Tuesday, June 29, 2010

London Southbank walk

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If you've a passion for sumptuous city strolls, it's hard to beat the River Thames south bank. One favorite walk begins at Hungerford Foot Bridge (above) and heads east to famed Tower Bridge.

Apologies in advance for an indulgently long, lovely walk...

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First up: gorgeous panoramic views west from Hungerford Foot Bridge to the London Eye (left), Parliament and Big Ben (right).

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Sauntering east along the river, the next bridge is view-heaven Waterloo. Look west from Waterloo Bridge and the lines of Hungerford Bridge, the Eye and skyline reflect back.

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Looking east from Waterloo Bridge, there's Blackfriars Bridge and all the City (London's biz district & historic centre) ahead, with Blitz-defying St. Paul's Cathedral (left), where royals marry.

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The Royal Festival Hall nearby has a public space to hang out (love that). If you're peckish, there's a cafe, plus fun Skylon.

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Trot along the wharf towards Oxo Tower, right, for more snacks. Also, that bit of rocky sand? Londoners call it a beach. As a Hawaii expat, I'm not sure what I think of that. Awesome? Weird? Sad?

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But, hey, when life gives you lemons, you make...insane sand sculptures! On a warm day, we've seen The Sandman in action.
 
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Nearing Blackfriars Bridge, you can admire St. Paul's dome, plus the distinctly-shaped Gherkin building (right).

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St. Paul's again -- there's something magical about cities at night.

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The Southbank also teems with wacky, wonderful performers...

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...and used book browsers....

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...and skilled skateboarders. (Skateboarding was -don't laugh!- a main form of transport in my family, so I've a fixed appreciation).  
 
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By evening, the trees fill with enchanting blue & white fairy lights.

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Past Blackfriars Bridge, modern-y pleasures await at wobbly Millennium Bridge, crossing from the Tate Modern to St. Paul's.

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For a 2008 show, street artists livened up the Modern's facade.
 
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Pause right in front of the Millennium Bridge for a stunning view.

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Continuing on, there's the pretty ironwork of Southwark Bridge.

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Under Southwark arches, the Cello Man gives soulful concerts.

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Then the path takes a more gruesome turn: overhead is a reminder of old Clink prison. Religious prisoners were held here before being burnt at the stake. (Charming, just charming).

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The ruins of Winchester Palace are nearby, founded in the 1140s by the Bishops of Winchester - who controlled the area brothels.

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Next up: atmospheric Southwark Cathedral, a church site for over 1000 years, where John Harvard (univ. benefactor) was baptized.

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Then feast at amazing Borough Market, also 1000 years old. Scenes from a Harry Potter movie were shot here on Stoney St.

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Back by the Cathedral is London Bridge. A bridge has existed here for 2000 years. The original was built of boats by the ancient Romans, then replaced with wood, stone, granite, and concrete.

Un-fun fact: Decapitated heads of prisoners were once displayed on spikes at each end of London Bridge, including the head of Braveheart (William Wallace).

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Leaving London Bridge, the path smooshes under riverfront buildings (right). That's the HMS Belfast, a WWII warship-turned-museum, with the Tower Bridge in the distance.

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Couldn't resist the Belfast in London fog--no Tower Bridge in sight!

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Meander along, under shaded riverside loggias.

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You can make a pit stop at the Hay's Galleria shops, installed on the old wharf area and complete with 99p (almost $2) coffee - the most affordable thing in London!

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The path opens dramatically to City Hall and the Tower Bridge. 

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Here's the Tower Bridge in all its moody daytime glory...

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...and all its nighttime glory. Gaze across the river & you'll see...

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...the 1000-year old Tower of London, of gory beheading fame.

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Ravens live on the Tower grounds.  Legend has it that when the ravens depart the Tower of London, England will fall.   

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In all, you'll soak up 3 miles and over a millennium of London life.

For S.

2 comments:

Rowena... said...

That is some walk! So nice to be able to see a little peek of another place on this planet. As much as I'd love to fly over to the UK and see everything, it won't be for another few years at least (too many other places to go first).

Jude said...

Rowena: I know! There's too much planet to see and not enough time or resources to see it all. (Oh, I love your glimpses of Italian life too!)

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