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Our Magnificent Journey
Chapter 6
Europe 2005
London, Paris, Normandy, Prague


Carol and David  
Day 4

We slept later than normal, rising at 7:30. Another typical cool gray London day.


We saw our friends Ray and Roisin at breakfast. We decided that today would be a good day to experience some museums. The weather is cold and wet – raining quite a bit – so our intention was to stay indoors. That being said, we found ourselves in a maze of Tube tunnels, amongst huge, rush-hour crows of Londoners heading to work, and then got soaked walking across the Millennium Bridge to the Tate Modern. Arrived just as the museum opened. We saw quite a bit of “modern” art, but my favorite was the exhibit of early Soviet communist propaganda poster art.


View of St. Paul's across the Thames from the Tate Modern


A viewing room overlooking the large entry hall at the Tate Modern

The Tate is an enormous structure on the south bank of the Thames. A converted power station, it houses some of the most important and influential works of 20th and 21st century art – Warhol, Mondrian, Picasso, Matisse to name just a few. The view of the river to the north and St. Pauls beyond was wonderful.


We spent a couple of hours at the Tate until I had to leave. I am not an aficionado of abstract modern art. One of the exhibits was abstract sound. Several large speakers in the large Turbine Hall blared the aural equivalent of Jackson Pollack splashes. I asked one of the security guards how he could stand the noise and he laughed and said he went insane from it 8 months ago.


We left the Tate Modern and walked through the drizzle to the dock where we caught the incredibly fast Tate-to-Tate boat. Passing by St. Pauls, Big Ben, Parliament and the London Eye, we found ourselves at Tate Britain, where I thoroughly enjoyed British art from the 1500s to today. I am especially fond of the Turners. Carol had to drag me out of there.


Big Ben with the London Eye in the background

But we wanted to also revisit the National Gallery at Trafalgar Square, so we walked many blocks northeast of the Tate Britain, past Westminster Cathedral, Parliament, Big Ben and #10 Downing Street until we found ourselves at the Queen's Royal Horse Guards. We walked through the Horse Guards' Parade grounds to St. James Park, then north to Trafalgar Square where we sat outside a sandwich shop and had a bite to eat and to rest. It had stopped raining but was still wonderfully cool.


Carol with one of the Queen's Guards


We spent about 2 hours or so in the huge National Gallery, concentrating mostly on the Turners, Constables and Hogarths, although we also saw several Michelangelos, Raphaels, Van Goghs, Cezannes, Seurats and others. There is never enough time or energy to experience as much of the National Gallery as we would like. Unlike the Tate Modern, I could spend days here.

Field Marshall Montgomery


Our feet were screaming at us, begging us to stop, but no – we people-watched at Trafalgar Square for a while, then slowly ambled up narrow alleys past pubs, shops and Indian Restaurants to Covent Garden Market, then on to Long Acre Street to Southampton Row and the hotel, where we rested and packed for our morning flight to Prague.


At around 6pm we wrapped ourselves back up then walked down Great Russell Street, past Tottenham Court Road, past Oxford Street, through Soho Park and into Soho, where we window-shopped for a restaurant. We decided that the Delhi Brasserie, 44 Frith Street, looked inviting. We sat downstairs in a cozy corner and indulged ourselves in the Menu 4 selection: Chicken Tarelo, Lamb Korai, Chicken Tikka Masala, vegetables, nan, pilau rice, Kingfisher beer, Cobra beer and sweet gulab jamon for desert. Sated, we could barely move. We managed to climb back upstairs and then strolled through Soho until our feet pointed us back to Bloomsbury and the hotel. We finished packing and got to bed early (our feet were so happy) in order to catch our early morning flight from Gatwick to Prague. As we opened our windows to get some cool air, a light drizzle began to fall. A fitting last evening on this first leg of our magnificent journey.


Pedometer reading for today - 8.8 miles

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