A couple of Phoenicians living temporarily in Roma

Archive for the tag “Thomspon Belgraves Hotel”

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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London. Redone.

IMG_3584Michael had some business meetings in London at the end of January and I got to tag along. We were fortunate to be able to stay at the lovely Belgraves Hotel again, in what’s now become “our” room, number 1003, with the big windows that capture sweet views of the London Eye.

This was our third trip to London in 6 weeks, so I’m becoming familiar with things, like traveling through Terminal 5 at Heathrow. It’s new and modern with great shopping opportunities, but a silly system whereby they don’t post your gate until 30 minutes before departure, so you’re often rushing to make the plane. I’ve become a regular at the bar at The Botanist in Sloan Square. My latest hairdresser, Saffron, at Gina Conway Aveda Salon, knows my hair now. She was as tickled as I by the prospect that she could say, “Yes, I have a client who flies in from Rome to see me!”. It would be an expensive haircut, without the business trip, but a very tempting thought with the availability of cheap flights on RyanAir. Wouldn’t that just be so continental of me?

One of the things I love about London, besides the fact that they speak English regularly, there’s a variety of foods, the Tube goes everywhere, cabs are readily available…is the familiarity of the shopping. Anthropology, French Connection, and The Gap, where I stocked up on some needed basics. I happened by a Chinese herb store and it was so easy to buy new herbs. I got homesick and overwhelmed at Whole Foods, YES! Whole Foods. Mama Mia! The Bragg’s Amino Acids seemed like a long lost friend. I wandered around inside, careful not to stay so long that I would get kicked out for loitering. They have drugstores in London, where products are actually displayed so that you can touch them and read them without someone glaring at you. They sell ibuprofen and hydrogen peroxide. And it’s most often gray. No place is perfect.

Aside from a haircut, shopping, eating lots of Japanese food and a mini facial at the Origins counter at Harrods, I also visited the Tate Modern, which I’ll tell you about it a minute but first…Origins is an organic/natural line of cosmetics and body products, that interestingly is not housed in the makeup area at Harrods, but in the “Apothecary” section. Anyway, they carry a line of products developed by Dr. Andrew Weil…who, OH! OH! OH! I saw in the airport on the way to London from Rome and I got to speak with him for a moment. I felt like a groupie, but was so excited to recognize and see him in person. I used his relaxation tapes years ago and he’s famous for many things, but I first heard of him when he started the Integrative Medicine Program at the University of Arizona. His work was the basis of some of the programs I developed working at the Cancer Center in Sedona.

So the Tate Modern. I took photos of some cool art which you can see below. But I have to say I wasn’t thrilled, and I usually am when I visit a modern art museum. I’m not sure exactly what it was, likely a combination of things, but it was one of those experiences where I’m glad I went, but wouldn’t rush to return.

The Tate Modern is one of 4 Tate museums, or galleries as they are called, in England. All museums in England are free to the public, except for special exhibits, which carry a fee. The Tate Modern was conceived in 1992 and opened in 2000 in the former Bankside Power Station on the Thames. It was intended when the gallery was designed to retain the original character of the building, so the turbine hall became the entrance and display area, and the boiler house the galleries.  It is currently undergoing development to add more gallery space and improved visitor services. Over 40 million people have visited the Tate Modern since it opened, so it may just be me that wasn’t thrilled. Obviously lots of people are.

It was freezing cold and grey during our stay in London, except of course for the day we departed, when the sun came out. I’m still fighting the cold I caught while there, and trying not to get the flu which seems to be winding it’s way down the cobblestone streets and alleyways of Rome.

The good news is, it’s February already. Carnevale, Valentine’s Day, our 5 year wedding anniversary. Soon it will be March and warmer temperatures will find their way here, and before you know it, we’ll have been living in Rome for a year.

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