Sunday, February 26, 2017

The British Museum

The British Museum is one of those places where a single article or in this case, blog post is simply not enough.  It is right up there with the premier museums of the world and is one of London's most visited attractions drawing in excess of six million visitors a year.

The museum's entrance on Great Russell Street shows off the neoclassical architecture in all its magnificent grandeur.  The grand entrance was intended to reflect the wondrous objects housed inside and I think it does that rather well.

Passing through that grand facade into the museum, you find yourself in the area called Watson Hall and its classical Greek design.

A few steps past Watson Hall brings you to the Great Court, a truly stunning achievement in architectural design by Norman Foster.  The centerpiece for the museum was completed in 2000.

The soaring glass and steel ceiling covers what was once a courtyard that had become unusable because of a structure to house historic books that was built at its core.  Those books are now at home at the British Library and this space became ripe for huge remodeling.

Mr. Foster did a spectacular job making this space the center focal point for the entire museum and it's vast collection.

Among the museum's most famous possessions is this statue of Ramesses II dating back to 1270BC and weighing in at over 7 tons.

Of course there are Egyptian mummies and the ornate sarcophagi to go with them.

In fact, the Egyptian collection is one of the most popular in the museum.  If you are there on a Sunday like I was, you will find the rooms full of visitors.

I enjoyed walking through the mummies and statues but, I was fascinated with some of the smaller treasures to be found in the quieter rooms.  I posted about the The Lewis Chessman in another post.

To the right is a gilt Bacchus sitting atop a barrel of wine.

And, on the left is a glazed ceramic vase depicting Hercules embracing Deiarina after rescuing her from the centaur Nessus.

One thing that always impresses me is seeing ancient glass creations that have survived the centuries in seemingly perfect condition.

This one is described as gilded enameled glass probably coming from Syria or Egypt but mounted into a goblet in France somewhere around 1200.

I spent the better part of a day wandering around this boundless repository.  I even stopped for lunch at the restaurant under that splendid glass ceiling.

There are so many fabulous museums in the city of London, I don't think I'd ever run out of things to see and things to learn if I lived there my entire life.

This post is linked to Through My Lens.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

It's Laundry Day

When I was a child I used to help my mother hang the clothes out to dry.  She had two lines strung up in our back yard and we would pin the clothes to the line with those old fashioned wooden clothespins.  We don't often see clothes hung out to dry any longer in the cities of the U.S.  When I traveled to Italy, I was reminded of those days almost everywhere I went.  I saw the above clothes line from my hotel window in Florence.

In Siena, I saw laundry hanging against those gorgeous "siena" walls.

In San Gimignano I spotted this lone T-shirt on a short line outside a home.

In Venice sometimes clothes were hung out across the canal...

...other times they were hung against a house.

In Burano I found some bright laundry against those brightly painted houses.

Everyone in Burano seemed to have lines outside their second floor windows.

There is just something charming about seeing lines of clothes out to dry!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Inspired by Photography

Last week I told you about my eclectic list of sites to see while visiting London.  Today I'll show you another of those rather unique locations.  This one happens to be a home furnishings store.  No, I wasn't on the lookout for a hard to find table or chair, it was something in the store itself that I found interesting.  You see, I had seen a number of photographs of the most picturesque spiral staircase that I had ever seen and I wanted a chance to photograph it for myself.

I made my way to Tottenham Court Road to find the store.  The store is called Heal's and it specializes in modern home furnishings and accessories.  I have to say, the store itself  was quite appealing with an array of beautiful things to look at.

There were quite a lot of sparkly things in this showroom.

But, it was the staircase I came for and when I found it, I could see that it was every bit as beautiful as all the photos I'd seen.  It's called the Brewer Staircase and it whirls and spins in a mesmerizing pattern.  The stairs were originally designed by Cecil Brewer in 1916.  Today visitors from all over the world stop in just to see it.  I climbed the stairs all the way to the top so I could take photos looking down.

And I went all the way to the bottom so I could take photos looking up.

I even took one looking to the side.

No matter what view point I chose, it looked stunning from every angle.

I guess when it comes right down to it, I've always been inspired by photos of places and things.  If I see something interesting in a book, on a postcard, TV show or on my computer screen, I tend to write it down and do some research.  It just might end up on my must-see list!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Broadcasting House

Some might say that I'm a tourist with a varied and eclectic interest in places to seek out.  Others might say I have a whacky list of interests that wouldn't appeal to most people.  Both are probably true.  Maybe that's why I travel on my own so well.  In fact, even when I travel with friends, I tend to go off on my own for at least part of the time.  On my last trip to London, I had a long list of places I wanted to visit and I'm happy to say, I made it to most of them.  There are still a few lurking on the list for next time.

One of those places on my list was Broadcasting House, the home of the BBC.  Why, you might ask?  It all stems from a comedy program I found on Netflix a year or so ago called "W1A".  It was a hilarious comedy of yarns about managing forces at Broadcasting House.

I'm sure that real life work at the BBC is much more placid than the show portrays....or is it?  Regardless, the show made me curious to see the building for myself.  The building is a combination of old and new; the old part having been built in 1932 and the new part completed in 2013.  It now forms a sort of horseshoe shape around a central plaza.

Inside the lobby, there are displays relating to different BBC productions.  I was excited to find Dr. Who's Tardis sitting in the lobby area.  I tried to peek inside but it was locked.  Too bad, I would have loved to take a spin around the universe.

After passing through a security checkpoint, I arrived at a visitors area where I could view all the activity in the Newsroom below.

After taking several photos, I noticed the "No Photography" sign on the glass.....oops!  However, the security guards were a mere 10 feet away from me and none of them took notice.

If you are a fan of British comedy, I recommend the short series "W1A".  It stars Hugh Bonneville (of Downton Abbey fame) and a cast of idiosyncratic characters I won't soon forget!