Our morning began with continued exuberance and anticipation as we followed our itinerary for another action-packed day in London, England. A day planned for beautiful experiences made the likelihood of anything unpleasant happening seem impossible much less receiving news of a horrific attack at London Bridge later this evening.
As the day began, we walked past this stately St Pancras Renaissance Hotel as we did each time we left our hotel for the tube in Kings Cross Station. As fans of J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books, our kids wanted to head to the 9 3/4 platform located inside this station.
Kings Cross Railway Station is a busy place filled with travelers and business people. It is adjacent to the St. Pancras International station taking travelers to Paris and onto other European countries.
We were here for a fun photo opp and visit to the Harry Potter shop just around the corner.
In the Harry Potter books, King’s Cross is where students of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardy catch the Hogwarts Express. Harry Potter and his friends get onto the platform by walking through a brick wall between platforms 9 and 10. On the wall in the station concourse, there is a luggage trolley embedded in the wall where you can take photos and pretend you are off to start a magical journey.
Just a short walk from the station, we then headed to the The British Library which is the national library of the United Kingdom and the second largest library in the world by number of items cataloged. It holds well over 150 million items from many countries
Just a few highlights of items we were able to view include:
- Two Gutenberg Bibles
- Captain Cook’s journal
- Jane Austen’s History of England
- Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre
- Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures Under Ground
- Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories
- Charles Dickens’s Nicholas Nickleby
- A room with two 1215 copies of the Magna Carta
- The Diamond Sutra, the world’s earliest dated printed book printed in 868 during the Tang Dynasty
- The Codex Sinaiticus, the major portion of the world’s second-oldest manuscript of the Bible in koine Greek (4th century)
- One of Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks
- William Tyndale’s 1534 English translation New Testament
- Original manuscript of Handel’s Messiah
We cruised the River Thames by boat and disembarked at Greenwich Pier, made the climb by foot up the hill to the Royal Observatory that has played a major role in the history of astronomy and navigation. The view was spectacular and well worth the steps to get there.
We switched our planned day to be here this day because the weather report was better then the day on our itinerary. It proved to be a wise decision and the weather was perfect.
At the top of the hill, we all took a turn straddling the imaginary Prime Meridian line where east meets west at Longitude 0°.
After walking and exploring the streets of Greenwich we boarded the boat once again heading this time to Westminster Pier.
On Westminster Bridge we took in the beautiful evening with throngs of other people walking hand-in-hand or taking photos of the iconic Big Ben and sights from the bridge.
We ate our evening meal at a nearby pub and finally headed back to our hotel later in the evening. It was shortly after getting in that we learned of the attacks at London Bridge. Abbey received a text from home alerting us as to the terror happening so nearby. Even people at the pub were unaware at first.
With shock and great sadness we listened to news reports and gave thanks that we had switched our itinerary as we were scheduled to be at Borough Market at the base of London Bridge that evening.