Thursday, June 21, 2007

"House of Kings, House of God"

My second day in London brought me (after a solid 11-hours of sleep) a whole lot of walking and sights to see at every turn. Setting out after a breakfast on chocolate-almond croissants which my friend (and host) S bought from patisserie Paul, I rode the tube to the West End and took myself to Westminster Abbey, Picadilly Circus, the National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, the Tate Modern, and St. Paul's.

I took myself all around Westminster to make the most of the entry fee, but for me the most exciting tombs and markers were in the Nave, toward the end: Darwin, Lyell (just metres from each other: I think they'd be happy in the afterlife, no? Endless conversations about steady-state change.), Newton, Faraday, Dirac, Herschel, and Kelvin. It was a genuinely exciting history of science moment. Not to mention Halley:

With lunch in the cloisters (two-pound sandwiches, on the cheap, have not stopped being a thrill) with tea and a mixed-nut brittle bar, I was a happy tourist.

After getting lost via Picadilly the National Gallery was mainly a stealth walk-through, overlooking Trafalgar square. I enjoyed the Renoirs, the Seurat, and the Cezanne & Kandinsky. So much more I missed!

...But the Tate Modern was the second big thrill of the day. The gallery is in a reconstructed factory building, with elevators all up around the old smokestack tower. (This is Turbine Hall, off the main entrance.) There was enough surrealism to shake a stick at. My favourites were the Mondrians, some really cool geometric sculptures, and paintings by Meredith Frampton.

After that it was a walk across the Millennium Bridge toward St. Paul's Cathedral. Here's London Bridge down the Thames in the farrrr back:

Luckily, it was close to services, which meant you could go and take a peek inside the cathedral. It's gorgeous. (Christopher Wren, man. Where did he find the time?)

Finishing up, my secondary goal of the trip is to try a new flavour of chips (crisps) each day. At 35p, how can you go wrong?

(P.S. There was totally knitting in this post too. ...Which, uh, I'll find photographic evidence of tomorrow!)


Marianne said...

Absolutely amazing...

Glenna C said...

I wanna be there tooooo.... ::whiiiinnnneeee:::

Sarah said...

I would never have thought that our crisps would be that exciting! I so love your photos. Am off to the Tate Modern myself today, it is so fab I'm glad you enjoyed it. Hope you manage to dodge the rain, glad you're getting an authentic summer experience :)

wiscjennyann said...

Oh London, how I love thee! Don't miss the markets: Borough Market on Saturday (9-4) is a must. All kinds of tasty treats! Camden Market (Sat or Sun) is a total trip-- good for clothes and an occasional homemade type thing. Also good for browsing bizarre "alternative" fashion (raver, goth, punk and so much more!).

clarabelle said...

Yo! I was in London last Thursday-Sat, in and around the same sorts of places as you! My son works at Westminster, so he gets me in for free, but I never get bored of visiting there.

And yes, the Meredith Frampton paintings are wonderful at the Tate Modern - I wanted to buy one of his prints, but ended up with a Klimt instead.

Glad you had a great time!