Soviets in the Saatchi

It’s day seven for the London group, and today is our last in London for a bit. We’re all headed separate ways for side trips—there are some people Paris-bound, others heading for Bath, and a few for Scotland. I’m in the Paris group, and tomorrow, my three Paris-bound companions and I will be getting up around 5 am to catch the Tube up to St. Pancras station, where we will get on a Eurostar train to France. Two hours later, and we’ll be in the heart of Paris. But even with an early start tomorrow, we’re making the most of our London time.

Today the group headed to the Tate Modern, but having been there a few nights ago, myself and one other classmate headed for the Saatchi Gallery instead, which houses contemporary art. Right now all the artists on exhibit are from Russia, and the exhibition title is “Gaiety is the Most Outstanding Feature of The Soviet Union: Art From Russia.” Let me assure you that the title is facetious in the extreme; gaiety is about the farthest thing from this exhibit, which features photographs of people sitting precariously on ledges many stories up from the ground, and things with titles like “Criminal Government” and “Russian Criminal Tattoo Encyclopaedia Print No. 9, 2010.”

The Saatchi Gallery is close to Sloan Square, which turned out to be a shopping mecca. So after I got my fill of avant-garde Russian art, I went out and did some shopping. The difference between shopping in the UK is that I’m either a size 8 or 10, not my US 4 or 6. This wouldn’t be a problem, except I usually can’t remember what my UK size is. But I ended up just buying a purse from Zara and luckily those things are one-size-fits-all. Another thing about shopping here: all prices are listed in pounds, which is at about a 1.6:1 exchange rate to the dollar, so I keep thinking I’m spending less then I am.  

I snacked on gelato outside the Saatchi on my way back to the Tube, but was still hungry, so I headed over via Tube to the Borough Market. I’ve been to three “markets” so far, and this has been the best. That’s because this one is strictly a food market. I ended up buying a raspberry macaron for 1 pound, a pretzel also for 1 pound, and two types of baklava for 3 pounds. The macaron and pretzel were devoured on the spot, but I’m working on the baklava now in my hotel room, along with a package of salt and vinegar crisps, which is admittedly not the best combo. There were tons of gourmet cheese for sale at the market, and lots of meats as well. Since I’m headed to Paris, I thought I’d let the cheese alone for now.

On my way back to the hotel, I stopped briefly in Kensington Gardens, which border the hotel just to the south.  There I watched a swan break its way through a thin layer of ice in a pond. London hasn’t been nearly as cold as Caldwell, but there’s still ample reason to bundle up in a pea coat before going out.

Tonight several members of the group are going to see the English National Ballet perform "Sleeping Beauty." The costumes are supposed to be excellent, and I can’t think of a better way to round out this portion of the London trip.

From London,

Megan Mizuta

Megan is a sophomore international political economy major from Boise, Idaho.