After my usual breakfast at the hotel (oat and raisin cereal, plain yogurt and a croissant topped with just a smear of black currant jam), I took a bus with Nicole and the professors to 221B Baker Street to visit the home of my favorite fictional detective: Sherlock Holmes. Over the summer I started reading the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle which chronicle the many adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. Naturally, the Sherlock Holmes Museum was a must-see destination. As we walked down the 200 block of Baker Street, I started to feel giddy and once I saw the sign for the Sherlock Holmes Museum I actually squealed with joy. A museum employee dressed in an old-fashioned police uniform smiled at me and said “Someone’s excited!” And he was entirely right. I put on a Sherlock Holmes hat (conveniently located beside the front door for photo ops) and got my photograph taken with him under the famous address. Next we went into the shop next door to purchase our museum tickets. The ticket was £6 (just figured out how to do the pound symbol on my iPad – woo!) but I knew that I’d soon be spending even more money on Holmes souvenirs once I got a chance to explore the shop.
The ground level of the museum contained a small, Victorian style hallway with a narrow, winding set of stairs. The short climb to the first floor (in the U.S this would be called the second floor) brought me face-to-face with the beautifully decorated study I had so often read about. It was exactly as described in the books complete with Holmes’s violin and pipe. I sat in the comfy chair by the roaring fire just taking in the lovely details of the room. The next room was Holmes’s tiny bedroom. The other floors contained Dr. Watson’s room and the landlady Mrs. Hudson’s room.
The third floor was home to some rather creepy wax figures depicting Holmes, Dr. Watson, Irene Adler and some other characters from the well-known works. Around the figures were plaques and letters thanking Holmes for solving various cases. The very top floor had a Victorian style toilet and an attic with some suitcases. Every room contained numerous trinkets from Holmes’s many cases and I really enjoyed walking through and seeing which objects I recognized from the stories I read, but my favorite room was definitely the iconic study. I finally made my way back to the gift shop and bought several items to remember my visit. Nicole and I stopped at a restaurant on Baker Street for lunch. I had delicious penne pasta with a chunky tomato sauce.
Next we made our way to Covent Garden to see Matilda at the Cambridge Theatre, but since we were early we met up with some of our group and went shopping. There was a small stand in the street selling “Real British Sweets” that instantly drew me in. I bought tiny bags of licorice, toffee, and jellies. We happened upon a vintage shop and I loved browsing through the clothes, gloves, hats, and shoes from the 1920s-1980s. The last shop we went into was a used bookshop that was filled with old leather bound books. I could have spent hours browsing the shelves of this shop. I’m very sad to say that I left without buying a book because I couldn’t make a decision quick enough and we had a show to catch.
Matilda was delightful! Each child role is shared by four different children. In our performance, the title role was performed by the adorable Chloe Hawthorn. I’m still not sure how her powerful belt could come out of such a small girl. The musical was very similar to the Roald Dahl novel, but had a slight change in focus. The book focused on Matilda’s magical powers, while the musical stressed her love of books and telling stories. The set was bright, colorful and covered in letters. And if you looked closely enough, the letters spelled out words that had to do with each scene. Since this show is coming to Broadway I don’t want to give too much away, so I’ll just say that the set was beautiful, the songs were catchy, the children were immensely talented, and Trunchbull was wonderfully terrifying.
For dinner our group ate at The Crypt, which I couldn’t fully enjoy because the thought of eating near bodies made me a bit nauseous. Afterwards we went on a nighttime tour of The Tower of London. Our tour guide was excellent and it was fascinating to listen to the creepy stories of The Tower. It was very cold outside and I was so happy to crawl into my warm bed at the end of such a long day.