Another day has passed on this, my latest London adventure. And after going to bed early the first night, I went to bed far too late last night, hence why this post didn’t happen yesterday. But the day was nice and sunny, I got to do a fair bit of walking around, I visited a new-to-me place, saw a great show, and caught up with friends. A fun day, to be sure!
The day started with a nice breakfast at the hotel and writing yesterday’s post, but with no specific plans other than to see my friends’ show in the evening. Naturally, I had to take advantage of the continued sunny weather (not continuing today, sadly) by doing some walking around. Being in such a central location, it was so easy to head towards Big Ben and Embankment, so that’s what I did. The sun was shining, but the weather was a bit breezier, so it felt cooler than the previous day. Still, one must take advantage of any sunny day in London, right? As I was walking off my breakfast and thinking about where to go, I started thinking back to the recent conversations I’d had with a few friends about what to do while I was here and the Victoria & Albert Museum popped into my head. In all the times I’ve come to London, I’ve never been to the V&A, but I’ve always heard great things about it, though to be fair, I wasn’t even familiar with what kind of collection(s) they have. According to their website, the V&A’s collections “span over 5,000 years of human creativity in virtually every medium, housed in one of the finest groups of Victorian and modern buildings in Britain.” So if that doesn’t inspire someone to go, I don’t know what does. 🙂
If you’ve read my blog before, you know that visiting museums isn’t unusual for me, but I’m not exactly an art critic. Hence, my museum wanderings tend to be exactly that – wanderings. I find it interesting though, just moving from space to space inside a museum and stopping to look at what intrigues me (museums like the Louvre are an exception, where the sheer volume of material means a surgical strike to hit the edited highlights works best for me). It’s really easy to get to the V&A via the Tube from St. James’s Park – just take the Circle & District to South Kensington and follow the signs in the station, which will lead you down a windy tunnel directly into the museum without even having to step inside. Brilliant! And there is a LOT to see here, both in the permanent collections and in the temporary exhibitions, so plan your time accordingly, based on what you’re interested in and how much time you have (note – admission is free, though they encourage a donation of at least £5, which I happily gave). I spent about 1.5-2 hours wandering around, and that was without going into any of the separate exhibitions (which charge their own fees). Check out my pictures below (including the ones I took on my post-breakfast walk), but note that I have zero insight into any of the pieces of art or their creators – I just took pictures of the things that caught my eye.
Methodist Central Hall is just across from Westminster Abbey.
I love how Parliament Square looks in the sun!
Yep, Big Ben is well and truly covered.
Love the way the sun is shining in this one!
Always fun to check out the Eye.
Nice to see green grass in January. We don’t get that at home!
Passing by Somerset House.
Ah, now I’ve arrived at the V&A!
This Buddha is amazing, isn’t it?
I assume this was taken from an altar somewhere.
This was gorgeous! At first I thought it was carved from ivory, but it’s actually porcelain.
This fireplace was in the Middle East section of the museum.
This is the V&A Rotunda Chandelier by Chihuly. Really gorgeous!
This small group was rehearsing for an opera performance that was happening later in the evening.
Lots of neat jewelry in their collection!
This may be my favorite picture of the day. Just the way the light hit this piece – it sparkled!
This fancy-looking instrument is a claviorgan.
My afternoon in the V&A was a good one! I’d definitely recommend a visit if you get the chance the next time you’re in London. Post-museum, I found myself swinging by the Earl’s Court police box to take a selfie (it’s kind of a requirement) before grabbing a sandwich for a light lunch before heading back to the hotel for a little while. It was getting into the late afternoon by that point, so I caught the tube back towards Trafalgar Square and walked around a bit, hoping to see the London Lumiere installation there being switched on, but it wasn’t yet. I’m going to try and catch some of it yet this weekend though!
The police box outside Earl’s Court Station.
After eating my sandwich, relaxing for a bit, and having a quick drink in the hotel bar, I made my way to The Hope Theatre to see My Gay Best Friend. I’ve seen the show before, but since my friends Nigel and Lou (who wrote and performed it) just happened to be performing in London while I was here, I knew I had to go. The theatre is a tiny venue with maybe 50 seats, above the Hope & Anchor pub in Islington, so while waiting down there for the show to start, I ran into a couple of friends who were also attending. I should have known I’d see some friends at this show! I had a great time there and was really glad I got the chance to see the show one last time (it sounds like this is their farewell tour). If you’re in London in the next week, go see it!
Just a couple of pictures from this portion of the night!
I took this photo from my seat. It’s a very intimate performance space!
You may be thinking I ended the night after the show, but I held out for more! After saying hi to Nigel and Lou and chatting for a few minutes, I made my exit to meet up with my friend Gio, a friend I know from Minneapolis who currently lives in Mexico City and is visiting London on a research trip. A very roundabout way to get together, but we haven’t seen each other in years, so it was great to catch up. Although he met me near the pub, we ended up catching the Tube to Covent Garden and then walked to Chinatown for a late dinner at Four Seasons in Chinatown, where we had duck, rice, and veggies – really tasty! The service was good once a server finally came to our table (it took ten minutes or so!) and the food was tasty, but the prices were a little on the high side for what we got. Worth a visit if you’re in the area, but probably not worth a special trip.
After getting back to the hotel around 1230a, I wasn’t actually that tired yet, so I starting editing my photos while watching a little TV, but eventually had to give in and get some sleep. I slept well, enjoyed another good breakfast, and have been working on this blog post while waiting for my friend Matt to arrive. He’s up from Brighton and it’s staying in the hotel for the night, so we’ll get to hang out until tomorrow! No set agenda, other than another visit to Retro Bar for drinks later. The weather is decidedly more dreary and rainy today, which is a downer, but I think the rain is supposed to let up soon, so hopefully we won’t get soaked!