Tuesday, March 18, 2014

London and Brighton

    We had a great time in London. Jack graciously let us stay at his place near Portobello Road in the North Kensington neighborhood. It's a really nice neighborhood, with all kinds of restaurants and boutiques. There was even a Spanish grocery store, with the same things I buy in Spain, the only difference being a 300% price increase! 

A street in Jack's neighborhood 
     We did many things. For one, we went to the British Library and saw the oldest existant Beowulf manuscript, the Magna Carta, the Lindisfarne Gospels, and many other texts of historical importance. It's free and I definitely recommend stopping in next time you're in London. 
     Jack, Katie and I went to the National Gallery as well, a museum I first visited with Katie over three years ago. It is home to all kinds of famous paintings. Two lesser-known ones that struck my eye this time were "Sunset in the Auvergne" by Théodore Rousseau and "The Tempest" by Peder Balke. Katie and I also went to the Tate Modern museum, which had some great art. The surrealism room quickly became one of my favorite art rooms in any museum. Favorites of mine there include Francis Picabia's "Otaïti" and Max Ernst's "The Entire City," both of which were painted in the 1930s. If you don't care about this, don't worry—this paragraph is mostly so that at a later date I can easily find some paintings I enjoyed. 

Outside the National Maritime Museum
     How many museums did we go to, you ask? Well, without talking about the British Museum Jack and I spent time in my first day there, I will spend a couple of sentences on the National Maritime Museum in the Greenwich district. Katie and I went there to see a vast William Turner exhibit. Turner, a 19th century English painter, is one of Katie's favorite painters. I first saw his art in person at the National Gallery when we were in London the first time. Above all, he is famous for his seascapes. And he was good at them. The exhibition brought together the largest collection assembled of his seascapes and it was awesome. From large scale paintings to sketches, the exhibit offered a huge range of sea paintings and was mesmerizing.

      Of course, we did loads of other things in London, but we also took a nice trip to Brighton to see one of my flatmates from last year and good mate, Rue. We had some experiences with a terrible flatmate that ensured a lifetime bond. He kindly invited us down to Brighton to stay with him for a night and it was lovely. We had a nice walk around the town, ate fish and chips and reminisced. It was good to see him, and as with Jack, it was crazy to see him outside of the context we met and became friends in Spain. Hopefully one day they can both visit me on my home turf. 

Rue, Katie and I in Brighton
     And that concludes our Christmas vacation to the UK. It only took me until March to finish writing about it. It was really a fantastic, relaxing vacation and I am very glad we decided to do it and were met with such hospitality everywhere we went. Next up: my brother's month-long stay with me in Madrid! If you want a teaser, you can read the blog post he made about it. He is studying in China this semester and has started a great, funny blog. Cheers. 

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