Day Twenty Nine
London Travel Blog› entry 29 of 34 › view all entries
I decided to make up for yesterday's lack of activity. Mid-morning I started walking east along the northern side of the Thames. I had walked along the southbank a few times already, but never along the northern side. The northside wasn't all that different from the southside, but I think I prefer the northern side. I'm not entirely sure why. Maybe because it was new, I don't know. But I really enjoyed it.
And I tried to keep up my relaxed attitude from yesterday--slowed down, really took in the sights around me. I really was in no rush so I just let myself as slowly as I wanted. I made a few diversions along the way. At one point I went on the beach for a minute or so. It was nice to feel the wind, hear the waves, and smell the salt (is the Thames salty? Maybe it was just my imagination).
I also went on the Millennium Bridge. I'd already been to the Tate Modern, but I never crossed the wobbly bridge. It didn't wobble, I kind of wish it did. That would have been exciting. Well, as long as I didn't die. Then... not so much. But I did see some nice views of the St. Paul's and down the river.
I continued walking east, making my way closer and closer to the Tower Bridge. It really is absolutely beautiful. Like I kind of saw it yesterday through the mist, but I was too soaked to really appreciate it. I did appreciate it today though. It's very picturesque; almost as beautiful as the Brooklyn Bridge.
So I finally made me way into Tower Hill and spent the afternoon at the Tower of London. I shelled out the big bucks for an audio tour (god, how cheap am I?) and I'm glad I did. It was really helpful because it gives you a distinct path and easy-to-follow instructions. If I were on my own I probably would have been overwhelmed just figuring out where to start and making sure I covered all the ground.
It was interesting to learn about the Tower's history. It was essentially a torture chamber; Anne Boleyn was beheaded there, her daughter Elizabeth was imprisoned there.
Although the buildings themselves are very beautiful, I kind of felt creeped out most of the time. It was creepy to walk down the dark spiral stairs (they were RIDICULOUSLY steep by the way). I was essentially taking the same exact path people took on their way to die. It was very eerie.
But only sometimes. It was funny, not everything was eerie. Some of the prisoners were in absolute hell (one man's finger was pulled out of his socket because he wouldn't reveal who other English Catholics were to the Protestant king).
Of course I couldn't go to the Tower of London and not check out the Crown Jewels. And I got there just in time, too. After I left, I saw the queue of people waiting. There must have been over 100-200 people easily. The line just went on forever. I'm sure Dad would have absolutely loved it.
The line was worth it, though, because those jewels were ridic. British kings and queens are p-i-m-p pimps. I'm not even going to try to describe how dazzling the jewels are because I can't. I'll just say: they're sparkly and beautiful and gorgeous. I did think the system they used to show us the jewels was rather odd.
Out of everything, one of the things I liked most about the Tower were little surveys they had along the way. For instance, in one room they talked about these two princes (like 8 and 10 years old) who went missing in the Tower and people think were murdered. They talked about the two suspects--Edward III and Henry VII--and then had an electronic survey asking you who you think did it. Another room talked about a man being tortured for his religious beliefs and asked how important your beliefs are too. I thought it was great that my answer was most popular--my beliefs don't matter too much to me.
After spending hours in the Tower of London I went over to the Tower Bridge. I walked to the south end and back before going into the upper walkway. And, just like Buckingham Palace, I gotta say... LAME! Sure photographing the bridge and walking along the bridge were great. But going to the upper part was just very underwhelming. You kinda get nice views, but really the nicest views of the Thames includes the bridge itself. Besides the view, you also got to learn how the bridge was built--but I could just read about that online. I guess it's one of those things you have to do just to be able to say you did it. Well, I can officially say I walked along the upper pathway of Tower Bridge.
Rather than head home after a long morning/afternoon, I decided to stick around a little bit more.
The ride was really great. Before we left dock we were able to see the Tower Bridge open its gate for a passing boat. As I said before, it was nice and sunny so I was able to get some pretty photos with the sun on the water (at least I think they're pretty). But it was also really really windy (as would be expected with river winds+being on a boat).
Anyway, back to the present, we cruised along the Thames for maybe 35 minutes with a tour guide pointing things out along the way. There was this glass building that looked like a huge helmet. The guide said it was the mayor's new office and it cost some ridiculous amount like 20 million pounds. And they also spent like 2 million pounds coming up with a name for it, which is, drum roll please... City Hall. LOL, maybe we're not the only ones with retards in office.
It was also cool to go under all the bridges, some of which I've walked over, such as the Millennium Bridge, London Bridge, Blackfriars Bridge. And then we got to see the London Eye, Parliament, Big Ben.
So I ended my long day at Westminster, contemplating whether to walk or take the subway. I like walking here because the weather's nice, I get a taste of the area, it's exercise, and I save some money. But I decided to go with the tube because I had already walked so much today and I didn't feel like walking another 50 or so minutes. Well, that was a kind of a mistake because the line I needed wasn't running. I had to take maybe three different lines and transferring is such a pain here.
The only upside to running around the hot as hell tube station was that I was able to take the Bakerloo line. This leaves me with only one line--Waterloo & City--that I haven't taken yet. That was one of my goals here--to use all the subway lines. I know I can do it!
Yes, I'm a dork. And proud of it.