Sunday, February 15, 2009

Rock around the clock

On Day 5, we returned to the Victoria and Albert Museum, after our truncated-because-J-woke-up visit previously. This time, we followed my mother's advice for museum visitors with different tastes: set a time to meet and split up. I'd tried this idea with the husband before, but he thought it was some sort of betrayal of vacation togetherness. But it worked well for us because I like to go through museums like this: fastfastfastfast and the husband likes to proceed like this: slooooooowwwwww. So, on my jaunt around, I concentrated on the materials and techniques wing and saw, among other things, a great collection of 20th century design (of all sorts, from Macs to chairs to shoes), the impressive ironworks collection, and a fabulous exhibit on the Man Booker prize that I loved. I ran into the husband in the silver and together we saw some sculptures, frescos, jewels, and more iron. I did find on my jaunt that the V&A is not all that stroller friendly. I eventually had to commandeer a young British guy into helping me down a flight of stairs before I ran into the husband. But we enjoyed our selective and not at all exhaustive visit this time.

After the museum, we went to Harrods, just to see. And see we did, crowds and crowds of people. We did use the "luxury bathrooms" and found their changing facilities to be top-rate, with free baby lotion and diaper cream and nappies on sale, as well as a padded and spacious changing area. We then headed up to the fourth floor to visit the yummy chocolate bar. We sampled four varieties of hot chocolate: vanilla (yummy, my favorite), rosewater (just a hint of rose at the end, quite nice), equator (bitter with strange taste of orange, not a winner), and hazelnut praline (the husband's favorite, rich and velvety). J tasted the chocolates, his first try, but wasn't all that impressed. We, however, thought it was all lovely!

After lunch, we took a loooong walk while Baby J slept in the stroller. We went down Hyde Park the long way, on our way (we thought) to the Marble Arch. Eventually, we did arrive at a Marble Arch...with another one just beyond it. Very confusing, this. After messing with the map for a while and after J finally woke up, we decided to take the tube home since it was getting close to dinner time, but our trip turned out to be longer than we had planned since it was rush hour and we were not where we thought we were. Indeed, some sort of map or tube confusion has afflicted us at a few crucial times here, but not too too terribly often, so we've soldiered on.

Day 6 was Sunday and because my parents are assigned to a ward forever far away and the tube was on reroute anyway, we decided to go to the much closer Hyde Park building (very near the V&A). Because we were lazy, we also decided to go at 12:30pm, which meant we ended up attending the Spanish/Portuguese branch. Luckily, most was in Spanish, and bad Spanish at that (former missionaries who hadn't spoken all that regularly and who were therefore very slow and easy to translate). We just went for the first meeting, trying to minimize nap disruption while on vacation and then headed for the behemoth British Museum in the afternoon.

Following our shorter visit to the V&A, we decided to do the British Museum's top 10, as outlined in out guidebook. Really, this was the only sensible decision, given the vastness of the collections and the throngs of people (did I mention somewhere in here we ran into term break hordes? Yes, February, totally a good time to do things in the US, not so much in Europe!). So, we saw tombs and friezes and frescos and stones and bones and marble aplenty. And we felt quite satisfied with ourselves when we were done, though I am sure students of culture the world over are turning over in their graves to read of our exploits!

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