Saturday, January 03, 2009

Saturday (London)...

The sun was shining brightly on our final day in London....although the high latitude of London means the sun starts low and ends low...resulting in dramatic lighting all through the short day. Jeff and I started the day at the Victoria and Albert Museum with a temporary exhibit that Jeff had been hoping to see...Magnificence of the Tsars. Dozens of outfits from the Russian Imperial Court... mostly ceremonial... all lushiously tailored. Even a couple of pairs of imperial underwear. Afterwards, we wandered through a few of the numerous permanent collections, including a famous collection of plaster replicas of art wonders from around the world...assembled to bring the world to London's residents.

After a mid-morning latte, met up with Chris and Sherie to walk down Bond Street. Destination...Smythson... the renowned stationery store and purveyor to the royal household. A historical stationery display showed letterhead of royalty and famous politicians.

Next stop was the historic Aspley House...home to generations of the Dukes of Wellington. This stately house sits right off of Hyde Park, and holds an impressive art collection acquired by the 1st Duke of Wellingtion, Arthur Wellesley, famous for his defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo. Many items in the home were gifts from grateful monarchs and spoils of war. One strange item of note was a giant Canova statue of a nude Napoleon wearing only a fig leaf in the circular stair hall. Oddly enough, the statue was a present from a grateful Britain to it's illustrious general.

Took a walk along Green Park...quickly past a loud mob protesting the Israeli actions in Gaza...on to a couple of tacky souvenier shops on Piccadilly. A quick snack of sushi and noodles. Jeff and I took a short walk to St. James Palace before heading out for the evening.

Our evening event was the musical Billy Elliot at the charming Victoria Palace Theatre. A classic three-tier theatre with bright red velvet seats and gold-painted wood ornamentation. The musical based on the award-winning book and movie... lively and moving... we all enjoyed it immensely. The teenager who played Billy was wonderful.

Dinner in Soho at Bertorelli. We all savored pizzas, wine, and yummy mojitos for our last dinner in London.
After wishing Jeff's sister Lisa a happy birthday and instantly getting a picture of her traditional banana split cake, we settled down to our last night of slumber in London before our flight home tomorrow.

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