Lists are fine, but they don’t really tell the whole story. You can stick to my short post about London, but here’s some details on one of the things I loved about the city. The museums! They’re almost all free!! Just think of all the time in history that the British empire had to
pillage appropriate collect fascinating things from all over the world! It is absolutely worth it to make your museums free (end of public service announcement).
I didn’t think I would love the British Museum as much as I did. It’s big. It covers multitudinous years. All the stuff is dusty stuff from long ago that we were forced to study in school. But oh, it’s so captivating. From the architecture in the rotunda to the antiquities from more places than I’ve ever been to. Looking at dry history books isn’t enough and if you don’t have the budget or time to visit dozens of archeological sites around the world, then in this museum, you can get close enough to hear history whispering at you from the corners of your eyes.
Then there’s the Tate Modern – again, not my cup of tea. I see 3 straight lines and I don’t think “hey, I’d pay a million dollars for that”, but it’s worth it for the 4th floor cafe view (I think the cafe has moved to 3rd floor or restaurant on 6th). On a clear or semi-clear day, you have a wonderful of the north side of the Thames and some of the great historic sites of London.
All time fave for traditional museums is the Natural History Museum or maybe the V&A. Can’t decide. I mean how do you decide between Darwin and bones and the most coolest structure within a gorgeous 200 year old building versus iron scrollwork and Mesopotamian sculptures and design galore?? The behind the scenes tour at the Natural History Museum is one of the best things (actually giant squid here!!!!) but the V&A has rooms where you could spend all afternoon in just one room!
And there’s smaller, not so well known museums – the Sir John Sloane and the Wallace Collection – these are more treasured gems that are wonderful to seek out and explore. They are tiny museums but Sir John Sloane’s (the guy that collected enough to start the Natural History Museum) private collection is chock full of curious pieces. And the Wallace Collection is just in a home, but is a gorgeously manageable small bite of paintings and a great conservatory restaurant.
I haven’t even touched on the Portrait and National Galleries! The tours at the National Gallery (also free) are amazing. If you can’t do anything else, do a tour. They aren’t long and you learn more in the hour than you would if you wandered around the gallery for days. The tour guides are absolutely top notch too. Just be prepared to keep up with them because they cover a lot of ground artistically and physically!
And I have to mention Chiswick House and Gardens. There’s a museum there too, but just walking around the grounds was lovely – and this is in London! There are bike paths and a stream and mini-waterfall and lovely lawns for lazing around and kitchen gardens and on and on. Seriously, I couldn’t believe we were still in London.