All Sebald's work deals with travel of one kind or another, and lately I've been tempted to recreate some of the journeys he describes. (I'm not the first to have thought of this: there's a now-dormant blog, Stalking Sebald, devoted entirely to the topic.) A trip to Antwerp, which is described so memorably in the opening pages of Austerlitz, particularly appeals. But I think I'm going to start with something more modest and closer to home, from the final pages of Vertigo.
I made my way back from the National Gallery to Liverpool Street station on foot. As I did not want to walk along the Strand and then down Fleet Street, I negotiated the labyrinth of smaller streets above these busy thoroughfares; Chandos Place, Maiden Lane and Tavistock Street took me to Lincoln's Inn Fields and from there, via Holborn Circus and the Holborn Viaduct, I reached the western perimeter of the City. I cannot have covered much more than three miles, yet I felt as if I had never walked so far in my life on that afternoon.
Weather permitting, we're going to take the same walk this afternoon -- but backwards, as that suits our other plan better. At the National Gallery, I'll have a look at Pisanello's The Virgin and Child with Saints -- the painting Sebald went to see, now promoted from the Gallery's basement -- before going on to this evening's Prom.