Blown Away

We all know that Chicago is most widely recognized as the “Windy City” around the world. But what if I were to tell you that London is the windy city? At least it was during my visit…

On day two, my goal was to walk through the city and visit the popular tourist destinations. Starting at St. Paul’s Cathedral, I wanted to explore the historical architecture in “Old London”. Then, cross over Millennium Bridge to the artsy side of town – exploring Shakespeare’s Globe and the Tate Modern. Crossing over the Southwark Bridge back to the City of London and seeing the skyscrapers at eye level in the Monument to the Great Fire of London. Lastly, concluding the day at the Tower of London, and it’s sibling bridge – Tower Bridge.

We all know that Chicago is most widely recognized as the "Windy City" around the world. But what if I were to tell you that London is the windy city? At least it was during my visit...

On day two, my goal was to walk through the city and visit the popular tourist destinations. Starting at St. Paul's Cathedral, I wanted to explore the historical architecture in "Old London". Then, cross over Millennium Bridge to the artsy side of town - exploring Shakespeare's Globe and the Tate Modern. Crossing over the Southwark Bridge back to the City of London and seeing the skyscrapers at eye level in the Monument to the Great Fire of London. Lastly, concluding the day at the Tower of London, and it's sibling bridge - Tower Bridge. All by walking through streets, crossing bridges, and battling winds from Storm Doris which was visiting town that day...

St. Paul's Cathedral

For the first time ever, I had the chance to ride the classic red double-decker buses. From my hotel, it was a straight ride to St. Paul's Cathedral on one of many lines. Transport for London (TfL) has really made their public transit infrastructure efficient. From the street, buses could be seen from all directions, taking people pretty much anywhere they wanted to go with a few hops, skips, and jumps.

I hopped on the bus bound for Liverpool Street, and sat atop the bus. Reminds me of the days when I sat on a double-decker back in Shanghai; we don't have many of those types of buses in the United States... 20 minutes later, I hopped off and stood in awe at the architecture of the building. Pictures speak more than words, so I'll let them do the talking, but I easily spent an hour just photographing this historical house of worship from every angle.

Globe-Trotting

Now you may be asking why I only have pictures of the cathedral from the outside and am writing a new section without showing the inside. The answer: I had blocked time to explore the streets and sights of London and Westminster. I didn't have time to explore the inside of churches, museums, and the like. I'm saving that for a future trip back. So... ONWARD!

After spending the morning photographing St. Paul's Cathedral, I crossed the River Thames through Millennium Bridge - a pedestrian-only bridge that links St. Paul's and Tate Modern. From afar, I could see Shakespeare's Globe Theater. In the 8th grade, I started learning about the history of Shakespeare and the historical impact of his plays. As a junior in high school, the English department held a London trip which included visiting the Globe Theatre. I didn't take the opportunity to visit then, but I'm glad I waited until now to visit; I felt that I wouldn't have appreciated it until finishing college.

So the catch about Shakespeare's Globe? It isn't the original building of course, but it's a replica from previous iterations:

  • Iteration 1: Original - Built in 1599, destroyed by fire
  • Iteration 2: Rebuild - Built in 1614, demolished 30 years later
  • Iteration 3: Modern - Built in 1997 based on artifacts and historical records from Iteration 1

As I walked inside the museum, I was invited to join a tour already in progress. I wasn't allowed to take pictures inside because there was a live rehearsal for one of my favorite Shakespearean plays, Taming of the Shrew. I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw the abundance of signage pointing to emergency exits and fire alarms. They must've learned from their mistake the first time around...

Monument to the Great Fire

Speaking of fires unrelated to the Globe Theatre, the City of London suffered from a "great fire" that started from a bakery, and swept through 700 acres of land north of the Thames. The fire had spread through winds fanning the flames from building to building. Coincidentally, the day that I had visited the monument, I was battling wind gusts of 70 miles per hour...

I paid my £5 to climb to the top and get breathtaking views of the city. There is no elevator to the top; just a winding staircase. Thank goodness I started stair-master training weeks before my trip... five minutes later, I found myself blown away from the views at the top. Seriously... at 203 feet up with 70mph winds, I constantly found myself holding on to the rails at the top, even though the observation deck was heavily gated.

Tower of London / Tower Bridge

The last stop of the day was the Tower of London, and the iconic Tower Bridge. Again, due to time constraints, I only walked around the Tower of London and across Tower Bridge. Besides, I felt that the grotesque history of Tower Bridge would have spoiled my wanderlust mood. I did learn that the derivation of the word "hangover" came from the historical days of when the Tower of London was used for executions. Public showings of hangings occurred at the Tower of London, and citizens would engage in a bacchanalia of celebrations when prisoners were hanged. These would last throughout the evening, and the aftereffects of alcohol would create the sensation of a "hang-over" the following morning. So... you can thank old Londoners for where we get the term today.

Aaand speaking of alcohol... if you would excuse me - I need to find a British pub somewhere to get the best fish, chips, and pint experience!

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