The Monday after spring break was rough. After a week in the sunny south of Spain, it was hard to go back to my normal routine. Luckily, my Monday wasn’t an ordinary day. I met with my history of art class early in the morning at the Paddington station, and we took the train to visit a private collection in zone two. The Dulwich Picture Gallery was small but beautiful. The complete open concept design allowed us to view the entire gallery from one end to another, and it housed several paintings from the French impressionist era as well as other works by famous artists. The most exciting part about the museum visit was a contest that the curator was putting together in order to bring more visitors to the gallery.
He commissioned a Chinese artist to forge one of the paintings in his collection, and he hung it up with the other originals. He created a contest where he invited visitors to try and guess which painting was the forged work, and which were the originals. At the end of his presentation, we spent a few minutes looking around his exhibit, trying to find the forged piece. However, neither our professor (who spent years studying art) nor us were able to find the fake painting. It was a bit shocking, because many of us expected to tell which would be the fake right away. We never found out which of the paintings was forged, we’ll have to wait until it is revealed at the end of the contest!
Later that afternoon, I took a field trip with my political science class to visit the British parliament. Once inside, we got to see a formal procession of a few of the members of parliament. We also took a tour through the inside of the buildings, and got to see Big Ben up close. Our visit ended with us sitting in on a meeting in the House of Commons. We were amazed at the transparency of the British political system – in the United States, we would never have the opportunity to be present during a senate meeting, and certainly would not be able to hear what happens behind closed doors. We were able to see and hear about all the issues that were being talked about that afternoon, and what each party had to say in regards to each item on the agenda. I had to leave early for another class, but apparently the prime minister himself, David Cameron, attended the end of the meeting and was able to answer some questions about several policies. It was an incredible experience to see the British government in action, and definitely an experience I will never forget.
We ran into a bit of bad luck on Wednesday as we arrived too late to the Tate Modern and missed our tour with our history of art class. Amy and I decided to walk around the modern museum on our own, and I have to say, I was a little disappointed. Perhaps it’s because my professor was not there to explain the works of art we were seeing, but the museum was not what I was expecting. I’m a big fan of contemporary art, and was eager to see works that were different from all the classical pieces we had been previously studying. However, inside the Tate Modern, there were few contemporary works. Instead we saw some Picasso paintings (which were still amazing, just not what I was hoping to see), and only one small exhibition of contemporary art. Disappointed that we missed our tour, Amy and I grabbed a bite at Gourmet Burger Kitchen. I had never realized how much I miss American burgers until that moment. GBK was amazing, and the perfect pick-me-up after our missed museum visit.
That afternoon, we discovered a fun happy hour bar near Oxford Circus that was serving 2 for 10 cocktails. I went with a couple of my roommates, and had a blast chatting with the bartenders and cracking jokes with them. We marked the place down so we’re sure to go back again!
The following day my roommates and I went to dinner at a restaurant called The Breakfast Club. The quirky place was inspired by American-style breakfast dishes, and got a five star rating from all of us. Mel and I tried an Elvis milkshake (banana, peanut butter and vanilla ice cream) and were in heaven. Although the restaurant was busy, we had an amazing time. They completely nailed the concept of American Breakfast, filling our plates with potatoes, eggs, bacon and pancakes. We left full but incredibly satisfied.
This past weekend wasn’t too eventful, a lot of us had work to catch up on from neglecting it all spring break, and the weekend had gloomy weather. We watched a few movies, went out to a few bars and enjoyed each other’s company. On Sunday, we went to No. 11 Pimlico Road for brunch, where we ordered Bellinis (the UK version of a mimosa) and some eggs benedict. Mel’s sister came to visit her this weekend, so she came along with us too! The restaurant was a very cute little shop that looked right out of a Pinterest board.
We have a long weekend coming up for Easter, so Mel and I planned a trip to Berlin and Prague. I'm lucky to have a couple friends (Nora and Dipali, here are your shoutouts) that have been extremely helpful in planning our trip to Prague as they both either have studied or are studying abroad there. My mom visited both cities last summer, and was able to pass along some information too! I’m excited for our little getaway, especially since Mel and I have similar tastes in what we like to see when we travel. If you have any tips or must-sees for us, let me know!