I just recently had a horrifying moment when I looked at the calender and realized that I'm leaving for London in a little over a week. In an attempt to not make myself completely crazy with anticipation, I booked the trip and then tried to completely forget about it. Unfortunately, I forgot about everything, including the really important stuff that required advance planning, such as making boarding reservations for the dogs, making sure the credit card doesn't have international transaction fees (it did--eep!), making sure the electronic adapters/converters still work and of course, compiling the perfect wardrobe for international travel. This is actually a bit easier for this trip than it usually would be for me. I am expecting that it will be rainy, cold and crummy so I am packing the Blunnies, Barbour and copious quantities of cashmere.
I recently read that "The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page." I love this. I love to travel and I can't wait to see London with LAM. Neither of us have ever been, but this is his first time over the pond. He is a tropical vacation addict, so we did that route for many years. Tired of returning home with an expensive tan, I decided that this is going to stop here and now. We all need to re-charge batteries from time to time, but part of the fun is experiencing a new culture, seeing and doing things that you can't do at home. I can't wait until the first time he orders a drink in a restaurant and it comes with two ice cubes floating in it. He doesn't deal well with change.
For me, besides the whole treasure trove that resides in London's various museums, I am probably most looking forward to seeing this:
The Arnolfini Portrait is my favorite painting of all time. First off, let's clear up one thing: no, she isn't pregnant. Ironically, the woman who is believed to be depicted in this painting died childless. This was the popular style of dress at the time and he was a fabric merchant, so it is likely that the many fold of her dress are to show wealth and prosperity, but that's not what I like about it. What I like is that for one, it was painted in 1434 and is not even remotely religious in nature, which is pretty darn uncommon. Also, it depicts the Arnolfinis in what we can imagine to be their bedroom. We can see the various debris of daily life, which makes it something of a time capsule. Notice the prayer beads hanging on the wall, the brush hanging on the bed, the fact that they are (we assume) both barefoot. We can see his stocking feet and her shoes are tossed aside behind her. Can you imagine trying to WALK in his shoes? The dog is front and center and he looks pretty secure with his place in things. There is also the mirror. Can you see the artist's reflection? Fascinating. The script above the mirror reads "Johannes de eyck fuit hic", which means "Jan Van Eyck was here". There is, if you research it, a ton of speculation out there as to what all of these things actually mean. I am inclined to think that it is nothing more than a marriage portrait of the Arnolfinis. Clearly, she is looking at him with her head turned down, but looking straight AT him and not down at the floor. He is not looking at her, but rather, gazing forward. Interpret these things however you like because no one will ever know the truth. Regardless, the detail is incredible. The fur on his coat actually shimmers. The brass on the chandelier gleams. I could stare at it for hours. Hopefully, LAM will be patient while I do just that when we visit the National Gallery; just like I plan on being when he complains about lack of ice in his drink.