We are now almost at the end of our trip to London, let me share with you the last few days, places we visited, faces we saw, and artwork we enjoyed. Although I will have one separate post about the art we saw during this visit, you will see a few samples in this post, starting with St. Paul’s Cathedral.
On September 24 Jan and I decided to visit St. Paul’s, Binnaz and Ergun decided to stay home and rest. Our taxi brought us to the door of the great cathedral and we entered after paying senior admission rates (membership has its privileges!) The space inside was truly immense yet amazingly unified. There was no picture-taking inside, so you will have to take our word for it that it is a remarkable and remarkably well-preserved building. We stepped outside to a portico on the side of the church looking towards Tate Modern on the other side of Thames. I would not dare climbing to the observation areas in the dome, it was even too much for Jan to consider. We walked around, then walked downstairs to the crypt. There, I rested on a bench and Jan wandered around. Then we had to find a staff person to let us in the elevator reserved for people with special needs.
Outside the cathedral, the plaza was quite crowded and we proceeded to walk towards Tate Modern. As we crossed the street, I noticed a building with a sign next to its door. It was a brass plate with its name engraved on it. There was nothing remarkable about the name plate, but not having a single fingerprint, an area that is tarnished or darkened, in truly pristine condition was a prime example of how Londoners take care of their city: one plaque at a time! This kind of attention to detail, this much pride in their environment is nothing short of remarkable. I wished I could see that here in the US and in Turkey. Alas!
The walk from St. Paul’s to Tate Modern was pleasant and we stopped often to look around, take photographs, and just take it easy. Last time I was at Tate Modern I was impressed by the size of the building, this time my feeling was confirmed. It is immense, yet I heard they are building some sort of expansion. We enjoyed a few exhibits, then stopped for lunch at the cafeteria on the first floor. I liked the soda I had: Fenteman’s Curiosity Cola. Even the name was cool. I have recently found out that I could buy it here in RI and they have different kinds of drinks in addition to the Curiosity Cola. One of these days, we’ll go to the store that carries it and get some.
After lunch we took a taxi back to Phoenix House and rested before going out for dinner at The Rules, another very old restaurant. The Rules was not too far from the Covent Garden Market on a side street. Established in 1798 by Thomas Rule & Sons, it has been in operation at the same place. The interior reflected the longevity and tradition, the ambiance was quite nice although the food was “not bad”! I only had my phone with me, so the photographs from The Rules are below par.
The next day we visited Somerset House, Courtauld Gallery, then had dinner at Bibendum. At Somerset House the first stop was Tom’s Kitchen (I think that was the name of the small cafeteria) for lunch. Then we saw a very interesting photography exhibit by Miles Aldridge. His signature style is very strong color and vulnerable women in meticulously structured photographic compositions. The colors were not false colors or grossly over saturated in post production, but they were designed and lit for that outcome. Upon my return I managed to find a copy of his book in the used books section on Amazon, not for everyone’s cup of tea but I enjoyed studying them. In the exhibit hall they did not permit photography but you will see a few examples that I photographed in the lobby.
Crossing a large courtyard, we arrived at The Courtauld Gallery which housed a fine collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art. Photography was permitted and I took quite a few photographs of the art work but I will spare them for a separate post. After a very enjoyable visit to Somerset House and The Courtauld Gallery we returned to our pad, rested before dinner at Bibendum Restaurant.
Nunc Est Bibendum: Now is the time to drink was the slogan of Michelin Tyres. I did not know that the Michelin Man is actually called Bibendum, and I also learned that he drank road hazards filled in a glass for a safe trip. You will see him in a few photographs here and another set coming up as the final installment of our travelog.
The dinner was quite good. Jan and I decided that we would not leave London without having fish-and-chips and had a similar dish, very tasty. The wait staff were mostly talking among themselves in French, later I found out that they were from Northern Morocco. Our waiter, Nabil Sid was quite impressed with my camera as he too was a Canon user. The restaurant manager, Karim Miftah joined in the camera conversation for a while as we waited for our food (I learned his name from their Web site). The service was excellent, so was the food. We enjoyed Bibendum Restaurant and on the morning of our departure we visited the place in daylight in mid morning.
Here are the photographs from the two interesting days.