Friday, September 14
The National Theatre
The South Bank Centre
The Royal Festival Hall
The Imperial War Museum
Our final day of sightseeing in London will begin early.
We will leave our hotel at 8:00 a.m. without eating breakfast.
We will take the subway to Embankment Station, and have breakfast at a café near the station that my brother and I discovered. It serves the best English bacon that he and I have ever tasted, and we want our parents and Josh to sample it.
After breakfast, we will walk across Hungerford Bridge, a footbridge that connects The Victoria Embankment with the South Bank. The bridge offers some of the finest views in London, up and down the Thames—everything from The Houses Of Parliament to the Dome of Saint Paul’s Cathedral may be seen, free from any obstructions.
On the South Bank, we will go to The National Theatre and take the first guided tour of the morning. The guided tour escorts visitors to all three theater auditoriums, as well as to the backstage areas, and to the scenery shops, and costume shops, and props shops. It is a good tour, and my mother will like it very much.
After the guided tour, we will spend time strolling the public areas of the building, and visiting the several small changing exhibitions that are spread throughout the building, tucked into surprising corners.
From The National Theatre, we will walk over to The South Bank Centre and explore the exteriors of The Hayward Gallery and The Queen Elizabeth Hall. We will also go inside The Queen Elizabeth Hall and explore the public areas.
From The Queen Elizabeth Hall, we will proceed to The Royal Festival Hall, recently refurbished and recently re-opened, and visit this building, finally free of the warren of shops and restaurants that had ruined its grand open spaces since shortly after the hall was opened in the early 1950’s.
When we have completed examining the refit Royal Festival Hall, we will walk to The Imperial War Museum, where we will first have lunch at the museum café (my brother and I have eaten at the café countless times, and the food is quite good).
After lunch, we will visit the art galleries of the museum, solely to see three giant canvases, each commissioned by the British Government in the final year of World War I, each of the precise same size, each portraying a scene from the War, each painted in 1919, and each of the greatest possible interest: John Singer Sargent’s legendary “Gassed”; Paul Nash’s “The Menin Road”; and C. R. W. Nevinson’s “The Harvest Of Battle”. Each of these works is breathtaking, and terrifying, and I hope that all three paintings will be on display.
Once we have viewed these paintings, we will visit a special exhibition at the museum: “The Children’s War”, a giant, two-level exhibition addressing World War II from the perspectives and experiences of children. It is supposed to be a stupendous exhibition, and I fear that we will not be able to get through it in one afternoon. We will remain at the exhibition until the museum closes for the day.
Leaving the museum, we will go to Lambeth North Station and take the subway to South Kensington Station.
From the station, we will walk to the Polish restaurant at which we dined the previous Sunday.
We will have dinner at the restaurant, and my older brother’s in-laws will be our dinner guests for our final evening in London. We will show them the same hospitality they showed us the previous week.
After dinner, we will walk back to our hotel and get our packing done for the following day’s flight home.