My brain and body were yelling at each other all day today.
Brain: “Let’s go here! And here! And keep moving, keep moving, we have to go there, over, and also there!”
Legs, feet, neck, back, arms: “BUT WHY.”
Yep. Jet lag struck, and it struck with a vengeance.
I woke up around 7:30am (11:30pm Arizona time) feeling like I’d been hit by one of the Tube trains on which I practically live now. Everything hurt – especially my legs and feet that had covered seven and a half miles on foot and like forty flights of stairs the day before – but also my back, my shoulders, my neck…
I hadn’t meant to completely wear myself out. As intent as I am to pack as much into this trip as I can, this is still a vacation. So, today I compromised. A bit. Kind of.
Because at first I was so sore it literally hurt to walk, I decided to spend most of the day at the British Museum, where (as my brain justified to the rest of me) I could walk leisurely around at my own pace and take frequent breaks to sit and relax. At the end of the day (well, as of 7pm) I’ve only walked….er…oh. Just checked. Six miles. Still less than yesterday.
I video chatted with my fiancé to let him know I was still alive (or rather he talked while I blinked sleepily).
Then I dragged myself out of bed, ate breakfast, and s-l-o-w-l-y got dressed while trying to stretch. When I was feeling somewhat put together, I set off into Shoreditch. It was 68 and sunny around 9:30 when I started my trek and I was actually a little warm throughout the day. (Even now, as I type this at 7pm, there is not one cloud in the sky.)
I took the Tube to Warren Street not only because it was relatively close to the British Museum, but because it was the closest stop to the dorms at which I had originally stayed four years ago. My plan was to first find those dorms for old times’ sake and walk a bit around the area I’d familiarized myself with the very first time I’d been here.
And – just like yesterday in Green Park – upon walking out of the station at Warren Street, without even looking at a map, I knew exactly where to go.
Time is an incredible thing. Four years ago, I’d walked out those doors with my backpack and suitcase and I’d looked back over my shoulder for a final glance, wondering if I would ever see them again. And there I stood.
I still can’t believe four years have come and gone and how much has changed since my last stay here. I’ll go more into this in another post, but this trip is more than a vacation for me. It really is a period of reflection.
As happy as it made me to see my old dorms, I was still pretty out of it. Jet lag, man. So I grabbed a latte from Café Nero before walking my way over to the British Museum. (And by the way – if Café Nero ever makes an appearance in the U.S. outside of Boston, I’d bet money on it running Starbucks out of business in a year.)
I’d been to the British Museum before, but my group and I had blown through something like half the rooms in under an hour. This time, I could go where I wanted to go and stay for as long as I wanted.
It. Was. Awesome.
It was also overwhelming. Incredible, mind-blowing, humbling, but overwhelming. It will take me some time to fully soak in everything I saw today.
I’ll let the pictures talk. I didn’t want to run the battery of my phone out by taking too many pictures so I stuck to my favorite pieces and rooms.
Ancient Egypt – mummies (including Cleopatra’s!), the actual Rosetta Stone, early Egypt, Ethiopia and Coptic Egypt, Sudan and Nubia
Ancient Greece and Rome – Alexander the Great, the Roman Empire, sculptures and vases and bowls and statues: Athena and Hercules and more
Then, I just started taking pictures of a few items in exhibits here and there as they struck me.
Early Americas – both North American and Mexico
There were rooms on the Middle East – the Islamic World
Sculptures from the early Spanish conquerors
There was also a room with the theme Living and Dying, which was intriguing.
It was beyond incredible.
I will be researching and reading and learning about these amazing things I saw today for a long time.
Also, a bit random, but I had to laugh over what I saw written in one of the bathroom stalls:
I had a fun time looking around the gift shop and getting some things before I walked to the Holdborn Tube station (pronounced without the “l,” I’ve heard). I headed back to Paddington Station because I had my heart set on getting a famous Paddington Bear.
And I did.
Then I grabbed a bagel from the station platform (an enormous area of space with shops and people bustling around to get to their subways) and sat to eat before finally making the trek back to the Airbnb flat on the Tube. I was exhausted – I still am, honestly! I’m writing somewhat quickly so I can shower and go to bed ASAP.
Tomorrow is going to be a long but amazing day. I’m taking a day trip out of London and going to Windsor Castle, the city of Bath, and Stonehenge!