London - part 3

Trip Start Oct 23, 2008
1
6
Trip End Nov 05, 2008


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Monday, November 3, 2008

We tried to keep a healthy balance between sightseeing and entertainment, serious and fun, fast-paced and leisurely...our taste is quite eclectic, after all...



one evening we were dining in a traditional English pub (fish and chips - what else?) and trying to decide which theater to go to after dinner...and then I remembered:



- but today is Monday! it means that "Vinopolis" is open late - till 10 or 11 at night! should we go there?



my dear angel was slightly skeptical at first:



- "Vinopolis"? If you want another glass of wine, baby, - can't we get it right here, in this pub, without going all the way to the Thames?





I think he was justified at being skeptical - after all, "Vinopolis: City of Wine Museum" in London seemed a little out of place...located somewhere in Italy it would seem to be absolutely natural, but in London?!...England is hardly among the top wine producing or wine consuming countries of the world...maybe beer, with that fish and chips...but wine?!...

yet we decided to give it a chance, and off we went - to "Vinopolis"...



"Vinopolis" turned out to be a big place taking a space of about two and a half acre (= around 10000 square meters) in an old wine warehouse that was built over an ancient Roman wine store...the place itself is just a few steps from the Thames river and not far from the Shakespeare's Globe Theater... despite its location in the old wine warehouse, "Vinopolis" was quite modern inside...it was nicely decorated, too, to create a special mood...for example, the room devoted to Bombay Sapphire Gin tasting was all illuminated with shimmering blue lights...the room with Italian wines had pictures of Italy and several real Vespa motorcycles facing screens with continuously played video of Italian countryside... you could get on one of the Vespas with your glass of wine and imagine yourself in Italy :)





our admission included audio guides for independent exploration, a "hands on" lecture on how to properly taste wines and several tickets that could be redeemed for various alcoholic drinks (additional tickets could be purchased separately)...we were pleasantly surprised by this place devoted to the world of alcohol and the associated pleasures ...they had a big exhibit of award-winning designs of martini glasses ...they provided a lot of information that I personally found very interesting : for example - one big room was completely devoted to absinthe - its history, its types, even its place in art!...we tasted 2 different types of absinthe - I liked it, but my angel didn't, so - I ended up drinking his absinthe, too...

my dear angel got a lot of free tickets for various drinks from two or three different ladies there...of course he is a very, very charming man, so - I can completely understand these ladies who showered him with their coquettish smiles, flirtatious chats and free alcohol tickets...

and we did put their tickets to good use! ...but strangely enough - despite tasting all these various wines, ports, whiskeys, gins, cocktails and such - we remained absolutely sober, had a lot of fun and woke up bright and early the next morning without even a hint of a headache...





which was great because the next morning was our designated day for climbing up to the top of the Dome of St. Pauls's Cathedral - all 378 steps of it...





St. Paul's Cathedral is the national church of England and the center of the Anglican faith...Prince Charles married his first wife Diana there, Admiral Nelson and Duke Wellington are buried in its crypt...



we climbed to the the top of the Dome, too...well, not quite to the very top, but it wasn't our fault...normally the climb consists of 3 parts - 259 steps to the Whispering Gallery, then - 100 steps to the Stone Gallery, and the final 100 steps would lead to the top of the cupola - the Golden Gallery...unfortunately there was a sign saying that the Golden Gallery (the last 100 steps) is indefinitely closed for climbing...it didn't say why - maybe due to some work going on or it was determined to be unsafe, but the fact was - we only could climb the first two levels...in the Whispering Gallery there are holes in the wall - and supposedly you can whisper something into one of them, and people on the far side could hear what you've whispered...well, we kept whispering to each other from different places far apart, but it didn't work - we just couldn't hear each other...eventually we gave up - maybe there was something wrong with our whispering technique...and besides, it didn't really matter - we know anyway what we would whisper to each other :)





the second part of the climb was much steeper and narrower, and we were warned that once you start to climb you cannot turn back (there is a separate way for going down), but it wasn't bad...after all, we had great practice in Italy - climbing everywhere we could - from St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican to the Leaning Tower in Pisa and everything in between...so far - based on our climbing experience - I would say that St. Paul's in London is probably the easiest (the most difficult probably being the steep and extremely narrow climb of the tower in Siena)...



anyway, the view from the top was great...the view is always that reward that makes me want to climb every hill, every bell tower...maybe I like to please my eyes at the expense of my legs, but oh well :) ...my dear angel dislikes climbing, but he refuses to wait for me down below and just stoically climbs with me...I remember how I wanted to climb the Notre Dame in Paris and (knowing it wasn't his thing) asked him to just wait for me...but he said that he wouldn't leave me alone with the gargoyles and would climb with me...soooo sweet...we came there late though, and the climbing part was finished for the day... but I hope we will still have our chance to pet the gargoyles together in the near future...





after St. Paul's we went to Tate Modern - it was just a short walk across the Thames via the beautiful Millennium Bridge...the museum not only has a great collection of modern art, but also a rather non-traditional way of displaying it: by theme or concept rather than by artist or chronologically...it has both certain advantages and disadvantages, but that's the way it is...



the only two other museums we were able to visit during this trip were "Dali Universe" and Victoria and Albert Museum (V & A )...we do not go to museums to be able to place a check mark "been there! done that!" - we like to take our time to savor and enjoy...so, there is plenty left for the future...



"Dali Universe" calls itself the largest collection of Dali's works outside Spain...the trip to Dali's Theater-Museum in his hometown of Figueres in Spain was still fresh in our memory (we were there in May 2008), so we thought it would complement it well..."Dali Universe" slightly disappointed me though...

not that it was not interesting - no, but I guess we had very high expectations after Spain..."Dali Universe" is a permanent exhibition featuring lots of his (mostly late) works...there were not many paintings but rather sculptures made after his original paintings and also plenty of his graphic works...many of them were in series - series of erotic drawings based on Boccaccio's "Decameron", illustrations to the text by Marquise de Sade, dry paint etchings of Dali's interpretation of Goya's "Caprichos", wood engravings of Dali's illustrations of Dante's "Divine Comedy", graphics based on Sigmund Freud's later works, etchings to illustrate "Song of Songs of Solomon"...







all these are less known than, let's say, Dali's paintings, and you come across them less frequently, so - in this respect it was interesting ...





and we really-really enjoyed V&A (Victoria and Albert Museum)...it's not only the world's largest museum of decorative arts and design, but it has a little bit of everything...



















we read somewhere that this museum was compared to a woman's purse - you open it, and inside you can find tons of little curious things, sometimes unexpected, improbable, beautiful, weird, delightful...and the atmosphere itself was nice, quiet, relaxing...it wasn't crowded, and photography was permitted, too...I made a few pictures of the pieces I liked but quickly realized that I liked so many things there that I would have to snap pictures non-stop...we even found a few things that we have at home - Ericksson's "Cross" medicine cabinet and Joe Colombo's trolleys that we temporarily use as our nightstands (we even have them all in the same red color as in the museum)

















anyway, it was a fun museum...







time flies fast when you are having fun, and unfortunately we had to leave London...















I remember the night before our departure - we went for a long leisurely walk at night...stopped at a cafe for some coffee and marzipan (the marzipan rabbits looked soo delicious in the window, and we both love them, so - we just had to stop!)...talked about this trip and future trips and about definitely returning to London...I hope we will...





























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