Friday, November 11, 2016

London Part 3

I was really hoping to write this London report in 2 parts. Ask my husband, he saw me confidently only create 2 title images in photoshop. Then my long winded self got ahold of the keyboard and I realized I needed to break Sunday up into two parts. However, I promise I'll be a short as possible in this update, because I'm sure you're sick of reading about London by this point. (Although, I don't understand how. I read entire novels set in the city. For fun!)

Lunch completed, Alex and Landon took public transportation to Wembley Stadium, where the NFL game was being held. It was the Washington Redskins (Alex's team) against the Cincinnati Bengals.

They had Row 1 seats at the end zone, and because Evie and I weren't using our tickets, Landon had two free spots to crawl around and let off some energy during the game. Alex said the location was good for feeling like you were part of the action, but pretty bad for actually seeing the game. If the plays were happening at the other end of the field, you pretty much saw none of it.

Despite the awkward location, Alex came back in a fantastic mood and seemed really happy with how it turned out. (The experience as a whole, not so much the game. The teams tied.)

And while the boys were being very stereotypical American guys, Evie and I were visiting more touristy sights.
I took the tubes to Trafalgar Square, which is a photo op spot in and of itself, although I wasn't blown away. Because it was a weekend, there were a lot of people hanging out there, doing quick tricks for money or protesting some issue.

Evie had fallen asleep in her carrier while I was walking, so I went right into the National Gallery (which was located right behind the square). My one and only mess up on this trip was that I forgot to grab a guide map for the gallery at the entrance, so I entered into the exhibits blind.
Luckily for me, there were signs near all the doorways that gave me a general idea of where I was. And if not letting me know exactly whose pieces in what rooms, it at least gave me the time period I was entering.

For the first fifteen minutes or so, I strolled along with no real purpose. I was just happy to be there. Alone.
Alex wouldn't have minded a short time in the gallery, but it was definitely not something he would have wanted to devote half a day to.

And being by myself (well, with a sleeping child) I was reminded of my college days, where I lived on my own and attended lectures I thought were interesting and tried my best to take in as many different flavors of life as I could.
Plus, as a mother and wife, it felt really good to be doing something I wanted to without having to keep half an ear open for the kids and/or make sure another adult was enjoying themselves.

If I wanted to spend five minutes looking a portrait, I could!
If I wanted to read the placards posted next to a piece, I could!
If I wanted to zoom across the entire gallery, I could!

Alex complains that I never give him good holiday gift ideas, but that's because I'm the type of person who doesn't cherish stuff so much as I crave times like that. Solo time, whether it be at a gallery in London or a quick walk with the dog or some time in bed with a book, puts me in such a good mood.

Overall, I spent an hour and a half at the Gallery. I managed to find Rembrandt, Caravaggio, van Eyck, and Monet on my own.

And I also discovered Titian's work, which I embarrassingly had not heard of before that day. His Madonna and Christ piece was breathtaking.

It was probably because I'm a mother and I was carrying my still-nursing daughter, but I couldn't help but get misty eyed at that painting. The way Mary's holding on to her baby boy, knowing full well what was going to happen to him.

That's the great thing about art. Its relate ability and timelessness. I don't care if that was created over 500 years ago, a mama looking down on her doomed baby would still look the same today.

I had to finally give in a get a map, because I didn't want to leave without seeing the Madonna on the Rocks piece by da Vinci. Unfortunately, so did everybody else and their brother. The tiny little alcove given to da Vinci was crammed full, so I didn't stay too long. But I was definitely glad I got to see it with my own two eyes. Worth the 1 pound guidemap and little bit of circling I had to do to find it.

Evie had woken up during the last half hour in the Gallery, and I knew I was pushing my luck keeping her calm but I really wanted to go into the National Portrait Gallery. And it was literally on the backside of the building I was just at, so I risked it and went in.
(I grabbed a map this time around, especially since I had a specific goal in mind and was on a time crunch.)

As I mentioned in my last update, I'm a big Tudor history nerd, so I NEEDED to see the family's portraits. If I couldn't go to the prison where Anne Boleyn was beheaded I was going to see her painting, gosh darnnit!

And as it turns out, the exhibit did not disappoint. I got such a better understanding of what they looked like seeing those pieces up close. Books truly don't do artwork justice.
It was so fascinating to see Cardinal Wolsey and Katherine Parr, and I about died when I saw Katherine of Aragon. I gave an inward shout of contentment when I saw her piece was connected to Henry the VIII. In fact, it went Henry, Katherine, Wolsey, Anne and then I think it was Elizabeth. Either way, the irony of that ordering wasn't lost on me.
And I probably looked ridiculous, staring at Katherine's face, but I couldn't help it.
But, really, I could not have been the only nerd that looked into her eyes and foolishly willed the inanimate object to reveal her big secret.
Because c'mon, we all want to know...did she or did she not with Arthur?

Oh, nobody else cares as much as me.


I'll move on.

(But, really....having my year 1501 gossip drama unanswered is like never seeing the finale of Lost. I gotta know!)

I only stayed at the Portrait Gallery for thirty minutes. I got some quick glances at the more modern work and got to sneak a peek at the Picasso exhibit that was on display (you had to pay for a ticket to see it all, though) then I made my way back to the underground station. Evie, while doing amazing in her carrier, was getting impatient so I knew it was time to get her out and let her have some play time.
The trip back to the hotel took forever, mostly because the tubes were incredibly busy and slow. Still beat any other way home, though. I want to say I got back to the room by 4:30 that afternoon.
I let Evie play with some of her toys, unloaded the souvenirs I had bought in the gift shops, watched some television (it was a nice treat to have cable) and ate a few pieces of the Belgium chocolate.

Because what's a girl to do after a day of treating herself?

Treat herself some more, naturally.

Alex and Landon got back to the hotel around 5:30 that evening, and after a short rest on their part we all went back to the little mall in Fulham Square and had dinner at Wagamama.

I got the vegetarian teppanyaki and Alex picked the teriyaki sirloin one. We ordered Landon the kid's version, but he really only ate the chicken out of his. We think he was too exhausted from his busy day to eat.

While I thought my dish was good - again, it had plenty of onions and peppers which I love - I didn't think it was anything to write home about.
Plus, we had the always fun incident where a couple was sat next to us and then they promptly asked to be seated somewhere else because of our kids.
It's going to be nice to go out to meal and NOT have toddlers in the future.
But until then, we get to be the plague to quiet dinner dates.

The rest of the evening was uneventful. We put the kids to bed, packed up our belongings, then watched some tv on the ipad.

Alex and I woke the children up at 4:30 Monday morning so that we could go downstairs and eat breakfast and burn off energy before we had to get on the bus.
The ride back home was HORRIBLE. Landon and Evie were champs and did amazing, but the drive took 15.5 hours!!!
Never. Again.
With or without kids that was ridiculous.

I wanted to kick and scream and fuss and I was a grown adult; I don't see how my 3 and 1 year old kept their composure.
I guess in the end, we got back home safe and sound and that's all that mattered.

I could not believe how fast the weekend flew by, and I missed London the second we left. I'm already daydreaming about when we can go back for a longer stay. There's so much we didn't get to see or do. We barely scratched the surface!
It was so rejuvenating being in a city again, there was a part of me that wanted to cry when I got back to my country home. Don't get me wrong, I like my little German village and it's got its own beauty, but I'd take the hustle and bustle of London to here any day of the week.
Tourist destinations are my bread and butter, and I'm just grateful that I got the opportunity to go back to one for a few days. I don't think I've felt that comfortable since I moved out here 6 months ago.

Hopefully, a return trip is in our future within the next 2.5 years.

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