Monday, June 29, 2009

June 29 -- Ancient History and Modern Marvels

“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” - Jawaharial Nehru

One of the marvels of London is the juxtaposition of old with new throughout the city. Today we visited two sites that incorporated both. Our first stop was Westminster Abbey, where every monarch of England has been crowned since 1066 and where lay the bodies of many venerable men including Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, and William Blake.
There is a special chapel where lay the bodies of Queen Elizabeth I and her older half-sister, Mary, who had Elizabeth imprisoned in the Tower of London for several years. The Abbey is still a working church, with Sunday services and evensong. It started off as a retreat for monks and has turned into the absolutely stunning marvel of architecture it is today. It has recently undergone some renovations and cleaning, with more plans being made. Londoners are loathe to have anything about their traditions changed, but once they saw the blackened walls changed to gleaming white, they were glad it was done.
The Abbey even survived the German bombing, although it did sustain some damage.

Walking into the Nave of the Abbey truly caused shivers to run up my spine. I've been in St. Patrick's in New York City, and as beautiful as it was, it is nothing compared to the Abbey.
Just across from the Abbey is Big Ben, whose chimes we heard many times while we toured the area. It is attached to the Parliament building. Parliament itself is an awe-inspiring building. We walked down to the "Sovereign Gate" where I saw an unusual site -- a police officer with a gun. Not just a gun ... a machine gun. A few minutes later, a group of elementary school children came by in their caps and hats. What a contrast that was.
After our tour of the Abbey, we strolled across the Thames to ride on the London Eye -- a really, really, really big ferris wheel that gives you a bird's eye view of all of London. What a sight to see the modern buildings plunked down next to the churches and government buildings that are so full of history. London is a city of contrasts, and that is a lot of its beauty.
The group entrance is behind the building through a small archway. Many walls in this area are covered with ivy.

From the London Eye, which is just across the Thames from Westminster Abbey, Parliament and Big Ben, you can get a wonderful view of London and the River Thames.

One photo here is of a group of school children who got on just before we did and their excitement of looking at Big Ben from above, rather than below.

The London Eye makes for an eye-catching shot of the evening sky.


  1. Keep up the great blog. I follow yours and all your roommates to find out what Carolyn is up to. I am enjoying myself, even if I can't be with you all. I love all your pictures. Thanks.
    Carolyn's sister, Pam

  2. Wasn't the London Eye amazing? The view is so crazy, pictures don't even do it justice!