|Dan Andriacco and Steve Winter, AKA Watson and Holmes, at 221B Baker Street|
I like to pride myself, perhaps naively, that I've never been a tourist anywhere. Whenever we travel outside the United States, I always either speak the language of the country we are visiting or know somebody there.
But I'm not foolish enough to avoid certain attractions just because there might be tourists there. So October 11 found me with Ann and our friends, Steve and Barb Winter, at the Sherlock Holmes Museum at 221 B Baker Street.
The day before I'd decided to visit the gift shop downstairs but not the museum -- exactly as Ann and I had done 15 years ago. Ultimately, though, curiosity got the better of me. We paid the modest tariff of six pounds each and climbed the 17 steps (Steve counted) to the floor with the sitting room and Holmes's bedroom.
We'd seen two reconstructions of the sitting room previously -- one in Switzerland at the foot of the Reichenbach Falls and the other at the Sherlock Holmes Pub. But those were under glass. This was a sitting room that visitors could sit in. Management even provided a deerstalker cap and a bowler. I wrote in my travel diary: "Pretty cool to sit in the chairs of Holmes and Watson and imagine."
The upper floors are populated with Canonical artifacts and wax images of familiar characters from the stories -- Moriarty, Milverton in the act of being shot, the King and Irene, Holmes and Watson, Lady Frances Carfax, the Hound of the Baskervilles, Hugh Boone, Dr. Grimesby Roylott, and Bartholomew Sholto. I may have even missed a few. Some of the figures were more credible than others.
It's my understanding that the museum is somewhat controversial and not beloved by all British Holmesians. But, perhaps because I came to it with low expectations, I felt it was worth the price of admission.