Time: About 2-3 hours to see the main pieces but you could spend all day
Let me kickoff our first Europe post by letting you know one of the best things you can do if you're planning your own international travel- pick up a Rick Steve's book. No, he didn't pay me to say that, but Rick, if you're reading, we'll gladly take some hookups!
He writes tourism books professionally and updates every year with top attractions, safety tips, ideas for eating/sleeping/saving money/etc., pricing, and tours (podcast or by reading the book). You're going to see his book in my hand in a lot of our pics- I really enjoyed his insights and self-guided tours. We had a lot of things we wanted to do in mind, but Rick rates things by "Can't Miss," "Great to See," and "If You Have Time." So we followed and were not disappointed! We found a few things we'd suggest in addition, and kept track of time we had or wished we had every where we went. I'm going to add those at the top of each post for anyone who may look at what we did while planning their own adventure.
We started our trip by landing in London at noon London time. After a long night without much sleep (thank you ladies from India who decided to talk at the top of your lungs most the flight), and finding we were 8 hours ahead of our time zone, we decided to keep ourselves awake and busy by heading to one of the top rated places. Jet lag is real my friends- and we were determined to beat it by immersing ourselves in intellectual stimuli! We also tried to ignore the fact that we hadn't showered in about 30 hours...so please don't judge too harshly on the interesting hair texture, rubbed off makeup, or droopy eyes in the pics.
The British Museum is so a "Can't Miss" place! Let's just say that when England was buying up/conquering countries and owned 1/5th of the world they were also busy collecting other country's artifacts, history, and art. I know there's tension between many countries to this day feeling like England owns their key pieces of history, but England argues that they could preserve and save and others couldn't. I decided to not form an opinion but to be grateful that I hadn't planned another dream trip to Greece in hopes to see most the Parthenon only to learn most of it's pieces are in London.
We were mostly excited about the opportunity to see pieces from the foundations of society, namely Greece, Egypt, and Assyria. It was really remarkable to walk in and see the Rosetta Stone!
(Yep, that greasy back of head is definitely mine!)
We continued through the Egypt gallery. Looking into the face that Moses saw and pleaded to "Let my people go" was pretty amazing too. Oh Ramses, we learned how much you wanted to be immortalized and put statues up all over the place and even had your name carved on other people's statues. We were still grateful to get to see one regardless of your known behavior!
We tried to see as much as we could, while still hitting the best of the best- you could spend an entire day here, and we only had a couple hours! Egypt was definitely a highlight seeing pottery, art, mummies, tombs, artifacts, etc. was quite amazing!
This one of the oldest things in the museum, he's from 2500 BC- kind of crazy!
I was excited to remember this guy from a textbook!
Your life story on your tomb, definitely cool!
And who wouldn't want these guys protecting you?
We hurried through Assyria, which we were told to do, but it's pretty amazing to see an advanced society ruled by fear through stone carving and symbols. So intricate, so remarkable!
But I must admit, my favorite may have been Greece. Can I publicly thank Mrs. Krampton for teaching me mythology my senior year of high school? I've consequently always wanted to go to Greece and Rome, and I've always wanted to see the statues of the Gods and Goddesses from The Parthenon. Imagine my surprise to learn they are in London!
It was just so overwhelming to see these, to read which God/Goddess was in each of these statues, and to understand who they were and their significance to the Greek. Seriously, mythology is cool, and I was almost moved to tears when I got to see these amazing fundamental pieces of history! Don't worry guys, there were plenty of happy tears/tears of awe, this one was close, but it wasn't until that night that it happened. No really though, this was one moment I turned to Jacob and said "Am I really seeing this? Pinch me!" and he did, and it become something one of us said at least once a day for an entire 10 days.
The pillars and walls of The Parthenon are so intricate, truly awe-inspiring!
And they really did worship Achilles for those fans of the movie Troy.
There was some other amazing stuff- like some orignal Bible translations, 30 pieces of silver like those Judas was given to betray Christ, Roman pieces, and lots of Asian, African, and pretty much any other civilization pieces!
(One of the first Bible pages)
This is The Great Court, where we ate a sandwich and contemplated like Oscar Wilde, Arthur Conan Doyle, T.S Elliot, Rudyard Kipling, Virginia Woolfe, Mark Twain, and Lenin (to name a few) used to do when they used this as a study room. Karl Marx also sat in this same room and conceived the idea of communism and wrote Das Kapital here. All this set in while we enjoyed our first European food.
(Meat and cheese are better- and oh boy do they love sandwiches!)
Don't worry that this Buddah is from a Chinese Temple. I'm not even going to ask how this got to London...
...or this guy that is used so often in advertising.
I feel like saying our brains were enlarged, enlightened, and expanded would be quite the understatement. If you love history, learning, and having an idea about foundations of societies in the world- this is one place you absolutely have to visit! We couldn't have selected a better place for our first stop in London.