Day 1 In London: Baker Street, Piccadilly Circus, and Betrayal

While it’s actually my second day in London, I lost a day to jet lag and poor decision-making, so today was the first day I spent out and about.

I knew going into the day that I had an afternoon commitment, so I focused on spending the morning doing one thing I’ve wanted to do for some time: I visited 221B Baker Street, the Sherlock Holmes Museum. I have been a fan of the mystery stories for a very long time, and the Holmes stories stand out as an exemplar of the best there are. With the recent resurgence in Holmes’ popularity, due in large part to the Robert Downey Jr. films and BBC’s Sherlock, I have been joined by many others. The original stories have also made their way into the public domain at this point, so people who are interested in recreating, retelling, or otherwise reusing the Holmes premise are welcome to do so, within reason.

That said, the Baker Street museum, as a living representation of a fictional space, was a fun stop for the true Holmes fan. Set up in rooms that actually were used as a lodging house during the period Holmes purported to live there (1881-1904), the museum features Holmes’ study, furnished with period furniture as well as his violin, chemistry set, and other notable artifacts from the books. His bedroom adjoins the study, and up a flight of stairs, visitors find John Watson’s room, furnished with writing desk and other necessities, and Mrs. Hudson’s room, which features glass cases filled with artifacts from the books.

Up another flight, rooms feature truly creepy mannequins made to look like characters from the books. I took a selfie with Moriarty, because I’m like that.

For a Holmes fan, it was a good stop. I also discovered that Baker Street Underground Station, recently refurbished, is a good place to regroup and seek a next stop. Literally.

I “hopped on” a tour bus to get out of a sudden drizzle, and it took me to the London Eye. After a quick off and back on again for pictures, I took the hop-on bus up through the old City of London to Tower Hill, catching some amazing shots from the upper deck when the sun came out. While I was familiar with the London history our tour guide, Christopher, imparted–quite well, and engagingly–I felt a bit like I was coming home when I saw the dragon that guards the entrance to the City. And I did see the new Millenium Bridge. And crossed the Thames three times–on the bridge to Waterloo, London Bridge, and Tower Bridge.

Assured by Christopher that no, I would not make it to Picadilly Circus by 1:30 on the tour bus, I hopped off at Tower Hill and took the Tube back to Picadilly for lunch, and to walk around the corner from there to the Harold Pinter Theater for the 2:30 production of Betrayal featuring Tom Hiddleston.

Hiddleston, who is better known to American audiences as Loki from the Marvel movies, remains a stalwart of the London stage, and in the 90 minute performance, I could see why. He’s incredibly expressive, and the play, with its cast of three, helped him demonstrate that. At one point, from my seat in the front row (dress circle), I could see tears reflecting in his eyes. The show was brilliant, and his fellow cast members, Zawe Ashton and Charlie Cox, do their roles justice. I was spellbound. And sort of patting myself on the back for blowing my theater budget on one ticket, because at least it was this show.

The review to which I linked above sums up the experience nicely, and includes photographs, which of course are a no-go in the theater.

On to adventures for Day 2.

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