London-England

The flight from Edinburgh to London took less time than the shuttle ride from Gatwick airport to the hotel in downtown London. I had arrived at the airport expecting to see a driver with a sign with my name on it but after 45 minutes I started looking at alternate transportation. He showed up just before I purchased a ticket for the train. Beck was waiting at the hotel and it was so nice to see her after nearly three weeks. We spent the week exploring the city, my first time in London and Beck’s second. Our first excursion was to the Tate Museum which was very enjoyable (favorite artists were: Reg Butler’s small wire sculptures, Lucien Freud’s painting of a young woman holding a cat with bulging eyes, Jacob Epstein’s alabaster sculpture and a Wilkie Collins’s piece). We visited the grand old store of Fortnum & Mason and the Photography Museum which I wasn’t that impressed with. The Courtauld Gallery was amazing with Manet’s famous painting “The Bar at the Foiles Berger” and Degas “Dancers on Stage” Adjacent to the gallery was an event center which was holding London Fashion Week which provided some interesting people watching. We were able to get in line one morning quite early before the crowds for Westminster Abbey and later enjoy a wind quartet concert at St. Martins in the Fields. We followed the concert with a trip to the National Gallery to see Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” and “Wheatfield with Cyprus”, Manet’s “Bathers at La Grenouillere” and Degas’s “Woman Drying”. We also took one of the cheesy on/off ¬†double decker busses that provided transportation to St. Peters cathedral and across the river to the Tate Modern Museum. On two evenings we enjoyed theatre attending the play “Much Ado about Nothing” at the Old Vic starring Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones and “Macbeth” at the Old Globe. Both performances were amazing. I was able to find a few good pubs with The Lamb and Flag and The Ole Cheshire Cheese being the most authentic. Two favorite restaurants were the quaint “Tiles” and the high end Indian restaurant ¬†“Cinnamons” (where we splurged for Beck birthday dinner). Our last day was spent walking through the parks. We strolled Hyde park and rented a rowboat for a romantic couple of hours on the water on a sunny day, a rather perfect end to my first visit to London. Journal: “London is full of historical gems that are hidden away to be sought out by a visitor. Besides the well known tourist sites there are quaint Pubs that have been places of business since the mid 1600’s, beautiful parks, amazing theatre and is an easy walking city. The amount of 20th century art in the museums is fantastic. It’s not romantic like Paris but without the language barrier an easy city to visit. Last year was Paris for Beck’s birthday, this year we celebrate in London. Each year as a survivor, each birthday, affirms the thankfulness of life and living well.”