Tuesday morning, we headed for the British Museum. This was April 10.
Sharon had wanted to go to one of several places. Really, you could live in London for six months and not see all of it, but we were worried about the weather, and we had tickets for a 3 p.m. show, so we were trying to find a good place to visit.
Originally, Sharon had wanted to see the London Zoo, which would have been fine, but we were worried about the weather — especially after our rainy-day adventures the previous day.
So we opted for the British Museum. It is, after all, one of the great, if not the greatest, natural history museums in the world — the benefactor of hundreds of years of British plunder throughout the world.
The Rosetta Stone is here. So are the marbles that once decorated the Parthenon, looted from Greece and brought to London in the 1800s by a British noble. The Greeks want them back, by the way, but the museum built an entire wing just to display these marvelous statues just as they were on the Parthenon, only at eye level, so they are not going back to Athens any time soon.
Even better, the same Tube stop that services the museum left close to the theatre where we had our tickets — and that proximity kind of sealed the deal.
We had been here before, but only for a brief time. It’s a great deal. Admission is free. That’s right, absolutely free unless you want to see a special exhibition.
So this is what we did. We paid 2 pounds for a guide that offered the top 10 things to see for people who want to experience the museum in an hour (like lots of tourists who ride around in tour buses) and took three hours to look.
Actually, the top 10 is cleverly designed to lead visitors through almost every part of the massive museum. By the time you’re done, you’ve traversed about 60 to 70 percent of the museum, even if you only took a moment to look at the mummies (which are very popular, having been looted over many years from Egypt.)
By extending our one-hour stay to three hours, we had a great time. And this is where I bought my favorite memento of our vacation.
This is always tough for me. Sharon loves to collect miniatures as mementos, or clothes, or jewelry, or even games (we own copies of Uno we have purchased in England, France, Italy and Mexico), but I can’t ever decide.
And then I saw the book, “A History of the World in 100 Objects,” which was written by Niels MacGregor, the director of the museum, featuring objects that are displayed in the museum with great illustrations.
I had my eye on this book for months, planning on buying it before we visited the city this year, but the $40 price (it’s even $20 on the Kindle, and the pictures aren’t very good) had put me off.
Here were copies for 20 pounds, which is cheaper than $40, and my copy would come right from the museum.
I picked up a copy on the way out. Sharon got some nice Elizabethan earrings. It’s my favorite memento ever. I skimmed it on the way home, skipping from object to object. It’s easy to see why Amazon named it the best book of the month when it came out last November.
I was happy to lug it around for the rest of the day.