Monday, September 19, 2011

uk trip 2011, day three-- llandaff cathedral, the british museum and the ceremony of the keys

holy hell, i am still so sick and jet lagged but momentum is on my side so... uh...what? ...oh, right! i was going to tell you that this is another really, really long post.  you are now free to move about the cabin. bing-bong.

our last morning in wales (mope) dawned with the promise of sunshine.

but this being wales, hahaha, no. it was cloudy again within five minutes after i took this photo.

actually, rainy days are really good for seeing cathedrals. i mean, once you've managed to make it inside.

if you happen to be caught in a surprise downpour on the cathedral steps after you've been checking out amy pond's village (which happens to be near llandaff cathedral. leff will have the photos soon. (i only watched the daiten series because. oh, honey. scottish men.)) you might find yourself yelling "sanctuary!!!".  which, yes, did happen.

i was sporting the drowned rat look (complete with squeaky right shoe) while admiring epstien's "christ in majesty".

i also took an upskirt photo of this sculpture because, awed or not, i am still a bit of a smart ass. also, shed dared me. (apologies to my father, a retired minister, who might be reading this. sorry, dad. promise i'll behave at the next cathedral i visit.)

i am such a sucker for stained glass

and tombs

particularly when they are incredibly morbid. i mean !!!!

isn't that just spectacular?!

i'm not sure what it is but the somberness of cathedrals, with their dead inhabitants and smell of candle wax never gets to me. well, unless there are battle flags.

these were located next to the welsh regiment chapel.

thankfully, there was a rosetti triptych to save my spiraling mood (and this blog post) because, let me tell you, i was dangerously close to getting seriously depressed. (pro tip:  it's best to save depressive moods for trains and not waste time on them at sites if it can be helped.)

ANYWAY! the rosetti! "the seeds of david"!

super notable for rosetti's use of typology! hooray for prefigurative symbolism! hooray! (i remembered none of this while i was standing there. don't be impressed.)

on the way back to the car, i got confused and thought that this was a great contemporary piece.

ha, no. reconstruction work, shed informed me. some of you leave your hearts in san fransisco. me, i leave my brains in cardiff.

after the cathedral, we had to catch our train to the smoke. sadly, shed couldn't come with us.

but it's ok. we'll be back in wales soon, i'm sure. one can only hope as an eu citizen of some sort. sigh...

about two and a half hours (and three phone calls from a london businessman to his office later) we arrived at paddington.

i would like to say that i got an immediate shot of adrenaline from just being back in london but, sadly, that's not the case because, god, i was really starting to drag with this cold.  and i was tired of lugging our luggage around. (it's a very apt name, luggage.)

i did laugh and clap like a four year old when i saw a gwiz in the wild though. 'cause look at it! *laughing, clapping*

after checking into our hotel and eating some marks and sparks prepacked food that we'd picked up at paddington, leff and i decided that it was high time that we got to the british museum.

those of you who read last year's recap will remember how i had feet issues (it's always something with me) and couldn't make it to the brit museum. it was one of the most disappointing days of my life. THIS time, however, we made sure that it was the first thing on our list. and, holy frijoles, it did NOT disappoint!

but before i dive headfirst into the insane brilliance that is the british museum, i want to backtrack about five blocks. (heh) on our way to the museum, we were stopped by two older welsh people (hooray!) who needed directions.

a further aside: i am always asked for directions no matter where i happen to be. also, leff and i are fairly good at not seeming like americans (i think people assume that we're german or possibly canadian but i can't be sure.) until we open our damn mouths. in fact, the conversation went a little something like this:

welsh man: excuse me. we seem to be lost. do you know where___is?
me: no. sorry..i...
welsh man: oh. you're americans
me: yes, sorry about that! but i have an a to z(ed) and i know how to use it! :D

but back to the museum. were you aware that i saw the rosetta stone?!?

actually, a lot of other people did too.

i swear, i almost keeled over.  i just wanted to bust open the case and, i don't know, press on the engraving with my fingers. (but i'm a bizarrely tactile person. trust.)

i got over this urge rather quickly when i saw these

and, i'm fairly certain, yipped "IT'S THE FUCKING FIVE LEGGED ASSYRIAN GUYS!!!" (have i mentioned how you can't take me anywhere?)

behind the sentries were, of course, the stupendously brilliant panels.this hart is lovely

but i was on the hunt for lions.

in fact, i probably mowed down a guided group muttering "where is she? where is she?" while i was scanning for the dying lioness.

and i mean it, words fail. you study the dying lioness in art history and, you know, you understand the pathos and also the sheer genius of the person who carved it but not really.  you guys know how reproductions never do the original justice.

here's the lioness in context.

i could have hogged the bench in front of the lion hunt panels for hours but, no, not really because i knew that the mausoleum at halicarnassus was just hanging out somewhere.

and, for real, it was just there.

want to know what almost made me hyperventilate? this signage.

i swoon. (and that's not something that i'm about.) THE FRIEZE!!

here's a detail to show the different levels.

look, the british museum just doesn't know when to stop. i could be perfectly happy with some parthenon friezes. i could! i love old art shit like that. but the bm is all "no, i can do better" and POW!! you see the fucking elgin marbles and almost cry. (it's so embarrassing.)

wet. drapery.  the damn pinnacle of wet drapery.

and the horse's head that i have dreamed about for decades.

it was really hard for me to not stick my hand into its mouth. (i told you i'm oddly tactile. *shoulder shrug* it's part of my job, amirite?)

warning to padre: a bit of lewdness.  i took this photo just to remember leff's joke about how the phallus never seemed to survive antiquity intact.

i could been entirely happy with just the greek section. but, no, not really because, COME ON, i practically have an undeclared minor in egyptian art history. so on through the museum we trudged.

except this is assyrian. heh.

seriously, bastets just hanging out in the corner. IN WHAT OTHER PLACE IS THIS POSSIBLE?!


also, more of south america than you can shake a stick at! WHY WOULD I SHAKE A STICK AT THIS?! I DON'T KNOW!! WHY AM I SCREAMING?!

there is a really funny video that i will post here of leff setting off an alarm. i have to wait on him to upload it however. sorry.

we spent, what? two and half hours at the british musuem? NOT ENOUGH TIME!

but on the other hand, too much time considering jet lag + cold + cathedral earlier in the day + train travel.  we deserved an ice cream with a flake bar.

and a nap. on the walk back to our hotel to accomplish that, we saw the rental bikes that i'd read about a few weeks ago.  these seem to be really popular as they were all rented out after office hours. (people used them for commuting.)

after a slight rest and an episode of "grandpa in my pocket" (cbeebies, don't ever change. just stay as bizarre as possible!) leff and i hopped on the tube to...duh, duh, duuuuuh....

the tower of london!

i had procured tickets for the ceremony of the keys about two months before we left. (thanks again, shed, for the postage!).  i mean, 700 year old ceremony!  you KNOW i'm about that.

also, in that picture?  the fucking ROMAN WALL!! you know i rubbed some roman dust off of it onto my jacket to help it become even more haunted, right?

we had a bit of time to kill before attending the ceremony so we hit another one of our "to do" sites that we weren't able to accomplish last time. that's right, tower bridge.

since i am one of these nice people (which, what? i think you're all wrong in your assessment.) tourists approach me with the request to take their picture all the time.  one of these days i will document it for you (i took three photos with three different cameras at tower bridge in less than five minutes.) but for now you'll have to be content with a picture of luther.

tower bridge! i was there!

i can't prove to you that i attended the ceremony of the keys as photography wasn't allowed.  just know that leff and i were at the wrong gate and were almost late which, ha! they won't let you in if you are late! so we were sprinting around the damned tower of london after a catherdral, a train trip, the british museum, with jet lag while snotting up from the cold. i will have to tell someone else's grandchildren about this someday.

also know that there are british military guys who are not beefeaters at the tower. *sly grin*

thoroughly exhausted, we headed back to the hotel

where we had the welsh cider that shed had given us. DELICIOUS!! POTENT!! I FELL ASLEEP SO QUICKLY!!

tomorrow leff and i head back to the british library for a special exhibit. the hardy tree!  THE HARDY TREE! st. pancras! i get too sick to do anything during the middle of the day! and "the mousetrap".  whodunnit? check back tomorrow!


Lisa B. said...

So jealous I am almost crying. But happy you are having fun!

r4kk4 said...