Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The City that Sleeps...

One of the things I've found strange about London is the time things close at night. Really, there isn't a convenience store or anything that is open 24 hours a day (or even past 11PM) around where I'm staying. All the coffee shops close at 6-8. I found one that was open 'til 9PM on Sundays and I'm remembering it for when I'm here on Sunday again in two weeks.

I stopped playing "tourist" for a bit to relax before Greece. It's so strange how fast one can get acclimated to a new environment. When I'm not going to museums or looking at churches with my chin to the sky, it really feels like normal life here. I've gotten used to the weather and complain it's cold, even though it's 30 degrees colder back at home. I even used the word "home" once when talking about the apartment in which I'm sleeping on the floor.

Oh man, though, these museums are amazing. One of the cool things about London is that they were an empire during the exploration age. They "collected" a massive amount of things from all over the world in their heyday and much of it is still here. I say "collected" because the boundary between "discovering" artifacts and "stealing" them is very slim.

The British Museum is amazing. Seriously, I didn't know that there existed Egyptian artifacts in such prime condition. You walk into this place and to the left you're greeted with the Rosetta Stone. If you don't know what that is, it's a really old slab of rock with three languages on it: ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, the common Egyptian script, and Greek. Because all three languages say the same thing, it opened the doors to the Egyptian hieroglyphic system and allowed the ancient script to be deciphered within thirty years, which before was a mystery. Anyway, this slab of rock is right in your way as you enter the Egyptian exhibit. Then things get interesting. Again, I had no idea that this stuff existed. Everything in that room was about four thousand years old and most of it was in exceptional quality. They didn't even have glass over a lot of it, with only a sign for protection against the human hand. After, we saw a really cool Assyrian exhibit followed by a Greek exhibit. Looking at a map afterwards, we realized that we only touched the surface of both areas and there was at least triple what we saw.

But my favorite is still the National History Museum. I stopped by again the other day, just to see another exhibit. It's easy to do that when it's free. Chicago, take notes.

Anyway, I'm leaving tomorrow for Greece. I actually have to get up in four hours from now, so I'm going to try to get some sleep. I have no idea what to expect there or really what I'm doing, so stay tuned. I'm not bringing my laptop, but I'll try to find an internet cafe or something to blog.

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