Mary's trip to London, Oxford and Berlin travel blog

Arrived in London about 6:30 a.m. British time. I only dozed off a couple of times during the night so I was really tired but had to schlepp my bags about 1/4 mile from our arrival gate to customs. We finally managed to stumble aboard our shuttle then the bus drove around Heathrow for about an hour looking for a trip participant that came on a separate flight. We finally gave up on her and left for our hotel. Our hotel is the Cumberland just a 1/2 block walk to Marble Arch Underground Station. Although the building is older, the hotel is beautifully updated and much more spacious than any lodging I have had in England previously. We have all the amenities that you would expect in the United States - there's even an ice bucket which means there is ice around here somewhere. The only thing I'm having a little problem with is the overwhelming smell of incense in the lobby. Fortunately, my room is on the 8th floor and the smell doesn't waft up that far. We dropped our bags in our rooms and unpacked a little then headed off for the tube station on our way to the British Library. The British Library has a "treasure" room and there I saw the original copy of the Magna Carta. It's really just a sheet of paper with rather plain writing and even a couple of scratch outs on it. I thought the papal bull issued by Pope Innocent III that revoked the Magna Carta was far more interesting especially considering I didn't realize the Magna Carta was ever revoked in the first place. Apparently the Pope was incensed that a rabble of common people could coerce a king to limit his divine right to ruthlessly exploit them! The library also had quite a few original drafts of Shakespeare's plays, Jane Austen's manuscripts, a curiously illustrated tome on how to swim, early medical treatises, a beautifully illustrated original version of the Gutenberg Bible and even original song lyrics from the Beatles scrawled on paper with sections crossed off and rewritten. I saw original notes for Ticket to Ride, Michelle, Help and a Hard Day's Night. There was also a huge 16th century globe covered with intricate drawings of mythical animals. There was a letter from Henry VIII to Cardinal Wolsey discussing the annulment of Henry's wedding to Katherine of Aragon with a little side note of greetings from Anne Boleyn. They also had a beautiful selection of bejeweled book bindings dating back to the 11th century CE and some wonderful Mughal watercolors of members of the Indian royal families. A lot of history encompassed by the documents in that room! On the way back to the hotel I stopped and photographed an amazing Victorian era building that is now a hotel. I'll hopefully have time to post a picture tomorrow when I'm not so exhausted. I enjoyed a warm bath back in my room but got panicked when I couldn't get the water to shut off. I opened the drain so the water wouldn't overflow but the water was coming out at a pretty good clip and I thought I would have to call the front desk before total disaster occurred but I grabbed a towel and finally managed to turn the knob to shut the water off. I took a nap then one of the other trip participants called me and asked if I'd like to go downstairs to the hotel restaurant for dinner. We ended up ordering a grilled tuna fillet salad with fresh vegetables, a plate of artisan bread, vegetable soup (that turned out to be pureed garden peas that seemed a bit strange to me)and absolutely wonderful panna cotta with fresh berries and a drizzle of raspberry puree. I think it was as good as the panna cotta that I had in Florence itself! Tomorrow we're off to the Petrie Museum!

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