flummoxicated: (London calling)
(I better get crackin' on my recap of my vacation, or I may forget something!)

Day 4 was mostly given over to a trip [livejournal.com profile] shipbrook wanted to make - to the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. We took the Tube and then hopped on a double decker bus to get there (by the way, it's pretty disconcerting when you're on the steps going to the second level of the bus and the bus starts moving!). If you want to find out his version of our visit, go here. While he was doing some research, I wandered over to the Queen's House; then I hiked up the hill to see the Royal Observatory and the Prime Meridian - oooh, ahhh!

Prime Meridian in all its glory Prime Meridian in all its glory



I wandered off through the nearby park and found a marker that indicates the remains of what they think was the oak tree that Elizabeth I stood under (I think that's the story?) when she learned she was queen. There's still a stump left, see?

Elizabeth oak Elizabeth oak




At the park I also noticed how well-behaved British dogs are. They follow along after their humans, some of them (the dogs that is) don't need leashes!
[livejournal.com profile] shipbrook was pretty bummed out that his research plans didn't go as he had hoped. We knew that the British Museum was open late that night, so we headed off in that direction. It was tricky to find from the Tub station we got off at, but we found it, an immense building. The library was breathtaking. I could never get any studying done, though [livejournal.com profile] shipbrook pointed out where you could tell some of the books were fake. Infidel. We started off in the Egyptian galleries, and I was blown away with the sheer quantity of items they had. It made me almost wonder if there's anything left in Egypt? I especially liked the giant cases filled with mummy cases! I loved how colorful they were, and a couple of them were open so that you could see the painted insides.

Case full o' mummy cases! Case full o' mummy cases!




Once again we got a bit turned around, but eventually found the Tube station and went back to our neighborhood. We had dinner at our favorite Indian place. A bit of a cop-out, but they had excellent food and the day had been extra long.

This was another place where we got "Art Overload". Huge Babylonian winged bulls; the Elgian Marbles; so many beautiful Greek sculptures! Eventually we grew tired and hungry, and the museum was about to kick us out anyway, so we left. It seemed like we barely scratched the surface of their collection (couldn't get to the medieval stuff!) so we vowed to come back before we left. I combed the bookstore but didn't see anything I had to have. He insisted that I get a set of tiny canopic jar replicas though.
flummoxicated: (London calling)
On Day 3 we had arranged to meet [livejournal.com profile] joysdaughter for a fabric store tour! We took a wrong turn out of the tube station so we were 10 minutes late, but she patiently waited for us. We started at a department store - the kind we used to have in the States, that sells clothes and makeup and upholstery fabric and curtains. (Sure, Mal-Wart sells all that, but it's a bit downscale.) She took us to a notions shop and several little fabric shops that had the most gorgeous silks - especially the last one we stopped at. There was some silk with rows of black embroidery, would have made some amazing blackworked looking sleeves. I was a very good girl and I restrained myself. As [livejournal.com profile] joysdaughter pointed out, London doesn't have any "one stop shopping" for sewers, which can be good and bad. It was so nice to meet her, and to see a bit of London that was off the beaten path.

[profile] shipbrook and I decided to spend the rest of the day at the V&A museum. I just couldn't wait anymore to see it! There's a path underground that takes you straight from the Rube station to the entry of the museum - most convenient. In the very first room we saw an amazing spinet encrusted with semiprecious stones. They let you take pictures there, so I'll have to upload some of the shots. The fashion display was a bit disappointing, (I want the old stuff, not stuff I remember my parents wearing!) except for a new acquisition of theirs, an early 17th c. lady's jacket. The fabric is a pale cream color and is embellished with swirly designs. It looks so modern! Another nice surprise was the copy of Beatrice d'Este's tomb effigy. The V&A has these two rooms stuffed full of casts of original works from the medieval and renaissance periods. I just can't imagine how they managed to make a cast of an immense cathedral doorway, or Trajan's Column, or David...We spent lots of time in the Elizabethan collection (Ah! There are the old clothes!), and I wished I had a tripod with me so I could take pictures of their fabric collection, each sample neatly stretched in a glass frame. Oh, and the portrait miniatures. Amazing! The details on those little, tiny works of art. And the Devonshire Hunt tapestries, so huge! By the time we got to the silver gallery, I was almost on art overload. I said, "treasure bath! treasure bath!" (You need to have seen History of the World Part I for that to make sense). Many books were bought, I assure you. Unfortunately, they were about to open a new gift shop so they didn't have a ton of goodies, but the books are just fine.
flummoxicated: (London calling)
(BTW, I'm posting this after the fact, we got back this Monday so I'm recapping our vacation now that we're home.)

Day 2 was jam-packed full of sightseeing geekery! We started at St. Paul's Cathedral. It was lovely, the ceilings were very sparkly, like they used sequins. Then we walked over the Millennium Bridge to tour Shakespeare's Globe. It started to rain while we were in the seats, I can see why they don't start performances till May because it was pretty chilly. They had a couple of costumes, in fact a whole section given over to costuming the performers, and a tribute to Janet Arnold. For a souvenir, I got a hanging pomander and some postcards.

We grabbed lunch at a pub and then toured the Golden Hinde; the ticket/gift shop was given over almost entirely to pirate souvenirs - even a reversible Pirate/Cowboy vest for the youngsters. That's handy. We then hopped on the Tube to hit the National Gallery - wow. Lots of great Italian paintings. They have several paintings of working-class women with the fruits and vegetables - the canvases are huge! The dead animals depicted in them are a bit creepy though. I loved seeing "Portrait of a Lady Inspired by Lucretia" by Lotto. I still can't figure out exactly what's up with that headdress. A bad wig? The colors were so bright on so many of these Renaissance works, either the pigments were amazing back then or they have been restored at some point.

We picked the National Gallery because they were open late Wednesday. When we left there, we could see Big Ben, just past Trafalgar Square. Then I really realized I was in London! I know that sounds kind of dumb; all I can chalk that up to is that BB is such a visual icon...also, with school I didn't have a chance to get all excited before the trip, so maybe that's why it took me a full day to get the impact of being in England.

We walked down to Parliament to get a closer look at BB, then headed back to the hotel. I think we ate Thai that night.
flummoxicated: (London calling)
(am loving the increased # of icons! I've been hoping for this for some time.)

I'm having a hard time readjusting to East Coast time after the trip. It would probably help if I would not go to bed at 9:30, but there it is.

So - Day 1. We decided to fly out of Jacksonville as it's much cheaper. We left in plenty of time; of course we didn't count on a huge traffic jam on the Interstate in the middle of the morning. While we were stuck in traffic, we got rearended by a lady in an older SUV who claimed that her brakes suddenly failed. If that were the case, why did she hit us hard enough to crumple the bumper in stopped traffic? I was really angry, as you can imagine; since [livejournal.com profile] shipbrook was driving anyway, I let him deal with her; what if we missed going to London because of a stupid fender-bender? Though I knew we had a few hours before the big flight left NYC. There was a DoT guy nearby who called the highway patrol...who eventually showed up, and gave her the ticket despite her claims of a vehicular malfunction (despite claiming to have no brakes, she drove away - interesting, no?). We wound up missing the flight to NYC. Since we had an accident report, they were able to reticket us, but we had to fly into Laguardia, not JFK where our London flight was taking off from. "Just take a cab," the ticket agent said. That seemed pretty intimidating, but we had no choice, so off we went to Laguardia.

Once in NYC, we noticed a shuttle bus service to JFK, so we opted for that. Fortunately we had plenty of time to make the London flight even with the delay. We flew Virgin Atlantic - very nice, they have a neat entertainment system for each seat with loads of movies and video games to choose from, but since it was an overnight flight, I opted to try and get some sleep. Those seats are pretty uncomfortable, however, and I don't think I got much rest that night.

The flight was surprisingly fast for the distance covered - under six hours, I think - and we arrived in London, checked in with immigration and claimed our luggage by around 9 am. We bought two passes for the Underground that would last the week, and boarded the Tube that would take us to our hotel. I am a suburban girl and have never lived in a city with decent mass transit, so I was extra impressed with the tube technology. It seemed like magic - get on a train and whoosh! you're in another part of the city. We did have a bit of a walk with our luggage, especially since we didn't exactly know where we were going. Eventually we found our hotel and were able to check in early. The room was small, certainly smaller than most American hotel rooms, but it had a decent view and was very clean. I longed for a nap, but [livejournal.com profile] shipbrook said that would be bad; instead, we showered and decided to start hitting the museums. First museum: The National Portrait Gallery. We did stop for lunch first. I think there are a bunch of chain pubs that look like the real deal. We kept winding up in them, but the beer and food there was quite good, much better than a chain here in the states (think Bennigans). Fish and chips, yum!

The portrait gallery was fab! The first painting confronting us was the huge portrait of Sir Thomas More and family. Unfortunately, there was a big group of school kids on a field trip in the Tudor room, so we had to skip ahead and then double back to see Elizabeth I. I especially enjoyed getting a close look at the Darnley portrait. They also happen to have a Shakespeare exhibition, for which we had to pony up a few pounds (the rest of the gallery was free). This display was worth it, lots of documents, paintings, and extant clothes from the era all in one room for me to enjoy. I was tired, and for this reason didn't find a lot to buy in the shops. We went back to our room, and I prevailed upon [livejournal.com profile] shipbrook to let us take a nap: after all, if it was rainy and we were tired and we were home, we would take a nap, right? After that, we went out to dinner. I think we ate at an Indian restaurant near the hotel, which was quite tasty, and we planned Day 2.

Home Again

Mar. 14th, 2006 10:39 am
flummoxicated: (London calling)
I'm back.
I had a WONDERFUL time; I met my quota of seeing at least one image of Elizabeth I each day.
Now I'm quite tired.
More details to follow.

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