A Busy Week in London, Part 2

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June 5, 2011

We got a late start, but managed to arrive at Hyde Park just in time for Speaker’s Corner.  We attended this weekly event last time we were in London and had such a great time, it was all but required to return.  Every Sunday speakers and listeners crowd a small corner of Hyde Park, near Marble Arch.  Everything from religion, politics, history, culture, and a slew of other controversial topics are discussed.  Usually someone gets up on their soapbox and starts giving an opinion and before long a crowd gathers and the debates begin.  It’s a fascinating thing to watch people passionately argue different points of view without coming to blows.

When it began to drizzle, we headed over to Covent Garden to watch the street performers and visit the Jubilee Market.  Once the rain started coming down, it was lucky to have at least a bit of roof over our heads.  We warmed up in a coffee shop and waited for the rain to abate.

The rain kept falling, but we decided to head out in it anyway armed with an umbrella.  We headed towards the embankment and crossed Waterloo Bridge where the rain filled sky made for some amazing views of the city and Parliament.  We walked along the Thames until hitting Westminster Bridge where we stopped to take in yet another gorgeous view of Big Ben.

We circled around Lambeth Bridge and got soaked on the way back to Westminster.  The rain was fun, but my cold, wet feet were not.  I think I know why Europeans hem their jeans so much shorter than Americans – their pants were dry while mine were wet halfway up to my knees.

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A Busy Week in London, Part I

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The earlier lag in new posts was caused as much by struggles to locate a reliable internet connection as it was from being insanely busy.  My husband joined me for the first leg on my journey and he wanted to get around and see the sights of London (it’s only his second time to the city).  More creative and detailed writings inspired by these activities are to follow, but here’s a rundown of my first week in London, (the first of two parts).  For a full-size view of pictures, just give them a click!

June 2, 2011

The day started at Westminster Abbey and for the first time I actually went inside!  On all previous visits I passed it up because it is so expensive.  The church itself is beautiful, but the tombs within the walls had my interest from the beginning.  The history and writer geek in me marveled at the graves of Elizabeth I, Chaucer, and Isaac Newton.

After leaving the Abbey, we decided to stroll along the South Embankment of the Thames and soak up a little visit from the sun.  The river flowed along and so did the throngs of tourists, but it’s almost tradition to walk down this side of the river and take in the sights of the London Eye, the film museum, street performers, the London Aquarium, and cityscape across the Thames.

We then wandered into St. James Park and sat for a while to take in the scenery. Waterfowl, tourists, locals, and a stunning view of Buckingham Palace filled out the rest of the afternoon.

For dinner, we visited The Swan on Bayswater Road.  We loved this place when we came a few years back and its great to see the place is still thriving.

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Van Gogh Never Thought Of This

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While strolling through Trafalgar Square, I saw a curious outdoor art display that literally brings art to life.  The National Gallery of London sits at the head of the square and houses some of the art world’s most treasured pieces, including a few paintings by Vincent Van Gogh.  In front of the museum, a multi-story display takes one of his masterpieces and ingeniously fuses impressionism with vertical gardening.

 

This part of the display shows the original version of the painting, A Wheatfield With Cypress.

Van Gogh’s painting re-imagined with layers of live greenery, (Click on image for full-size view).

To me this is beautiful tribute to the fact that the creative spirit of humanity knows no bounds.

c.b. 2011

A Brilliant Stroke of Luck

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I have to give snaps to the employees and/or patrons of London’s Natural History Museum.  Not only is the museum an extraordinary experience (we’re talking giant redwood slabs, an unbelievable collection of animal and plant specimens, and about a million other things I didn’t have time to see), but it also managed to save me from a potential disaster.

After a long day of walking around every exhibit in the museum and a quick visit to the Victoria and Albert Museum, I decided to head down to Hyde Park for a little break.  I thought I’d sit down under a tree and let the world go by while my feet healed up a bit.  While lying on the ground, I thought the view of the tree and the sky would make a nice picture (for this blog, actually!).  I dug into my purse and found there was no camera – it was missing!  A wave of panic hit me as several thoughts rolled through my mind: Oh, my God a pick pocket got to me!  It’s only the third day – What am I going to do for the rest of the month without a camera?  Did I leave it in one of the museums?  The only cute picture I have of one of my dogs is on the memory card inside the camera, (long story on this one, but in short, one of my dogs takes absolutely horrid pictures).

After dumping my purse three times, one must be sure after all, I pretty much decided it was gone and there was no getting it back.  But there is always that need to do something when bad luck strikes.  Instead of throwing in the towel, I got up and headed back to the Natural History Museum with the hope that someone turned it in to lost and found. It was a long shot at best, but worth a try.

The museum was 3 minutes away from closing when I arrived.  They weren’t letting anyone in the doors, but I explained my situation and the doorman kindly let me in and showed me to the guest services desk.  The man behind the desk asked me what my camera looked like and how many megapixels it had.  As it happens, I had all the right answers for the camera he had in his hand!  By some miracle, someone picked it up and turned it in, just as a I had hoped.  Seriously, what are the odds of that occurring??  Everything was certainly stacked against me, yet there I was happily reunited with my camera.  My sincere thanks to the anonymous individual who not only found it, but was thoughtful enough to turn it in.  So many others would have kept it for themselves.

In honor of the Natural History Museum, here’s a picture of the main lobby.  It’s an impressive building that is as much a sight as everything it holds, (Click on picture for a full size view).

Now, lets just hope I didn’t use up all my luck in one shot!  More pics and posts to come.  My muse is singing loudly and I’m writing as much as I can.