Water Lilies

Did you know that Monet developed cataracts in his later years when he painted his water lilies and iris' paintings? That's why they appear to be more "messy" than his paintings from early in his career.

I learned this today at the National Gallery. We visited the free museum today and explored its amazing collection of art dating back to the 12th century with works by Monet, Picasso, van Gogh, Michelangelo, Cezanne, Degas, and many other world-renown artists. I found the art from the early centuries to be brilliant, but I could only see so many Jesus and Mary paintings. I learned that during that time, the Roman Catholic church had the most money and commissioned all these paintings. They were very impressive but there were so many of them and after a while they all looked a like. I enjoyed the later works by Monet and Picasso much more, probably because they were the most recent works on display. I also really liked the works by Dutch artists (I can't remember their names).

After the National Gallery, the day turned into "All Things Diana." We went to the National Portrait Gallery and viewed an exhibit of photographs by Mario Testino of Princess Diana. the photographs captured what she was feeling at the different times of her life - the happiness at her marriage, the loneliness and sorrow in the late 80's and the joy she experienced with boys and while she did her charity work.

After that, we took the London Tube to Kensington where we entered Hyde Park (like Central Park). We headed to Kensington Palace to tour Diana's private home. Kensington featured a special exhibit, "A Princess Remembered." The first floor played multiple videos of various points of Diana's life - from her wedding, to her fashion, to her charity work, etc. People wept while they watched these films. We moved upstairs to see special displays of her evening gowns and more beautiful photographs of her. The upper floors displayed various drawing and state rooms, as well as the personal bedroom and apartments of Queen Victoria. Her bed looked to be very uncomfortable! When the tour ended, we walked out to the gardens and saw a huge gathering of people there to leave flowers and cards for Diana. Simply amazing.

We then headed to The Orangery, a restaurant in in the park, for afternoon tea. I learned that tea is made up of scones, tea, finger sandwiches, cakes, cheeses, salads, etc. It was so good and the restaurant was elegant and breezy.

We decided to walk off our meal by walking through the park. It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon and the park was full of families, dogs, rugby games, pickup soccer games, bikes, rollerbladers, etc. We discovered the Princess Diana Memorial Walk and followed it. Along the way, we found the Prince Albert Memorial and the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain.

We continued through the length of the park, out to Buckingham Palace and up the Mall back to our hotel in Covent Garden. All together, we must have walked about 8 miles over the period of 8 hours.
We have 1 day left in London which will be full of work meetings, so today was our final free day in London. More than anything, this blog is my personal journal to remind me of things my thoughts and experiences. So as I sit here, watching "The Queen," here are some things of London that I want to note of :

* 1 GBP = $2 which means that my tour of Buckingham Palace was $30 and my tour of Kensington Palace was $24.

* London is a great, diverse city that is much more vast than any city in the US.

* Big Ben is my favorite momument.
* Avoid Piccadilly Circus. Its crowded, touristy and too much like Times Square.

* Take the Tube from Heathrow.

* Contrary to popular opinion, the food in London is not bad; quite good actually - just very expensive!
* On my next trip, I should visit St. Paul's Cathedral, the Tower of London and the National Library.
I've added more photos to my London album and created a second album for "All Things Diana":