The second stage of my journey took me through Southampton, Oxford, and London before heading to the city of Penzance in the Southwestern tip of the UK. You can hear me talk about that trip here.
Southampton was startling to an American simply in the way that such ancient structures were seamlessly interwoven into the modern city. The pictures below show some of these. Most prominent is the medieval gatehouse that sits in the middle of the shopping district, but you'll find interwoven through the whole city ancient walls like the ones shown in pictures 2 and 3. The final picture shows the Church of Holyrood. Built in 1320 this church was reduced to a mere shell in 1940. The destruction brought about in that war is staggering. The destruction of history has always gone hand in hand with war, but it wasn't until the modern age that such wholesale destruction could be done so casually. This church wasn't even a target. Just in the way.
After Southampton I travelled North to Oxford. The most impressive sight to be seen in Oxford is Christ's Church, a college and cathedral. Fun fact, it was used extensively in filming the Harry Potter films. It's also surrounded by an extensive park area known as Christ's Church meadow which is positively lovely.
Of course you'll find beautiful buildings all over Oxford. The first one in this set is the famous Radcliffe Camera, but I don't even know what the other two are. They're just the sort of beautiful buildings you run into walking around that city.
Though I think my favorite spot in the city was actually Holywell Cemetery. Bit of an unusual place to be ones favorite, but it had a very tranquil atmosphere.
Next came a short sojourn in London, which I hope to see more of before I leave the UK. The below pictures go through some of the sites I saw there and I'll speak on each of them in order. I stopped by Buckingham Palace and while I'd seen pictures of the palace before but somehow I've managed to never see the Victoria Memorial located right out front. A massive, beautiful, golden statue. That night I went out and walked all around Parlament and got this photo of Big Ben. Fun fact: Big Ben is actually the name of the bell. The tower is actually named Elizabeth Tower, though that's only since 2012. Before then it went by the unimaginative moniker of Clock Tower. I walked to the Tower of Barad-dûr, also known as The Shard, which is a building I've always loved. Many find the design jarring and ugly but I find it compelling. On the way I happened upon another interesting piece of architecture under construction. I'm not sure what it is and it will most likely have a more conventionally attractive facade put on it before completion but I thought it was beautiful as is. I'm quite a fan of the Brutalist style of architecture. When done well, it can often be simply ugly. I think it's best done when contrasted against something more natural. One of my favorite places in the world is Freeway Park in Seattle is a wonderful combination of trees and large green areas interspersed with these large brutalist fountains and structures. Anyway, back to London. Next there's a picture of St Paul's Cathedral. It's hard to convey in pictures just how incredibly big that cathedral is. The dome can be seen clear across the city and even from that far it's staggeringly huge. Finally you'll see the steps inside The Monument to the Great Fire of London. Usually referred to simply as The Monument, it's a tall pillar containing a spiral staircase of 311 steps. It was a long climb.