Itinerary: St. Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Tate-to-Tate River Boat.
When we visited St. Paul’s it was on a Sunday and we could not take the tour. There are no tours on Sunday when there are mass services.
Victoria and I took the tour while Stefan and Daniela slept in. We got there right when the cathedral opened at 8:30 am. There are no photos allowed but here is a nice exterior shot.
Inside there is a World War II Memorial in a chapel. They have a book with the names of the fallen soldiers and each morning they turn a page so every name gets a chance to be displayed.
We also went up to the Whispering Gallery. After climbing 257 steps I was dizzy and out of breath. (There is no elevator.) I had to sit down before I could go into the Whispering Gallery. As much as I wanted to climb higher to see the views of London from the very top, I was physically incapable. (Not to mention we were running out of time. We had plans to meet Stefan and Daniela at 11 am near The Tower of London.)
The Stone Gallery is 376 steps up from ground level, and The Golden Gallery is 528 steps up. I must get into shape so that next time I am in London I can climb to the very top and see the views. Perhaps start from the top and work my way down.
To see the Cathedral floor from the Whispering Gallery was both frightening and incredible. I was too scared to go to the edge so I peaked over from a safe distance back.
Victoria and I tried the whispering trick from opposite ends, but neither of us heard the other one. It does work in Grand Central Station in NYC though.
After meeting up with our friends we walked to Tower Bridge and on the way saw the volunteers installing the handmade ceramic poppies around The Tower of London. They blend in behind the trees because they are also wearing red. I love this photo I took. Great coloring and it mixes old and new (The Shard) buildings.
On the Tower Bridge tour there is:
The North Tower with a video dramatization of the plans to build the bridge.
East Walkway with photos of the history and construction, along with photos and facts of other famous bridges around the world.
South Tower with a sped up video of what the construction must have looked like. There were also these facts –
West Walkway with an exhibition on the 1960’s and wonderful views of London’s famous landmarks. City Hall, The Shard, HMS Belfast, London Bridge:
Tower of London, St. Paul’s and The Monument were on the opposite side of the Thames.
The Engine Rooms had the old system of how they raised the draw bridge for ships. They would burn coal and – through a complicated system I don’t fully understand – the steam would activate the hydraulics.
The draw bridge.
After lunch we went even further east to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, where they 2012 Summer Olympics were held.
I was a bit underwhelmed by the views of the stadium (it looked to be under renovation) and observation tower. The observation tower’s admission price was expensive. So we just walked around.
However, I am so glad we ventured out to Stratford because it turned out to be a great shopping trip. On our way back to the train station we stopped into a shopping mall. Stefan was looking for an Urban Outfitters, but first we stopped into Fat Face. I know the name is odd, but the clothes are nice and totally my style! When we first passed it by I thought it was a restaurant.
It was founded in 1988 by Tim Slade and Jules Leaver as a business selling T-shirts in the ski resorts. The company opened its first retail shop in 1993; as of 2014 there are 209 Fat Face stores in the UK and Ireland.
they named it “Fat Face” after the Face de Bellevarde slope in Val-d’Isère.
I want Fat Face to expand to the U.S.
We all bought few things from Fat Face. After Stefan did find an Urban Outfitters but didn’t see anything he liked. So we took the tube back to London Bridge. When we came out from the Underground a street team was giving out Lindt chocolate candy bars. Delicious!
While walking from London Bridge to the Tate Modern we got caught in a rain shower. Of course, the one day I don’t bring an umbrella. We found some cover to wait it out.
I would love to see both Tate museums next time I am in London. For now we just took the inexpensive river boat to the Tate that was near our hotel. When the rain stopped and the sun came back out we saw a rainbow.
I wish the boat had not been enclosed. There were some great photos to take. Next time I’ll take a proper river cruise.
After relaxing a bit we went to Embankment for our last dinner in London. 😦
On the way we passed the former home of Herman Melville in 1849 on 25 Craven Street.
and the former home of Benjamin Franklin.
This was a pretty awesome last full day that we had.
London was one of the best hoildays I have ever been on, and I have been on many in my life. We all had so much fun and really got to check off most of our “to do” list. I miss being there so much and can’t wait to go back to London someday to revisit and see more places.
The favorites were Hampton Court Palace, Harry Potter tour, The Crucible, Windsor/Oxford/Stonehenge, Jack the Ripper Tour, The London Eye, discovering Fat Face. I can truly say there was never a place that I regretted sightseeing.