London, Day Two

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Today I went into downtown London at 10:30 AM and did not return until 10PM. It is obvious to me why Americans are over weight, the portions of food are too large and we never walk. This includes me. I have been walking and walking and walking. I cannot believe it, I have no muscles for this even though I go to the gym and walk everyday in California. Anyway I plan to take full advantage of this and hopefully loose those pounds that have crept up on me since my knee injury. My goal is 185 pounds and I have a plan to get there. Walk and don’t eat too much. Food in London is not particularly good so this helps. France and Greece are going to be the killers, but so long as walking is there I will be fine.

Today I took a bus tour of London. This is something I always do in a new city, to get an overview. I cannot believe the size of this place. The bus just kept going and going and going from site to site. The bus ride alone was overwhelming. Somewhere along the route I jumped (hobbled) off the bus and spent almost four hours in the National Galleries. This place was a dream come true. Before I took this trip I watched a Teaching Company DVD on the paintings of the Louvre in Paris and this prepared me for the National Galleries. I was taught right off the bat that I am never going to see it all so don’t even try. Instead, buy one of the self guided head sets tours and just look at a select set of works. If you don’t already know what you want to see, then just pick the pieces that attract you. And this is what I did. I went slowly through the galleries and just stood or sat in front of the paintings that touched me and listened to their guided tours. It is a wonderful way to see a museum. In the past I would just walk through the galleries, “saw that, saw that, done, done, next, next… “ and so on. Yes I have seen the Mona Lisa, but I have never studied her, actually taken the time to enter into the painting. This time I know how to do it and I will. Similarly with all these painting in London I had a plan of attack and it worked. I was also delighted to find that London has a good collection of Monet, Degas, Manet and Cézzanne and other French impressionists. What I had not seen in Paris, I was seeing here in London. It was wonderful! On the bus tour I discovered another small museum of French Impressionism, Somerset House. I am going there later today.

It takes a lot of time to really know how to look at art and take it all in. I see most people doing what I used to do, race through the galleries so they can at least say they were there. But it really takes preparation, and the more training, the better. These self guided tours are the best. They are worth every penny or in this case pence.

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