM
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Our available time in London amounted to 3 ½ days (we had visited for 6 days in March 2006). Luckily we had no jet lag to deal with. I had a pretty good idea what I wanted to do, although there was a bit of room for flexibility. We even fit in some shopping – getting some great deals at the sales at Liberty.

We stayed again at the Holiday Inn Mayfair, which suits us because of the two beds in the room, the great location, and the proximity to the Green Park tube station (3 tube lines). Price was an average of £135/night.

Our London pictures are at: http://share.shutterfly.com/action/w...d=8DZsmzZuzao4

Royal Academy of Art Summer Exhibition

I learned about this exhibition (in its final week when we were there) from Fodors, and booked tickets in advance. Without the advance tickets I don’t think I would have made myself go, as it we had just arrived on an afternoon train and had theatre tickets that evening. Luckily, it was only two or three blocks from our hotel.

The first thing we saw on entering the courtyard is Damien Hirst’s Virgin Mother, an enormous statue (35 feet tall) of a pregnant woman. Her left side was normal, but her right side was cut away to show the anatomy under the surface: muscles on her face, the baby inside her abdomen. I thought it was well executed, and although it is supposed to be controversial, it just kept reminding me of the “Bodies” exhibition that I had seen at home a few months ago.

I had a great time looking at the art, checking artists and prices in my “List of Works” book. It was also fun to see which works were sold (the vast majority, actually). Two pieces that stood out for me: a man’s suit sewn out of clothing labels (clever), and a geometric sculpture made from beaded antique human bones (slightly jarring combination of disturbing and decorative).

Theatre: “See How They Run”

This is an old-fashioned comedy set in rural WWII England. The plot involves vicars and those pretending to be. Notable line: “Constable, arrest most of these vicars.” The three of us laughed so hard we were crying. We split an ice cream in the interval. We learned of this play from a Fodors post – thanks!

Brass Rubbing Centre, in the crypt of St. Martin in the Fields

Somewhere I developed this strange fascination with doing a brass rubbing. The rubbing centre at St. Martin’s has many different brasses but when it’s crowded you are liable to find that the more popular ones are being used. There were lots of families there. Only one staff person was present, and she had to get people set up (takes a while) as well as take payment from the people who were finished. The queue got to be fairly long. The crypt was hot and stuffy.

What I learned: 1. doing a good job on a brass rubbing is harder than it looks, and 2. don’t start a largish brass rubbing when you are short on time and you are with someone who is short on patience.

British Museum

We visited the museum for its late hours on Friday evening. I had a good idea of what I wanted to see. Top priority = the Lewis Chessmen. Unfortunately, only a few selected galleries are open for the late hours (the ground floor plus some Egypt galleries on the first floor). So, no Lewis Chessmen! Or Sutton Hoo burial ship. Boo.

We did see the Elgin Marbles and the Rosetta Stone along with ancient Egyptian sculpture. We skipped the first floor Egypt rooms. There were some neat displays in the Enlightenment Gallery, but I found it a little hard to follow, and some of the objects were not identified. One large gallery on the ground floor was devoted to an exhibit about cultural perceptions of death (at least I think that was the theme), with objects and artifacts from various times/places. I didn’t find this particularly successful, but then again I am not a fan of thematic exhibits – context is just too important to me.

Loved the Great Court and the Reading Room – absolutely beautiful architectural spaces. The list of people who worked and wrote in the Reading Room is extensive and impressive. http://www.thebritishmuseum.ac.uk/

Borough Market

This bustling weekend food market on the South Bank was very fun! And very crowded. We went on a Saturday morning, ate our breakfast there and bought food for lunch as well.

There were all manner of vendors, selling prepared food and fresh ingredients: meat, bread, pastries, cheese, chocolates, wine, fruit, spices, nuts. There was one table with about a dozen flavors of turkish delight. Fresh squeezed orange juice was available everywhere – serving size and price varied by vendor. There was a stand selling raclette (toasted cheese) that smelled divine.

Surrounding the market are food shops. We stopped in our favorite, Neal’s Yard Dairy (on our last trip we’d been to their other shop near Covent Garden). Even though it was packed with people, we received a ton of individual attention – and samples – as we made our small cheese purchase. http://www.boroughmarket.org.uk/

Southwark Cathedral

This medieval cathedral is on the South Bank. It has an interesting dark and light stone exterior. Most of the windows are clear glass. We were grateful for the extra daylight that this affords, since we visited on a rainy morning. There are some interesting tombs, a memorial to Shakespeare, and a chapel commemorating John Harvard (who was baptized in Southwark and later endowed Harvard University). If you plan to take photographs, be sure to buy a permit, as I found out. http://www.southwark.anglican.org/cathedral/

Bankside Walk

It seemed as if all of London was out walking along the Thames on this Saturday morning. We walked from Southwark Cathedral to the Tate Modern, passing along the way: the replica of Francis Drake’s Golden Hind ship, a standing wall that remains from the Winchester Palace, the Clink prison, the Anchor Bar, the Southwark Bridge, the reconstructed Globe Theatre. We didn’t go in any of these, just viewed as we walked. My favorite part was when we crossed under Southwark Bridge, seeing 5 large metal plaques with drawings and a charming poem commemorating the frost fair of 1683. Apparently, in centuries past, the Thames froze solid and the citizens held fairs held right on the river. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/River_Thames_frost_fairs

Tate Modern

What is it with museums and thematic organization? The Tate Modern drove me crazy – it’s arranged by similarity of concept/subject/treatment rather than by chronology or geography. I don’t want to guess “Hmm, am I going to find Picasso in the ‘Poetry and Dream’ section or the ‘Idea and Object’ area?” Only to find out that there may be some Picasso in both. Call me hopelessly rigid. On the other hand, my husband LOVES this museum. He has been here several times. This visit he saw the Kandinsky exhibit (₤10) and liked it. http://www.tate.org.uk/modern/

Tate 2 Tate boat

This snappy twin hull catamaran goes between the Tate Modern and the Tate Britain, with a few other stops. It’s great fun to be on the Thames with views of the London Eye, Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament. I love the polka dot décor, inside and out. You don’t have to visit one of the museums to ride the boat. If you have a tube ticket or Oyster card you will get a discount on the fare.

Tate Britain

The Tate Britain bowled me over. This is my new favorite place! I specifically wanted to see the Blakes, the Turners and the Sargeants. These were all great. There was a special Constable exhibit, with ₤10 admission. We skipped this, and contented ourselves with the Constables in the regular galleries.

My favorite painting of the day: Sargeant’s Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose – just a beautiful work of art. I love Sargeant’s crisp style and the subject made me nostalgic for the days when my daughters were younger.

Of course the Tate’s collection of Turner paintings is extensive and varied, since the artist bequeathed his personal collection to the museum. My favorite Turners, if I had to pick: Peace – Burial at Sea; Hero of a Hundred Flights (Topping the Furnace); Caernarvon Castle (small oil sketch); and Angel Standing in the Sun.

Other random highlights: The pen and inks of Samuel Palmer are little treasures. Galleries 4 and 5 were newly hung with the work of George Stubbs; accompanying materials presented the debate about whether he was a ‘true’ artist. The 1600 Cholmondeley Ladies portrait is priceless – two fully dressed women propped up in bed holding 2 stiff babies also fully dressed. Also liked John Piper’s Yarnton Monument, Eric Gill’s Crucifixion, and William James’ Camels watercolor. I can’t wait to go back to this museum.

St. Etheldreda’s

We attended the sung Latin Mass at St. Etheldreda’s at 11:00 on Sunday. This church is one of very few medieval churches in England that are currently Catholic. I had “seen” the church on a previous visit (the lights were off and it was very dark inside). The music was lovely, the church was filled, and it looked very nice with the lights on! I learned of the Latin service from Fodor’s tip (thanks).

Camden Market

Camden has the reputation of being the ‘punk’ market in London (weekly on Sundays). There are several individual markets in the area, as well as permanent shops (open daily). Camden is a huge tourist attraction and has a lot of hype to live up to. Our impression is that the atmosphere was sort of forced.

The Electric Ballroom has vendors selling mostly clothes. The first thing I saw was a rack of tank tops with my initials appliquéd on it: “noe.” I had to buy one of course, even though I have no idea what it means (on the shirt that is). My daughter found a few pieces of second hand clothing.

Camden Market proper is a series of stalls crammed together. We sort of snaked our way along the walkways jammed in with tons of other people. If you want cheap black clothing, this is the place. My daughter was thrilled to find a Cure t-shirt. I bought a cheap (not black) scarf that I hoped would look fabulous (and not cheap!) when I got it home and put it with my clothes.

The Stables is not part of the punk/goth scene. It had some interesting vendors with handmade items and some antiques. We were getting totally soaked in a downpour (despite our rain gear) when we were there, so didn’t explore it fully. I think it would be fun on a nice day.

I had read that on market days the Camden Town tube station becomes inbound only, and you have to leave from a different station. I have no idea if that is true, but we decided to believe it. After a long wet walk we returned from the Chalk Farm tube station.

Ceremony of the Keys, Tower of London

The Tower has been locked up at night with roughly the same ceremony for 700 years. I mailed away for (free) tickets to be there to see it (I received my tickets within two weeks of my request). At 9:30 a group of about 40 gathered at the main gate. A Yeoman Warder (Beefeater) shepherded us through the grounds, gave us an idea of what to expect, and regaled us with stories while we waited. The locking ceremony itself was not as elaborate/lengthy/full of pageantry as I expected. http://www.hrp.org.uk/webcode/content.asp?ID=704
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