During this weekend I went to London for the first time ever. I know it sounds quite strange: not many people went, e.g., twice to Bratislava but never to London I actually always wanted to visit the city on the Thames, since I was a child. I don’t even remember how many time I’ve been asking my mother to let me go to London (especially when Ryanair started operating from Brescia) but, eventually, when I first traveled alone I went to Paris. Since then I changed my mind and I always thought that London could have been waiting: it was such a trivial destination that I wanted to visit more exotic places first, as if they could disappear, as if I couldn’t have had the chance to visit them anymore. After visiting St Petersburg last summer I somehow completed the list of the European cities I didn’t want to miss and living in Amsterdam gave me the opportunity to explore a bit more of western Europe: visiting London was a natural consequence.
I had my flight on Friday night to Stansted (read: on the other side of the known universe) but thanks to the time difference the airplane landed before it took off Anyway, I managed to get to the city quite fast although the Stansted Express was more expensive than fast.
On Saturday I walked with James along the Thames from Waterloo station to the Tate Modern gallery, the highlight of my London visit (after Starbucks ok, it’s not funny, I know). The most interesting artwork was Shibboleth:
Doris Salcedo’s installation takes the form of a 167 meter long, meandering crack in the floor of the Turbine Hall, initially a hairline crack and eventually widening to a few inches and around two feet deep. The crack was made by opening up the floor and then inserting a cast from a Colombian rock face. A Tate spokesperson said
She’s not specifying how it’s been done. What she wants is for people to think about what’s real and what’s not.
Salcedo said of the work
It represents borders, the experience of immigrants, the experience of segregation, the experience of racial hatred. It is the experience of a Third World person coming into the heart of Europe. For example, the space which illegal immigrants occupy is a negative space. And so this piece is a negative space.
It really is one of the best modern art installations I’ve ever seen: it was, together with the Gherkin, one of the most beautiful buildings in the world, worth the whole trip to London. Unfortunately it will be at Tate Modern only until April, 8.
Later, we walked on the Millennium Bridge to St Paul’s Cathedral and then to Trafalgar Square which is apparently not James’ favorite London spot… We strolled around even further watching all the interesting shops we found on the way to King’s Arms, a famous bear bar in SOHO. I can’t repeat myself enough: thanks to the smoking ban, places like that are even more attractive! I loved the medieval carpet At King’s Arms I also met Mark with whom I went to Westminster and later to King’s Cross and St Pancras railway stations: the Big
Bang Ben is really impressive.
In the night I met James again: we had a delicious dinner and we watched the movie 28 Days Later and a bit of TV, like this wonderful commercial:
Btw, James once asked whether I grew up in Germany or Netherlands because my accent was in some way very Germanic 😕 Apparently it depends on which word I’m trying to pronounce: sometimes I sound German, sometimes Italian.