Days like this really represent why I wanted to start this blog in the first place. My last half day in London was reflective and beautiful, especially since I got to spend it with my best friend at a place we’d both been wanting to go to for YEARS. As anthropology majors and history buffs, Jacky and I have wanted to visit the British Museum to see the Parthenon marbles and all the incredible artifacts the museum has.
I’ve taken many an archaeology class and have even worked on an excavation. Walking through an ancient city is unlike anything I’ve ever done. Just imagine that thousands of years ago, humans built these citadels and walls and walked exactly where you are now walking. Walking through (or rather, rushing through) the British Museum offered a similar feeling. You’re transported – I’ve never such an incredible collection all in one place.
The museum is most famous for the Parthenon marbles, which raises a whole trove of questions about cultural heritage and who actually “owns” these priceless pieces of history. I visited the Parthenon last year, whose metopes were missing the incredible marbles. It baffles me to think that these were once “owned” by a private collector and continue to be a city they don’t necessarily belong. But nevertheless, they are beautiful – representations of ancient classical culture and myths, gods and monsters.
Though these are definitely the most famous artifacts in the museum, the British Museum also has an (underrated) collection of Assyrian artifacts, including several monumental lamassus and many panels portraying kings, genies, and gods. It just makes me so excited to actually be in front of the artifacts I’d seen so many times in textbooks or on PowerPoint slides.
A similar chill went through me standing in front of the Rosetta stone – imagine, the key to ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics! And of course, Jacky and I enjoyed perusing the artifacts from a burial in Ur, a Mesopotamian site excavated in partnership with the Penn Museum nearly a century ago. A pair of rams in the thicket were discovered, one of which is in the Penn Museum and the other in the British Museum. There is so much to see here, and I will most definitely be back.
Before and after the museum, we were determined to make the most of our last few hours together. As huge fans of breakfast (and porridge), we started off our day by scoping out an incredible porridge restaurant, 26 Grains, in the Seven Dials area. Neal Street is a beautiful little area with lots of personality. 26 Grains is a cozy and small spot that was bustling with customers looking for a warm and healthy breakfast. Both of us regularly down bowls of porridge back in Philly, and 26 Grains really delivered. The flavor profiles are satisfying and hearty – definitely a spot I would recommend if you’re a breakfast person!
After the museum, we wandered the Seven Dials Market – very hip with a good selection of drinks and food and eventually settled down at Teatulia, a small tea shop that is beautifully decorated with lights and books. Completely a coincidental find that we happened to pass by as we were walking, but definitely a gem. They were not only kind enough to mail postcards we wrote at the shop, we each even got to take home a canister of their packets. Could not recommend this place more.
These last few hours were incredibly valuable and memorable. Full of honest conversation and tension and gratitude. Sitting there at our tiny table in Teatulia, I realized just how lucky I was to be exactly where I was, and with none other than Jacqueline Chan – a special human being – stronger than iron and more loving than anyone I’ve ever met in my entire life. So thank you, Jacky, for being in my life and helping me through the worst of times and laughing with me through the best of them.