Saturday, July 05, 2008

Museums are on top of our must-see list!

London is a very old city and it’s bursting with culture. It’s really fascinating to watch actually. You see centuries-old buildings with ultra-modern ones, elegantly dressed people with trendy/trashy ones. You see many many kinds of people from all over the world—lots of Europeans, Indians and Pakistanis, lots of beautiful black people (hindi yung mga nakakatakot na hiphop ones but these amazingly graceful and deeply black creatures!), but not very many Asians—sad.

Anyway, the British Museum was nearest our hotel so we visited it first. That museum is huge. Kulang ang isang araw para ikutin ito. It’s just filled with all these artifacts from all over the world nung sinaunang panahon. Our super favorite was the Lion Hunt stone reliefs from ancient Aramea. It was an incredibly large, incredibly detailed record of a king and his court on a lion hunt.

Then we went to visit the Greeks and Romans rooms. Sad to say but Vince and I got bored after a while. I mean, after seeing pots upon pots and statue upon statue, our eyes kinda glazed over. So our lofty conceit of us thinking we are scholars just went down the drain. Darn.

We did get a kick out of seeing Dum-Dum in all his stone glory. If you saw Ben Stiller’s Night at the Museum, you’d know why we giggled excitedly, “Look, it’s Dum-Dum! He wants gum-gum!” Yeah, I know we’re inane. Seriously, though, seeing a real Easter Island monolithic statue is quite impressive. You look at him, serenely gazing off into the distance, and you begin to wonder what he’s looking at, why he was made, and all those existentialist frou-frou you don’t think about on a normal day living your inane life.

We trooped over to the Ancient Egypt rooms next and there were even more statues and stuff. And then we saw the mummies. Friends, I hate to admit this but my stomach turned over. This was my first time to see dead people. I mean, I’ve been to wakes and funerals, of course, but this is different. These were people dug up from their graves and their wrappings actually still looked moist. I know that’s impossible but I was so horrified kasi lahat ng scary movies na nakita ko talagang binalikan ako and I was scared. Sorry, no photos of the mummies. I obviously didn’t want any souvenirs of those scary things but here’s Vince enjoying the sights.

For even more dead people, we went to Westminster Abbey. Here in this photo, I am trying to decide if the Abbey was worth the GBP 12 entrance fee. Syempre, dahil dalawa kami ni Vince eh di ang equivalent nun PHP 2,000, just to see a church! But the guide book said it was definitely worth it, so in we went. At first, medyo nadismaya ako kasi parang Manila Cathedral o San Agustin Church siya. You know, high ceilings, big windows, altar, fantastic architecture and design elements, etc. I’m not putting down our churches, ha. In fact, ang San Agustin ang isa sa mga paborito kong lugar sa Maynila. What I meant was parang kung parehas lang pala ng mga simbahan natin, baket pa ako nagbayad ng mahal?!

Hay, buti na lang mali ako. My dismay went pffft once we started on the audio tour (it’s so cool—there are these portable things that look like phones and as you go around the Abbey, you get a history per section, when you’re ready. Pwede mo pa i-replay! But the best part? It’s voiced by Jeremy Irons! How frikkin’ cool is that!). Sayang nga lang kasi bawal mag-take ng pictures.

Anyway, I’m a sucker for English history so when I saw where past kings and queens were buried, that was so far out. The tombs of Queens Elizabeth I and Mary I did make me somber. Their history as sisters, rivals, and queens is so significant to the world that being at their tombs—well, it just took my breath away. Andun din yung oak coronation chair. Lahat ng monarchs ng England dun umupo. It looked really crappy already but that’s because it’s centuries old!

What really got Vince and me excited was Poet’s Corner. Here we found the tombs and memorials of great writers Shakespeare, Lewis Carroll, Tennyson, Charles Dickens, Keats, William Blake, Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters and more. We were so astounded! It just humbles you, ya know? Here, at our feet, lie the most celebrated minds of our time and they’ve passed on yet they remain immortal. You can’t help but take stock of your own life and what you’ve done with it.

Anyway, for those graves alone, the Westminster Abbey’s fee was worth it. Although medyo quiet and subdued kami ni Vince after the tour hehe. So wag niyo pupuntahan ito kung di niyo gusto malungkot.

While I liked the Abbey, my favorite museum was the National Gallery. Sadly, cameras aren’t allowed here either. So all we ever got was this shot of Vince squinting at me from outside the museum. In this particular museum I saw with my very own eyes paintings by Van Gogh, Renoir, Monet, Da Vinci, Manet, Titian, Ingres, Degas, Holbein, Velasquez, Vermeer, El Greco, Poussin, Rembrandt and more. I briefly studied Renaissance Art in college and it was one of the happiest things I’ve ever done so I’ve dabbled in the study of European art since then. Now seeing some of the art I pored over when I was young… I was just struck dumb. I even got teary-eyed. Iba pala talaga kung kaharap mo na yung mga famous paintings na ito. Nakakalula.

*continue reading… Contest ahead!

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