As an extension of our Humanities course we took a week long trip to London. It was a phenomenal week, and I am still astounded by how many famous things we saw in only a few days. While I could say so much about each piece of the trip, here is a rundown of some of the highlights from each day.
Day 1 – Museum Day
We left Airdrie bright and early on Monday morning and caught our flight to London. When we arrived in London we still had a good part of the day to sightsee. Our first stop was the Museum of London, which tells the story of the city from pre-historic times to the present. It was remarkable to see the remains of the wall that the Romans made around the city of London so many centuries ago. I also really enjoyed the displays of historic costume from the 1700s up until the present. Our next stop was the British Museum which displays some of the most famous historic artifacts in the world like the Rosetta Stone, Assyrian Reliefs, the Parthenon Sculptures, and the Celtic treasure of Sutton Hoo among many other things. The museum was a bit like walking through all the Western Civilization classes I have taken in real life, rather than just through pictures and text. After a whirlwind visit here we traveled on to the British Library with its fantastic exhibit of famous manuscripts. From Da Vinci, Shakespeare, Dickens, Bach, Mozart, and the Beatles, there were original works from many of the most famous figures in Western Culture. My favorite was a 1526 Tyndale Bible – one of only three copies of that edition which survive until today!
Day 2 – London Tourist Sights
On Tuesday we visited St. Paul’s Cathedral, climbing all the way to the top of the dome for breathtaking views of London. Our next stop was the Tower of London, which I was surprised by as a whole castle complex, not just a single tower as I had imagined it. While much of its history is grim as a prison and place of execution, much of its history is not so horrific, simply as a castle and palace. Today it houses the crown jewels as well. After touring the Tower, we walked past Buckingham Palace and enjoyed the beauty of the blooming flowers and trees near the Mall. Next we dabbled in a number of shops near Piccadilly Circus and ended up in Covent Garden for dinner. We were able to get a fairly good sense of London and some of its most famous and iconic sights.
Day 3 – Day Trip to Oxford
We took a break from the bustle of London on Wednesday, and took a trip to Oxford. Taking a bus tour around the University City told a lot about the history and main attractions of the city. It is easy to see how Oxford has been nicknamed the City of Dreaming Spires with its beauty and numerous spires from different eras. We stopped at the Martyrs Monument that commemorates Bishops Latimer and Ridley who were executed by Bloody Mary at that spot during the time of the Reformation. We also enjoyed lunch in the Eagle and Child Pub, where C.S. Lewis and J.R. Tolkien would meet and discuss their most recent writings. The University is broken down into different colleges and we toured a couple of these in the afternoon. The architecture of their buildings alone is remarkable.
Day 4 – Westminster
On Thursday we spent the better part of the day in the best-known areas of London – Westminster. The moment we left the underground station we had amazing views of Big Ben and the houses of Parliament. Despite seeing the iconic clock tower in so many pictures, I was delighted that it was even better in real life. The architecture of the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben was gorgeous! The beauty of Westminster Abbey also astounded me. It was mind-boggling just how many famous historic figures are buried there: Elizabeth I, Mary Queen of Scots, Edward VI, William Wilberforce, David Livingstone, William Chaucer, Alfred Lord Tennyson, and the list goes on. Next we walked up Whitehall and stopped at the Banqueting House of James I which had an ornately painted ceiling. We also spent time in the National Gallery where again we saw so many famous pieces of art including one of my favorites –Monet’s “The Water Lily Pond.” A warm and sunny day, we enjoyed some time relaxing in Trafalgar Square after a long day of walking.
Day 5 – Home Again
Friday was our day to travel back to Scotland, but before we did, we stopped in the nearby Bunhill Fields Graveyard where John Bunyan is buried. We also saw the grave of William Blake and Daniel Defoe. A number of other famous Christians are also buried there including John Owen, Susanna Wesley, and Isaac Watts. Following this we made our way to the airport and eventually back to Scotland. It was an incredibly memorable trip and I so much appreciated the range of things we were able to see, from history to art, famous landmarks, to shops and beyond. I am also so thankful for Beth who led the trip and Nicki who were both the greatest people to travel with!