Churchill War Rooms: British Invasion, Day 4

There was going to be a day when the jetlag and lack of sleep finally caught up, and well, this was it.  It was probably 10:30 before we actually got out the front door Friday morning, so some of the stuff we’d anticipated doing (meaning my big plan to visit the National Library, which only houses original Lewis Carroll, Shakespeare, and Dickens manuscripts, and oh, the Magna Carta) were out of the question.  Instead, we opted for brunch.  Jon really wanted to hit up Duck and Waffle, which is supposed to have amazing food and boasts of being open 24 hours a day.  Turns out their bar is open 24/7, but the restaurant keeps fairly normal “restaurant” hours.  Not feeling a drink at 11 in the morning, we decided to keep moving, finally deciding on The Breakfast Club in Spitalfields, even though the line was out the door.  (It was sh!t or get off the pot, time, friends. We had been that indecisive.)

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This joint was totally hipster (they had what looked like an old model fridge in the main dining area, but no, oh no.  It was a door.  Because of course.), but the food was tasty, and it made a good start (finally*) to the day.  Also, my latte allowed me to make very tired, played out Billy Madison jokes while drinking it:

Because it's a Schwaaaannn, see?  Sigh, I know.  It's really not funny.  It's actually a little sad.

Because it’s a Schwaaaannn, see? Sigh, I know. It’s really not funny. It’s actually a little sad.

The chorizo hash with feta sauce was good, too.  Gigantic mushrooms, which were lovely.

The chorizo hash with feta sauce was delish. Gigantic mushrooms, which were lovely.

Stomachs no longer audible, we really began the day in earnest (at, like, 1:30) and hiked over (or maybe we took the tube for a bit, can’t recall) to the Churchill War Rooms for Jon’s mandatory tourism stop of our trip.   (Not that I didn’t want to visit this–I did–but as I’ve said each of us was allowed to pick one “must see” for the trip, and this was his.  Mine was the Tower.  Next time, it’s going to be Hampton Court.)

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This is a very popular museum, and they only allow a certain number of people in at one time, so this may have been the longest time we spent queuing, but it was still only about 30 minutes, I think. You can read about the history via the link, if you want, but basically, this is the underground bunker from which Britain ran their efforts in WWII.  Once an allied victory was declared, they had to get on with rebuilding and running the country, and the rooms were left very much as they were on the last day “in the office.”

You can see Jon and I reflected in the glass--giving our feet a little rest and listening to the audio tour that's included with the price of admission.

You can see Jon and I reflected in the glass–giving our feet a little rest and listening to the audio tour that’s included with the price of admission.

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It’s fascinating to compare how they managed to wage and win a war with paper maps, pushpins, and telephones (and very dedicated staff and code breakers, etc., but still) to all of the technology we have today.

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The pins were color-coded to represent different things on the map.

The pins were color-coded to represent different things on the map.

Churchill, apparently, disliked noise A LOT.  All of the typewriters in use had to be "noiseless," and if he was napping in his bedroom in the bunker, all of the staff were instructed to be as quiet as possible.

Churchill, apparently, disliked noise A LOT. All of the typewriters in use had to be “noiseless,” and if he was napping in his bedroom in the bunker, all of the staff were instructed to be as quiet as possible.  This, however, I just realized, is the Enigma machine, so…not really relevant to the caption I just wrote.  Whatever, knowledge is still power. 

You can also see a little sketch of Hitler that someone drew on the wall.

You can also see a little sketch of Hitler that someone drew on the wall.

Jon’s maternal grandfather, Allen Tade, served in WWII, and so Jon packed the hat from his uniform and took a picture of himself wearing it in the museum.  I would have loved to have heard the stories he would have told us if we’d ever visited the museum with him.

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There was also a whole wing of the museum dedicated to the life of Winston himself, ranging from his youth:

Yep, that's the future PM of Britain.  And yes, I mostly just took this picture to show the girls, and then be like "Gather 'round children for a lesson on history and fashion!"

Yep, that’s the future PM of Britain. And yes, I mostly just took this picture to show the girls, and then be like “Gather ’round children for a lesson on history and fashion!”

To his old age:

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They have the door from 10 Downing Street when he lived there and lots of other memorabilia.  I really enjoyed hearing about his relationship with his wife.  Many of their letters survive, as well as journals, and they really seemed like a good couple–very Obamas-esque.**

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I love this quote.  Like so much so, that after we visited I was Google image searching illustrations of a glow-worm as a possible tattoo idea.  Just as a reference to the quotation and a reminder to strive.

I love this quote. Like, so much so that after we visited I was Google image searching illustrations of a glow-worm as a possible tattoo idea. Just as a reference to the quotation and a reminder to, well, be the glowing worm, if you have to be a worm.

We probably spent about an hour and a half to two hours underground, after which we regained street level and ventured across the way to St. James’ Park, which was RIFE with baby ducks and swans, beautiful flowers, and grand, sweeping views.

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See?  Rife.  It’s clearly terrible.

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Eventually, even the swans got tired of our gawking, so we walked up to the top of the park to gawk at Buckingham Palace instead.

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Sufficiently awed, we walked back along the street outside the park, only stopping so that I could pout for just a bit about not going to the library.  Jon was all in favor of trying to squeeze it in, but while I very much wanted to go there, I did not want to rush around any longer.  I was all rushed out, and I didn’t want to be late for the second installment of the play, etc., so I opted to find a pub instead.  While searching for said drinking establishment, we wandered across some sort of horse guard display, which was quite formal and impressive looking…and packed with tourists.

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We also, according to Jon, basically walked through the Prime Minister’s backyard on the way here, but even dashing men in uniform and horses could not hold our attention for long.  We snapped a couple quick pics and some video, and then battled our way through the crowds and found our way to The Sherlock Holmes.  A bit of pub-hopping followed, and then a very unexpectedly expensive dinner at a seafood restaurant near the theater (seriously, it was the most we paid for food in one sitting the entire trip, and we only had oysters and soup…), but when 6:30 came, we were in line waiting to once again enter The Palace Theater for Part II of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

This was taken after the show, by which time we knew ALL the secrets and were absolutely GIDDY with power.

This was taken after the show, by which time we knew ALL the secrets and were absolutely GIDDY with power.

Again, it was fantastic, and I will go on record as saying the play was probably my favorite thing we did while visiting London.  And rightly so, considering it was our entire reason for being there, but while planning the trip, it kind of became an afterthought, and it was nice to have it be totally and completely worth it.  That experience was worth the money, hands down.

And then we went home to bed.

Ahahahahahaha! HA.  It’s like you don’t even know us.  No, of course we didn’t.  We walked (again) back across the Thames and talked our way into one of the restaurant/clubs in the Shard, the tallest building in the city.

Jon took this next series of photos on our walk across Golden Jubilee Bridge.  I...stood around a lot.  This is approximately 60% of what I do on vacation.

Jon took this next series of photos on our walk across Golden Jubilee Bridge. I…stood around a lot. This is approximately 60% of what I do on vacation.

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I say “talked our way in” because strictly speaking, we weren’t dressed for it.  Jon was wearing jeans and sneakers (nice sneakers, but still), and I was wearing a dress, but it was a very casual, Boho-style affair, nothing fancy.  However, the doorman advised that I enter first (a dress is still a dress, I guess?), and after Jon removed his hat, we were shown to a table near-ish the windows.

Jon snuck up to the glass to get this shot, but then he had to come sit back down with the rest of us plebes.

Jon snuck up to the glass to get this shot, but then he had to come sit back down with the rest of us plebes.

We drank some Malbec, we watched some people, and then we went home and went to bed.  The end.

Only two more days to go, which is I’m sure a relief to all of us.  Next post?  BEER.  And basically nothing else.

 

*We really are not stay-in-bed kind of people on vacation, in general.  We are get up, get out, explore kind of people.  An entire morning of nothing but walking and then finally eating is very atypical.

**Dear Future, pleasepleaseplease don’t make their relationship be a lie.  I really need this one to be the real deal, ‘kay?