Well, another two days have flown by in turista bliss without a blog update from London. There was just too much to see and do here. We just settled into our seats in coach 9 of the 11:31 Eurostar to Paris. I’m not sure if we’ll have WiFi on this train, but I plan to create today’s blog from some (admittedly sketchy) notes that I took over the past two days (Friday and Saturday).
Friday, March 27
We took the Picadilly Tube to Leicester Square and went to the National Gallery for the Inventing Impressionism exhibit. I didn’t realize how big a role Paul Durand-Ruel played in the development of impressionism as a major art movement. It was very interesting and the exhibit had 85 works by notables such as Cezanne, Cassat, Morisot, Monet, Manet, Sisley, Pisarro, and Renoir, among others. I had seen many of these works in other museums, but it was great to see them in chronological juxtaposition that aligned with Durand-Ruel’s efforts to build and corner the Impressionist market. From a purely business perspective, he had a solid plan and rode that plan to success through several global economic collapses.
We also saw the National Portrait Gallery next door has a Sargent exhibition that was sponsored in part by the Terra Foundation where Miss Cyd used to work. Taking a break from cultural enlightenment, we had lunch at the Porterhouse, which is an Irish pub a few blocks away from Trafalgar Square in Covent Garden. Doing our part to support the local arts, we stopped by a very cool art store (Cass Art on Charing Cross Road) and picked up some more art supplies for our painting trip to France that begins with our train ride to Paris on the Eurostar. The staff recommended the Porterhouse as a good place to relax and unwind away from the normal tourist crowds. The steak pie and their own Porterhouse Red made for an excellent afternoon repast.
We visited St. Paul’s Cathedral today. The audio tour was good and we stopped to listen to the tour guides at several points to gain better insight into the historical significance of the building. The crypt below the church was interesting due to the many interred notables, including artists like William Turner and Constable, as well as Arthur Sullivan (of Gilbert and Sullivan, we just missed Pirates of Penzance on this trip). Nelson’s tomb and the Duke of Wellington’s were a couple of places where the tour guides’ discussions helped place the burials into contemporary context. We took a side trip to the London Graphic Centre flagship store back in Covent Garden to pick up some more art supplies for France. The weather has turned cold and rainy, so we headed back to the hotel early to pack up and get ready for our trip on the Eurostar on Sunday morning. We stopped by O’Neill’s Irish Pub across the street from the hotel for a nightcap and sat down just in time for the blues band who were very good. We talked with the lead guitarist, who had been raised in Peru, although he was Italian. The band called themselves Los Pendejos, which gave us a good laugh. They were great, but we stayed way too late since the bar was on Irish time and we have to get up early in the morning to pack and make our 11:31 train.