As you can imagine, London is a BIG city. That means there is just so much to do and so little time. While I’m here, I would like to do all sorts of “tourist-y” thing there is, so last weekend, Jack and I decided to start with something basic – Buckingham Palace, St. Paul’s Cathedral, HARRY POTTER BRIDGE and Tate Modern Museum.
On Saturday (16 Jan) we woke up even before the sun came up – fine, exaggerated, but early enough – to get out to Buckingham Palace for the changing of the guards. So Robert, Jack and I simply hopped on the tube, which, by the way, is so fancy compared to the glorious T back in Boston, at around 10:45 a.m. We honestly thought the ceremony started at 11:30, but when we actually got there at around 11:10, we realized we were wrong. The new set of guards were already marching into the palace and starting the whole process.
So yes, we saw these people in funny furry hats and gray winter coats playing music, including a bit of Somewhere Over the Rainbow, marching around for about an hour and successfully switching their guard shifts. It took just about an hour, and I couldn’t believe how many people there were to see this. Despite the rain, many were gathered around. More importantly, the number of different languages I heard around me was even more impressive. London is indeed a very diverse city.
For more information – i.e. history, time, place etc. – check out their website: http://www.changing-the-guard.com/
After, we walked through St. James’ Park toward Westminster tube station. I have been saying over and over again London is a BIG city, but the truth is, once you get to one area of the city, within certain areas, it is definitely walkable. For example, from Westminster station, if you’re up for it, you can walk all the way to Tate Modern, located across the river from St. Paul’s Cathedral, and on your way over, you’ll see the Aquarium, Movieum, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and National Theatre Gallery.
BUT we actually decided to be lazy and utilize the great public transportation system. For a good reason though; it started pouring, and thankfully, the #11 Bus took us directly to St. Paul’s Cathedral. Upon our arrival, we did find out it would cost us 9 pounds (student rate) to see the inside of this magnificent church.
Our thought process was this: St. Paul’s Cathedral isn’t exactly going anywhere. In the meantime, we’ve already burnt through a good portion of our budget. Unfortunately, the dollar/pound exchange rate isn’t exactly in our favor. Therefore, if we have money left over at the end of the semester, we’ll come back for the interior tour. For now, skip!
We grabbed a quick lunch at a small place called Fresh Italy. (http://www.fresh-italy.com/aboutus.aspx). To our surprise, for only £5.50, we had a huge portion of pasta and a cup of tea. What a great deal!
Now, probably the most important question ever, do you recognize this bridge?
If you don’t, SHAME ON YOU! We are no longer friends.
Alright, just kidding. But seriously, this bridge’s formal name is Milenium Bridge. If you’re a Harry Potter lover like I am, you’ll know this as The Bridge That was in the Sixth Movie. Mmhmm, that’s more like it. After all, the deatheaters didn’t destroy it. Thank goodness. As you can see, on the north side of Thames is St. Paul’s Cathedral, so if you cross the bridge, you stand right in front of Tate Modern on the south side.
Tate is a modern art museum. The building used to be a warehouse. All museums in London are FREE. There you go, cool enough reasons for me to visit and learn about modern art. As a modern art museum, Tate houses contemporary paintings, sculptures, videos and any other form of art created by imaginative minds, such as Claude Monet, Anish Kapoor, Picasso and Mario Merz. Honestly, I am not an expert, so I can’t really tell you what their artworks are like. One thing I can say though is if you ever do go to the Tate and decide to see Paul McCarthy’s video, well, don’t. Semi-disturbing. Not sure what he was trying to say through a naked man dancing around with a mask on, but I didn’t really get it.
Besides those collections, the Tate does have special exhibits – and you do have to pay admission for those. When I went, Pop Life was the main attraction. Pop Life was a display of various works by Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons.
And I will let these articles do the review of the exhibit: http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2009/sep/29/pop-life-tate-pop-art AND http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/visual_arts/article6852784.ece
This is a fairly lengthy recap of my last Saturday. I know I still have so much to catch up on – pubs in South Kensington, Notting Hill Arts Club, Soho and Brick Lane.
More to come very very soon!