Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Free Art (London Trip #2)

Last Saturday we went to London for a day trip, the plan was to go visit some museums that have free admission.  Hit up the National Gallery, find some lunch (not free...), then swing by Tate Modern.   Deep down, I wanted to get some sort of art head rush by looking at the old oil paintings in the National Gallery and then shock the system with some new age modern exhibits.  Like how one might jump from a hot tub to an ice bath to stimulate blood flow to tired and aching muscles; I was hoping this would be refreshing for my creative side, or something.  Of course I didn't tell Kerry any of this.

Since the last trip to London I asked a lot of friends and coworkers for advice on proper travel to get there.  We settled on driving to the Highgate underground tube station (Northern Line) in Zone 3.  It has the triple advantage of being close to the M1, cheap parking, and proximity to the city (lower tube fare).  In fact, it is the last exit before you hit the congestion charging zone.  I'll admit I was feeling pretty savvy about this plan.

There were a few minor hiccups. First of all, we took to long too long to leave in the morning.  I was enjoying some eggs and coffee and realized it was nearly 9 am, and we have a 2 hour drive ahead of us.  Secondly, I had no exact change.  Gah!  This gets me every time.  Those parking pay stations require exact change in coins, and they don't accept 1, 2, or 5p.  I stopped for some [more] coffee at what I would call a truck stop, but it has a different name here, only to get change that was not exact.  I believe my total in parking overpayment is 4 pounds  so far.  Sting!  That's a pint's worth.  I promised not to gripe about it anymore, so I appreciate this public outlet.

Since we had a late start, and because a section of the underground was closed, we got to the National Gallery at Trafalgar Square around 11:30, so 2.5 hours doorstep to doorstep.  Funny, because back in Indianapolis I was constantly correcting people who thought I was moving to London.  Yep, and you all live in Chicago!

So we decided to eat first at our favorite British chain restaurant we've found so far:  Wagamama.  We kept the tradition of being the only patrons in the restaurant with a very American 11:30 lunch.

Wagamama cafeteria-style seating

Of course you can't take pictures of National Gallery art; we saw quite a few people get scolded.  There were some great paintings, though.  We agreed that our favorite collection was the impressionist style.  I can just imagine an an artist conversation from the 16th century:  "Oh, you call this 'Virgin with Child'?  That's so 1553..."

Reminiscing about my favorite NG art
We walked through Piccadilly Circus and hopped on a train to the Borough Market at the London Bridge.

Who cares about oil paintings when these places exist?
I'll admit to being a bit of a foodie, and honestly the "art" on display in these markets win over half the paintings I saw earlier.

 Roughly $5000 worth of Parmigiano Reggiano (by my guess)... Stunning

A very artistic meringue treat

So we figured it out - for us, food is art.  It beats most of the BS in the Tate Modern.  No offense, but to say this was not a letdown would be a lie.  The giveaway?  They allow pictures.

Flooring art - I swear I saw this at the home improvement store.

I wish I could say more positive things about the art here but I can't.  The redeeming quality is the building itself - a renovated power station.  Very cool, spacious design.  We walked to the top for a nice view of London along the south bank.

I don't think I gave Kerry enough warning on this one
Before we headed home, I found one last bit of free art, the party hat building!

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