Saturday, January 03, 2009

Friday (London)...

Took an early morning stroll through nearby Berkley Square Park, bordered by beautiful row houses. Gray skies showed the promise of breaking sometime during the day. Breakfast at Starbucks...a grande latte cuts right through the cold morning.

A short taxi ride to majestic St. Paul's Cathedral. Christopher Wren's masterpiece is bright and (somehwhat) contrast with many of the grand Catholic cathedrals we have visited...those tend to reflect a more weighty, somber elegance. Snuck in a couple of forbidden photos of the ornate interior, before descending into the stuffy crypt...home to many famous remains including Florence Nightengale and Admiral Lord Nelson. Climbed winding stairs up into Wren's famous dome. First to the interior Whispering Gallery high above the cathedral floor. Then up tiny confining stairs to the exterior Stone Gallery, with 360 views of London.

Returned to Earth and crossed the Thames on the modern Millennium Bridge...its gleaming metal shone as the clouds began to break for dusk. (FYI sunset is quite early this time of it was at 3:52.)

Directly opposite of St. Paul's was our next destination...the Tate Modern museum. An imposing, brick former power plant...reclaimed to house a world-famous collection of modern art. The building was packed with art-lovers...and we headed to the glass-enclosed top floor to eat lunch. As we waited for our table, the clouds parted and St. Pauls lit up brilliantly against the gray skies behind. An inspiring postcard. Lunch with floor-to-ceiling views of the Thames. Four blackcurrant iced teas. Four big fish and chips. Four huge satisfied smiles.

Bought tickets to see a special Rothko exhibit, covering some of his late works. Crowded rooms for admiring huge on on black...grey on brown. Striking similarity from afar, but mesmerizing variations up close.

Took a long walk back to the hotel along the south bank of the Thames. Lights from buldings and boats twinkled on the gently rippling river.
Walked beneath the towering London Eye, lit up in white and blue. A nearby carrousel twirled as well...but in rich red and gold. Crossed the Thames beneath the tower of Westminster and iconic Big Ben.

Took a winding walk through St. James Park, which lead to Buckingham Palace. The park's serpentine path was bordered with old trees, lit from below. A long, central lake housed ghostly-lit waterfoul floating for the evening. Another glimpse of Buckingham Palace before crossing through Green Park to our hotel.

Dinner at the Club Bar and Restarant in Soho. Drinks after in the pulsing simply named Soho Bar.

Tired feet from a long day. Fell asleep watching a documentary on Harrod's. My favorite factoid, was that writer A.A.Milne bought a bear at Harrod's for his son Christopher Robin which became the inspiration for Winnie the Pooh.

Oh Pooh. That makes me smile.

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