Archive for March, 2008

Trip #2 to the Tate Modern

Sunday, Evan and I went to the Tate Modern with Ceres and Hannah. We were really excited to see some of the exhibits we weren’t able to make it to on our first trip, mostly up on the fifth floor. There were also some new installments on the third floor. My favorite one was 30 Pieces of Silver by Cornelia Parker. The piece, which took up a whole room, was a collection of 30 circular arrangements of flattened silver items — everything from forks and spoons to trophies and trombones — hanging from the ceiling and suspended about six inches off the ground. It was incredible to watch it hover, and all the steamrolled flat objects were intriguing. I wish we could have walked around the entire piece instead of just along two of its sides.

There were also some extremely well-behaved and engaged children in the museum. There were stands offering workbooks to entertain the little ones, and many of them seemed absorbed in the activities, sitting on the floor, trying to copy paintings or create their own with stickers and pieces of paper. And I heard one little kid say, “It’s about the artist expressing himself…”! Someone’s doing something right in the education department.

We also spent some time just enjoying the view of the Millennium Bridge, St. Paul’s Cathedral and the riverbank from the airy fourth-floor balcony.

St. Paul’s Cathedral and Millennium Bridge

Friday Photowalk With Ceres

Ceres, a good friend from college, is in town this week, and Friday afternoon, we had some time to hang out and go for a walk through the parks and to Horse Guards Parade, Parliament and Westminster Abbey. We took some fabulously campy, touristy photos, too. Yes, we were those people taking pictures with the Horse Guards. And Ceres garnered some hearty guffaws while taking a photo in a phone booth. I don’t know why the people were laughing so hard, though — the phone booths in Westminster are always full of tourists.

Cherry Blossoms at St James ParkHorse Guards Parade and St. James LakeHorse Guardphone boothParliament and Big Ben

Weekly Reading: Another Short List for Another Short Week

Well, coming back from Barcelona on Tuesday, it was a short week, though one full of work. The Londonist posts for the week:

  • Starling Numbers Still Slipping: Lots of Londoners participate in a garden bird survey, and the numbers show even fewer Starlings than ever before, though they’re still London’s most populous garden bird.

Britishism: Gutted

Britishism: GuttedOne of my favorite Britishisms is the term “gutted.” Basically, “I’m absolutely gutted” is just a really overdramatic way to say “I’m disappointed.” But it’s so much more graphic.

I always imagine entrails spilling out, or maybe an entire lack of a gut. And though the term seems quite dire, it’s usually used when a Brit is distraught that he won’t be able to make it to the pub that night or that he has to leave dinner a bit early. I haven’t yet heard it used for anything serious.

It also seems to be begging for a response like, “Don’t get your intestines in a bunch.”

Barcelona Sunset at Parc de Ciutadella

Our last stop on Monday was Parc de Ciutadella, which we entered through Barcelona’s Arc de Triomf. We also learned that unlike the arches in Paris and London and other European cities, this one isn’t commemorating a war victory, it’s just for show.

We go to the park at sunset and snapped some photos in the remaining light, walked around the little lagoon where people were taking out row boats, and helped retrieve a stray soccer ball (Evan kicked it back).

Barcelona Arc de Triomf, Parc de Ciutadella

Monday Modernism: Parc Guell and Casa Batllo

Monday, we did a mini Modernist tour of Barcelona by checking out some of the Gaudi parks and buildings. We started with Parc Guell, an intriguingly odd park full of palm trees, cacti, colorful mosaics, bridges made of ancient-looking rocks and houses that look like they could be made of gingerbread. The park is also on a hill, so it boasts incredible views of the city. We also had the good fortune of going on a beautiful, sunny spring day, when it was warm enough not to need our jackets.

Parc Guell EntranceParc Guell BridgeParc Guell HousesParc Guell View

Casa Batllo was equally bizarre, but totally different. Remodeled by Gaudi in 1906 with themes from the ocean, it feels like a mermaid’s city hideaway, with undulating walls, elaborate tile work and whale-ribcage-shaped arches. The audio guide was actually quite good, too — I listened to the whole thing, and usually I don’t have the patience for those. Sometimes the script was a bit long-winded and the descriptions a little too inconclusive, but in general, it taught me a lot.

Casa Batllo RoofCasa Batllo Roof

Photos: Barcelona at Night

On the way back from the countryside, we took a route into the city that brought us over some mountains. We stopped at a lookout point, and Evan grabbed these great shots.

Barcelona at NightBarcelona at Night