London
British Museum
Enlightenment Room in the British Musuem
Books in the Enlightenment Room
In the British Museum you can see the very first English dictionary ever written (and printed) by Samuel Johnson.
These ivory figurines in the British Museum look like aliens to me.
Nereid Monument in the British Museum
  The British have two classes of buses: the bus proper and the coach. This I learned while on a paid tour of the city when our guide informed my mother and me that we’d boarded a coach, not a bus. “What’s the difference?” we asked. The answer: “A bus picks up and drops off people on a dedicated route. A coach doesn’t.” Or words to that effect.
   This we had learned on our second of two full days in London. On our first we went to the British Museum. When planning this venture from home, I had decided to go by bus because I’d read that it’s a cheap way to see the city. When we arrived in London, the locals disabused us of that notion. The best way to move about London, we were told, is via the Tube, or local subway. Although a day pass for this system cost us £12 each—about $18.27—it still saved us a lot of money. A one way cab ride from our hotel to the British Museum would’ve been about £74.28, or nearly $114! To get onto the Tube we took a short and free bus ride from the hotel to Hatton Cross Station. Forty minutes later we arrived at our stop. Had we taken the bus as I’d initially planned, it would have taken about two hours and forty minutes.
   I had worried that once off the Tube we’d have trouble locating the British Museum because in a big city it’s easy to get turned around. In London you need not concern yourself about this. There are signs pointing to a different places everywhere, so we never had a problem finding what we wanted.
   All the travel books and websites I’d read insisted you get the best U.S. to foreign currency exchange rate from ATM’s, so we’d only brought a small amount of foreign currency as ready cash with the idea of getting the rest of what we wanted locally. Before walking to the museum, we headed to the nearest ATM. It promptly denied our cards! This was the second time this morning. Before leaving our hotel, we’d tried using its ATM, and when that didn’t work, we figured that specific machine didn’t accept our cards. Now we knew for certain we had a bigger problem.
   Panic started to set in. We couldn’t call our bank because our cell phones didn’t work in Europe, so I made a beeline for the first local bank I saw and asked for help. The very nice people there explained to us that we needed to find an international ATM that took American cards, which at the time used magnetic strips rather than the chip-based European ones. We would find such a machine at one of the many money exchange places in the area. After quite a bit of walking, we did so, but again our cards wouldn’t work. In desperation we exchanged what American money we had on us for British pounds, and while that would help, we still needed much more considering the high cost of everything in the city.
   By now we’d wandered about for over two hours. Desperately in need of breakfast, we ate at a small café run by first generation Italians. Here I decided to test my regular credit card to see if it worked. To my relief, it did. At least we wouldn’t starve, but this didn’t help us from being cash poor. Still, with filled bellies and some light shining on our dark troubles, we headed for the British Museum.
   This venerable place, established in 1753, displays objects showcasing the human’s race’s cultural history. It makes all other museums of its type, including the Smithsonian, look like amateurs. One room, for example, dedicates itself to exhibiting items to do with the Enlightenment. It must’ve had 5,000 objects on display.