Westminster Abbey

From a fun day playing tourist in my own city. If I’m honest, I don’t think that the Abbey gives the best experience – you’re squeezed round a pre-set, tightly-cordened route like being shoved through a toothpaste tube and photos are strictly forbidden.

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Worst of all, the atmosphere was one of prissy disapproval, which I found rather disappointing when each tourist is being charged at least £20 to get in. Yes, there’s an important balance to be struck between a place of worship and a tourist attraction but – with the exception of some kindly volunteers – the clergy here seemed to have a strong “hands off our abbey, aren’t you lucky we let you in” approach written all over them. Very disappointing.

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You would at least hope that there was an acceptance that any visitors were prepared to be interested and respectful, otherwise they’d hardly have queued up for an hour to get in. I’d be interested to know what out of town visitors think.

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However, being as stubborn as they come, I did get some photos thank you…

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The most interesting parts I thought were the side chapels of various noble families (which still had a pre-Reformation feel of jostling for position near the altar) and the main chapel behind the altar.

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All photos May 2018.

 

Bow Common

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Every time I travel out east, usually en route to my godfather in the Isle of Dogs, this church intrigues me. I’ve never seen it open or got to go inside, but hopefully these photos (top one by @miloliren, second by @clau500) shows why.

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St Paul’s Bow Common, built 1958-1960

Palazzo life

Genoa is the town of palazzo after palazzo and a LOT of painted ceilings.

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First up, the palazzo reale – built for the Balbini family and then taken over by the Savoy monarchy in the 1820s.

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Then the Palazzo Bianco (also containing the Palazzo Tursi, 2-in-1 palazzi, ker-ching)

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and Palazzo Rosso – owned by the same family as the Palazzo Bianco, leading to a pleasingly martini-sounding pairing.

All pics April 2018

Topkapi palace

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The first time I read about the Topkapi Palace I was an eighteen year old doing some rather nervous work experience in a museum, and being asked to look for examples of Chinese porcelain ripped off by western factories and then Indian or Turkish knock offs of the Dutch sort.

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Clueless would be a polite way to describe it, although the curator I was working to firmly gave me a list of Sotheby’s catalogues and monographs – one of which mentioned this unpronounceable Palace that for some reason I decided must be Hungarian – and off I went. A lot of photocopying and post-it noting later I wasn’t much the wiser.

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A few years and some truly bad, trashy historical novels later I couldn’t have you told you anything more except that my mental picture was probably of dark stone, gloomy rooms (had I heard that it’s now empty and been unable to envisage a building without furniture?) and was somewhat sceptical that I was really going to enjoy it.

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So thank you Becca for recommending that it was still least a half day trip. These photos from an afternoon’s wander are pretty much the order in which we came across things, so if you feel eye-crossing set in at the glorious tiles, then I’ve done my job.

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As you can see, the building had a good deal of the Rococo about it, and also elements of chinoiserie – maybe in the sense of outdoor pavilions and also the whimsical names given to them all.

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I’m afraid I can’t any longer remember what room was what: the library, the closet of the sultan’s turbans, the moon light or breakfast divan, the grand council room, but who cares (my inner historian just did a Munch face there) when you can see this?!

All photos March 2018.

Little sister

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The so-called “little” Hagia Sophia / Aya Sofia (also once known as the church of saints Sergius and Bacchus) is tucked down a little side street and doesn’t seem to be hugely visited, but I thought it was actually much nicer than the big sister 🙂

All photos March 2018.