On Saturday I made my way back over towards Westminster. Today I was not bound for any grand-looking picturesque building. Rather, my group was about to venture underground to visit the Cabinet War Rooms. This underground bunker housed central operations for the British military and intelligence during the second world war. Our tour was extensive, detailing every aspect of life underground from communications to cutlery. We learned about the daily lives of the men and women who served there, the dangers they faced, and the comforts they abstained from. It was an impressive operation, and wandering through the narrow passages felt like a trip through time as the rooms had been restored to their 1945 appearance. The bunker also housed a small museum to Winston Churchill, detailing his life as a leader, soldier, artist and author. I enjoyed learning more about his background and circumstances and was glad the museum did not focus exclusively on the war.
After finishing up underground, we headed up the hill to see the British Museum. This vast collection of artifacts details human history from all over the world, and is probably the most extensive museum I have ever seen. We saw mummies, Greek busts, intricate Muslim calligraphy, Assyrian writing, an Easter Island figure, and so much more. It’s hard to convey the vast collection of works on display at the museum. Needless to say, we stayed until closing, rushing to see as much as we could. While the museum is great to see, it’s a little sad to realize that many of these artifacts were taken from their respective cultures by a foreign power – seized as prizes from a conquering fleet. At least I can take some solace in knowing that everything at the museum is free for anyone to enjoy.
After the museums had closed, we wandered around a bit before finding a quick spot for dinner. I had a burger but was able to try some chickpea fries which were quite tasty. After our meal I set off for my evening plans – seeing “Jersey Boys” at the Piccadilly Theatre. Unfortunately the friend whom I had been staying with (and with whom I had bought tickets) had gotten sick that afternoon and was unable to join me. Luckily one of the trainees happily joined in and I had some company at the show.
The musical was enjoyable. “Jersey Boys” tells the story of “The Four Seasons,” detailing their tumultuous rise to fame, conflicts within the band, and the lives of Frankie Valli and his bandmates. There was not much in the way of a super-compelling story, but the actors had vocal talent to spare and the soundtrack made up for the less-than-stellar plot. I was glad I had a chance to see the show, but in retrospect I should have looked at tickets sooner and gone to a different one – there’s always next time!
After the show I made time for a quick stop in a nearby pub before heading back home and to bed shortly thereafter. Another long London day, but it had been worth it. I wanted to make sure I was well-rested for my Sunday plans, but you’ll have to read about that later. Until then…
Best wishes and safe travels everyone,