Thursday, May 8, 2014

London: Day 2

I wanted to head right for Westminster Abbey this morning. So I took the tube to Westminster, which as to have some of the most stunning and iconic sights in London.
This is what you see when you leave the station.
Not too shabby, is it? That is the London Eye, of course.
You can see how wet the pavement is becuase it rained the entire day. It was mostly a drizzle, but the kind that manages to find its way through your clothing no matter what you wear.
That's the Thames, which is as dirty as you imagine.
Dirty Thames or not, tell me that's not a beautiful sight.
And then...
Big Ben. Now, I've seen Big Ben in lots of movies and pictures so I didn't expect to be as jaw-on-the-floor astounded as I was. There's no comparison between see it in person. It feels almost alive and when it rings there are centuries behind the sound.
Seriously, I stood there sipping a cup of coffee for a good fifteen minutes, just staring like an idiot. I did manage to rip my gaze away and get going to the abbey...which was closed. Yeah. There was some big event going on inside and so everything but the shop and St. Margaret's church was closed.
Now, St. Margaret is pretty, as you can see

But it isn's what I wanted. At least I got some nice pictures of the Abbey's front.
I'm going to have to go back next week, because it's closed tomorrow as well and Saturday I want to go too Portobello Road for the fair.
I moved on to plan B, which was to visit Churchill's War Rooms. Now, okay, this might not sound like the most exciting place to visit because it is a bunker, but let me tell you I would have hated to miss it. The work that has been put to maintain the war rooms like they were during World War II is incredible. As much of a cliche as it may be, you really feel like you're there with Churchill and the multitude of people watching over England's (and the world's, actually) well being. 
There are even orginal gas masks on display, which look like props in a sci-fi movie because they were made to allow people to speak through them. 
I don't have any pictures of the bunker, but if you go to London, don't miss it!
After a quick lunch in the cafe they have at the war rooms, I headed over to Trafalgar Square. Another iconic image. Although it was gloomy, I loved it.
You can see the National Gallery back there.
One hell of a fountain.
With a solitary duck swimming in it. I couldn't help taking a picture of the duck. I've been without pets around me for three days which is something unheard of, so I'm pretty sure I'm going through some kind fo withdrawal. Pretty soon I'm going to start petting random dogs on the street.
He was really enjoying himself, though.
It's a really clean fountain. I was impressed by that. There's no moss or anything on it.
The National Gallery was where I spent the next three hours. I think I saw it all. There were lots of great painters in there, Vermeer, Goya, Monet, Seurat, Manet, Breughel, Velasquez, Michelangelo, Degas, etc. but, surprisingly, the paintings that I loved the most were the Van Goghs. I say surprisingly because I've never been a fan of his paintings. Or any painters of his style. I recognize that they are master painters and that their works are important, but they are not the type I like looking at. I saw lots of Van Gogh's contemporaries at the gallery and I still don't like them, but  changed my mind completely about Van Gogh. The sunflower painting is out of this world. Forget how pretty it looks in a book. It's like looking at the sun through dirty windows. You have to see this painting in person. It glows. I walked into the room where it hangs and there was no other painting that I needed or wanted to see. It's hard to explain, actually. It felt like the painting was alive, if that makes sense. It's also unbelievably sad to look at even though it is bright and just a still-life. Except there's nothing "still" about it. The other Van Gogh paintings were also beautiful. Unlike some of the other works by other painters in the same room, his felt like they breathed. I don't know how else to describe it. I'm going to make time to see them again before I leave. And this is coming from someone who has always said she doesn't like Van Gogh's works.
I headed back to the hotel to drop some things I'd bought, and headed to The Sherlock Holmes Pub. 
Anyone who knows me knows that I have an clearly defined obsession with all things Holmes-related. Well, not all things. I'd rather die than sit through one of thse Robert Downey Jr. movies. Next week I'll, of course, be heading over to Baker Street to see the official museum at 221B. You'll probably hear my squeal of excitement around the world. 

1 comment:

Trish said...

LOVE your pictures! Big Ben was my most favorite part of London.