Monday, March 5, 2012

Walking, Walking.....flag, I'm taking the Tube

I managed to stay up a little bit later last night, 9.30pm to be exact. Didn't help to much, as I ended up wide awake at 2.30am and didn't feel sleepy again until 9am when I had to get up for breakfast. I was speaking to a couple of German travelers over breakfast. "Where are you going today" she asked. "I'm not sure yet, I'll decide after my shower". That's the beauty of being right in the middle of London, you don't have to rush away, you can just start walking in a direction and then decide what you'll stop and see.

I decided I'd start at St. Pauls cathedral. I looked out the dorm window to determine my attire. (Yeah right! Nylon zip off pants, a t shirt, a down jacket and a packed away polar fleece no matter the weather) It was sunny with some cloud and a bitter freezing wind. (Think winter southerly in Christchurch). Map in hand I headed in the direction of St. Pauls. It's hard to miss, what a massive cathedral!!! Quite blow away by the sheer size.

St Pauls Cathedral
Couldn't quite fit the entrance all in. 

I knew St. Pauls cost to enter, and I stood there pondering whether it would be worth it or not. 14 Pounds! - 28NZD! ouch. After hearing raving reviews from Jimmy and Jess I decided what the heck. I'd spent next to nothing so far, I'll splash out. I quickly joined in on a tour group which was run by a very knowledgeable and enthusiastic volunteer. He ran us through the main points of the cathedral including general layout, history, building materials, and significant points of interest. Photo's weren't allowed, so I've pulled the one below from  Google. It doesn't capture the detail or size perfectly but gives you an idea. 

Looking along the quire to the high alter. 

All the pictures on the roof and the colours are from giant mosaics. These are made of glass and are set at different angles so the sunlight pouring in the windows make it sparkle and come to life. I find its history during the war very interesting. Men volunteered to protect the cathedral from incendiary bombs (bombs that started fires) as it's wood frame made it vulnerable. Men can't stop exploding bombs though, and the cathedral was hit twice; in the north (far end of the photo) and west. After the tour I picked up an audio tour and walked around with my headphones listening to a guided commentary. I climbed up to the whispering gallery (the biggest dome in the cathedral) where you could look down to the main floor. Called the whispering dome because of its amazing acoustics, just by whispering into the walls people on the other side of the dome can here you. Totally worth the 14 pounds, I spend several hours just wondering around this mammoth place. I left and crossed across the Thames on the Millennium bridge towards Tate modern. 

On the Millennium Bridge

Tower Bridge In Distance

Tate Modern
Tate modern is a modern art gallery. The building used to be the Bankside power station, until it shut down. Tate needed a new location and moved it's gallery to this old building. Old on the outside, new and quirky on the inside. I love the fact it's a converted building, but James you were right, modern art can be quite bizarre. 5 floors of exhibitions and I must have been done in about 20 minutes. After realizing I has just wasted 5 minutes of my life watching close up video footage of street litter being blow in the wind, I left and wandered along the river towards tower bridge.

Modern Art

The walkway along the River wiggles in and out of little alleyways with small pubs and cafes. 

Very, very windy, and very cold!!

Tower of London
I started feeling pretty tired, by now and my feet were a wee bit sore from all the walking. Going through the castle didn't really appeal to me, but was able to read plaques dotted around about the history. I worked out I was about 45 - 1hr walk from my hostel, without hesitation I justified the 4 Pound train ticket and headed to the nearest Tube station. Soon I was flying through the underground network. A quick change over onto the Piccadilly line and I was back at Russell Square. 

So here I sit, 7pm, downstairs in Starbucks opposite the British Museum, with an empty cup of peppermint tea. I think I'll head back to the hostel for a light dinner before settling in for the night. Tomorrow I hope to head over to Buckingham palace (I think the changing of the guards is on, will have to check) but weather dependent of course.



  1. You skipped the Tower!!! Loved taking James round there... but then the history ment more to me after reading so much about it. Glad you enjoyed St Pauls :)
    Pretty cold here but think you are colder - but then you are going to get warmer soon and we aren't- sigh. Summer just never happened here this year.
    sleep well
    and take comment moderation off... saves time commenting,

  2. Love it! Thanks for taking the time to write - living vicariously through you, your writing brings memories of London back to life - keep enjoying!

  3. If anything, your updates are TOO good. I feel like I'm there again, except I'm not!

    Glad to hear that you enjoyed St Paul's. That place is magic. It's so good that you can get to some of the best sights on foot, as they're practically on your door-step. Brilliant!


  4. Haha its only been a few days and I'm already waking up and checking your blog as one of the firsts things I do. I wake up and check FB, this blog and stuff before I even get out of bed.

    St Paul's sounds incredible! I know how much thought you would have put into picking your hostel and it sounds so perfect. Nice and central, hope the room mates keep it down at night and you havent got any snorers but hey someone needs to try that trick with the blu tak ;)

    Love you, Miss you, Mean it!