Thursday, 16 August 2012

London Calling

The hardest thing about catching up with family is leaving. We had been having a great time getting to know our young niece and spending time with my father, sister, brother in law and his family. But our passports had come back with a strict Russian visa that said we had to be crossing their border in 16 days, so the time had come to depart the rainy British Isle that we had actually grown to love. Before we left however, I was told I had to see at least some of London. While London was normally the first place people saw when arriving in England, we only decided to explore it while leaving. Tia had visited before and I had basically avoided it with the 2012 Olympics. So the city called us over for a one day sample of the Monopoly board tour.

After some teary good byes, we started what was likely to be the longest overland journey we would ever do. We departed Birmingham early and arrived in London Euston at 10:49am. We left the station on Euston Road, walked up to Kings Cross Station and put out bags in a left luggage, where we were asked some very direct security questions that I would have been surprised if anyone would answer yes to. We then grabbed a tube to Westminster via Piccadilly Circus to check out a bell that’s named after me ...

The Big Ben - London
Big Ben from St. Thomas' Hospital grounds - London
... before crossing the Westminster bridge, and checking out the London Eye.

London Eye
London Eye
We then went back three spaces via Northumberland Avenue and landed at Trafalgar Square after crossing Whitehall, did some people watching and soon found ourselves heading along The Strand. We checked out the Covent Garden Market and regretted the packed lunch idea - the food here looked very tasty. From here Bow Street took us back to The Strand and Fleet Street until we made it to St Paul's Cathedral. I was not expecting to find such an impressive church in London; I preferred the understated elegance of textures and details, compared to the over-the-topalist rival Italian churches.

Black Cabs and Saint Paul's Church - London
A sneaky shot taken inside Saint Paul's Church - London
From St Paul's we worked our way south to the River Thames and checked out the latest addition to the skyline - the Shard.

The newest member to London's Skyline, The Shard
Wandering lazily towards the Tower of London, we settled awhile amidst a brief spell of sunshine for some more people watching. From here we walked pass Fenchurch Street Station to catch the red double decker Number 8 bus which took us along Oxford Street, past Regent and Marlborough streets. We missed our stop at Oxford Circus Station and ended getting off at Bond Street. Our last tube ride took us back to Kings Cross Station, where we picked up our bags and walked to London St Pancras Station to catch the EuroStar under the English Channel.

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