Day 1: Our Trip to Southern England, March 2000

by Jim Mann
Photos, links and [commentary] by Laurie Mann

Site Map for the England 2000 Trip Site

Laurie and I left on our long-delayed trip to England on March 1. We flew out of Pittsburgh at 4pm, spent about two hours in Charlotte (nice airport) [especially for NASCAR fans], then flew to London's Gatwick airport on Thursday, March 2.

[The flight was extremely uneventful, very smooth and dull. It was cloudy most of the way. When the plane was finally below the clouds, I was delighted to see how green everything was. Southern England's weather is about a month ahead of Western PA's - the grass was green, most of the flowers were in bloom and the weather was pretty comfortable.]

We took the train to Victoria Station, then took the tube to the area of our hotel, a nice little place called the George Hotel, near the British Library and about 10-15 minutes from the British Museum.

[Taking a week's worth of luggage through the Underground on very little sleep turned out to be a big mistake. We survived the trip but it was exhausting and tricky. We were happy to find a ThamesLink train back to the airport a short cab ride from our hotel, so that's the way we went back.

It was cloudy and rainy in Southern England. I was surprised by how dirty the area outside the train was - lots of trash, graffiti, etc. You always hear that American cities are worse than European cities in terms of keeping things cleaned up. Our hotel was near Euston Station, very close to the University of London. I chose it from a lot of other hotels by noting the location - near the Underground but across from a small park on a quieter street. The price of about $130 a night (including breakfast) was really good for London prices. There were probably a dozen other similar little hotels in that area; old Georgian townhouse-type buildings.]

We spent the afternoon taking our first look at the British Museum. I was and remain astounded. For those who haven't been there, the British Museum is a museum of history. It has extensive historical collections from the ancient Near East, Greece, Rome, Britain, and Medieval Europe. Where other museums have perhaps a room of Egyptian artifacts, the British Museum has 5 or 6 large rooms (plus a number of large statues in their halls of large statues from the ancient world). Where other museums have perhaps a small segment of a wall mosaic from Assyria, the British Museum has a entire long hall lined with them.

[The British Museum is the Worldcon for museum junkies. We've been to dozens of museums and it was the best we'd ever seen.]

We spent the afternoon mostly looking at the Egyptian collection. We saw a number of impressive sarcophagi and other funereal objects. We also looked a bit through the hall containing large statues from Egypt and other parts of the Near East and saw the Rosetta Stone. We then headed off for the London area fannish gathering.

On the first Thursday of every month, fans from all over the greater London area get together at the Florence Nightingale pub (near Waterloo Station). They often attract 50 to 100 people. Pat McMurry had told us about this, so we decided to attend. We had a pleasant evening talking with Pat, Dave Langford, KIM Campbell, Bernard Peek, and others. Then, at about 8pm, jet lag caught up with us, and we headed for bed.

Tomorrow's Trip - Tower of London