England 2010, Day 6: Kew Gardens, British Library, and British Museum
This post is part 8 of my travel series on our trip to England. You can also read about my getting to the first destination; our first evening in the Cotswolds; seeing the English countryside by bicycle; visiting Cotswold villages and local farm animals; exploring Oxford and Blenheim Palace; our first day seeing the sights of London; seeing Soho, the Tower of London, and The Mousetrap; saying goodbye; and other reflections.
Friday, July 30—Our last full day in England. The days have gone by much too quickly! But I suppose vacation is always like that. Time flies when you’re having fun, right?
This morning I was thrilled to be going to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, usually referred to simply as Kew Gardens. We had seen posters for Kew all over London for the past few days. The gardens are located in the southwest corner of Greater London, the next to last stop on the Underground District line. Kew is massive (300 acres) and has the largest collection of living plants in the world. We only spent a couple hours there, but I could have spent days and days.
Plant Families Beds:
Rock Garden and Davies Alpine House:
We stopped in the Kew Gift Shop on the way out and I got a lovely bone china mug with English lavender on it and Cotswold lavender hand cream.
We had a quick, cheap lunch at the Tesco Express near the tube station and admired the picturesque area as we ate on nearby bench.
We got back on the tube and headed toward north central London to visit the British Library and British Museum. It’s amazing that both these places are free.
The British Library is one of the largest libraries in the world. It holds more items than any other library, and has the second most books, only behind the Library of Congress. Here we saw the “Treasures of the British Library,” including the Gutenburg Bible, many old Biblical manuscripts, the Magna Carta, the original Alice in Wonderland, Jane Austen’s writing desk, Shakespeare’s original Romeo and Juliet, handwritten music by Handel and Beethoven, and many other ancient, original manuscripts.
Next we made our way to the British Museum. However, we took a wrong turn on the way and walked 10 minutes in the wrong direction. Our feet were already sore from all the walking during the past week and already that day, but we managed to laugh at ourselves in our misery. All told we walked about 45 minutes until we reached the museum. On the way we saw University College London (one of the colleges of the University of London) and Barclays Cycle Hire rental docks—a new public transportation option (as of that day) rolled out by the Mayor of London.
We were able to fit this all into one day because the British Museum is open late on Thursday and Friday nights.
We also saw the Rosetta Stone, but it’s next to impossible to get a good picture of it through the glass and hordes of tourists.
The Museum closed at 8:30 and we went off in search of dinner (more walking!). After at least one more wrong turn (even more walking!), we found Hummus Bros—the best concept for a restaurant, ever.
Hummus is the base and you choose a topping to go on it. Jeff had the chunky beef, and I had chicken with sundried tomatoes. All main dishes come with warm, whole-wheat pita bread. We also ordered carrot sticks as an extra and their fresh mint and ginger lemonade. I can’t even tell you how good this meal was. Man oh man. The hummus is garlic-free, but you could add a garlic mixture from the small glass pitcher you see next to our drinks below.
The placemats reflected the fun feel of the place with instructions on different methods of eating hummus, and what your preferred method reveals about you.
And, on top of their delicious food and fun atmosphere, their slogan is a pun! Yes, please!
Our feet were killing us and our bellies were full, but we decided to head back toward Soho in search of ice cream. After a couple more wrong turns, we found Scoop near the fish and chips shop from Wednesday and sat (yay!) and enjoyed big cones of fresh, fruity gelato.