Saturday, April 24, 2010

Friday, March 19th-London City

Last day in London! I really enjoyed being in the city. Not just because the majority spoke English, which offers a feeling of ability to function.. I really enjoyed everything the city offered (even though I didn’t have time in any sense of the term)

Started the day at the Embankment, and walked down toward St. Pauls. It was a nice walk and a great day out. Paused at the bridge before walking across, turning to the left you could look up the stairs and see the towering church. Then turning to the other side, I walked across the millennium bridge to the British Tate Modern Museum. Before entering the Tate Modern, I walked around the replica of Shakespeare’s Globe!!! It is right on the water, and has a thatched roof!! Could only see the outside… had to pay to get in. Even though not the real/original structure, it was cool to see and imagine what it would have been like, drawing an audience to attend across London.

The Tate Modern was pretty cool, and I wandered through it for a while. I used to really like abstract art, I still do (just not as much). Though, the first few rooms left me more than a little disgruntled and annoyed by the art there. Perhaps I just started in the wrong section, jumping straight into abstraction and surrealism from the great classical renaissance and baroque I have been visually saturated with recently. There were a few rooms that I completely enjoyed! Including some of Picaso’s work and some other for real legit people’s work too!! So it wasn’t a complete waste in any way, just moments of serious irritation. I mean really, some ideas are important and however they chose to express that inner angst is valuable. In some cases it’s educational for me to look at and understand (with the help of the descriptive caption). But there are some works that I just hope it helped them feel better inside to create the pieces.

I left with the emotional turmoil that was often displayed in the pieces. Love and attraction to some of the art. And disdain and disregard to others. Rather abstract feelings eh? Haha

Set out walking back across the bridge, circled around the church (it cost to get inside. So I just appreciated the outside). Located the “Tube” entrance (which I now have practically mastered at using!!)..and set off to the National Gallery! I really enjoyed the National Gallery. I only got through a few rooms, but they had it set up starting in the middle ages and on up through with the painters. (including a da vinci!) I left to meet up with the girls after only walking through a few of the widespread rooms. While waiting, I ate lunch in the plaza in front of the gallery building. Kinda munching (standard of figs, hazelnuts, dates, sandwich(sharp cheese and “pickles”/chutney!), apple and kit kats!) while watching the people around me who were leaning on the fountains, or taking pictures next to the four lions at the base of the pinnacle statue in the center.

The rest of the girls (who came from watching the changing of the guard at Buckingham palace…which sounded pretty legit. But I had other places to check out! ) and I then went to Abbey Road. That was rad J Simply for seeing/standing where these awesome musicians were so famously photographed! Abbey road is a well used road, even without rush hour it’s a busy road, in fact, one could maybe use the word highway. It took crossing the street several times because of traffic or other people, but there was enough of us to take the pic with the right number of people. (I did not take off my shoes, though I would have if not for the conscientiousness of others).

Following this real life fame locations, we went (by my insisting) to nearby Baker Street. 221b Baker street to be exact visit the location of a fictional character. It was a normal street, with only one sign telling where we needed to go, but when I asked directions..they knew where to point me. Why would 221b have significance? It is WHERE SHERLOCK HOLMES RESIDES!!!! Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote this detective as residing at that address in London, so getting to visit the home (though imagined) was pretty great. I did not take the tour, I don’t need to see the arranged inside of a house that I know even better by my own readings. I also resisted buying a copy of the stories there, though the illustrations were nice, with fresh, thick pages bound between embellished covers.

After that the girls went out to dinner, and I went back to the National Gallery. I only I had an hour, and it was not nearly long enough!!! I felt like I sprinted past whole sections of art (which I may have). But I also stood in front of some paintings with my jaw slightly unhinged. There was one artist (of course, cannot remember the name. though in my defense…I have seen so many names and images/sculptors/ buildings it’s a good excuse) anyway he painted a lot of ocean scenes, with detailed ships and a lot of emphasis on light and the motion of the water. I really liked his work.

ALSO! Saw Van Gogh’s Sunflowers!!! (Like, that piece of art in grade school that the teacher talked about and we all tried to imitate. ) And, my very first Degas dancer J I asked, probably a little obliviously, if the works of art in here were all originals or copies. The museum lady said with a little smile that these were all original paintings. I bounced out of that gallery I was so jazzed at what I had just wandered though.

Went down to the Westminster Embankment for the boat/ferry ride that we got with the bus tickets yesterday. (no one else in the group wanted to) so I hopped on the boat, just as the sun had let the sky fade into a pastel grey. I just sort of zipped my jacket up, pulled the hood over my head and ignored the chill to stay on the top, open part of the boat. It went up the river, past Big Ben and the Abby…beneath the London eye wheel…beneath the bridges that I had walked past this morning and ending at the Tower of London. (I got off the boat, tripped over the edge of the dock…landed on said dock, but nearly took out one of the crew members. *sighs* I will never get a hot Englishman at this rate)

Meandered around the Tower(s)..reading all the posted signs around it about the castle. How it used to be The Entrance to the City. And all the bustling activity that was once such a major part of its core existence and defense.

It was dark by the time I walked across the Tower Bridge…which was awesome because the lights fabricated the towers from the darkness. Scooted down the stairs on the south bank and walked along the river back towards the bus stop. It was a lovely walk! An hour and half, a light drizzle (true London experience) And along different parts of the walk, lights were strung up in the trees. Some just white lights. Though there was one section of big bulbs up in the cluster of trees that were tinged a blue light. It was awesome. (even though I was by myself suffering a mega romantic moment with no one to kiss. It was still awesome) Because you could look up through the trees and they looked like the stars were dangling lower in the sky, or like fireflies had been caught on strings.

I did deviate from the river walk to go on the main street/avoid construction. I got to see the area that used to be the docks (which is disappointingly tall buildings). Took a few turns and ended up in the closed down market area, with the smells of rotting fruit behind closed door stands. Then I turned into another narrow ally, with the buildings leaning together above, and the street lamps leaving pools of light on the slick cobblestone. (to avoid being alone, I sort of chased down a woman ahead of me and vaguely looked like my head was on a spring I was looking around so much). Back by the river,all was peaceful by the water, busy with foot traffic, but quiet and still with just the buildings on the other side stretching wavering reflections in the water.

That walk was one of my favorite in London J In the evening with the many buildings and edges softened in the lighted backgrounds. And always the sound of the river!

Hop skip and a jump back on the bus to sleep until Cambridge. Cheers mates.

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