After a busy first week with classes, exploring London, and booking our first trip, it was nice to have a more relaxed (but still adventure filled) weekend!
Saturday the 16th was probably one of my favorite days so far. A few of my friends had plans already, so Annie and I ventured via the overground to Wapping Station, located in East London right along the Thames, to see a new gallery show of Annie Leibovitz’s work called “Women: New Portraits”. She has always been a favorite photographer of mine, so I could have not been more excited to actually go!
It took a while to get to the exhibit, but it was absolutely worth it. The overground is amazing because you actually get to see London as you travel and the route that we took went through much of the Southbank, places that you usually don’t go to see on a normal trip to London.
When it came to the actual exhibit, it took place in a repurposed, small, old hydraulics power station turned galley, which featured tons of brick and exposed beaming. There were three large monitors, two of which flipped through Leibovitz’s work and one that stoically displayed her portrait of the Queen. There was a more traditional gallery wall that held portraits of women like Adele, Misty Copeland, and Caitlyn Jenner. There was another room in the back filled with her books, and I spent a fair amount of time in there looking at more of her work. Each portrait was stunning, yet displayed a wealth of emotion and diversity. Leibovitz is unique because she is able to capture vivid personality that transcends stereotypes or commercialism in a single shot.
After we spent a good hour at the small exhibition, Annie and I headed to what we have decided to be the Brooklyn of London: Shoreditch. This remarkably bustling neighborhood was laden with graffiti, boutique shops, and lots of dyed hair (so obviously I fit right in). Right next to the overground is BOXPARK, an elevated space made out of shipping containers that had restaurants, shops, all sorts. Everything smelled and looked amazing, but we weren’t hungry so we just walked through and looked around.
After BOXPARK, we headed down Redchurch street and popped into a few shops. One shop, which solidified our nickname for Shoreditch, was a chocolate store called Mast Brothers. Even though you can watch the chocolatiers at their craft, we picked up one of the bars and read on the back “MADE IN BROOKLYN”. Needless to say, we had a good laugh, and then carried on down the street observing the beautiful graffiti.
It was pretty cold out, so we grabbed a cup of coffee at Brick Lane Coffee. This shop was absolutely adorable, fairly priced, and the coffee was good, too! If we’re back in the area, I would love to go back. Our last stop in Shoreditch was Dark Sugars, another chocolate shop. It had everything from vegan truffles to limoncello chocolates! Annie and I both picked up a few, then headed back to the flats on the overground. We were both pretty tired and called it a night, so I made dinner and then watched some Downton Abbey before heading to bed early because we woke up quite early the next morning to go one of Europe’s greatest museums…. The British Museum!
I have been wanting to go to the British Museum for a very long time and was sad my mom and I couldn’t make it when we visited London this past Spring. We took the bus there and got in right at 10:10 am after it opened, which was perfect because it was very, very busy by the time we left at about 12:30 pm. The outside is veeeeery different from the inside, which makes for an awesome reveal factor when you walk in.
The first thing we saw was the highlight for me, The Rosetta stone. When I grew up, I always loved Ancient Egypt, so much so that I once through a tantrum at the library when I couldn’t take out all the books I wanted on it. #StillBitter. To see what unlocked the mystery of Ancient Egypt was a moment I shall always carry with me.
We toured through many other galleries while we were there, including many more of the Ancient Egypt ones, a section on the Enlightenment, and of course, the statues from the Parthenon. All of it was wonderful to see, but I couldn’t help thinking again and again wether or not museums should be restoring these works to their home countries. Many of the museum’s greatest pieces were stolen by the British. I’ve debated this question ever since I took AP Art History in high school, and it still haunts me.
I was sad to leave the museum, for there was much more to see, but we were growing tired and hungry. As we left though, we got one of the best surprises yet: SNOW! It was snowing in London! Although it only lasted a moments, it was so nice to finally see snow and be reminded of home a little more.
The last adventure of the day was a spur of the moment trip to Harrod’s. Our bus line goes right by it, so we decided to pay it a visit. It was absolute chaos in there! A sale was going on, so it was thronged with visitors, but we still enjoyed our visit and managed to see the Diana and Dodi memorial inside, something that I think most people miss when they visit. Of course, I had to also take a photo of the Disney section and with the Harrod’s bear. The whole shop is over the top in extravagance, but very fun to walk around and dream of being rich!
We finally got back and I was quick to eat and get on with homework. I’m actually about to head off to class, so I shall end my post here. It was a wonderful weekend, and I can’t wait to see what this week has in store for me as I start my University of Westminster classes!