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where we embark on a new adventure

July 29, 2010

we’re back from our trip to portland, oregon, where we traveled to meet the newest grandbaby.  we may be biased, but she really is a little doll.  we were quite smitten from the first moment.

since we’ve had a serious lapse in the blog i thought it might be fun to switch gears a little and do some armchair travel.  it’s a lot cheaper, less exhausting, and requires far less time than the real thing.  make yourself comfortable and come along on a whirlwind tour of london and paris…

we departed on a gorgeous summer evening.  walking through the airport terminal on the way to the gate it was encouraging to see displays of art all along the corridor.

it seemed a good omen in anticipation of all the art we planned to absorb over the coming three weeks.  and then, we were off!

now, i must issue a small disclaimer before the trip gets too far underway that we are not conventional travelers.  there will be no photos of us standing in front of acclaimed landmarks.  looking at the nearly one thousand images that we returned with there are almost none with us in them at all.  that’s the way we roll.  in addition, some of our subject matter is unique unto us, or maybe i should say “me” …  this will become more clear as we go along.

we arrived at heathrow around midday the next day.  we quickly retrieved our bags, hopped on the tube, and headed to bloomsbury.  we got off at the russell square station and schlepped our bags the rest of the way to our hotel  (a lot of city blocks) (really).  a good traveler would drop the bags and set out to explore.  this would be b.  i, however, am not a good traveler.  i preferred to drop myself on the bed for a good nap while the explorer went out.  upon his return i dragged myself to an upright position and stumbled along in search of theater tickets and dinner.

leicester square is the place to go for tickets, and since we already knew what we wanted to see it was quick and easy.  then we headed to a little italian place we enjoy and had a nice leisurely dinner.  there are many things about great britain that i love, but the cuisine is sadly not one of them.  thanks to the ethnic diversity of london, however, there is more than enough to choose from.

after dinner it was time to get some serious sleep.

the next morning we tried the breakfast at the hotel.  hmm.  after that b., the good traveler, took his breakfast there each morning, while i chose to consume take-out coffee made from actual ground coffee beans and some form of baked good for the remainder of our stay.  what EVER.  seriously…  we’re in europe to drink bad coffee?  i don’t think so.  after that we set out on foot (this will become a recurring theme…) to see dicken’s house, passing through the university campus on the way.  those venues always make me want to switch to more conservative apparel, wear spectacles, and carry an aged leather satchel with lots of pens.  but that moment passed and we continued on our way.  dicken’s house was a rather modest dwelling in a series of row houses.  it was the one with the cart of molten asphalt parked directly in front of the door where the street was being repaired, belching its heat and gases into a cloud at the entrance.  fortunately we were quickly ushered inside and the door closed on both the noise and the odour.  there is no tour through the house, rather guests are allowed to roam about as they wish.  it was interesting to get a glimpse into the life of a man whose work i have long admired.  i am always rather in awe at being in the very rooms that writers and artists lived their lives.  it’s humbling.  i took very few photos, the following being a view from the back courtyard, one of many bookcases housing the extensive collection of the various printings of dickens’ books, and the plaque on the writing desk where he penned several of his works.

following a brief stop back at the hotel we set forth (on foot) to the thee-ah-ter district.  it is important to pronounce this word correctly, as london is known for its stage plays and there are dozens to choose from within just a few blocks of each other.  before the play we enjoyed another italian dinner on a pedestrian alley filled with restaurants…

and a most amazing hair salon which boasted of being an award winning establishment.  since european fashion is one of my passions, i had to capture an image (or two) of that.

last year we missed seeing war horse, so that was at the top of our list.  you simply must google this play and watch the trailer.  never has there been a simpler stage set or costuming, but the power and drama of this play is unsurpassed.  set during world war I it is the moving story of a boy and his horse.  the backdrop is a strip of paper from a sketchbook on which the story unfolds as a series of sketches, while the horses in this play are life-sized puppets.  yes, i DO know that one should not take photos during a stage performance, but this was so amazing that i did it to promote the performance…

the grown horses are operated by three adults:  one at the head and two inside the armature of the body.  these people have spent countless hours in the company of horses, as each movement and gesture is authentically horse-like and capable of making you forget that you are watching puppets perform instead of actual animals.  these characters become convincingly real and the audience becomes emotionally attached, so much so,  in fact, that at the end of the performance there were few dry eyes in the house during the standing ovation.  we stopped at the plough for a nightcap on our way back to the hotel.  I may not enjoy the food so much, but the british make a great gin and tonic.

*  tomorrow–  a visit to hampstead heath and keat’s house.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Jenny permalink
    July 29, 2010 9:02 pm

    I just realized I did not talk with you about your trip. At all. So while we are not discussing the trip in person, it still is cool to read about your travels, (and the “good traveler” comments are funny!) and see photos. Even the illegal ones. :o)
    I’ll be checking in tomorrow…

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