Exploring London

London Travel Blog

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Sundial at St. Katherine's Dock
 

London was easy to get around in on public transport. Adam and Bella loaned me one of the Oyster Cards that they kept specially for out of town visitors. The pre-paid card enabled bypassing any ticket counter or ancient touch-screen ticket machine like the one I had learned to use at Heathrow. By simply touching it against any of the round yellow pads located at all of the tube stations, uninterrupted travel throughout the city was possible. The Southfield Station's attendant showed me how to recharge the card and I brought its balance to ten Pounds. I caught the District Line to Tower Hill; about a thirty-five minute ride with sixteen stops.

 

The London Tower looked more like a castle.

Piccadilly Circus
People lined for group tours but I strolled downhill toward the River Thames. The HMS Belfast moored on the opposite bank, England's largest naval cruiser, now retired as a museum. Its four big gun turrets looked out of time and place against a mixed backdrop of modern glass buildings, early European structures, and green parks. Tower Bridge, opened by Queen Victoria in 1894, dominated the area with its two high towers resembling the Middle Ages. I followed the waterfront between the famous bridge and St. Katherine's Dock where tour boats loaded passengers for sightseeing cruises up and down the river.

 

After exploring the north bank and part of the bridge, I got back on the tube to Piccadilly Circus; London's equivalent of Time's Square in New York City.

Palace guard
Tall rounded walls of bright neon lights and big-screen televisions flashed brilliant colors onto gray streets and ancient buildings. Wandering without a map, I continued north into Soho and Leicester Square which appeared to be the theater district. Creative colorful signs advertized current musicals, plays, and films. Dozens of sidewalk eateries lined the streets, their ethnic variety as wide as the world itself. I sat for a shawarma and cappuccino at a Lebanese place while the world walked past.

 

Doubling back to the south I found Green Park. It was always a pleasant surprise to discover wide open, grassy tree-lined parks in a city that seemed cramped and crowded. London was greener than I would have expected. I crossed the spacious park and found Buckingham Palace. Dozens of people loitered its front gates snapping pictures of the stately guards or hoping to catch sight of the Queen. I walked half its perimeter, disappointed that most of my pictures were still badly streaked. On the tube back to Southfields, I contemplated my options - buy a new camera or have an old battered one that I have at home shipped from Michigan.

bkretzer says:
Great blog. I had never heard Picadilly Circus described at all. (never looked for one either). Sounds like a must see!
Posted on: Sep 26, 2009
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Sundial at St. Katherines Dock
Sundial at St. Katherine's Dock
Piccadilly Circus
Piccadilly Circus
Palace guard
Palace guard
Statue in Leicester Square
Statue in Leicester Square
Small market
Small market
The King and Di
The King and Di
Nice porch light
Nice porch light
A London street
A London street
The London Eye from the palace
The London Eye from the palace
Front gates at Buckingham Palace
Front gates at Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace
London
photo by: ulysses