Saturday, July 16, 2011

When it rains, it pours ... and then the Tube breaks down

Saturday was rainy here, and five of my classmates entrusted me with their free afternoon and bravely followed me to the Victoria & Albert Museum. It was quite an adventure for Angela Austin, Cassie Hartsfield, Jennifer Kinser, Joey Malefatto, Theresa Wondracek and myself.

The rain was steady but not terrible as we started our journey at Russell Square station.
I confidently led the way to Russell Square station to pick up the Tube, and the group managed to get through the gates and onto a train quite quickly. We made it a single stop before having to disembark. A "signal failure" across town had disrupted our line and we were advised to seek "alternative routes." So we went above ground to start making our way on foot.

The rain became more incessant, and a few members of our group barely missed a surprise shower courtesy of one of the local double-decker buses. Two wrong turns later -- one of them fortunately caught and corrected by Cassie -- we made our way to the Thames and took a few rainy shots of the river before hopping on a working train.

A rainy view of the London Eye, Parliament and the tower housing Big Ben from across the Thames (near the Temple station). 
A short ride later, we crossed the threshold of the Victoria & Albert a little (or a lot) water-logged but in high spirits at our accomplishment. (Or at least I was. I think everyone else was just relieved that we had arrived somewhere at that point.)

That dark shadow about halfway up my leg is the water line. My shoes, jeans, and shirt were soaked through.
The V&A, which touts itself as "the world's greatest museum of art and design," is huge, and we split up to explore on our own. I spent most of my time looking at the stained glass and jewelry displays. In particular, I really enjoyed looking at the micromosaics and boxes in the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection. Micromosaics are made from the smallest glass pieces, and some contain more than 5,000 pieces of glass per square inch. All of the micromosaics would fit in the palm of your hand with room to spare. Most impressive to me were the Plaque with Leopard (early 1800s) and Plaque with Basket of Flowers (1825). You really need to click the links above to appreciate how tiny the pieces are; none of my photos did them justice. 

The museum provides magnifying glasses to help visitors see the tiny details of the micromosaics.
We emerged almost two hours later to almost sunny skies, and most importantly, no rain!

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