Wednesday, July 9th, 2014
04.07.2014 - 13.07.2014
I woke up early at 7:30 AM to make the most of the day and optimize the London Pass. I started by going to the Monument station via London Bridge station. The Monument, which is a commemoration of the Great Fire of London of 1666 (666!), usually opens at 9:30 AM so I was there at least half an hour before. I am glad I did this first experience in the morning because I do not think I would have had the courage to do it afterwards. I bravely climbed no less than 311 whirly steps, which requires at least 5 or 6 pauses on the way.
I am glad I made it to the top though because the panoramic view of London was stunning. Another advantage of going there in the morning is that there are not a lot of people and thus I could enjoy the view better. I could have stayed there for hours, but the day was long and full of attractions to see. After getting my certificate to prove that I did climb the 311 steps of the Monument, I walked down the Great Tower street to reach the infamous Tower of London.
I have to admit I absolutely loved this place and definitely wished I could stay longer. I would have spent the whole day there if I wanted. I learned many interesting facts about London's history and past kings and queens. It turns out the Royal Family did have some gruesome past. One of my favorite moment in the Tower is the changing the guards. I find it fascinating how the guards' movements are totally synchronized with each other. Their level of discipline is admiring and great to watch. Also, it is amazing to realize that most buildings and stones have been there for centuries. Just touching the wall could take me back in time. This is what I love about London: walking in the streets and looking at the old buildings is like walking through time. I love the delicacy and tradition of British culture.
I forced myself out of the Tower of London and started heading towards the Tower Bridge Exhibition.
This Exhibition is cut in several parts and requires us to walk from one tower to the next. It has some sort of museum in it, showing old armories as well as explaining the history of one of the oldest bridges in the world. I loved the wide array of subjects found in the Exhibition, which certainly is adapted to many tastes. When I was done with this attraction, I crossed the bridge and walked along the Queen's Walk. I saw a small, almost hidden, place called Hay's Galleria which has some shops.
I kept walking until I reached the London Bridge. I had some difficulties finding the London Bridge Experience and the London Tombs as it was hidden under the bridge. I asked various pedestrians who did not know where it was. However, I did find it eventually. This attraction is probably one of the highlights of my trip. Yes, I love scary and gruesome stories. I found the attraction fun, but not recommended for the faint hearts.
When I was done, my stomach started demanding some nutrition. I found a lovely farmer's market by the London Bridge, called Borough market. It turns out to be one of the oldest markets in London, about 1 000 years old (Talking about walking through time!). This market provides with everything, from cooked meals to sweat treats to all kinds of meats, fruits and vegetables. I indulged myself with a piece of baklava and went on my way.
Then, I visited the Southwark Cathedral nearby, which is lovely, but no pictures allowed unless we pay for them. I crossed the London Bridge and walked by the river until I got back to the Tower of London. I took the Thames River Cruise from Tower Pier to Westminster Pier, while listening to the guide who was introducing what we could see in a humorous way. It is a pity most people were not listening. When I reached the Westminster Pier, I walked by the Queen's Walk and reached an interesting road called Belvedere Road. In this street, we can find various restaurants. After many hesitation, I ended up at Neds Noodles Box, eating Chinese Barbecue Chicken Egg Noodles. It was delicious and of generous proportion. If I may suggest my fellow travelers to never put soda in your backpack and open it right away, as I did make a mess all over the place with my Dr Pepper.
Walking across the Westminster Bridge, I reached the Horse Guards Road and saw a beautiful building which I first mistook for the Buckingham Palace, but ended up being the Household Cavalry Museum.
I saw one of the guards walking around in their funny and rigid ways. Again, I am amazed by their ability to stay serious no matter what.
Crossing the street, I reached one of my favorite discoveries in London: St. James' park. I am not sure what it is about this park that I find beautiful: its trees, its ponds or its amazing view on the London Eye. I guess what I loved about it too is the possibility to feed the pigeons. I had some peanuts in my backpack. I first thought I would feed the squirrels but they were surprisingly not interested by my offer. Pigeons, on the other hand, came on my hands to eat. I giggled like a small child, and despite ending up with pigeons poo on my jacket, this was also one of my favorite moments in London.
I kept walking to Green Park, and finally reached the real Buckingham Palace by the Birdcage Walk. It was beautiful, I especially liked the fountain in the middle of the street. I kept walking in the parks and slowly started going back towards the London Eye. It has been a long day and I needed to rest.