Another Solo Adventure

London Travel Blog

 › entry 21 of 38 › view all entries
The National Gallery from the side
Zach asked me if I would please leave my room today after hiding in here and being mopey.

I went to the National Gallery by recommendation, and was very, very pleased. They had an AWESOME temporary exhibit called, "Manet to Picasso," and I was stupid and giddy about it. Thanks to growing up around my mother, who's a big fan of French Impressionism, I had a good knowledge of who I was looking at. They had a handful of Manet, Cezanne, Degas, Pisarro, Seraut, etc... they had one Picasso (not as cool as the Tate, in that regard)... that guy is following me around... The highlights for me were the room of Monet and the room of Van Gough. I really love Monet, so seeing any of his work is always exciting for me, and they had "Bathers at La Grenouillère," and some of his water lilly work, AND one of his really early works that was really detailed, which was very interesting.
From the front, by Trafalgar
.. but the best was that they had "Le Pont Japonais à Giverny," which I've had a print of on my wall for some time. It was so, so, so neat to see it close up. The way he played with light in the picture was much more apparent in the real version. The Van Gough was really, really great because they had some really famous pieces in there, including that one of the chair, the one with the cypress trees, and one of his super famous sunflower paintings. Van Gough in real life is way more awesome than the prints as well, because his paintings are practically three-dimensional the way he layers the paint. I was so inspired by "Sunflowers," and the little placard by it that talked about how he believed that yellow was a symbol of friendship and happiness, and how he put that painting in his guest room for his friends, that I bought an over-priced postcard of it to add to my wall of art reproductions.
The infamous Trafalgar Square pigeons
... Man, I am such a nerd. The rest of the museum was neat I guess, but didn't interest me as much. Lots of way older paintings. I mostly walked around to see the rooms themselves, since it's a really neat old building, and so listen to all the people try to impress each other about knowledge of the paintings. I did accidentally come across two piecces by Da Vinci, which was very exciting. He was crazy good at what he did.

After deciding to leave the museum I just wandered for a long time... wandered around Trafalger Square, walked to Charing Cross, then down towards the Embankment, still on a quest to find a nice pair of boots, and then it started raining like CRAZY. I had a rain jacket, but it wasn't enough... Fortunately I had just walked into some of the Victoria Embankment Gardens and had sat on a bench to more discreetly look at a map of where I was, but then I had to stay there, underneath a friendly tree, hoping the stupid random rain would stop.
The pigeons like this guy, I guess
It didn't, so I just ran over to the tube and got in. Geez.

Then I went to what I believe is the southern part of Westminster, because I had decided to go to Westminster Cathedral for Saturday evening mass. Yes, I know Westminster Abbey is more famous, but I was trying to find somewhere that was Catholic-friendly, and this was the most well-reputed place I'd read about. I found it after a little confusion, with about half an hour to spare before 6:00 mass. I took some time to walk around the building. MAN oh man was it fantastic... I cried, but I always cry, so it wasn't a surprise. I especially when I go into beautiful old churches. And it was definitely big AND beautiful. The ceiling was really, really high, and they had all these mosaics and marble.
I'm trying to capture how depressing the sky is...
I lit a candle and sat down for mass. The choir was INCREDIBLE. It was nice too, because like my grandma says, mass is the same all over the world. And it's pretty much true. I was so excited, because I've never been to mass in an old church like that.

Afterwards I thought I should do something else cool before I went home, so I thought I might check out that legit-looking Mexican food place by Covent Garden. Unfortunately it was a half hour wait to sit down, and I wasn't about to hang out in the dark alley for that long by myself. So I just walked around trying to look for some other distraction. Covent Garden is INSANE at night! INSANE! It's like a big party in the street. It's weird, because where when I was growing up, Saturday night meant probably going over to a friend's house and watching a movie.
RAIN
Here, Saturday night seems to mean dressing up, and going into the city, and drinking in the street with a bajillion other people. So bizzare. What a different lifestyle. I bought a really expensive hot chocolate and people-watched for a while. On my way out I heard someone playing "Hotel California" and got a little homesick. As it turns out, there were people playing music on every street corner. I found another guy playing "Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone" in the middle of the street, and a handful of people were dancing around him. I stood by them for a while, and sang along. That was good fun. They were all having such a good time, I felt like I had to stand by them and soak it up. Then I started to feel dumb, because I was by myself, and I felt awkward about it, so I got on the tube and went home.
Some more rain


Doing things by yourself is really a challenge. I know it's something I'm supposed to learn how to enjoy, and sometimes I do, but most often I find myself wishing that there were people that I care about there to enjoy it with me.

P.S. Someone should write a book about the codes of behavior on the tube. It's absolutely fascinating.
sdbleve says:
I tell my kids that life is what happens to you when you already had other plans. It sounds like you are trying to embrace the opportunity you have, keep yourself busy and the home sickness will pass.

Something that I found interesting (and free) was going down to Speaker's Corner in Hyde Park on a Sunday afternoon. Very interesting to listen to the rubbish that some people seem to believe in. The time I spent there was very enlightening, if not some what frustrating (I am older than you, and a patriotic American that has no problem voicing my opinions). I think everybody should experience the British Historical version of free speech. (Soap boxes included).

And here are a couple of web sites you might find interesting:

1. http://www.underground-history.co.uk/front.php

2. http://solo2.abac.com/themole/tuberules.html
Posted on: Oct 23, 2006
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
The National Gallery from the side
The National Gallery from the side
From the front, by Trafalgar
From the front, by Trafalgar
The infamous Trafalgar Square pige…
The infamous Trafalgar Square pig…
The pigeons like this guy, I guess
The pigeons like this guy, I guess
Im trying to capture how depressi…
I'm trying to capture how depress…
RAIN
RAIN
Some more rain
Some more rain
Westminster Cathedral
Westminster Cathedral
The cathedral again
The cathedral again
Blurry shots of the inside of the …
Blurry shots of the inside of the…
More beautiful church-ness
More beautiful church-ness
People dancing with the guy playin…
People dancing with the guy playi…
London
photo by: ulysses