|Lloyd's of London|
Since a good 2 months have passed since I got back from London, this post is going to be a broader overview of the trip than I may have given when it was all fresh in my mind. No matter, it's still the highlights.
|blue doors on the houses|
inside the Tower of London
The first day of the trip, I stuck to historical sights: a tour at the Tower of London, where I admired the crown jewels and some turquoise doors - quite striking against the white and dark wood bracing of these traditional English houses. After that, I took a tour of the Tower Bridge, then took a long walk back home over the London Bridge. Once Katie got home from work, we had a quiet dinner at a place next to the gherkin - probably a madhouse at lunch, but completely empty at dinnertime, since it's more of a business district.
|Millenium Bridge (and St. Paul's cathedral) at night|
Day two was a lot of walking as well: I tried my luck at Spitalfield's market, and saw a few things that enticed me, although the one thing I wanted to buy had no vendor present from whom to buy it! So much for my first souvenir! On to St. Paul's cathedral, where I ventured up the first two sets of stairs (53 meters/376 steps up). The bracing cold January winds deterred me from climbing up the remaining 150 steps or so for the view up at the top. After warming myself back up in the lower level of St. Paul's, then enjoying a sandwich at Pret a Manger, I crossed the Millenium Bridge to check out the Tate Modern. They had an exhibit of Gerhard Richter's work. I wasn't familiar with his stuff before, but found a few pieces to be really compelling, especially the ones that were many panes of glass set up next to each other like dominos (terrible way to describe it - maybe I'll come back with a link). On the way back over the Millenium Bridge in the evening, I suspect that I dropped one of my lovely mittens, so it has probably rested well into the Thames by now. Farewell dear mitten.
|Houses of Parliament and Big Ben|
The next day was sunny and bright - as would be the rest of my visit in London! It was a perfect day to check out the Houses of Parliament,
|the shadow of the|
followed by a turn around the London Eye, which I had actually ridden back in 2001, the last time I was in London, to visit a high school friend who was spending the semester there. My ride back in 2001 was on a dark and stormy night, so this one was much more agreeable, especially now that I had a much nicer camera.
|Enjoying coffees in the cloisters|
at Westminster Cathedral
Back over the river, I toured around Westminster Abbey, recognizing some of it from seeing Kate and William's wedding back in April, and other parts from my architecture history classes. Too bad you cannot take pictures inside the churches; my favorite parts were the ceilings in the small alcoves up in the front of the church, beyond the choir pews. I was able to take a few pictures out in the cloisters, however, and again took advantage of a sunny scene.
After another sandwich (this time at EAT.) I took a walk up Regent Street to find Liberty of London, where I did 90% of my shopping for the whole trip. Fabrics and scarves - maybe someday I'll use the fabric and do a post about it on my other blog.
|The Heatherwick Rolling Bridge, unrolled.|
The next day was an architectural pilgrimage of sorts. I was off to find the Thomas Heatherwick rolling bridge, which I learned about back in 2005/2006, very recently after it had been built. It's in a very quiet, unassuming area, and actually just crosses a very small dead-end canal (when the bridge is rolled up, you only need to walk an extra 30 yards or so). It opens once a week, according to the website, but the technician who came to open it told me it's actually more like 3 times a week, more often even in the summer. There was one other visitor who, like me, had come to see and photograph the bridge. He is an architect from Columbia, and you can see him in the bottom picture of this bridge series. I'm very late emailing him this picture, but hopefully he will understand how busy I've been, having gone through architecture school himself. Anyway, the bridge was a fun little diversion, and since Alejandro and I enjoyed it so much the technician rolled it out a second time so that we could take more pictures. It was a fun visit.
After that, I took a long walk up through the northern part of the city, through Regent's Park, up to King's Cross Station, then south a little bit to meet Katie near her office. We then hopped on the tube to the National Portrait Gallery, where we had high tea, then spent the rest of the evening looking at portraits, then more art at the National Gallery. Both museums are open until 9 (I think it was 9) on Fridays, so we had a very cultural evening. Then we went out to get a drink.
|Meat pie from Pie Minister|
Saturday, my last day in London, Katie and I walked over to the design museum, which had some fun exhibits. They will be building a new building and moving soon, so I guess I'll have to go check it out again someday. After that, we went to the Borough Market, where we enjoyed some meat pies for a late lunch. For our final evening's activities, we saw Crazy For You at a theater in Covent Garden, then took the Hackney Wick bus home.
I fit quite a lot into a 5 day visit, especially considering I started back to school the day after I flew back to Chicago. An exhausting but nice kick-off to my second semester!