London Is Expensive! British Museum and Egypt Exploration Society

Written on June 13, 2008, at Eat and Two Veg Restaurant, London, United Kingdom

I reluctantly left Sacrilege in San Francisco and boarded the plane to London via Washington, DC, on June 9, leaving late in the evening and arriving late the following evening.

Sarah, my friend from Zimbabwe, is working in London and kindly prevailed on her housemates to permit me to crash at their place for a couple of nights. One of her housemates, Caroline, is a schoolteacher and I didn’t meet the other housemate, who is apparently from Malaysia and was traveling in Amsterdam.

Sarah lives in a greenish northern suburb of London which is at least a half hour on the metro, or “tube? as they call it here, from central London. The tube ride costs £2 (~US$4) if you pay in cash, or only 90 pence if you use the Oyster card, a kind of metro debit card.

On my first excursion into town, I went to the Petrie Museum for Egyptian Archaeology. I arrived at 11:00 and left around 16:00 after examing ten artifacts up close and personal and many more exhibited in the public collection.

Next, I searched around for a hotel where I could spend Friday and Saturday night. The cheapest room I could find in the Kings Cross area with a bathroom “en suite?, i.e. in the room, not shared, was £45 (~US$90)! The place is called the European Hotel and the expensive room was in the basement, small, and perhaps a bit moldy.

I made it back to Sarah and Caroline’s place before either of them got back home, so I waited on the stoop until Caroline got home before Sarah did.

That evening, Sarah and I ate pizza with Caroline, then Sarah invited me to meet some childhood friends with whom she is still close. They even live in the same neighborhood in London. We went first to a typical English pub where I tried a draft ½ pint of ale. Everyone else drank at least twice as much as I. We met Antony at the pub, then went on to his cute little house and sat in the back garden with Antony’s brother Bobby, who I had met in Zimbabwe on an outing with Sarah to majestic Matopas, along with a girlfriend of theirs also named Sarah, who lived for awhile in Australia.

Antony is a great conversationalist, his banter littered with curses and his stories and political arguments quite entertaining. We drank and drank and drank, then Sarah and I walked home, so waking for our work the next day wouldn’t be too painful.

Next day, we walked again to the tube and she went to work, I to the British Museum. I got some good pictures of 25th dynasty Egyptian artifacts in Gallery 4.

Limestone Stela of Prince Meryre, Athribis, 25th Dynasty, British Museum, London, England Red Breccia Figure of Tawaret or Tuaret, Late Period, Egyptian Gallery 4, British Museum, London, England Shabaka or Shabako Stone, 25th Dynasty, Memphis, in British Museum, London, England

Kneeling Statue of Montuemhat, 25th or 26th Dynasty, Thebes, in British Museum, London, England Basin of Montuemhat, 25th or 26th Dynasty, Possibly Thebes, British Museum, London, England Granite Statue of Amun as Ram With Taharqa, 25th Dynasty, Kawa, in British Museum, London, England

I’ll go back there tomorrow (Saturday) to do more. I had an 11:00 meeting scheduled with Chris Naunton, Deputy Director of the Egypt Exploration Society. Their office is located on Doughty Mews, a cute little cobblestoned street with comfy old brick buildings. The library there had lots of resources to help me with my research, but best of all was the chance to chat with Chris, who has been researching 25th dynasty non-royal officials for at least eight years. Although he was delayed by an emergency meeting due to leadership change within the organization, and although he was obviously dealing with considerable stress over it, he made time to hang out and chat with me and provided a bunch of helpful materials.

I was scheduled to meet Sarah at 18:15 at Charing Cross station, so I managed to go to the Kings Cross station to purchase my round-trip train ticket to Cambridge for the following day, Friday.

I took the tube to Charing Cross to meet Sarah. While I waited, I ate a veggie pasty from a place in the station. Then, I took Sarah out to dinner at an Italian restaurant near the station.

After that, she invited me to a South African bar, where her friend Jeremy had invited a group of Zimbabwean and other friends since he was passing through town on this travels with his girlfriend and hadn’t sen many of his friends, now in London, for some years. It was all about drinking a lot of beer or cider, but surprisingly, people chatted a lot as well. We also tried Amarula Cream, a liqueur from a South African fruit that tasted like Bailey’s. Then Sarah and I left – I was really tired. I nodded off a bit on the tube and struggled to walk the rest of the way back to her place.

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