So that’s why they call it New England

I know I said I would continue talking about museums, but that will have to wait.  I just got back from a 10-day vacation and there is so much to tell!  Igor and I went to London, Madrid, and Porto; a strange combination, I know, but cheap airline RyanAir has some strange flight patterns so we ended up choosing an eclectic mix of vacation destinations.  How lucky we were, though!  We went to Porto just because it was the only flight back to St. Etienne, the closest city to where we live.  I knew nothing about it, and I never thought I would go to Portugal, but it was so amazing and I am so glad we took the chance!  A little adventure is great on vacation and always leads to wonderful surprises.  I will talk more about Porto later, but I would to go in chronological order and start with London.  This was our only destination that I had been to before, but it was quite different the second time.

Our theme for London ended up being beverages and art.  I was very excited to go to the museums, enjoy a traditional ‘afternoon tea,’ and go on the search for the perfect cocktail (since France apparently doesn’t know what a cocktail is, or care.  At least rural France).

The first day, we went to the Victoria and Albert Museum.  I was very excited to see a collection of corsets through the ages that I had heard about, but unfortunately it was not on display.  Luckily, the V&A has a lot more to offer than corsets, and the people at the information desk were very helpful and had prepared a full list off all other fashion and accessory items throughout the museum, designed just for people like me!  I saw some awesome samourai armor, Japanese kimonos, traditonal Chinese clothing for men and women (including a modern one that looked like Betsey Johnson), a dress from Alexander McQueen’s latest collection, a weird PacMan dress, a Coldplay costume, English clothing from several different periods, jewelry from ancient times to present day, garments made from Golden Spider silk (more on that later), a paper dress from the 60s (!), and an impressive theater costume collection that made me very nostalgic for the days when I worked at the American Repertory Theater.  And those were only the clothing items!  The V&A is a decorative arts museum, and it was extremely impressive.  The building itself is gorgeous, and they have an extensive collection of all sorts of items – furniture, sculpture, fancy kitchen ware and other shiny things, and random decorative and practical items from history, like the original Tinker Toys, art nouveau tea kettles, a wood inlaid piano, swords, gigantic ancient pillars, and even one of Leonardo Da Vinci’s notebooks!  We were also happy to see that the US was represented with a giant glass chandelier that was definitely by Chihuly (whose exhibit I saw at the MFA a total of 4 times I think.  Go Chihuly!).  Here are some of the highlights: