Oh jetlag, sometimes you’re a sneaky little enemy.
I managed to make it until 1:30 in the morning before hitting bed. But waking up is next to impossible. My body wants to be in the deep REM mode typical for this time of day back home, but here it’s already mid morning. And all I want to do is sleep.
Coffee awaits.
Actually tea awaits…after the coffee.
Lauren has a reservation for a proper English tea. It’s not really my thing, but why not try out the experience.
Southbank is fairly easy access to much of what central London has to offer, and I love the need to cross over a bridge. There’s always a chance for a photo op.

A missed turn or two later and we are at Fortnum & Mason, a department store just bursting with four stories of Christmas.

Down the stairs at Fortnum & Mason
The tea is served in the top level. It seems pretty fancy, then again I wouldn’t know otherwise. I’ve never done the high tea thing. At least the price tag says fancy. It’s all about the fine china here, and yet again Lauren and I are in a situation where we’re the youngest people in the place.
So tea is really lunch. At least that’s the impression I’m getting here. I mean, there is tea. But there’s also little finely cut finger sandwiches and scones and other delectable items about the size of my thumb. All of it is incredibly rich, some of it is tasty…and some of it I’d rather forget ever tasting.
It was a good experience. I’ll never do it again, but it’s worth trying…especially in London.
The savory selection…which can get pretty interesting.
It’s people having tea on a tea kettle staring back at you while you have tea. It’s all very meta.
Just say no to teabags.
The British Museum has been something of a white whale for me. I’ve always wanted to check it out, but each time in London something would pop up. Not this time.
The natural place to start a journey through this immense collection is in the Enlightenment Room. It lays the foundation for why the museum exists in the first place, but it also serves as something of a monument to the Enlightenment (which also happens to be a historical infatuation of mine).
Feeling enlightened.
The room is really a library, a collection of stuff. It’s organized to walk you through a dozen key points of the Enlightenment. Surrounded by books and artifacts and specimens you’ll get a new appreciation for the era.
The rest of the museum is a walk through time. Speaking of time, we didn’t have too much to play with before the museum closed. The map of the museum offers an “express highlight” tour that it says takes about 90 minutes.
I’m sure for most people that’s true, but with my ADD there’s no chance of making that timetable. Everything is interesting, even the things I wouldn’t think interesting.
There are entire civilizations and epochs to walk through, there’s no way this is happening in 90 minutes. It just took me an hour to get through the Babylonians and Assyrians and Persians.
The long sleep.

We fast track to the Egyptian room. Surrounded by mummies and mummies and more mummies you get around to understanding that the British Museum barely has anything to do with the British. There’s also something really freaky about these mummies when you stop to think about it. Behind the glass in an atmosphere-controlled chamber, wrapped in linens, there are bodies…aged for three millennia. They died in the Egyptian desert and now here they are in damp London as millions of people gawk at them day in and day out.

Thankfully the mummies are not coming back to life today, and we make it to the Rosetta Stone unscathed. Here we are, staring at the stone that unlocked millions of mysteries of the ancient world. Just seeing this up close is worth the trip.
But alas, the English are serious about time, and at exactly 5:20 the museum staff politely escorted everyone out.

We are set to meet our friends at a Christmas market in Hyde Park (again this is the mission for Lauren). This means a healthy walk from the British Museum down Oxford Street. The sun sets early here, about 3:30, so we’re in full-on night mode. Light is a commodity in this part of the world. And to make up for a lack of natural light the English have gone full-out in decking the streets with every kind of Christmas light that exists.

The London streets glow at night.

There are orbs and strings and stars and peacock-looking things. And suddenly it’s snowing! So magical…except, it shouldn’t be snowing. It’s like 45 degrees. High above one of the department stores snow guns are spewing out the artificial flakes. The crowd spills off of the sidewalk all along Oxford Street almost falling into traffic. A million carols and jingles drift in the air from competing storefronts, it’s holiday anarchy.

Clearly, the British take Christmas every bit as seriously as Americans…and Winter Wonderland is the final argument. Think of it this way: it’s like ten county fairs mated with the traditional German Christmas markets…that drinks like the English. It’s a spectacle. Ferris wheels and roller coasters and spinny-vomity machines illuminate the skyline. The pop-up theme park occupies a vast swath of Hyde Park. It feels a bit like the German part of Epcot, with a lot more whiskey.
We sync up with Jon and Emily just as the rain starts falling in earnest. In our effort to find cover, we instead discover a gem of an experience. It’s a merry-go-round occupied by people drinking. AND there is a bar in the middle, so there’s no need to hop off this little carousel. But, hop off we do and continue on to another bit of cover. It’s a patio with a massive fire pit in the middle, a perfect spot to warm up and dry off, and game plan. I think we met our fill of Winter Wonderland relatively quickly, in large part because of a rain that was only picking up.
An Uber later and we were eating an entire chicken speared into a plate of fries at a Southbank restaurant with cleverly named cocktails and pictures of naked women in the bathrooms.
Goodnight London.
This chicken flew straight into the ground, sad story…
You probably won’t find this menu item at Denny’s.
Ah, yes…the traditional Christmas ferris wheel.
That does not look like the North Pole.
This fire pit could really be more fire and less pit.
Just another staring contest lost by me.
In case of emergency, do NOT break glass.
Nothing like a little 13th century chess match…somebody should just call a draw on this one.
So happy my high school latin class is finally paying off…
The British Museum is fancy on the inside.
English candy is not unhealthy. #facts
This is how I learned spanish!
The time machine.
Tags : British MuseumChristmasEnlightenmentFortnum & MasonLondonmuseumsUnited Kingdom
Kris Ankarlo

The author Kris Ankarlo

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