My eyes open and it’s still a bit of a bright dull grey outside in London. January not being the most pleasant of months to visit here but my chances look good for a couple of clear days. The rain here for now is not of the continuous kind and it seems to be a steady drizzle in the morning hours and by the time the sun has risen to claim dominance in the sky its power is unleashed upon the clouds and either stops the precipitation from falling or it breaks them up and patches of blue start to appear above.

The National Gallery

The National Gallery

Today it’s just a bright grey windy sort of day with a bit of a snap on cold in the air as I set off for the interior of London. We head first down towards the National Gallery where some of the most famous paintings in the world are displayed. All the major players are there that are known to even the most plebian of society, Van Gogh, Cezanne, Monet, Degas, Rousseau and others too numerous to list and surely many more that art students and enthusiasts are familiar with. On top of all that it’s free to the public. Much like our own ‘museum row’ we have here in America down in the ‘Mall’ area in Washington DC, treasures like these deserve to be accessed with no hindrance to the public. I feel it’s the obligation of the government to provide such stimulus and inspiration for its citizens. Some of these paintings are just awe-inspiring. We start off with some of the early works which usually deal in religious themes and mythology. I notice that a few are from the 13th and 14th century. Crude as they seem by our evolved ability and techniques in painting, the colors are vibrant and I’m sure these were monumental at the time of their making. Gradually it starts to turn to landscapes and portraits and the realism is beginning to sharpen.

Japanese Bridge - Monet

Japanese Bridge – Monet

I love the gallery because although there’s a security presence in every room of the gallery, you can still get to within a foot or so of the painting. Actually put your nose that close to it! Seeing the paint strokes and the thickness to which the paint dried on the canvas. Fascinating! We start to get towards the 19th century and it’s here that some of the most iconic works are displayed. There’s Rousseau’s ‘Surprise’, Monet’s ‘Japanese Bridge’ and arguably one of the two most popular and most reproduced paintings in the world; ‘Sunflowers’ by Van Gogh. To have your nose less than 12’’ from this work of art is stunning. I’ve seen some miraculous things in my life and I’d have to rate great works of art right up there with vast vistas of nature I’ve gazed upon. They both have properties that stir the soul and evoke reverence and awe. Van Gogh is probably my favorite painter, mainly because you can see the passion in his paintings, often maniacal in his method of creation but evocative nonetheless. I’ve been to the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam twice, and to this day it’s the only museum I walk out of exhausted. To see such energy like that over and over and over again hanging on display is to experience something electric. If you’re a fan of Van Gogh, you owe it to yourself to at least visit the Van Gogh museum once in your life.

*sigh*, OK, where was I; so since we started late the sun was beginning to set here in London. It gets dark here early and by 4:30 or so it’s noticeable. I’ve told myself I want a good meal at the famous department store, Harrods’, near Piccadilly Square.

Harrods, Piccadilly Square

Harrods, near Piccadilly Square

Long a tradition in London and one of the most famous and oldest department stores in London, among it’s fine and upscale clothing and accessories in house, there’s a sweets and chocolates department and there’s a ‘food court’ area. The food court is of a spacious design set in this glazed decorative tiled room. I had to wonder as I sat there gazing above at how difficult it must be to keep it so clean, especially the grout. There are a number of counters you sit at and each one is segregated and serves its own unique flavors and subjects. The seafood here, the meats thither, and an oyster bar to name a few. There’s even a meat market where you can either pick out your choice and eat there on the premises or take it home like you’re at a butcher shop. Of course all of this food is of high caliber and price and the setting makes you feel as though you’ve stepped back into time. We sit at the Seafood counter and I order the Sea Bass and greens with a ‘rockets salad’ to start off with. ‘Rockets’ is what we here in the states known as ‘Arugula.’

Sea Bass with Rockets

Sea Bass with Rockets

As I sit waiting for our food and we go in and out of different subjects to converse on, I can’t help but notice the staff manning the counter where we’re sitting, with their certain ‘period’ livery. This woman is actually going down the counter, it’s a bit light with customers at the moment and most seats are open, she’s polishing the silverware and fluted-like glasses that adorn each place setting on the counter. It’s just the epitome of English ways and mannerisms that you see in movies depicting 19th century gentry. Exquisite. The meal was lovely and my company couldn’t have been better. I then peruse the clothing departments seeing if there’s any stage wear I need and I do find this one cool shirt which I do purchase. Seeing nothing else to interest me inside, my budget can’t handle some of the prices anyway, we start making our way back to my hotel by way of walking.

The night time in London is really special with its own unique way of luminous display. A mix of Victorian and Modern facades on the buildings faces makes for a most interesting viewing to look upon as we make our way through the crowded streets. Arriving at my hotel I bid my host good night and I depart up to my room. It’s been an auspicious first night in London town. I eagerly look forward on the morrow’.

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