We made it! We’re here! And I have proof!
After a fairly uneventful (though very comfortable—thanks, Virgin Atlantic) 14 hours of travel and an unfortunate inability to sleep at all on the flights, Dan and I made our way through the London airport, groggy-eyed but excited to finally be there.
Through the haze of sleep deprivation, we somehow successfully got our international SIM cards (with only one minor breakdown) and our Oyster Cards and made it to our flat share. We’re seasoned Londoners already, you guys.
But by the time we did all of this, we had zero motivation to go exploring. Literally zero. So we didn’t. We took a “short” nap that turned into 2 hours (did I mention we were sleep-deprived?) so we’d have the energy to explore the beautiful city that is our home for the next seven weeks.
Our first stop was the Tate Modern, partly because it’s cool and we wanted to see it and partly because it was the only museum open later than 5. Plus, we wanted to take advantage of the free museums in London. Anyway, the museum was really cool with a lot of really amazing pieces (including two Salvador Dalí paintings, a couple of Picassos, and some Matisse). But here’s the thing. I don’t think I get modern art.
I mean, I totally understand and appreciate the work and artistry that goes into it, but with some of the pieces, like the minimalism paintings or the ones that look like a lot of paint splatters (I know there’s a name for them, I just don’t remember what it is. Don’t hate me, art lovers!), I just don’t understand what the meaning behind them is supposed to be, you know? So this is basically what I was thinking the whole time we were in the museum. I still very much enjoyed it, because the pieces are still really visually appealing and beautiful, but I just didn’t have a moment like “I totally understand what this painting is supposed to mean.” And I know that those kinds of things are relative, plus it’s not like I’ve ever taken an art class ever, so I’m not an expert at all. So I was just enjoying the uniqueness and beauty of all of this pieces until I had a realization.
One section of the museum had this room where you could watch short videos about some of the artists featured in the museum. We watched the one about Ibrahim El-Salahi, an artist with a painting featured in the Poetry and Dreams exhibit. And as we were watching this video, I realized that there was something I could take from these pieces of art that I didn’t understand. I realized that I could use them as windows into the souls of the artists. If I couldn’t relate to them myself, I could use them to learn more about the artists, think about their lives and what in them would’ve inspired their artwork.
So for the rest of the visit, I finally had something meaningful to think about rather than just “oh, those colors are really pretty.” And I know that there are definitely other meaningful things I could glean from the artwork (art history buffs, feel free to enlighten me), but I was glad to be able to have that moment with the paintings and their artists, and it made my experience at the Tate Modern a very pleasant and inspiring one.
After the Tate Modern, we took a little stroll along the Thames, stopped to take a picture with the Globe Theatre, walked over the Millennium Bridge, and eventually made our way back to Tottenham Hale.
All in all, day one in London was a success.