In the afternoon, I went to the more typical London attractions, starting with the Houses of Parliament.
Even though the iconic building has been photographed countless times, I haven’t seen any picture that does justice to its beauty. You really have to see it up close to fully appreciate its scale and grandeur. It is an artistic and technological marvel even in the age of spamming skyscrapers. They just don’t make buildings like this anymore.
The interior is definitely worth a visit despite the long line and phalanx of security measures. History buffs (like me) will feel like a glutton in Harrods’ food hall. Signs and plaques marking locations of historical events or burial places of famous people are everywhere. Even if you’re not interested in history, the splendid architecture and statues will leave you in awe.
I also saw the House of Commons in action. Newly elected MPs were giving “maiden speeches” about government support to industrial development and Britain’s over-reliance on the financial sector. Many of the spectators were tourists and most left in less than 10 minutes, except those who had fallen asleep.
Still feeling peckish about history, I went for more at the Westminster Abbey. Some of the most famous historical figures of Britain are buried or memorialised here, including Queen Elizabeth I and Geoffrey Chaucer. Again, it gave me chill to be so close to history. To put the feeling into Chinese context, imaging standing before the tomb of Li Bai, knowing that the monumental poet is buried right in front of your eyes. The most historically significant monuments are explained in the well-designed audio tour, but you’re unlikely to understand the rest unless you can read the Latin inscriptions.
In one room, a mirror is cleverly placed on the floor so that visitors can view the spectacular ceiling design without spraining their necks.
It’s sad that they no longer allow photography in the abbey. No words can capture its magnificence. But then, no picture can.
There was still some time to check out Harrods before it closes. Despite its fame, it is just another luxury store filled with designer brands, although there are unusual items such as antique maps. The food hall is nice but again not really special. I bought a chocolate fudge but nothing else. Gone are the days when Harrods was the only place of its kind in the world.
Dinner was bouillabaisse at Harrods’ Sea Grill. This is only a “starter” portion but with all the prawns, mussels, clams, fish and scallops, it is enough as a full meal:
And the fudge… to say it was too sweet would be an understatement. I frantically looked for contacts of diabetes doctors on the package but there was none – what a blatant disregard of consumer safety! (By the way, does my travel insurance cover diabetes treatment?) Just one bite and I already felt my teeth decaying…
That night, I went to bed after brushing my teeth twice as hard.