Nerd Trips has gone international! For the first time since I started the blog, we exported our nerdy pursuit overseas.
My friends invited me to stay with them in London, and were they in for some nerdy adventures. Here’s a preview.
Ben Franklin house: Did you know that Ben Franklin lived in London for 16 years? He rented a room from woman whose son-in-law ran an anatomy school out of the house. Excavators literally found bodies in the basement.
Blue Plaque Pursuit London has more than 800 blue plaques on homes and buildings connected to famous people, ranging from Charles Darwin and Jimi Hendrix to George Frideric Handel and Sigmund Freud.
As an English major, I set off in pursuit of plaques connected to writers and poets. From Mark Twain to Bram Stoker, we tromped through Chelsea on a literary quest culminating in the home of a personal favorite George Eliot (aka Mary Ann Evans).
Another day found us dragging a reluctant nine-year-old (sorry Anna!) through Kensington to find plaques for Agatha Christie, Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot. We encountered some hidden alleys, dead ends and similarly named streets, but we persevered!
Then came a humid hike uphill through Hampstead Heath (apologies to my friend Beth) where we trudged on and snagged blue plaques connected to Keats and D.H. Lawrence!
Charles Dickens museum: A blue plaque will also guide you to the London home of Charles Dickens where he wrote Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby. He entertained some famous folks there, and there are lots of fun things to see in the museum, which features shadowy Dickens figures to guide your way.
Florence Nightingale museum: Appropriately enough, the mother of modern nursing has a museum near a hospital. We learned a lot at the Florence Nightingale museum, including some gruesome descriptions of medical care during the Crimean War and details of Nightingale’s passion, persistence and PR savvy. You can even buy Florence Nightingale soap in the gift shop.
Sherlock Holmes museum: We also visited the home of a fictional character, Sherlock Holmes. The famous detective famously lived at 221B Baker Street where you can tour the Sherlock Holmes museum, complete with deer stalking caps, pipes and life-size dummies in scenes from the stories. We waited in line for two hours (including two rainstorms) to tour this Victorian townhouse, which I found to be completely ridiculous and very fun at the same time.
Coincidentally, I was in London the week when the royal baby was born. As a former TV news producer, I dragged my friend to the hospital to see the camera stake-out, then I braved the crowds at Buckingham Palace to see the “golden easel” the day after Prince George was born. What a week! I look forward to sharing the details of the London Nerd Trips in future posts and special thanks to my friends Beth, Mark and Anna for their hospitality!