We stayed aboard Le Sorelle, a converted Dutch river barge in London’s West India Dock, on Canary Wharf.

This barge has everything you need, especially your own private bathroom. A fabulous place to stay for its convenience to the Jubilee line. The owners are very hospital and laid back. Make this your base to enjoy London. You won’t find a better ship!

Le Sorelle

Beyond Caravaggio – 

The giant banner at the National Gallery was Caravaggio’s masterpiece; “Taking of Christ;”  the real one inside, on loan from Ireland. He is the (bad boy) Italian Baroque painter from Milan.

Caravaggio

There were only four real Caravaggio’s at this exhibit, as an attendant informed me, (of the 49 paintings) and I was disappointed. Maybe it should have been called, Caravaggio — his followers and imitators.

Caravaggio

 Fairly high priced tickets to see just four Caravaggio’s. Still, I had to be grateful for this rare opportunity. So, the “Beyond” in the title referred to his followers, and how they were influenced by his works.

Caravaggio

Salome with the Head of John the Baptist

I took a photo of “Salome with the Head of John the Baptist,” (c.1607) and I would have liked to have a photo of “Taking of Christ” but I was promptly reprimanded by a security guard. The four that I viewed were intense and visceral. Interesting to note that his critics thought he was overly dramatic, yet that is the appeal for me – lifelike.

You don’t have to be an art student to see Caravaggio’s use of light, (as well as darkness) drama, and realism, and decidedly, raw emotion. Caravaggio steals the show from the others. You could spot his works easily. Robert Hughes, art critic says it best:

“There was art before him and art after him,

and they were not the same.”

Sky Garden (‘Walkie Talkie’ building)

Book online way in advance, (lovely friends surprised us). Tropical plants make this a literal futuristic garden in the sky. This is a must see for your next London visit. I was keen to see the 360-degree view, although a typical overcast day, all I could think of was evening surely held a spectacular light show.

The Tower of London

The Tower of London (11th Century fortress) from the Sky Garden

We went just after breakfast and didn’t need to eat or drink at one of their posh restaurants… I’m sure that’s the whole idea to get you up there.

Gherkin

 At 35 floors up, (or was it 36), you will see the ‘Gherkin‘, but I wanted to get a street view to demonstrate the hap-hazard urban planning!

The ‘Shard‘ below from Sky Garden is 984 ft high, and has a fee.

The 'Shard'

The panoramic view of the Thames and Tower Bridge is terrific. So stick with the Sky Garden, (525 ft) and be prepared for a typical airline security check to get into the building, and it’s free.

the Thames and Tower Bridge

You must google some of the ‘hoopla’ surrounding the Sky Garden, as I can’t possibly tell you some of the weird things that have happened. Except, be prepared for an incredible wind gust just before you enter. The downdraft or wind tunnel effect is serious here; caused by this building.

Sky Garden

Observation Deck

But hey, what building ever conforms to the building plans and specs. Who do we blame, the city planners? Or the Architect? It isn’t the first or the last building choking London from what I saw from the top floor.

The lovely suburb of Greenwich is 30 minutes from London. Greenwich was once the heart of maritime in Britain and is now extremely enjoyable for boat/maritime enthusiasts. The Cutty Sark was built in 1869 to carry tea from China, and wool back from Australia, and is the last one left of its kind from the 19th century. Cutty Sark was a “Clipper ship” designed for speed, 20 mph; a cargo ship under sail…

Cutty Sark

We stood underneath the hull; 963 tons, suspended above ground.

Cutty Sark

Close by is the National Maritime Museum. world’s largest collection of merchant-ship figureheads; donated to the Cutty Sark Society in 1953.

National Maritime Museum

Anything maritime suits my adventurous fantasies, despite never owning a boat. Nearby, Greenwich Park is not far, and overlooks Canary Wharf in the distance. There is plenty to do here.

The Royal observatory and Prime Meridian Maritime Museum.

The Royal observatory and Prime Meridian Maritime Museum. The National Maritime Museum (largest of its kind) is situated in this beautiful Greenwich Park and part of the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site.

The Royal observatory and Prime Meridian Maritime Museum.

I stood on the historic Prime Meridian; the home of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), where east meets west.

The Royal observatory and Prime Meridian Maritime Museum.

Not good weather that day, but you have to make the most of it; keep walking to keep warm. Traveling off season has a chance of fowl weather, but more comfortable with less people. Always a trade off.

The Royal observatory and Prime Meridian Maritime Museum.

The National Maritime Museum houses 10 galleries and is free.

The Royal observatory and Prime Meridian Maritime Museum.

Huge screw propeller from a 436 ft boat in Neptune Court

Play and eat! Not the ‘play’ in the park. I mean going to a theater in London. This London Theatre is the old Aldwych Theatre (c.1905). At the same time ‘Beautiful’ was playing here, it is also in New York at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre (c.1918).

Aldwych Theatre

We purchased the tickets at an outlet a few days ahead; less than what we would pay in New York, ($40 US) in London, while an average price for this show in New York is $70. It was top notch.

Opera Tavern

Afterwards, we treated ourselves to a tapas bar at the Opera Tavern. Getting a seat at the nearest restaurant after a show lets out is crucial, and almost impossible.

Opera Tavern

You can’t really get in the door for just a glass of wine, you have to say, “Oh, yes, we want to eat”, then you might have a seat at the bar, if you have not reserved a table. We were overjoyed, and it’s always a triumph to get our feet inside! I’m ‘all in’… So begins the ordering and delicious food about to entertain us. Surf ‘n Turf!

Opera Tavern

The amazing thing is that I didn’t have to pour over the wine menu and worry what to have. An Italian red wine was 1st on the list and was delicious. Sorry I didn’t write it down; I had that ‘everglow’ (as I call it) that  “we got in the door” feeling.

I don’t want to bore you with the British museum, which was outstanding. We all have our favorite museum and what we like. Kind of like music – it’s personal!

But do look at my St. John Restaurant and bakery blog. That was at the top of my list In London, and deserved top billing all on its own. All in all, I think the count totaled to 8 sites.

  “Beyond Caravaggio” – will be in Edinburgh 17 June 24 Sept 2017)

Cheerio!