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Trip Report 111op Visits Budapest, Paris and London

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Well I posted my report to USA. Here's a repost:

was in Parma for a few hours (for the Correggio show), then I went to Israel for three days. Afterwards I flew to Paris via Budapest (a few hours stopover), spent one night and one day in Paris, then took an early morning train to London and spent two days there before flying home. Actually my second day I was mostly in Greenwich.

Here's a summary of the itinerary:

Day 1: Budapest/Paris
Day 2: Paris
Day 3: Train to London, London
Day 4: London/Greenwich, fly home

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    Budapest

    I left Israel behind with a cold and a mild fever. Since I had to get to the airport around 3 am for a 6 am departure, I tried to sleep on the plane as much as possible. My flight got into Terminal 2B. There was only one ATM machine and that wasn't working. So I had to walk over to Terminal 2A right next door. But strangely, I had to walk outside to get to 2A (I think there was some construction), where there was again exactly one ATM machine. I took out about 5000 Hungarian florints (about $25).

    Then I had to walk back to 2B to leave my bag (about $10 for six hours). Of course, there's exactly one left luggage service. Then I arranged to take the airport shuttle. This operates between hotels and the airport. Since I wasn't staying in one, I arranged for the Meridien, which was right in the city center. Though my flight to Paris was at 3:45 pm, I had to arrange for a pickup at 1:30 pm. This left me about 3.5 hours to explore Budapest.

    The skies were overcast, and it was a little chilly, and I could just imagine that it must be terribly depressing to live in Budapest in the winter. When I got off the van, I took the Metro for the Szépmûvészeti Múzeum. It's a couple of stops away at Heroes Square, which is rather big and fascist looking. Once I got in, I found the cafe and ordered some water and a ravioli with tomato sauce. The ravioli, when arrived, had sort of lost their elasticity. They had been boiled in water for a while. They were supposed to come with ham, but I couldn't really taste the fillings. In short, this was very Hungarian. It was odd to be eating ravioli at 10:30 am, but I figured that I was weak and I needed some nourishment. They gave me a lot of ravioli; I ate about half.

    I was at the museum to look for its Bruegel and a small Leonardo equestrian statue. There's also a Raphael (the Esterhazy Madonna) that wasn't especially interesting. I skipped two permanent exhibitions (one on Egypt and the other on Hodler).

    Now I went back to the city center. I decided to walk across the Chain Bridge, which spans across the Danube and links the Pest side (where I was on) to the Buda side, where I was heading. I took the funicular to ascend the hill. I walked near the Castle and admired the views of the Pest side, including what I thought was the Parliament. Then I reversed my route. Since I wasn't feeling all that well, I decided to skip the short walk to the Parliament on the Pest side.

    Upon my return to the Pest side I went to the Four Seasons Hotel/Gresham Palace, a landmark art nouveau building. As I went inside, Bach's music greeted me (it was one of the Violin Concerti, or perhaps the Double Violin Concerto). My spirits were lifted by the warmth of the music and surroundings. I went to the Kavehaz and sat down. Quite a number were wearing business dress and I felt a little inadequate, but the place was rather empty and they gave me a table next to the window.

    I ordered an apple cider and a chicken soup. The chicken soup came in a small but elegant bowl (that wasn't quite a bowl, I guess). The chicken soup wasn't that great -- I guess it was rather Hungarian also -- but the apple cider was very pleasant and exactly what I needed. The bill came to less than $20.

    I only had about half an hour before my scheduled pickup at Meridien nearby. While there were still a couple of things I could see or do, I decided that this was enough for Budapest, but I did take a short detour to see the start of the Andrassy Boulevard (at its other end is Heroes Square). To be on the safe side, I withdrew another 2000 HUF (less than $10) -- actually you could even withdraw 1000 HUF!

    Then I went to hide in the Meridien Hotel for a few minutes before emerging to wait for my shuttle.

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    Budapest links

    Museum: http://www.szepmuveszeti.hu/

    Four Seasons Hotel:
    http://www.fourseasons.com/budapest/

    Budapest costs (as best I recall): Note 1 USD > 200 HUF.

    r/t shuttle to/from airport about 4990 HUF

    r/t funicular to Buda castle: 1400 HUF

    Museum admission: 1200 HUF, or less than $6.

    6-hour luggage check at airport: Less than $10.

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    Trip #18 to Paris

    Night of Arrival

    My flight got in around 6 pm from Budapest. I took the RER to Gare du Nord, but there was a problem with the train, or maybe it was the tracks. The train took about one hour, and it was quite packed. I went to pick up my Eurostar ticket for London (I didn't want to take a chance with getting the ticket before I left on Friday since I had a 6:40-ish am departure). Then I checked in at the hotel and went to the Louvre and the Mantegna show, as I had written about. On Wednesdays, the Louvre closes at 10 pm.

    I actually left before 10 pm as I wasn't feeling the greatest. I had some Japanese ramen near the hotel (the area on r. Ste-Anne near r. Therese is ramen central), and I went back to the hotel and slept early. Though I got up a couple of times in the evening, I slept quite well, and the next morning I was feeling better.

    The next morning

    So I went to the Grand Palais and stood in line for the Picasso show. It wasn't pleasant waiting in the cold, but fortunately the weather was Paris weather and not Budapest weather. After waiting nearly 2 hours I got in. The first thing I did was to go to the cafe and get some drinks. I got an OJ and a hot chocolate.

    After the Grand Palais, I walked to Toraya near Place de la Concorde for lunch. I'm familiar with this place as there used to be a Toraya in NYC that closed and I also once ate in the Toraya in Paris. In June I tried to take my parents there, but there was a long wait. I was told the wait would be half an hour, and I decided to wait. The Parisians were taking their time with their lunches, talking to their lunch companions and occupying their tables much longer than I'd ordinarily expect. Finally I got to sit down and I ordered a salmon rice bowl set. It came with a miso soup and some Japanese pickles and a choice of a pastry at the end and also a choice between two teas (matcha or sencha) after the meal. Maybe there was something else too. In any case I think that was 23 euros or so. Since the euro is much weaker now, this looked a lot more reasonable.

    After lunch I bought some chocolates at Hevin. It was already past 3 pm, but I decided to do something completely new.

    I went to Montmartre!

    I'd never been to Montmartre before. It's the heart of Amelie and Sacre Coeur. I figured this would be interesting, and I actually quite liked the experience, even though it was rather touristy, especially when there were so many people sketching tourist portraits on Place du Tertre. I took the funicular to ascend the small hill. I went inside Scare Coeur. I just walked around and felt lucky that I was in Paris again.

    After this I went to Jacquemart-Andre. It's a house cum small museum, and there's a show on Van Dyck. I found neither to be especially interesting. The house's decor is lavish but also very frilly, and the paintings are academic and not particularly interesting. But now at least I can say that I've done this.

    My plan was to visit Orsay Museum for the evening, as it closes at 9:45 pm Thursdays. I got off the Metro at Concorde since Orsay is a short walk away on the other side of the Seine. I decided to go inside Jeu de Paume first and I found that they were showing a film by Shinji Aoyama. The show started at 7 pm, so that didn't leave me much time for Orsay (probably about half an hour or less), but I decided to buy a ticket anyway as it was just 3 euros, and I didn't know anything about the director, so I could see something new. Plus there was a problem with the French subtitles so there was a note that the subtitles would be in English -- even better!

    So after a quick visit to Orsay, I was back to see "Helpness." You can see that the reviews on IMDB aren't the greatest. Before the movie started, there were introductions in French (it was the first screening in an Aoyama retrospective). First a woman spoke briefly, and then this arty French guy spoke. For a long time.... His hair was long and hipsterish but as he spoke, he kept touching his neck and scratching his chest lightly now and then. I'm glad that he wasn't interviewing for a job on Wall Street. I tend to have some scary mannerisms at times, but though this guy was very attractive, someone should tell him that he should curb some of his mannerisms.

    The movie was short so I was already having dinner 9-ish at a Cambodian restaurant near the hotel. Then afterwards I went out briefly. Since I didn't want to stress myself, I wasn't out too late. I was back at the hotel before 1 am.

    A few hours later I dragged my bag off to the Metro station, but I discovered that the first train wasn't running until 5:50 am or so. That gave me about 20 minutes to make it to Gare du Nord (Eurostar checkin theoretically closes 30 minutes in advance) and I still had to make one change of Metros. So regrettably, I took a taxi instead.

    I slept through most of my train ride to London. By the way I woke up, the train was pulling into St. Pancras. I did finish the six Hevin macarons I bought the minute I got on the train before sleeping.

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    Capsule Reviews of the Art Shows in Paris

    Mantegna

    Mantegna gives me mixed feelings. I like his work because much of it is so exquisite and detailed. But sometimes the paintings aren't that aesthetically pleasing to me. In any case, the show reunited the three predella panels of the St. Zeno altarpiece in Verona. Two of these are normally in Tours (the other is housed in the Louvre). There's some other notable stuff too, but I'd have to do some research to refresh my memory.

    Correggio was apparently influenced by Mantegna. I learned this when I was in Parma, and there were a number of Correggios in the Louvre exhibition.

    Picasso

    I'm normally not enthralled with Picasso. He was so prolific that you see his work everywhere. Though the show at the Grand Palais was not a highly praised show, I liked it (well, I have to have something positive to say after waiting in line for 1h 45 minutes to get in!). I've seen some of the Old Masters paintings that were included in the show -- like Zubaran's famous "Agnus Dei" (from Prado). The comparisons were invariably tilted towards Spanish masters. But illuminating nonetheless, even if as Kimmelman of NYT wrote, that one was more drawn to the Old Masters.

    Van Dyck and Jacquemart-Andre

    I found these disappointing, but there was a Uccello painting in J-A that I found interesting. It's a much more modest piece than the "Battle of San Romano" series.

    Louvre

    At the Louvre, there was a mini-exhibition of Picasso's paintings that were inspired by Delacroix's "Women of Algiers." But I also used the opportunity to see the "Code of Hammurabi" (an amazing artifact from the Babylonian civilization). It's something I am glad to have crossed off the list.

    Orsay

    While I was there to see the dialogue between Picasso and Manet on "Dejeuner sur L'Herbe," I also took in a show on pastels in Orsay. There was also a dialogue between Kelly and Cezanne on the fifth floor. Kelly was invited to display one work chosen to "correspond with" a work in the museum's gallery. He chose a Cezanne dominated by a view of a triangular blue body of water.

    By the way Picasso's final version of "Dejeuner sur L'Herbe" consisted of sculptures in Stockholm (not actually scuplted by him).

    What I thought was interesting was that Manet's version had four figures, but Picasso sometimes only drew three -- unless I couldn't actually see the fourth one for some reason. I wonder why.

    Here's a link to the Louvre's presentation on the Code of Hammurabi:

    http://www.louvre.fr/llv/dossiers/detail_oal.jsp?CONTENT%3C%3Ecnt_id=10134198673229909&CURRENT_LLV_OAL%3C%3Ecnt_id=10134198673229909&bmLocale=en

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    Trip #16 to London

    Day of Arrival

    First I followed yk's advice and bought an Oyster card. But this didn't turn out to be the smartest thing to do for this trip. I put 10 pounds on the card, but it turned out that I'd have no use for Oyster the next day.

    After arriving I went to the Holiday Inn Express in Southwark, very near Tate Modern. I left my bag there, though not before asking for permission to be in the storage room a couple of time to get stuff that I kept forgetting. I must have annoyed the staff terribly.

    Then I went to the British Museum to see the Babylon show. Afterwards I stayed and visited the other treasures of the Museum and also looked for the five contemporary sculpture pieces that were installed in various parts of the Museum. This proved to be a very interesting visit.

    For lunch I decided to go to Canteen, a resaturant recommended by the Wallpaper City guide. I didn't know where it was exactly, so I had to look it up online in an internet cafe. I noticed my friend had also e-mailed me elaborate directions to get to her place tomorrow. So I sent some e-mails and printed out the directions, which unfortunately wasn't very cost effective. As you know, when you print something, you usually print out a lot of junk too, plus her e-mails had their sentences cut off by the printer. So I spent a couple of pounds on all this.

    Canteen is near Liverpool station in Spitalfields Market. I didn't know this exactly from Google maps, and I was panicking that I couldn't find it. But fortunately it was quite easy to find. Canteen offers a lot of shared seating (like Le Pain Quotidien). It features organically sourced food. It all sounds great, but the food itself wasn't really that wonderful. I had a juice, a soup and the roast of the day (pork with greens) for about 25 pounds. Again, I was grateful the dollar is much stronger these days. I had to sit outside at first, and it was pretty chilly, so I finally asked for a warmer seat and was moved inside. Most of the other people there were in suits.

    Since the Barbican was nearby I went there after lunch. By now, the skies were overcast and it looked like it might rain any minute. After the Barbican, I went to ICA to pick up my prints I had bought a few weeks ago. Since the weather wasn't the greatest, London was already dark around 3:30 pm. How depressing.

    Then I went back to the hotel and checked in. I was too lazy so I took a taxi. I talked to my friend to make some plans for the next day. Then I went out again to the Tate Modern. Afterwards I headed off to Tate Britian. Since this was a Friday, both museums closed at 10 pm. But I decided not to stay that long at Tate Britain because I was interested in checking out the bar scene.

    So a little past 9 pm, I found myself waiting for a bus to go to Trafalgar Square. It was really cold and the bus took forever to arrive. When it finally did, it looked like it was going to speed right past us!

    I looked at my old Time Out London and there's an ad for Wagamama. And I saw that there's one in Leicester Square. Again I was panicking that I wouldn't be able to find it, and it was really freezing outside, so I wanted a bowl of hot noodles. But it was really easy. I hadn't eaten in Wagamama recently (I think I ate there about ten years ago, or maybe it was even longer), though I'd always thought of eating there. Having eaten so much ramen now, I realize that Wagamama isn't especially authentic.

    My bar hopping didn't turn out that well. I went to one bar that was really crowded. Then I went to an internet place to see if I can find out more about where to go in London. I decided to give another place a try, but when I arrived, I found that the crowd was too mixed for me.

    So I went back to the hotel.

    Next Day and Day of Departure

    The next morning I called my friend around 10 am and she wasn't quite up yet. So we decided on a change of plans. Instead of having lunch at her place, I'd join her and her husband for lunch in Greenwich. Since I was already up and about, she suggested that I visit Borough Market. This was a really fascinating market near the London Bridge station, where I had to catch a train for Greenwich. I decided to take my carry on and walk there (it's good to travel light!) so that I didn't have to go back to the hotel again.

    Borough Market offered a lot of fresh produce, and one store even advertised for ostrich meat and other exotic foods. It was cold so I had some mulled apples, which wasn't quite the apple cider I was used to. I fantasized about living in London and shopping at Borough Market and cooking every day.

    The train ride to Greenwich was very short. I had arrived early and first I waited in the train station, but that was just too cold. So I found a second-hand bookstore where I could hide for a while. I ended up thumbing through a coffee table book on the treasures of the Cairo Museum. Then I went to the hotel (Novotel?) next to the train station for a while.

    Finally my friend and her husband showed up and we had lunch. They gave me some history of Greenwich (a palace was built there, then destroyed for the Naval College -- Greenwich is famous for its associations with the British Navy and it's a Unesco World Heritage site for this reason). I quite liked Greenwich. It'd have been nice to walk around more, but it was also cold.

    After lunch, we went to their place for a cup of tea, and then they drove me to Heathrow. It took a good two hours or so as my friend's husband got a little lost along the way. During the ride they told me a bit about London's 33 boroughs. We had to skirt through some edgy neighborhoods. I asked about the murder of the two French students and my friend said that she'd be uncomfortable with that area (New Cross) at night, but apparently Goldsmith College (a famous arts college) is nearby. Actually they told me that one of the Royal Family members is attending Goldsmith.

    It was interesting learning bits about London from a native's point of view. The South bank is traditionally poor. They told me that really only the northern edge is nice. The area around Borough Market is supposedly associated with a couple of Dickens novels.

    Then we had some tea at the airport before I flew home.

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    London links

    I stayed at the Holiday Inn Express Southwark that I reserved via Hotwire for less than $82 a night (all inclusive). This is thread where I asked about London hotels:

    http://www.fodors.com/forums/threadselect.jsp?fid=2&tid=35166579

    Unesco World Heritage designation for maritime Greenwich

    http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/795

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    Capsule Reviews of the Art Shows in London

    Babylon

    The actual artifacts were interesting but seemed relatively inconsequential. After all, Hammurabi's Code is still at the Louvre and you can't move the Ishtar Gate reconstructions from the Pergamon Museum. But the wall texts were very educational and I felt that I learned a lot from this exhibition.

    One of the most famous objects in the show is the Cyrus Cylinder. This indicates Cyrus's (a Persian King) tolerance for other cultures and religions and is sometimes viewed as the world's first human rights declaration. A copy is apparently shown at the UN. Now this is something I'd not have known had I not gone to the Babylon exhibition!

    British Museum

    After actually looking at the objects in a list recommended by the Museum, I've deeper respect for this institution. It's amazing how much the Museum actually covers -- across historical periods, cultures, civilizations. Truly one of the world's greatest! Even if the Parthenon marbles go back to Greece, there's still a lot to see here!

    And there was an interesting exhibiton on contemporary sculpture. Five pieces could be found in the museum galleries. Damien Hirst chose to install colorfully painted plastic skulls in antique display cases. They blended in very nicely with the surroundings. Actually all five contributions were very well chosen (Ron Mueck, Anthony Gromley and two others I forget).

    Robert Capa and Gerda Taro

    Of course, you should know by now that these were not their real names. I think they were Hungarian and went to Paris and adopted new identities to become more successful. Taro died when she was 27, shooting photos of the Spanish Civil War. Many of her photos were in the square format. I can't remember if that included this famous photo of hers that depicts a female soldier in training. It's very striking.

    Capa is famous for two photos: One from the Spanish Civil War called "The Dying Soldier" (there's controversy about whether the photo was staged -- the show seems to argue no) and another photo from the D-day landings. The D-day photos were grainy and blurry because the prints were damaged in a rush to make the images available to the public.

    Anyway, I missed the show at ICP, so it was nice to see it in London.

    Rothko

    I still don't really love Rothko, but of course I needed to see this show in London. This covers Rothko's late paintings only. Then Rothko's palette had darkened considerably. At one point, he produced a series of black paintings, where the fields are in a slightly different shade of black. I actually liked these the most. One room was devoted to a scientific analysis of Rothko's technique. I always find these analyses interesting to look at. From the analysis one could see Rothko painted painstakingly (so no, it's not as easy as painting a canvas with one color). Sometimes he mixed mediums.

    Towards the end, Rothko was concerned in producing canvases that really looked flat. It seems like a lot of modernist painters were preoccupied with this idea.

    Cildo Meireles

    A Brazilian artist I know nothing about. But since admission to the two shows combined was just a few pounds over the Rothko alone, I paid and went. Some of his stuff reminded me of Tuttle. One was a very, very small (tiny!) cube made of two different types of wood. It was in a vast gallery space. I guess the idea here is to challenge one's perception.

    Then some of the stuff reminded me of James Turrell. The final installation was called "Volatile" that was sort of fun. You had to take your shoes and socks off and then walk inside a room filled with a sandlike material. Visibility was very poor until you went to the next room when there was a single light source (I think it was a candle). Then your clothes got some white stuff on them and you needed to brush them off. It was a little like going to an amusement park! This installation was, of course, also reminiscent of a Gromley installation at the Hayward last year.

    Bacon

    This was more fascinating than I expected. While I can't fathom why someone would spend 80 million to buy a Bacon painting with an "apelike" figure (so, Tate Britain thinks the faces look like monkeys, and it's not just me), there's something raw and overwhelming when you look at so many Bacons all at once. And Bacon was very interested in the human figure, including the male nude (Bacon was gay), and he modeled his paintings after studies by Muybridge.

    But I rushed through this show quickly. It's coming to the Met, but I'm not sure if I'll be around to catch it then.

    Turner Prize nominees

    I'm not a big fan of video installations or installations with readymade objects (unless they were very clever like the ones by Fischli/Weiss), so there's really only one artist I liked: Goshka Macuga. She built an amazing piece that was beautiful and yet offered an optical illusion when you viewed it from various vantage points. I'm always a sucker for these types of objects. It was like a much more sophisticated piece by Dan Graham.

    What I couldn't figure out was why I had to pay. I thought that the public votes on the winner. If so, then why make them pay to see the show? I guess probably the public doesn't actually vote on the winner but the popular voice has some impact, or something like that.

    More links

    Cyrus Cylinder

    http://www.thebritishmuseum.ac.uk/forgottenempire/legacy/cylinder.html

    Gerda Taro's famous shot

    http://www.icp.org/atf/cf/%7BA0B4EE7B-5A90-46AB-AF37-7115A2D48F94%7D/taro_popup.html?2&taro_popup

    Turner nominee Goshka Macuga

    http://www.tate.org.uk/britain/turnerprize/turnerprize2008/artists/macuga_work.shtm

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    Thanks for your review of "Picasso and his Masters". I'm leaving for a solo long weekend on Thanksgiving and hoped to see this show. I could have purched an e-ticket timed entry a few weeks ago, but hesitated. Now all presales at the three ticket websites are "complete". I'm not a Picasso fan but was interested in his "masters" - not interested enough to stand on line for a couple of hours (I've also seen other posts regarding long waits). I'll check with the consierge on arrival as they often have exhibit tickets. Maybe I'll check out the Nolde exhibit instead - did you notice lines for that as well? There are so many other shows this weekend that I'll probably play it by ear and see where I end up.

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    Hi, I think there was a short line for Nolde, but it wasn't clear to me how long the wait would be. I think Nikki said she waited half an hour for the Nolde show (or something like that).

    I think that a better time to try for the Picasso show may be early afternoon on a weekday, if you're really interested. When I left around 1 pm the lines were shorter. Still I'd plan on at least a one-hour wait. The wait times are pretty well marked. At various points in the queue you get a sign telling you how long the wait may be (the first sign starts with 3 hours, if you're actually that far back).

    Enjoy your visit to Paris!

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    You mean you went to Greenwich and didn't even stand on the Meridian line :-0

    Did you see anything 'touristy' of Greenwich? The park (which houses the Royal Observatory/meridian line marker) has the most magnificent views of the naval college/maritime museum and Canary Wharf beyond - one of the best views in London IMO. But then I'm biaised, I live here

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    111op, you have more stamina than just about any traveler I know--your reports always tell about the sheer volume of things you get to in a day! (They're also always good and interesting reports.)

    We were in London the other week, and I enjoyed the British Museum too--it was striking how there were about a dozen people clustered round to see the Rosetta Stone, and four or five to see the Elgin Marbles, while about 80-100 were lined up to see the 20K gold sculpture of Kate Moss!

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    No, we had lunch in this pub with a view of the Thames. Maybe you know which one? My friends said that it had changed. It used to be more traditional looking, supposedly. It's very near the naval college.

    I think that I'll have to go back to Greenwich again. :)

    I didn't see the sculpture of Kate Moss. That sounds interesting.

    I always think of my European trips as a slimming campaign. It's better than drinking Slim Fast. :)

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    Great stuff, 111op ! You are so lucky to be able to travel so much, but I wouldn't be able to put in the long hours you do ! Do you actually review art for a living ?It's a shame you weren't well, though.

    Interested to hear about the Rothko exhibition - we would quite like to have gone but won't manage it. I hadn't heard about the contemporary sculpture at the BM. (BTW it's Antony Gormley not Gromley !)

    The Turner Prize is not voted for or influenced by the public, I think it's just seen as an interesting adjunct to get visitors' views. The jury is listed on the Tate website you referenced.

    As I expect you know by now, Mark Leckey won - and I have to say IMO he sounds a bit of a w*nker :-) I would probably have gone for Cathy Wilkes, who represented Scotland in Venice 2 years ago (but that's not why !); however I haven't seen any of her work in the last year including the Turner Prize exhibit. (As I'm sure you know, the artists are nominiated for their body of work over the past year and can put what they like in the exhibition : many, including CW I think, make new work for it.) The bits I've seen of Runa Islam's films looked rather beautiful too, I thought.

    Re your accommo, etc - DH stayed at the Holiday Inn Express at Southwark a few years ago when he was doing some work in Longon. He found the hotel itself OK, but not great for walking back to at night - one night he was followed right up to the door by an aggressive beggar. Presumably you didn't have any similar experience, or you'd have mentioned it ?

    Curious to know what you mean when you say of a pub that "the crowd was too mixed for me", though ?

    And re "The South bank is traditionally poor. They told me that really only the northern edge is nice." - I think your friends have a rather biased view ! There are some extremely expensive areas within a couple of miles of the river. And when I lived in London, I always throught of "sarf of the river" as too much of a family area for me !

    So where next ?

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    Hey caroline, I won't be able to review art or music for a living, unfortunately. :) But I think that it's probably easier to review art than music. With the latter I at least need some understanding of musical theory, which I don't have.

    I don't know how long the sculpture exhibit at BM is, but the Gormley is right by the entrance. You can't miss it. It works very well too!

    No, I haven't checked the Turner winner. Thanks for letting me know! I'll read more about his work.

    There were no issues I had with HI Express regarding being out late. They lock the automatic doors but you can be buzzed in. I didn't have any issues with the Days Inn near Waterloo either on other visits.

    I could have misunderstood their comments about the South Bank -- I'll ask them again next time. It's too complicated for me to explain the pub comment, so I'll leave that unanswered. :)

    Anyway, I lost my job a few weeks ago, so there's more time to travel, but I'm not traveling as much as I thought I would (it's one trip in about six weeks). I'm still thinking about Asia next. If there's still time I want to go to Egypt and S. America. We'll see!

    What are you travel plans, caroline?

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    No, we had lunch in this pub with a view of the Thames. Maybe you know which one? My friends said that it had changed. It used to be more traditional looking, supposedly. It's very near the naval college.>>>

    That sounds like the Trafalgar.

    This ring any bells:

    http://www.fancyapint.com/pubs/pub122.html

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    Yes that could be it! Thanks. But I'll check with them and see.

    All I remember is that I had a toffee pudding (I think that was what it was called) for dessert. Supposedly very English?

    The pub and the main restaurant had different menus, and we sat in the restaurant.

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    I'll take your word for it.

    Actually now that I think about it, I think there's a statue of Nelson nearby as I think we were talking this. Probably right outside the pub? Does this confirm it?

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    I can't believe you weren't impressed with the beautiful Beauvais tapestries on display at the Jacquemart-Andre Museum. I thought they were fabulous.

    However, sweetie darling, I thought it was absolutely criminal to have a Della Robia medallion hidden away in a corner and inaccessible to view because it was in a roped-off area. You should have seen moi trying to crane his cashmere-swathed neck to get a peeky. Tres dreadful!

    I think most of the ladies who visit the musee go to have lunch in the cafe.

    Loved the Van Dyck portrait of Lady Digby! Van Dyck really had a knack for capturing the radiance of the porcelain-white skin of the British aristocracy.

    Dreadful Defarge

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    Well can't say I'm a big fan of tapesteries. Were there several Della Robbias? I think they were all hung high on the wall, and as you say, in a roped off area.

    I think Tate Britain is having a Van Dyck show in 2009. That one may be more interesting. The Jacquemart-Andre is too small a museum to hang the full-length van Dycks, in my opinion, and I don't remember that many on view.

    Among smaller museums, I think the most memorable to me is still the Frick Collection in NYC. It really does manage to present an interesting collection in an intimate setting.

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    Hi, this is not exactly the most earth shattering review of the British Museum, but I wrote it so I figured that I'd post a link here. Maybe someone else will find it useful.

    http://ya.and.shi.googlepages.com/art3

    It describes the visit in November in greater detail.

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