Monday, July 10, 2017

Last day in London

Despite Britain’s reputation as a rather serious place, humor really is the nation’s default setting. They are always looking to spice up the day with a sprinkle of laughter.  Here are some curious things I saw in London.

A sign on an "eat all you can" restaurant.   And see the cute teapot which among other pretty ones is seen in caf├ęs.


The burning candles formed majestically the figure below, found in the restaurant Boulevard near the Covent Garden.


The underground exit with the advertisement of "The Lion King".


Covent garden  market by day  

Source of picture:  Visit London.com
Covent garden market by night

Source of picture:  Visit London.com
The hydrogen powered buses according to London Mayor Sadiq Khan with low emission  vehicles are gradually being a key part of the rationale for moving away from diesel buses. And, as part of his commitment to cleaning the capital's air, the Mayor wants all London buses to meet the Ultra-Low Emission Zone standard during 2020.  Source of information:  Air Quality News.

Source:  Air Quality News
The "Handy" telephone which you can carry with you, courtesy of the hotel where you can have free access to internet and international phone calls.


A fruit stand that is on my way to the underground.  I am used to seeing newstands by the streets in Madrid but not fruit stands.




I visited the Courtauld Gallery, particularly known for its French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist  paintings.  I was happy to see some of the famous paintings many of which I was only familiar with in pictures.

These are what I liked best:






There is a special exhibit that uses parts of the body such as the one below, "where the diminutive sculpture cradled in the palm of the artist's hand is constructed from fragments of his own skin"...

 

My London trip although was quite short, not even three full days, were well taken advantage of. I must say that I loved the walk in the Holland Park, but unfortunately, I tripped while I was taking a picture of the Kyoto Garden.  I did not see the barricade of a thick cord, fencing the greens.


I did not get badly injured, thanks God, only with a slight bruise on my right knee and my right shoulder.  It was good  that a family was passing by and the mother helped me to get incorporated. At least my camera and my pictures were safe, jejeje... Also while in the park, I got quite impressed by the statue pictured below as it looked too real by dusk. And there was nobody else around.


All is well that ends well.  Everything else went smoothly, including the plane ride home, where again I was lucky to have an aisle seat with nobody in the middle, even when the flight was full. The plane arrived earlier than schedule, but Ron was not able to pick me up and I was more comfortable taking the train rather than a taxi.  I managed to be home safe and sound before midnight.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Trip to London Day 3

The world is a wonderful place when it is full of creative art. It can be a shocking photograph, a mesmerizing painting, a song well produced or even a sweet poem. Somehow, to hear or see something of great artistic value has the ability to elevate the spirit of one and produce a feeling of optimism and happiness or at least that seems to work that way with me.

Trip to London - Day 3



I went early to the National Gallery to see some of the impressionist paintings,  with special interest in one of Vermeer's paintings.  I took the  train to Piccadilly Circus and as I walked  through Haymarket street, I saw the Four Horses of Helios, which were quite impressive, being totally in bronze and with life size dimensions.  I also passed by this pretty, colorful coffee shop.






Luckily, there were not plenty of people when I arrived at the National Gallery and pictures were allowed, although without flash.

There was a good view from the balcony of the National Gallery, including the same lady with her violin, that had been singing Alleluia since Mel and I passed in the same place yesterday.  And

Just like in Madrid, they also have statue peddlers, that seemed to be floating in the air, but you can tell from the way they were dressed and how they kept one hand tightly gripped to what seems to be a pole, that they are suspended over something heavy enough to support them. Trafalgar Square is pictured below, as seen from the National Gallery.


Here are some of my favorite paintings:

 







I had a scheduled lunch with the Calvelos at 1, and traffic was bad.  I knew I couldn't make it at one and as I thought of calling up Armin, I received a message from her saying "sorry, but lunch has to be postponed at 1:30pm" then succeedingly  to 1:45pm... Whew, that saved me from apologizing.

It wasn't easy to find the place because the restaurant Strada has two branches, one on each side of the Thames River and the name on the street was not in its usual place.  But they gave me the address so I wasn't worried that I was going to the wrong place.  People that I asked for directions were very nice.  Here are the views on the way...




Here is the street entrance to where Strada Restaurant is located in 2 More London riverside.


Jamie Oliver's restaurant is on the same street,  but it doesn't have any good view.


The views from inside the restaurant, where we had a table on the upper floor.



Traffic held the family more time than expected.  But it did not really matter because, I had the appetizers of chicken pizza and chicken Caesar's salad,  ready on the table when they arrived.  I couldn't help but eat a couple of slices of the yummy pizza as my stomach was already complaining...


Then we had Fritto Misto, chicken Caesar's salad, penne carbonara, Sirloin steak and several mini cakes for dessert. 





Fritto misto is the food on the plate, but don't be deceived, Ate Aurea and I are not having one plate each, but the two plates are to be shared among all of us, MaryAnn was already aiming to get one, jejeje.  Wait lang picture muna...

Pictures here and there and everywhere...


It was a beautiful day to go on a river cruise, and so we did go for a  ride.  While the three stayed on the upper deck, Ate Aurea and I stayed on the lower deck.




After the thirty minute cruise ride, we went  for a short rest to Hotel Rydges where they were lodged Later on, we had dinner in Steak & Co, and what steaks!  They were so juicy and tender...


Ate Aurea had a chicken carbonara pasta topped with bacon...


The three others had steak, while I had a beef salad.  Instead of small strips of beef, I had like sirloin steak in generous servings.


Armin and MaryAnn opted for a steak on a grill that they cooked themselves while Elmer decided to have his done in the kitchen, although he also ended up using the grill of Armin.


After dinner, I thought it would be easier for me to do the groceries before I went back to the Hotel so that in the morning I would be ready to pack my luggage.  I came with only 16 kgs and without the pasalubongs that would probably have totaled to more than 8 kgs, it was  wiser to fill it up with some stuff.  Grocery stores close rather late, usually by 10:00 or 11:00 pm so I had the time to shop. Ginger cookies, crumpets, potato chips, cereals, tea, etc... those were light enough to carry around and certainly not available in Spain, all of which accompanied me home.

Bonding with the Calvelos was a very gratifying experience because they are so used to travelling that they find the best places to eat or to go, while willing to pay the price that it takes.  Like they enjoyed the afternoon tea in the luxury of Thames Foyer at the Savoy.  They announced a bday celebration for Ate Aurea, but I guess they did not include her in the thread because, when the waitress came to offer her the bday cake, Ate Aurea exclaimed:  "But my birthday is  March 11!"

Look at these lovely pieces of artistic creations, served in fine English porcelain making you feel like you visited the Queen.




But she had her birthday cake anyway, jejeje...  Belated happy birthday Ate Aurea!  I am sure that the places that you have visited in London will bring you happy memories.
 
Stonehenge

 Regent's Park

The classical booth


 Your driver Steve and his black taxi


 The subway experience (?)

Years from now, we can all look back on more than a souvenir spoon or magnet.  As time passes, we will find there are memories that stick out more than others, but unfortunately, a million tiny ones that are lost forever.  But there will be one sure thing that will linger, that in London, we found each other, shared laughter, updated on our lives, and how we ate around a sumptuous table!  Thank you Calvelos for the good time, and for the treats. Lovely, lovely, lovely bonding experience!   Until we meet again stay well and keep safe.