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Europe : Day of walking - March 13th

Our first day is a day of walking. To be differentiated from our other enormous walking days by the fact that this time, we do this to ourselves with the fog of blissful ignorance. 

Of course we can walk and see Big Ben, Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Trafalgar Square, Battle of Britain Monument, Green Park, Horse Guard Parade, Buckingham Palace, and the Imperial War Museum. Easy. Look how close so many of the are on the map.

It was when my partner's fitbit marked 10,000 steps and it was only 11am that I knew we were in trouble.

The sights were really amazing, however. Big Ben is perhaps more amazing than I pictured in my mind. But there was (I assume) unseasonable amount of sun, and tower is festooned with plenty of shiny bits to reflect the sun (yes that is the proper architectural term). I suppose assuming London would be very much like home in the Pacific Northwest with the constant unassailable wall of drizzle and rain for 9 months helped to adjust expectations.

Westminster Abbey as an edifice that has been there for centuries, was pretty amazing, even if we only got to see it from outside.

But there is always the tempering it with history, or the history I'm aware of. So I see Westminster Abbey and think, "ahh, the seat of the new Protestant sect from Catholicism". A lapsed catholic and dabbler in history, I admit this is not a common thought.

Or I see Trafalgar Square, featuring Nelson's column,: addressing the era of history I have a particular interest in. But in there it has the Battle of Copenhagen, which, I think may have involved quite a bit of tossing mortars at civilians. There are libraries of atrocities being glossed over, which I suppose happens in all of history, but to see it so solid, and so magnificent, is something else entirely.

Nelsons Column is .. as so many of these monuments are, a testament to the might and wealth of a world spanning empire. When naval power was the sole means of trade, of war, of expansion. It's a bit sad to see how little anyone cares about it, even while it takes up just a massive amount of space in the heart of London.

And quite nearby is Canada House, the Canadian Embassy. It was surprising to see Canada have such a high place of honour in, well, anyplace. We're used to being the polite, diffident, if more or less ignored third cousin twice removed on any international stage. 

As a big fan of plaques, there were quite a few statues and monuments without any. I'm not sure if it's because they got lost over time and folks were like, 'oh everyone will remember who  THAT is'; or if just the sheer number of things needing plaques makes maintenance an impossible undertaking. A city drowning in history.

Our last stop was the Imperial war museum. There, it was plaque overload, even I had to skip not a few, but several plaques just to get through WWI. I'm sure I'll wake in a cold sweat weeks from now wondering how exactly they stretched war time civilian rations after Paschendale.

All in all, an enormous amount of walking, each step squelching through the sea of history, sometimes too much, sometimes so much they couldn't even bother to label it.

But can't wait for tomorrow.


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