What a relief that the plane wasn’t full. I lucked out that my long flight from Houston to London was hardly filled. I had no one in the seat next to me or even in the 3 seats across the aisle from me and many rows were empty or only had a few people. I was able to stretch out on the seat next to me. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to sleep much. I was so touched that United actually got my Gluten Free meal request 🙂
I arrived at at 6:45am. Initially I had trouble adjusting to the time zone because it was still dark out. Looking out the window, I was amazed on how large the greater London area was. I could see lots of traffic snaking in glowing rivers along major roads and highways. So many people were clearly already out and about starting their day. The view from my window was a pulsing glowing web that I found mesmerizing.
Fortunately, the hotel I was staying at was accessible from one Tube line from Heathrow airport without changing lines. The hotel was also conveniently located about 1.5 blocks from Earl’s Court Tube Stop. I was reminded how much I like being in a city with a metro system and good public transportation! I sure wish that Tucson had a better system that connected the city better so we could easily get from our homes to other areas of town. I wonder if anything is happening with building a light rail from Tucson to Phoenix.
I knew that British English was different than American English but it was always fun to see where the differences were. This sign was one that made me smile. No exit signs here. It is the “way out”. Of course it makes sense but funny how when in Paris or Florence the signs say for example (French) “Sortie” and “Exit”. So “Way Out” seems to be idiosyncratic to the UK.
I really liked the exterior of the hotel. I knew that it had a “lift” aka elevator but wasn’t prepared for the four long stairs up to the entrance. I certainly got a good workout lugging my luggage up to the door and into the lobby. Unfortunately, I couldn’t check in until 2pm and it wasn’t even 9am when I arrived. I stored my luggage, went down to the breakfast room to get water (also scored some continental breakfast), and then headed out to explore London on my own. Valerie didn’t arrive until Friday Jan. 16.
Earl’s Court is a bustling, lively street full of restaurants, pubs, shops, and grocery stores. Great little place to pick up prepackaged salads, fruits, and groceries was just up on the corner from the hotel. Scored some great snacks from Marks & Spence Simple Foods.
The Earl’s Court Tube stop was conveniently located on a connection of 3 lines so we could get pretty much everywhere we wanted without having to change lines. We were only short Tube rides to major destinations. I opted to head to the Tate Modern museum for my afternoon along exploring London.
One of the best parts of taking the Tube and walking everywhere was the little discoveries along the way like this unexpected garden on my way from the Mansion House Tube stop to Millennium Bridge.
The Millennium Bridge crosses the Thames River between St. Paul’s Church and the Tate Museum. The dome of St. Paul’s can be seen in the distance. This walking bridge built on the occasion of the year 2000 is a frequently used pedestrian bridge across the Thames. I saw many joggers and parents pushing “prams” aka strollers on the bridge. It also offers wonderful views of Tower Bridge, downtown London, and the Thames.
I thought of Ruth Davey and 44 Scotland Street when I saw this guy in the Tate wearing what looked like raspberry dungarees. I imagined that it was Bertie all grownup and visiting the Tate Modern with some friends free of the hovering of his helicopter overbearing mother, Irene. Unfortunately, he had to admit that as he grew older that he did actually like raspberry dungarees but he would never let Irene know that. He never did overcome the urge to express his inner thoughts in Italian on public bathroom walls. Some commentary is just necessary his rationalizes…
On a more aesthetic note, I liked these two pieces. Barbara Hepworth wood sculpture that I liked (thanks to Missy Gaido Allen for remembering the artist). I found this Kandinsky compelling and certainly a piece that demonstrates ideas he worked out in Concerning the Spiritual in Art.
Thought of Missy Gaido Allen when I saw this Donald Judd piece in the Tate Modern. A grad school friend of mine, she wrote her dissertation on Donald Judd. Hope she had a good stay with her family in Stockholm this last 6 months.
I finished off my day with dinner at Masala Zone in Earl’s Court London. It specialized in Thali which is similar to what people eat in their homes in India–a number of small dishes including a main, a dahl, 2 veggies, raita, chutney, and roti. The interior of the restaurant kept me entertained. There were interesting murals on most of the walls. I decided to make an early night of my first day knowing that Valerie and I were going to take on lots of museums and monuments when she arrived the next day.