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Saturday, February 6, 2016

A London Sort of Friday Night

Thanks to Travel Zoo we enjoyed a wonderful meal at a super nice place in central London. Smith and Wollensky has been a New York City steakhouse for many years, but a mere 7 months ago it hopped across the pond and opened up in London. It was a lovely experience with classic touches to a great evening. All of the waiters were dressed in suit coats. The place was beautifully decorated with a classy urban vibe. Our meal deal was a set menu with chateaubriand as the centerpiece. When the food was ready, the waiter rolled out a food cart and carefully cut the meat table side. The food was melt in your mouth great and the mashed potatoes were about the best I've ever tasted. It was really fun to "dine out" for a change!
After dinner we took a lovely stroll past Trafalgar Square and headed up towards Leicester Square. We happened upon the National Portrait Gallery and to our pleasant surprise, it was open. On Friday night they stay open late and have special events with music and drawing opportunities. Many amateur artists were scattered throughout the museum trying their hand at replicating the portraits.
We had not yet been in the portrait gallery and I have to say that I never would've thought that a entire museum devoted to portraits would be that interesting. But we were enthralled by the variety of paintings and the various renderings of many well known folk in British history. I was struck by how recognizable Henry VIII is. He and Elizabeth, the virgin queen, are really the only 2 historical royals that are immediately recognizable to me. I loved this wall of royals. 
I was dazzled on more than one occasion by a portrait that kind of took your breath away. This one of the princes struck me as so interesting. Both look so young and innocent. It seemed to harken to an age long ago. The princess of Wales was beautifully depicted as was the Queen. I was happy to see John Wesley get a shout out and while I would not want Margaret Thatcher on my living room wall, clearly she represents a formidable person in British history. 
The rooms were, of course, tastefully presented and beautiful in their own right. I loved these little statues that lined a wall along a stairwell.
It was a really great night with the unexpected joy of stumbling on an open museum and enjoying a wander amidst great art. And the museum is free, all the time. It's moments like these that cause me to pause and give thanks for the opportunity to live in such a vibrant, culturally interesting place like London.