Tuesday, July 29, 2008

all around the town

Today was a visit to the Victoria & Albert Museum, which contains one of the world's widest collections of art and design, ranging from early Christian devotional objects to cutting-edge furniture design. And if you think I stole that description straight out of my DK Eyewitness Travel London book, you are absolutely right! I like the V&A (if you are local, you can totally just call it the V&A) even though I wandered most of it alone. It was my own fault, I sent the group on and stopped for a sandwich, thinking I'd find them all eventually in the museum. Except for one thing! The museum has a 7 mile layout, spread out over six floors. (Thanks again, DK Eyewitness! wink!) So I wandered alone, but was OK with that. Incidentally, have you noticed how many of my stories lately hinge on me stopping and having a sandwich?

After you go to so many museums your eyes glaze over a little. You recognize that the millions of things you are seeing are in some way historical, and in many ways important, but your brain gives up. That doesn't mean that nothing pops, though. I have fond recollections of looking at:

The type-sets and lithographs of Thomas A. Clarke

The Miraculous Draft of Fishes, an enormous cartoon by Raphael. (Not a funny cartoon.)

White, a printed linen by Maromme

They were also having a Supremes exhibition, which I opted not to go to. It cost money, and from what I could see it was a lot of flip-wigs and sparkly outfits. And my budget's just too tight for sparkly outfits. I can feel your disappointment from here.

So a few days ago I had this great idea to try a London derby. I told Alex about it, and he got really excited, as I had hoped. A London derby, which is basically a dumb name I made up so as not to say "photo scavenger hunt," involves 3 groups, 4 locations, and a time limit. Everybody was really great about trying it and, as we had no play scheduled tonight and the weather was fantastic, tonight seemed the best night for it. We chose the group names out of a cup, and then each team leader chose four random London locations out of a cup as well. We were supposed to hit all four locations and be back in Trafalgar Square in 2 1/2 hours. It was very Amazing Race. Also, you had to take a picture of the whole group at each location as proof. And there were bonus points if you had a picture with a church, a pub, an art gallery, a theatre, a street performer, smashed into a red phone booth, and in a garden.

My team was Joe, Anna, and Alta, and needless to say we totally won. Like, 30 minutes ahead of everyone. Which is bragging, but if you don't like it you can go read another dumb blog. And just so you know, I had never been to any of the four places we picked. So I learned a lot. Here are some of our shots:

Extra point (pub) - The Zetland Arms, our local pub.

Extra point (church) -St. Stephen's in the East End.

Destination 1: The Royal Exchange.

Extra point (statue) - some guy on a horse.

Destination 2: The Temple of Mithras. It's 2000 years old! It's Roman. Basically just the foundation left - they found it when a bomb dropped on the site during WWII. We found it by looking behind a giant green construction wall.

Extra point (squished in a red phone booth)

We did this derby during rush hour. Anna and I couldn't get on the tube - it was so jammed with commuters. These are our sad faces as we saw Joe and Alta take off without us.

Extra point (buskers or street performers) I love this picture.

Destination 3 - The FDR Statue at Grosvenor Square.

Destination 4 - The Cabinet War Rooms and the Churchill Museum

Extra point (garden) St. James garden, which is fantastic.

Extra point: (theatre) - Trafalgar Studios.

Extra point (art gallery) - The National Gallery. You can't see it, but it's there.

Once all the teams arrived, we climbed the lions and took some potentially hazardous, but ultimately satisfying pictures.

We spent the rest of the evening listening to each others' travel stories in St. James park.