A couple of Phoenicians living temporarily in Roma

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Arrivederci, London!

Food festival Duke of York Square

Food festival Duke of York Square

Once again, and likely for the last time in the foreseeable future, we had the opportunity to travel to London. Michael had some meetings on Monday, so we made plans to arrive on Friday and spend the weekend.

We hadn’t been to the Victoria and Albert Museum yet, and it was a pleasant walk there from our hotel. The V&A, as it’s known, is famous for it’s large collection of textile arts. We arrived at lunchtime, and found our way to the cafeteria. I was so amazed! There were a variety of food counters offering selections of salads, sandwiches, sweets and hot plates, each one with more yummy choices than the previous. The checkout clerks were so nice and friendly. It was possible to buy a glass of wine from them. It was all so easy. I’ve been living in Roma too long!

We didn’t spend as much time at the V&A as we should have, but saw some interesting sculpture and a fashion exhibit of clothing from the 1800’s to the present that was great.  A longer visit is on my list for when we return.  That evening we met up with a lovely couple we had met while we were in Venice earlier in the year who live in London and Manchester. They took us on a bit of a pub crawl that ended at The Mango Tree, where we had a delicious Thai dinner.

Saturday we headed to Duke of York Square off of Kings Road in Chelsea for lunch. On Saturdays there’s a wonderful food festival that offers a variety of ethnic foods. After weighing our options, we settled on a perch in the square with duck confit sandwiches and a glass of prosecco. After lunch I took Michael to the Saatchi Gallery. The current exhibition is called Paper. You can see some of the highlights below in the slideshow, and then I have to tell you about the next pictures.

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This artist created these self-portraits in the style of 15th century Flemish portraits, while in the rest room on an airplane. She used the phone on her camera to take the pictures and dressed herself using objects she found on the plane, such as a neck pillow and toilet seat cover. Amazing or crazy? Maybe both.IMG_5254 IMG_5255

Michael wasn’t feeling 100%, so he went back to the hotel for a nap and I continued on to a play, The Ritual Slaughter of Gorge Mastromas, by Dennis Kelly at the Royal Court Theatre in Sloane Square. I’ve been by the theatre a number of times, which specializes in showing new works by established playwrights, so I was excited to finally get to see a performance there. I’m not sure I can tell you what the play was about exactly…the life of Gorge and how he becomes a shrewd and somewhat vicious businessman and person, but it was interesting and entertaining, if not a bit too long at two and three quarter hours. After a quick change on my part we finished out the day with dinner at one of our favorite restaurants in the area, The Botanist, where our waiter recognized us from past visits.IMG_5277

Sunday I took Michael exploring in the area called Spitalfields in the East End of London. We rode the Tube to the Liverpool stop and found our way to Shoreditch Market, a large covered marketplace with unusual shops along the perimeter and vendors inside selling everything from original clothing to chochkee crap. I found a funky dress and Michael a jumper (I LOVE saying that, “jumper” instead of “sweater”!) We wondered then along Brick Lane where we discovered these amazing old warehouse buildings filled with pop up restaurants and shops.  We scolded ourselves for already having eaten brunch, but you can see below what we missed.  That night we treated ourselves to American football on the TV and steaks at the Palm Restaurant, around the corner from our hotel.

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Monday, Michael went to work and I took myself to the National Gallery, which I hadn’t yet seen on previous trips. Located in Trafalgar Square, it houses one of the world’s best art collections with more than 2,300 masterpieces from artists including Picasso, Van Gogh, Michelangelo, Monet, Turner, Titian, Da Vinci, and Caravaggio. The rooms where the art is exhibited are beautiful too. I have to say though the highlight for me was seeing the work of the Artist in Residence. The Gallery invites a contemporary artist to create and exhibit new works that are based on the collection in the Gallery. Michael Landy, an English contemporary artist, after months spent viewing the entire collection, created a show called Saints Alive, based on some paintings he saw of saints in the Gallery like Saints Frances, Lucy, and Jerome. He created not only drawings, but also these amazing larger than life kinetic sculptures, which you can see a bit of here. (unfortunately no photos were allowed)

Maggie and Michael

Maggie and Michael

Monday night we dined with Michael’s wonderful UK boss Maggie and his colleagues who work in the UK. It was lovely to see them all again and to share a delicious meal at Bluebird in Chelsea.

Tuesday brought a bit of shopping and lunch before we headed to Heathrow for our return trip to Roma.

So for now, Arrivederci Londra!!

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Catching Up

Our view of the London skyline

Our view of the London skyline

Yikes! It’s been awhile since I posted. This will likely be of more interest to friends and family; but the rest of you are welcome along for the ride too!

It’s been a busy few weeks since I last posted. In early December we flew to Cancun, Mexico via Paris, to spend a week in the sunshine at our timeshare near Playa del Carmen over Michael’s birthday. We met up with our Canadian friends, Irene and Pierre, who we had met at the timeshare several years ago, and made new friends with a couple from Florida, Joan and Siegie. The six of us hung out together; relaxing during the days poolside or on the beach, and making some raucous fun in the evenings. The weather was fabulous, warm and lots of sunshine; and we found that after flying in business class (when work pays), that we could still survive traveling coach!

When we returned from Mexico, the next day we took the fast train from Rome to Milan for a big holiday party Michael’s work threw for it’s customers. We got to stay at the Baglioni Hotel again (unfortunately our room wasn’t as fabulous this time as it was the first time), and it was great to meet some of Michael’s Rome and Milan coworkers. It was a quick trip and the following day we were on the train heading home to Roma.

We had one day at home and then we were back at the airport again, this time off to England. We spent the first night seaside at the Grand Hotel in Brighton and attended a holiday party that night at Jamie’s (a great Italian restaurant; it’s funny that everywhere we go, we end up eating Italian!) with Michael’s coworkers in the UK.

It was pouring buckets of rain the next day and the sea was a wild mass of waves as we headed into London for the weekend. We stayed at the Belgraves hotel in the Belgravia section of London. It’s a wonderful small hotel, newly redone and very modern, and after a room change, we ended up with a room on the top floor with great views of the London skyline. We ate a late dinner that night at a lovely steakhouse with live jazz music recommended by a coworker, and we enjoyed both the music and chatting with the couple from Northern Ireland at the next table.

Saturday found us in awe, as we explored Harrod’s department store. We lunched at one of the many food counters in the food court and after having enough of the huge pre-Christmas shopping crowds inside, we headed outside for more! Dinner that night found us again at an Italian restaurant, Cipriani, with some of Michael’s coworkers. I was hesitant, as the reviews on TripAdvisor weren’t very good, but the food was fabulous and the service good too. And I must say, I looked fabulous in my new dress, bought for the occasion!

We’ve been back home in Roma for the week now, catching up on laundry and house cleaning, doing some holiday shopping, and seeing friends. We’re heading back to London next week to spend the week between Christmas and New Year’s there, thanks to the generosity of one of Michael’s local coworkers, who offered her flat to us while she’s away on holiday in the States. We’ll be using the time to take care of her 2 kitties, but also sightseeing and trying to get to know the city a bit better.

We liked London. It was nice to be back in the land of English speaking folks, and yet interesting that everyone we met seemed to be from somewhere else! It’s wildly expensive though; so much so, that it’s better for us to turn our dollars into euro and then into pounds rather than directly from dollars to pounds.

We’ll be back in Roma for the New Year. I promise to write about London when we return. Thank you again, for following along on our adventures. I send you warm wishes for a safe, and sane holiday season! Buon Natale!

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