Jun 25, 2012

Perfect Evening in London

Taking the tube to the Waterloo stop, my daughter and I began enjoying our first night in London. Buses to the London Eye include the 211, 77 and 381 and you can also get there via water taxi to the Millennium Pier stop.  It was appropriately drizzly out, not too bad.  We walked around the London Eye area snapping pictures of the Thames and Big Ben.  St. Paul's and Tate Modern are also in this area, but we didn't visit either.

We had reserved fast track skip-the-line tickets for the London Eye and got on quickly.  It was pretty awesome......
  Like a Ferris wheel, but instead of open-air seats, you ride inside a glass capsule.  Each capsule contains only 8 - 10 people so it's not crowded at all and nobody obstructs your view.  Along with the 360 birds-eye view of London, we also enjoyed the iPad style interactive guide for information about each view.  The London Eye is wheelchair accessible.

In each city I visit, I'm always drawn to the water.  The fast moving water of the Thames is milky brown like a cafe' au lait and frantically busy.  We strolled along the river towards the Westminster Bridge to cross over so Marj could recalibrate her watch with Big Ben, a monumental event.

The streets were crazy busy with red buses, cars and bicycles.  How the cyclists survived the traffic is beyond me.  We took our time wandering around Big Ben, the Parliament and Westminster Abbey in awe.  London was our first stop in a month-long trip across Europe and we were as giddy as you would imagine.

In due time,we took the tube to the infamous London Bridge which looks like any common bridge in America.  I think it's the ugliest bridge in London, maybe all of Europe.  Yet so legendary, so famous.  I was puzzled.  The Tower Bridge is the one you want to see and the one you will probably assume is the London Bridge.  Pictured below is the sad-sack London Bridge.

We walked along the Thames as dusk approached passing some medieval palace ruins and Shakespeare's Globe Theater.  That evening's performance was Macbeth, but it was in Polish (!!) so we didn't see the show.

The Globe, an open-air, octagonal amphitheater was put up around 1598 and had a seating capacity of 3,000.  It burned in 1613 when a cannon shot during a performance of Henry VIII ignited the roof.  The new Globe was built on the old one's foundation and was completed before Shakespeare died, remaining open until 1642 when the Puritans had it closed down.  The building was razed in 1644 and dismissed until the foundations were found in 1989 and was rebuilt as close to the original version as possible and opened again in 1997.  We were very disappointed we couldn't see a play while we were in town.

As the lights around London were coming on strong, we stopped for some steak pie at The Founders Arms Pub and Diner where we sat out on the heated, candle-lit patio overlooking the river.  Our meals were fantastic.  Besides the steak pie, try the chips with garlic mayo.

The food, the ambiance, the twilight - Perfect.  This is exactly what I had dreamed of while planning the trip.  I was so happy!

With full bellies, we crossed the Millennium Pedestrian Bridge.  Positively dreamy.  What a way to kick off our European adventure!

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