Friday, December 13, 2013

Days 81-85: London Sightseeing

*drumroll please*

Now, from the dark cave of Revision Week, from the midst of studying, I bring you... the final blog post about my London trip! I apologize for it being so late, but I had to sort through approximately 500 pictures to bring you the 70 best ones. Enjoy!

Since I've already covered  the West End shows and Doctor Who convention, I'm going to finish up with a post on some of the sightseeing I did in London and general thoughts about the city and my trip as a whole.

Thursday was a big day for sightseeing because it was all so new. I decided to start out with a general view of the city, so I took a bus down to canary wharf (doctor who fans?) and then hopped on the Thames Clipper, which took me all along the river, under the tower bridge and up to Westminster bridge.

I spent the rest of the day (when not watching shows) walking around and snapping photos. I saw Big Ben, Westminster abbey, the London eye, the Globe theatre, Trafalgar Square, and I briefly toured the British Gallery, where I saw some pretty famous paintings (like Van Gogh's sunflowers).

One odd thing about London is that everything is either free (the British gallery, the museum, the library... etc...) or really expensive. To go up the Shard (a really tall office building) costs 25 pounds, and even going in Westminster abbey is 15 pounds. I ended up not doing anything that cost money (so I could save up for the theatre) and instead spent my time doing free things.

Another strange thing in London is that there are simply so many tourists there. I wasn't expecting many people to be there in late November, but on every street corner there'd be people with cameras, and I'm pretty sure no London native is going to be taking a selfie in front of Big Ben on his way to work. There are also a bazillion tourist shops, all selling the exact same items. Prices were somewhat reasonable, so I picked up a few gifts for my family.

On Saturday I mainly just walked around because I got rather lost trying to find Harrod's (a really high end department store) and so I ended up seeing some less touristy parts of London that I otherwise wouldn't have visited. Then on Monday I visited St. Paul's cathedral, where lots of famous people are buried (including the poet John Donne and the composer Arthur Sullivan) and which has absolutely amazing views from its galleries (my legs are still sore from climbing hundreds of stairs. I also briefly visited the British museum (which definitely warrants another visit... or a week of visits) and the British library, which is an English nerd's paradise.

In short, I saw a lot in London, but there's still so much I didn't see. I didn't visit the Tower of London, or walk over tower bridge (though the Thames clipper did go under it) and I didn't visit Sherlock Holmes house at 221b Baker Street. However, I plan to be back in London for new year's, then again at the end of January to see David Tennant and tom Hiddleston, and then possibly again in the summer to see some performances at Shakespeare's globe... so I think it's okay that I didn't see everything on my first visit.

The train down past Edinburgh-- got some lovely ocean views

Train for London! :D

Cliffs of Scotland (or northern England... not sure where the border was)

Newcastle,  I believe

A pier at Newcastle... Rather St. Andrew'sish

London tube (people were looking at me really oddly when I was taking a photo)

My bedroom. Have I mentioned that the people I stayed with were fantastic? So kind and welcoming.

Canary Wharf. Still not really sure what it is, but there were a lot of people running around in suits.
No Daleks or Cybermen, though. I was disappointed.

Bridge at Canary Wharf. You can see the Shard and other famous buildings in the distance

London Riverline

I took the Thames Clipper down to the city centre. Expensive, as public transit goes, but worth it for the view.

"Sweet Thames, run softly 'till I end my song
Sweet Thames, run softly, for I speak not loud nor long"
--- T. S. Eliot, The Wasteland

Tower Bridge! We went right under it, but I need to visit it up close another time.

The Shard (and various other buildings whose names I don't know)

Trafalgar Square!

British National Gallery-- home to some famous painters... and Zygons...

Trafalgar square... super busy even in November

Some large archway on the west side of Trafalgar Square

The other side of the archway (since I know you all wanted the full view)

Everyone seemed to be really excited that the heron was around.
I was more interested in the London Eye and the British flag in the background.


"I heard the minx remark
She'd meet him after dark
Inside St. James' Park and give him one!"
---- Gilbert and Sullivan, Iolanthe

Lovely monument right outside Buckingham Palace

Residence of the Queen. She, unfortunately, did not make an appearance.

Oh, hey there, Buckingham Palace...

Most British photo of life

Big Ben, and part of the Parliament buildings (I think)

The entrance to Westminster Abbey (not the prettiest bit)

The front of Westminster Abbey (much prettier)

Big Ben! And the London Eye! ALL THE BRITISH!

Any idea what this is? Any guesses? No?

Thames river when standing on Westminster Bridge

Nope, I take back what I said earlier. This is the most British photo of life.

London Eye

More London Eye

And (wait for it) more London Eye
(apologies for making that LOTR reference twice on this blog)

The Dome on the left is St. Paul's cathedral... but look how many bridges there are!

Shakespeare's Globe. :) I didn't properly go in because tours are expensive, and I figure that I'll come back to see a play next summer anyways

Police Public Call Box!

Trafalgar Square... at night! (well, really, it's probably about 6pm... but that counts as night this far north)

And Big Ben looks even cooler at night

Christmas lights EVERYWHERE

Some random white houses... this is when I got lost south of the West End and just wandered around for awhile.

Harrod's! Super cool department store, but way too crowded with tourists.

No idea what this is, but it was pretty.

Wellington Arch (I think... don't really remember)

Memorial of those who gave their lives in the Great War.

Trees. Sun. Happiness.
The parks in London do make great places to walk through.

Piccadilly Circus! (I think... Pretty sure this is where the opening sequence of Sherlock is filmed. But honestly, I was a bit lost at this point, so I'm not quite sure where I was)

Selfie by the fountain in Trafalgar Square... great place to stop and journal for a few minutes.

Random giant rooster in Trafalgar Square. I don't understand.

The view south when standing on that giant monument in Trafalgar Square.


Feed the birds...

And feed the birds in Portrait...

And the birds come down with their wings dramatically sun-tipped...

The river flowing through St. James' Park

Leicester Square at night (vue cinema is where I saw the Doctor Who episode)

Not quite sure what this is called... but it always shows up on TV shows.
The church I went to was right around here.

St. Paul's Cathedral

London skyline from the middle of St. Paul's three galleries (several hundred steps up)

(I admit to editing... but I couldn't resist...)


One of St. Paul's spires

Spiral staircases on the way up to the highest gallery

Such a fantastic view

The poor little Globe, so surrounded...

Mordor again... I need someone to photoshop Sauron's eye onto this pic

The front of St. Paul's (see those spires? I was up higher than that)

I didn't find the Muffin Man... :'(

Covent Garden Market (didn't stay for long, just sorta ran through)

British musem

Roman Emperors. I think one is Marcus Aurelius, but I can't remember which. The odd thing is that the one on the right looks exactly like one of the guys in my Beowulf class...


  1. I love your photos! They are beautiful :D

  2. Looks like you had a good time and hit the main points. Didn't the size of everything strike you? Trafalgar Square, for example. Everything is so big! And the cathedrals and palaces. I had the same feeling in Paris. I am glad you had such a great time. Thanks for sharing some photos. And here is the scoop on the Rooster, which I thought you would enjoy reading.

    The Giant blue rooster was unveiled in July next to the somber military monuments in London's Trafalgar Square. German artist Katharina Fritsch's 15-foot (4.7 meter) ultramarine bird, titled "Hahn/Cock," is intended as a playful counterpoint to the statues of martial heroes in the square.
    Both ultramarine blue and the rooster are symbols of France, whose defeat by Britain at the battle of Trafalgar in 1805 gave the square its name. "It's a nice humorous side-effect to have something French in a place that celebrates victory over Napoleon," Fritsch told The Guardian newspaper.
    Fritsch also said she hoped the double meaning in the work's name would appeal to the British sense of humor. "I know they like to play games with language," she said. London Mayor Boris Johnson said it would be a "talking point for Londoners and tourists alike."
    It is the latest in a series of artworks to adorn the square's vacant "Fourth Plinth." One of London's main tourist attractions, the square was named for Horatio Nelson's victory over the French and Spanish fleets. A statue of the one-armed admiral stands atop Nelson's Column at the center of the square, and statues of other 19th-century military leaders are nearby.
    The fourth plinth was erected in 1841 for an equestrian statue that was never completed. It remained empty for a century and a half, and since 1999 has been occupied by artworks erected for 18 months at a time.
    Previous works have included a a giant ship in a bottle and 2,400 members of the public who stood atop the plinth for an hour at a time.