London was calling…
Over the next couple of months, I have decided to be the wife and travel with Fred on business. I have the time, right now, and the kids are more than capable of taking care of themselves for a few days. Also, the locations are London, Paris and then somewhere warm in February. Each for a few days. Not bad.
The flight over was a breeze which always makes things a tad easier. We are staying at the Soho Hotel. It was one on my list and my friend told me we should stay there so the deal was done. Great hotel, wonderful nice sized rooms.
We checked in and hit the ground running. First stop, coffee. The shop is called Flat White which is a pretty standard coffee in Australia. After living off of Flat Whites for 2 weeks when we were in Australia, the cafe called. Excellent coffee.
In my Junior year of college, I lived in London for a semester. Loved it for so many reasons. Probably the most is that for me, it was a real live changer. I spent a lot of time by myself, walked the town from one end to the other, indulged myself in museums and art and really allowed me to reflect on me. That's what you are supposed to do in college. I actually came back from London, broke up with my then boyfriend and started hanging out more with Fred, who at that time was my best friend. So it obviously worked out for me.
That time period was the beginning of the Thatcher years. London has changed so much since then. First of all, the food was god awful when I lived here. I put on at least 15 pounds in one semester living off of pints of ale, Plowman's lunches, shrimp chips from the local Chinese restaurant, Cadbury candy bars and of greasy fish and chips. Healthy diet. London was a lot scrappier then. London has become wealthier not only from their own economy but from the cash infusion from the Middle East, Russia and India. With that, the stores have changed and the food has become fantastic. Needless to say, I am looking forward to our meals that we have planned. More on that.
After our coffees, we jumped on the Tube and headed over to Sloane Square to see the Saatchi Gallery. When the Saatchi Gallery opened in London, I happened to be in London and got the chance to be one of the first hundreds of people who walked through the doors. It was then situated in a large dark building over the Thames. It has since moved. When were in London 2 summers ago, the move was yet to be complete and wasn't open. Today, the gallery was open and there was some pretty amazing art to see. I particularly loved how there is a wall with every artist currently being shown and their picture.
Conceptually what I loved about the Saatchi gallery is that all of the art is collected early on. All new young emerging artists who are just beginning their careers. Certainly many of these artists go on to build large portfolios for themselves but the person behind choosing them from the beginning has an incredible eye.
The gallery itself is beautiful. Each room has plenty of natural light bathed over white walls with plenty of space for each piece to hang. The floors are natural wood. There is something very clean and refreshing about the place. The art hangs forward and everything else just fades into the background.
Of all the art today, my favorite was a small exhibit from Philips that celebrated Korean artists. This family of statues were brilliant. They almost looked as if they were standing in a fun house of mirrors. However they were made created an illusion. You can see how big they are with Fred standing next to them.
The other piece was a photo of 3 women statues that appear to be having a moment. It captured my attention.
This made me laugh, sort of like a random disorganized closet. This was not from Korea.
Last but certainly not the least is in the basement of the gallery was 5 wheels chairs that had statues of elderly people on them, who appear to be napping, and their wheelchairs kept moving around and bumping into each other. Laugh out loud and genius at the same time.
We left and had lunch at a small cafe down the street. Here is where London has truly changed over the years. The restaurant, Manicomio, has outdoor seating and indoor cafe and a nicer restaurant on the other side. Years ago, you'd hit up a pub or just have bad food. Our lunch was delicious. I had a roasted vegetable salad of carrots, squash and parsnips mixed with sliced almonds, honey and thyme. Fred went with the Focaccia sandwich, open face, with melted sharp cheese, roasted cherry tomatoes and caramelized onions. Yum.
Back to the hotel for a shower…next activity?