Wednesday, August 17, 2005

aimee says - finally!!!

So sorry for the delay!! I 've been going 24/7 it seems since I left the girls last friday. I'm not going to make a big attemp to capitalize or correct things as these english keyboards have keys in all the wrong places. There are a ton of things I'd like to talk about - some of which have been mentioned ever so briefly in past posts. but it's 6:00 and I'm skipping most of dinner while the office is clear so i don't feel so bad about using this computer. =)

So, first to St. Paul's Cathedral, which I think we visited last Tuesday! Hate to rehash old history, but I did take copious notes and don't want to waste them!

We got off the tube and walked down toward the cathedral. It is enormous! I wanted to take a picture of the front so I went down about half a block. Then I just had to keep backing up and backing up through the square and across the street. Finally I just took three pictures, top to bottom, and will have to paste the pictures together when I get them developed.

It was obviously very beautiful inside and humongous. There is carved wood, carved marble, statues, other carved items, wrought iron railings and decorations, paintings, sculptures, mosaics, and beautiful chandeliers.

We first wandered around on the ground floor. I found a US memorial for 28,000 soldiers killed in WW2. There were a lot of war memorials which seemed odd to me.

Anyway, we were quite interested to climb to the galleries. It's 590 or so steps to the top. We started climbing up a wide spiral staircase made of shallow, wide wooden steps, with windows looking up. We climbed, and climbed, and climbed! I kept expecting a landing to be there, surely, any minute, but we just kept going round and 'round. We finally reached a landing then went down a dark, narrow hallway, up a short flight of stairs, half a spiral staircase, more straight stairs, then emerged into the Whispering Gallery. This is basically a hallway-width pathway along the inside of the large dome. There is a railing and you can look down into the cathedral, probably 2 or 3 stories below. There is a bench running all along the Gallery. From the bench I could see statues in niches of St. Augustine, St. Ambrose, St. Basil, St. Gregory, and below these are mosaics of Daniel, Matthew, Mark and Luke. Up above in the dome are painted images from Paul's life. It is called the whispering gallery because you can whisper and people on the other side of the room can hear everything you say. The other side is about 30 feet away - it is quite amazing!

After whispering at each other and eavesdropping on other conversations, we circled round and exited to climb to the next Gallery. This time it was a tight stone spiral stair case up and up and up and up and up. The stone gallery is outside around the main dome. and there is a fantastic view of the whole city. We spent a while taking photos and catching our breath before climbing to the Gold Gallery (I think!).

The way up was many, many, many wrought iron spiral staircases up through a vast hollow of the dome. So as you're climbing up you can look way, way, way down, through the stairs. It was a bit scary! After 156 or so steps on these spiral stair cases we reached the top and passed through a tiny little hallway that was so narrow, my arms at my sides touched both sides of the wall, and I had to duck so I wouldn't hit my head! We came out onto a breathtaking view of the city, the Thames, the Eye of London, other churches, parks, etc, etc. It was a tiny little walkway wide enough for one person or two at best and I think there were 20 or 30 people crammed up there at the very top of the Cathedral.

Well, it took us forever to climb up, so then we had to climb down. We went down 2 iron spiral cases counter clockwise, then down two more clockwise, then a few sets of stone steps, then more iron ones, then another stone set, another spiral set, a few steps, a narrow hall, 2 more stone spiral staircases, a landing, another spiral staircase, a landing, another spiral, another landing, a creaky wood staircase, down a hallway, to the right, through another hall, down some steps, through a hall, to the wide wooden steps, winding clockwise, down, down, down, down. I see light ahead! The end! Nope. it's just a window shining light. down, down, down. Ah! Here we are. nope, just another window. down, down, down, down. now?? nope. down, down, down. I gave up that we would ever reach the end.

Then - the end! We finally came down. Wow, my legs were feeling weird. They were all shaky and weird. We sat down and listened into a service that was going on and then eventually went to have lunch in the crypt.

Just so you know, I did not make up all the stairs and hallways, I took notes as I went. =) Well, I'm off to dinner and to collect my laundry I hope. I have much more to say and hope to overwhelm you all soon. The other girls will be quite jealous that I've made it to a computer! =)

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