Now I know the website of this blog is emmanathantravels2017.com, however this post isn’t about myself and Nathan travelling, nor is it in 2017! Matt, one of my best friends, asked me if I wanted to accompany him on a spontaneous road-trip to London for the day. Of course the answer was yes!
So, he picked me up at 630am on the Saturday, we headed to Winchester Tesco, stocked up on goodies to keep us going through the day, then proceeded to Richmond. On our way, we couldn’t agree on the directions, he wanted to head along the m4 (I think), I suggested continuing along the m3 to Richmond. I’m pretty sure this is the first time in my life that I have been right about directions!!
We got to Richmond, parked in the NCP extortionately priced car park next door to the train station and headed in. The last time I went to London we still had to purchase tickets for the tube. Nowadays you can just use your contactless bank card!!! (Simple things and all that…)First stop was Westminster. I mean if we were going to be tourists, we were going to visit all the touristy sites.
We exited the tube station and were greeted by the sites of Westminster Abbey, Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, which looked like it was undergoing reparations.I have been to London many times but it was still just as fun as it was the first time. We walked past the infamous red phone boxes before heading past the Churchill War Rooms.We arrived at Horse Guards Parade. Here is where the Trooping of the Colour occurs and where the headquarters of the British Army used to be. There are also many statues and monuments within the area too!We walked through the archway and headed in the direction of Downing Street, passing the epitaphs on our way. We didn’t see Teresa May on this trip, just a load of police having a good old chinwag. Next stop was the cross the bridge towards Southwark.The magnificent building that is the Houses of Parliament taken from Westminster Bridge. It was a very cold yet sunny day so perfect exploration climate I’d say! As we sauntered around the streets, Matt would be giving me fun facts about places he used to come as a kid. One of the places I was looking forward to visiting was the Imperial War Museum. I remember coming here as a school kid and it quickly became my favourite museum, but I hadn’t been back since then. I didn’t even know it was free!!!
Bags checked, in we went. It wasn’t as big as I recall but my god were there so many steps! Being the young, “fit” people we are, obviously we took the stairs instead of the loft!There were different exhibits throughout the museum. I specifically enjoy learning about the wars so we found our way through the exhibit ending up in a trench.
From the trench it was upstairs to more exhibitions before finishing up in the section about the holocaust.The whole exhibition was very moving. Matt was telling me about his family’s experience of the war as we stood looking at the photos of families that fled Europe. His great grandparents fled from Lithuania. So, where was next? I have never been a great art lover, probably because I don’t understand how people can stand in front of a painting thinking they know what it’s about. It baffles me. Still, we were heading to the Tate Modern. The buildings outside it were impressively bizarre too!As you you walk into the museum, you’re greeted by an impressive swinging metal ball and a beautiful coloured carpet. Again, the museum was free except for a couple of exhibits that required payment. So, we headed up the escalators and began to admire the artwork within this crazy place. There were so many different exhibits hosting many different artists from all around the world. Art truly does come in all different forms. It was crazy. I actually found myself enjoying the artwork. Some I found moving, some darn right crazy, some funny, some were incredibly innovative and others just incredibly weird. Plus you also had paintings from world renowned artists such as the one above by Pablo Picasso. It is his art studio at La Californie near his villa in Cannes. There was almost Claude Monets famous painting of the water lilies. It was quite humbling to see these infamous paintings. I actually thoroughly enjoyed the museum. Jackson Pollocks number 14 also featured in the museum. Known for his abstract paintings, the above was painted in 1951. Salvador Dali, probably my favourite painting within the museum. Metamorphosis of Narcissus painted in 1937, was based on the Greek mythology where Narcissus fell in love with his own reflection. Unable to stop pining after himself, the gods made him live out his days as a flower. I mean, the painting couldn’t be more clear right? It was stunning.Everyone knows this one right? Andy Warhol features quite a bit in the museum. As well as these famous paintings, the museum also housed some bizarre ones. You walk past and people are there just stood staring at them tying to make sense of it all.
I mean…what is this???? Potatoes? Rocks? Bags of sand??? I swear I was looking at some pieces of art thinking “what makes them so special they’re worthy of an art gallery?” No disrespect to art lovers of course. Maybe I’m just ignorant!Our time in the Tate Modern, which used to be a power station, had come to and end. I can safely say I throughly enjoyed my first time in an art museum! It contains artwork from 1900 right up to the present day and, is visited by almost 5 million people each year.
From here, we took a casual stroll, munching our lunch, along the Thames to Millennium Bridge. From across the river we could see the towering structure that is St Paul’s Cathedral. One of my favourite buildings in London. Not that I have ever paid the £18 entrance fee to go inside…I’ll save that for next time.
It was starting to cloud over so the photos just look grey from here on in. St Paul’s Cathedral has been rebuilt four times, with previous cathedrals being destroyed by fire. It was originally built in 1300. The dome was perfectly central as we crossed millennium bridge and as we got closer it became more magnificent. We walked through the gardens to the front.It is just a stunning piece of architecture. With many people buried there, I must actually go inside next time I visit. We walked along Fleet Street in the hopes of finding Temple Church…the one from Da Vinci Code.
I wouldn’t say we got lost, but it was certainly a challenge trying to locate it! We walked round ‘Temple’ several times before managing to locate a stairway that took us up to the church. It was just our luck that it was closed so another one to add to the list next time we visit! Built back in 1185, this church is old. It was the English headquarters of the Knights Templar and another impressive bit of gothic architecture.
Stay tuned for part two of day one in London…
Until next time…