Thursday, September 29, 2011

Day 13: London

Monday was my last full day in London....and it was sure another packed day. I walked over to the Tate Modern from the train station, and wandered around. I had big expectations for this site, and sadly I left feeling a little disappointed.

There were some interesting paintings and photography on show, to be sure....but just not quite as much as I was expecting and fewer pieces that I really loved (especially in contrast to MOMA in NYC). And there were lots of wide open spaces that seemed to require a lot of unnecessary walking (given the amount of walking I still had to do that day!).

They did have a really awesome book shop, though, so that was a definite plus! :-

From there I walked across Millennium Bridge, crossing the Thames and heading for the Tower of London. Once on the other side, I decided to save my feet (and some time) and cheat a bit by taking the Tube.

The Tower of London was really fabulous! In spite of the crazy admission prices (£18), it was totally worth for me. Steeped in history, there is so much to see and explore.....aside from the various rooms and buildings themselves, I was able to see the spectacular Crown Jewels and amazing armour and weaponry from several centuries (including various pieces from Henry VIII). With so many diverse exhibits, and the ability to wander at your own pace, I easily spent about 4 hours there.

There are also really great views of Tower Bridge from here. Sadly I didn't end being there at the right time to see it lift open....but still an impressive sight none-the-less.

When I left, I was thinking that I should go and do a bit of shopping (I was still hoping to find a couple of gifts), but while I was considering my options on the map, I was reminded that I hadn't yet made it to the National Portrait Gallery. So I made a mad dash over, and in hindsight was thrilled with my choice.

I was only able to take a handful of snaps before I got into trouble.....ooops! ;-)

As with most galleries and museums in England (the only places I visited where I had to pay were: Courtland Gallery, Tower of London, Hampton Curt Palace and Roman Baths Museum in Bath), the National Portrait Gallery is free. There were lots of wonderful old portraits of the Tudors which I particularly enjoyed seeing. Not having to pay to get in definitely helps to keep expectations in check -- my only regret is that I didn't have more time to explore and that this is one of the (seemingly few) places that doesn't permit photos.