Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Day 10: Tower of London, Museum of London, Roman wall

We really enjoyed touring the Tower of London. At the Tube stop next to it, there's a remnant of a Roman postern gate and a piece of the Roman wall.

Postern gate ruin:

Portion of the old Roman wall. This is up the stairs from the Tube stop and to the right.

It's pretty tall.

The Tower of London is a large complex. One of the buildings has a display of armor that used to be shown on horse statues to inspire patriotism. King Henry the XVIII's armor is eye popping. Nobody needs a codpiece THAT big.

Faces of nobility that used to be displayed in full armor on the horses.

The chopping block.

Climbing the narrow stairs in one of the many towers in the complex.

Costumed guide.

View of Tower Bridge from inside the Tower of London complex.

Inside the tower complex.

Prisoner graffiti carved in to the wall of the prison tower.

We walked the wall around the complex and climbed several towers.

After lunch at the Minories pub, where Mitch made a friend, we headed to the Museum of London to see the Sherlock Holmes exhibit.

The Museum of London is a wonderful museum, oddly located right in the middle of a traffic roundabout. Took  a few minutes to figure out how to get to it, since you can only enter from a second story bridge. I wish we'd had more time inside, it closed before I was finished the Sherlock exhibit, and the museum has much more about the history of the city. I hope to return.

Very near the museum is a Roman bastion ruin, some wall and an old hermitage on a pond.

Our last pub in London was The Cockpit. Formerly a cockfighting den, it was once owned by Shakespeare.

Goodbye, London! Hope to see you again.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Day 9 cont'd: River bus, Tate Britain & The Ripper

After visiting Tate Modern museum, we took a water bus to Tate Britain museum. It was easy to do and fun. The pier with a ticket booth is very near Tate Modern, and our travel Oyster cards (good for Tube and bus) got us a discount. The boat was comfortable. Some of the boats even had bars in them with food and drink, I saw someone drinking a bottle of beer on a different boat. I doubt you'd see glass bottles of beer being handed over on a U.S. boat.

Views from the boat. I was surprised at the strength of the current and the swells on the Thames. It's a tidal river.

First order of business, a very late lunch at The White Swan. There should be a word for meals at 3 or 4 o'clock. We missed lunch every day.

We didn't have much time left to tour Tate Britian. So I went straight to the works that I've admired since childhood.

The Lady of Shalott by Waterhouse.

Ophelia by Sir John Everett Millais.

Then I kicked up my speed and had time to find this room of sculpture by Henry Moore before getting kicked out of the museum.

We got on the Tube and made our way to the Tube stop where we would meet the retired police officer and author who does an amazing Jack the Ripper Tour. Recommended! Yes, it's a touristy thing to do. But this guy is GOOD. His name is Donald Rumbelow.  He starts the tour here, in front of a piece of the old London wall that surrounded The City. The tour lasted two hours and it was very cold. But he told it so well, it didn't matter. Five stars.

After the tour, we got back on the Tube and thankfully were able to find a very late birthday dinner at an Italian restaurant. Although they did kick us out before we could have dessert. Thing to know: it costs 30 pence to use the restroom in the train station.

Wonderful vegetarian antipasti plate.

No birthday dessert for me, but it was a wonderful day. 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Day 9: Mudlarking & Tate Modern

I'm blogging this day in two parts, because I'm posting so many art photos.

It was my birthday and we had a great day!

It started off with a walk to the Thames to see the Tate Modern museum. The tide was out and I saw a lot of people down on the exposed beach. I knew what they were doing...mudlarking! I'd wanted to do it but had read you need shoes that can get muddy (or boots) and I wasn't going to haul those to Europe. But this stretch of beach was sandy, so down I went. I was looking for remnants of clay  pipes. Londoners used to buy disposable, pre-packed pipes and would throw them in the river. They still wash up today. You can read more about it here: Mudlarking in London.

We quickly found six pipe stems and some pottery. Lucky! There were lots of people out there, but I chose an empty stretch.

Personally, I think London is kind of grey, ugly and depressing. Maybe it's different at different times of year. This is the pedestrian Millennium Bridge. Skyline still full of cranes, just like photos you see from long ago.

We enjoyed the Tate Modern museum. Granted, it's not everyone's taste. I mean, are these two pieces of metal "art"?

Even their audioguide had a cartoon presentation that asked, "Is it art?" about these red paintings. What do you think? They were on all four walls of this large room.

Seriously. This is a white paper cutout pasted to the museum wall.

I like this kind of stuff, though! Robert Delaunay.

And Kadinsky. Love Kadinsky.

Fernand Leger...

Georges Braque, "Clarinet and Bottle of Rum on a Mantelpiece."

Picasso, "Head of a Woman (Fernande)".

My husband claims he likes this grey panel. That's all it is. A grey panel. Another museum we were in had a black one. Okaaaay...

Matisse, "Reclining Nude".

Picasso, "Nude Woman with Necklace". 

I'll blog the second half of the day tomorrow. We rode a boat down the Thames to Tate Britain where we saw masterpieces I have loved since childhood, and took a Jack the Ripper walking tour with a retired policeman.