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  • stephenjrountree

Walkable London: A day around the Albert and Victoria Museum .

Updated: Aug 25, 2022

Trail Stop One: Victoria and Albert Museum.

Start at the Victoria and Albert museum in Chelsea, which is a museum dedicated to the sole and lovely concept of human design, otherwise known as elevating a forgotten glance to anything that's ever meant anything to you. Fashion. Photography. Art. Art Deco. Art renaissance. Silver work. Iron work. Modernism decor for living your life as a concept not steeped in tradition but romantically free from it. It's all here.

This museum is the history of humans not randomly standing around and throwing bricks on top of each other but building something purposefully and saying the world we live in means something to us.

Walk the rooms of 5000 years of creativity harnessed into design, otherwise known as the gift of significance, and take that gift from whichever art form calls to you, whether it's wedding dresses that are white because of Queen Victoria, or Islamic art that proves pattern and destiny are not unrelated.

The history of humans coming up with ideas for design is in this museum and like all good patterns the point is for you to make the next shape with an idea of your own. Easy when you know how.

The architecture of the place is also design in itself, so grab a coffee in the courtyard and relax and let the caffeine and the architecture and the 5000 years of design get your creativity to awaken.

Trail Stop Two : Walk to Ognisko Restaurant.

Now that you're inspired by design, a five minute walk north on Exhibition Rd from Victoria and Albert Museum and there is whitewashed Palladian architecture that is like walking up to the great white city of Gondor and perhaps the most romantic place I've ever dined called Ognisko restaurant.

Speaking of design, the chef here creates Polish dishes that make you rethink anytime you've ever thought Polish food wasn't your favorite food. It's exquisite.

Just hop inside and sit at the bar and have a few cocktails to brine your creativity after the Victoria and Albert museum and order from the bar menu and relax.

The bar area is comfortable with chairs made for not sitting but lounging. Lit by candles, it was warm on a cold December’s day and the bar tender was cool and set us up nicely. Just converse and think and let the warmth take over.

This kind of place is like a maternity ward for creativity. It's old and let the white walls and classical architecture and chandeliers and there are windows to the outside.

Trail Stop Three: Walk to Kensington Gardens.

Out of Ognisko, first pat you stomach and also your mind because they've both been fed, and take a right to continue heading north on Exhibition Rd and a few minutes later it'll run you smack into Kensington Gardens. Kensington Palace, where princess Diana lived and where now lives William and Kate, is on the west side of the gardens, if you want to see it.

Instead, I take a right and head east for one of my favorite walks in England, walking under the trees between S Carriage Dr and the lake.

It’s a relaxing but invigorating walk, no matter the weather, but especially if it's cold.

Trail Stop Four: Walk to Harrods.

From Kensington Gardens, keep walking east in the park along S Carriage Dr, and then you will see a playground to your left, but look to your right, and across Carriage Dr to the south will be a little arched sign to a little alleyway that reads Park Close. Be a cool local and stroll down this alleyway of little local eateries and hair salons and all sorts of other things that can only be found in London alleyways and in which you should stop if you want. Park Close becomes Knightsbridge Green and after that take a right at Brompton Rd and then after a few steps you’ll come to Harrods.

Victoria and Albert Museum might be the history of design but Harrods is the living use of it. I always come across some rad design elements from the interior. Also, the food stalls are actually pretty good if you want to pull up a chair to any number of little places.

Last time I was here I ended up with like four Chagall paintings all to myself and talking about them with the art dealer and that's not an ordinary thing even at my favorite museums of the world. The book store is legit, especially if you like checking out three foot by three foot books on photography. The buyer of art books at Harrods could go toe-to-toe with the buyers of any of the great book stores of the world. And dadgum I was inspired.

In all honesty, the people at Harrods know that many people would rather spend a few grand on a trip to Europe and endless nights in cafes and not on a handbag that people will either suspect as fake or pretend not to notice. So they make it cool for those people, like me. It's a fun place and it has an energy of design that is intoxicating and makes me want to spend all night writing and designing. I like Harrods. A mall. Like Jim said in The Office: "Congratulations, world. You win."

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