Believe it or not, I did do things in London other than eat. I went to most of the city’s big museums — starting with a duck inside the British Museum for an hour before closing time on Thursday to glimpse the Elgin Marbles and the Rosetta Stone, and finishing with several hours at the National Gallery, during which I am convinced I saw every room. I took the obligatory Big Ben and Parliament photos. I walked through the Kensington Palace grounds and the perimeter of Buckingham Palace. So here are some final images from last week’s trip.
On Friday, I found the row (or just a row?) of colorful houses that feature prominently in Notting Hill, the movie, and actually exist in Notting Hill, the neighborhood. I walked the entire way down (up?) Portobello Road, stopping of course for a cupcake at Hummingbird Bakery and to examine the kitschy knick-knack antique stores.
Then I walked down through the Kensington Gardens (and glimpsed the palace through the iron wrought fence). Families, cyclists, grandparents resting on the park benches — everyone seemed to have started the weekend early. I walked on to the V&A and the Natural History Museum.
I hadn’t planned on the Natural History Museum. I had quite enough on my hands with the art museums. But when I popped into a friend’s boyfriend’s gallery, near Notting Hill, he said I should absolutely make time for it; that it was perhaps better than the American Museum of Natural History in New York. This was enough to persuade me, and I was immediately rewarded with this dinosaur in the entry hall.
After walking through Borough Market on Saturday, Clara and I spent a food-coma hour at the Tate Modern. It was definitely not enough time — but frankly, we couldn’t have managed more. We were cold and weighed down with blocks of cheese and bottles of vinegar. It was enough to take some photos of inside, stream by Ai Weiwei, and return home for an immediate nap.
On Sunday, I went to the National Gallery on Trafalgar Square and got lost in its labyrinthine maze of galleries for several hours. Well, lost on purpose. It was a wonderful way to pass an unseasonably cold afternoon. Afterward, armed with gloves and a camera, I walked down to the Thames and wound my way towards Parliament, past the London Eye, as the sun set and nighttime lights clicked on.
The Westminster Bridge was packed. Don’t let this photo deceive you. Tourists, photographers setting up long exposure shots, what I shall charitably call “magicians” doing tricks with coins and cups, even a man with a bagpipe. But it was very pretty.
And finally, because it’s just A Thing One Does, I walked to Buckingham Palace on Monday morning before catching the Tube to Heathrow Airport. None of the things there were open — the stables, the queen’s gallery, the palace tour — when I arrived, and I had to leave at eleven o’clock, but I was still happy to check this final London activity off my list.