August 21st: A full day in London!
I headed out to London the next morning, bringing my luggage and storing it at London Euston station. Then I had the full day to explore to my heart’s content. There is so much in this city that one day’s worth of exploration hardly even scratches the surface, but I gave it my best shot!
My first destination had to be 221B Baker Street to visit the Sherlock Holmes Museum! There was a long line to get in, but the museum was cool. There were several narrow floors full of knick knacks and items that looked like they could be part of the classic Sherlock stories, including the study, which looked like you had just walked in after Holmes’ and Watson’s sudden departure. I got a Sherlock Holmes mug here.
Afterwards, I went in search of the Speedy’s Café, the location the current BBC Sherlock uses as the entrance of Sherlock’s home. It’s not actually on Baker Street, but isn’t too far from it. The door on the left is replaced during filming with the number 221. An employee of Speedy’s was nice enough to take this photo of me posing in front. It was surreal to actually BE at the location I see in the TV show! In the photo I’m wearing my Doctor Who T-shirt, which seemed quite appropriate to wear to a trip to London!
I decided that any introduction to London needed to include the Buckingham Palace, and I wasn’t that far from it. So I hopped on the London Underground, and this time my next stop was Buckingham Palace. It was beautiful! It is situated next to a large park, called St. James’s Park, with a lake nearby.
There were a ton of birds at this lake! I saw several birds that were new to me, including the gray heron, (what I think were) red-crested and common pochards (ducks), and (wild?) greylag geese. I saw some birds that I thought were American imports, such as a bird that looked like the coot-like Gallinule, but it turned out to be a similar bird called the Eurasian Common Moorhen. Some birds were exactly what I thought they were, such as the gadwall duck, a favorite of mine for the subtle beauty of its plumage.
I did see some North American imports at this park: there were several Canada Geese and Eastern gray Squirrels roaming about. It’s ironic to travel so far away from the US only to be staring eye to eye with a fellow American…critter. But then again, guess what animal I DID NOT SEE this entire trip? The English Sparrow! Not one. They are EVERYWHERE here in the US (urban landscape), but their numbers are actually declining in their native lands because of changes to the environment.
I saw some British telephone boxes, which are very iconic but not as common as they used to be, since most people use cell phones these days. I also saw two statues of the London Olympics mascot Wenlock- “Gemstones Wenlock” and “Red Bus Wenlock.”
Finally, I wound up along Piccadilly Street and Piccadilly Circus, which was full of interesting sights and shops. One store was decorated with musical creatures such as a gryphon playing a harp or a dog blowing a horn. Cool stuff everywhere! However, by this point I was getting quite tired (I wasn’t used to all that walking, all day long) and evening was coming, so I needed to get to the train station. I did that and ended the day by getting on Scotrail for an overnight train to Aviemore, Scotland, and the Scottish Highlands! I waved London goodbye and fell asleep to the sounds of the moving train.
Next: Badger badger badger mushrooooom!