1400 British Summer Time. I am at Heathrow in the United First lounge. My flight leaves in an hour.
The lounge is quiet. I’m grateful for some peace after the scrum at the British Museum this morning.
Since I have a later flight today, I walked this morning the two blocks from my hotel to the British Museum, arriving just as they opened at 10 a.m. The hordes of Japanese and Chinese tour buses had arrived before me, though.
So . . . what to do? I could barely make it past the scrum surrounding the Rosetta Stone, but I did, and got to the Elgin Marbles hall before anyone else. And believe it or not, for the next 30 minutes I examined those amazing Greek monuments of antiquity in relative peace, with no queueing, and with a big smile on my face.
Then I tackled the Rosetta Stone.
Some observations about London, and perhaps about the state of travel tourism today:
- London frustrates in some ways. In a culture where people drive on the left, we are told to walk on the left in the Underground, but to stand on stairs to the right. Alas.
- Smart phones are a nuisance in the moment. I have watched child after child, teen after teen on this trip spend time looking at their phone screen rather than take in the heritage views right in front of their faces. This morning, it was a group of Spanish kids staring at their phones and texting, rather than looking at the ancient marble from the top of the Parthenon in Athens.
- The British Museum, to my chuckling realization, has addressed the issue of provenance of the Elgin Marbles in part by pointing out that other pieces of the Parthenon are in other museums include the Louvre. “They did it too!”, seems the ethos.
- I watched this morning as two men, both of them staring at their phones as they walked down the sidewalk, stepped right into each other. BAM! Body to body, they were They both mumbled apologies, and kept on their way, still staring at their phone screens.
- First class = dedicated check-in desks, dedicated security lanes, and dedicated lounges.
- I am coming home with 35 pounds more stuff than I had with me at the time I left. This includes new items of clothing, gifts and souvenirs, books, and MARMALADE (!) from the craft festival at Exeter.
- London traffic getting worse and worse.
- Over and over this trip, I was asked by locals “Where in the States are you from?”. This has not happened to me before, that I recall. They seemed interested in my accent (one person said “radio announcer”), and then they inevitably wanted to talk about Trump and the state of USA politics.
- I have grown accustomed to having my breakfast made for me, as I have every day this past three weeks.
- The Brits love their uniforms, their cutlery (which I do too!), and their dogs. I miss Auggie.