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June 15th 2015
Published: July 29th 2015
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London wasn't as beautiful as Stockholm, Amsterdam or Paris, but the museums and cultural activities were incredible, as expected. I could have bounced from museums to meals to plays for days on end, and nearly did. The gardens, too, were impressive - although I had to save Kew Gardens for my next trip - and, of course, the historical monuments are a top draw for any visitor. We only had a few short days on this return trip, and I'm looking forward to a longer visit the next time around.

We did the best we could and managed to make it through the National Gallery, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Courtauld Gallery and the Tate Britain, and it was indeed time well spent. Each museum was better than the last, no mean feat considering I was already weak-kneed at the V&A, especially at the South Asian (the most comprehensive and important in the West) and Islamic exhibits.

Perhaps most personally importantly, I discovered the work of Joseph Mallord William Turner, the British precursor to Claude Monet. Although renowned for his oil paintings, Turner is also a master of British watercolor landscape painting, which is what I most admired.
The Man in Seat Sixty-OneThe Man in Seat Sixty-OneThe Man in Seat Sixty-One

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Regarded as a Romantic preface to Impressionism, some of his works are mere suggestions of subject matter yet somehow still absolutely enthralling . Although many of his works were temporarily absent from the Tate Britain, they managed to arrive on exhibit in San Francisco shortly after my return.

The art museum highlights have been well captured in the photos. Westminster Abbey and Saint Paul's Cathedral, however, are not well documented on this blog but were magnificent repositories of British history that deserved much more time than I allocated to them.

Some of the best food of the trip was found in London, despite the rate of exchange which kept us from many a delicious meal. In particular I'd like to tout a South Indian restaurant, Rasa (6 Dering Street), which focuses on Keralan cuisine. I haven't yet been to the south of India, and this restaurant made me deeply regret that transgression. Only one photo has been included but, if you like Indian food, that should be your first stop in London. I thought that the Parippu soup and Moru Kacchiathu with coconut rice was one of the best meals of my life - sweet mangoes and green bananas cooked in yogurt with green chilies, ginger and curry leaves. Delicious!

We decided to see only one play on this visit, The Beaux' Stratagem at the National Theatre, which was loads of fun, even considering the musical interludes (Clement isn't one for musicals and that ruled out most the contenders for the evening). If you're visiting London before the last performance on September 20, be sure to check it out.


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View of street in front of the hostel.
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Bar and breakfast area of the hostel
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Since 1066 the coronations of English and British monarchs have been held here.
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Where Prince William and Kate Middleton were married in 2011.
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Stumbled across the guard heading off for a parade.
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National Gallery

Lord Ribblesdale, John Singer Sargent (1902)
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National Gallery

Sunflowers, Vincent Van Gogh (1888)
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National Gallery

Two Crabs, Vincent van Gogh (1889)
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National Gallery

A Vase of Flowers, Paul Gaugin (1896) - most likely my favorite Gaugin!
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Water Lilies (Setting Sun), Claude Monet (1907)
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Snow Scene at Argenteuil, Claude Monet (1875)


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