Tuesday, 1 October 2013

London Calling (Part III: St Paul's, Tower Bridge & skipping Newton)

For a musical background to this post CLICK 'ERE.   When in England ....

So I am going to London again.  The 500 stairs are beckoning ;-)  I bought my ticket for St Paul's Cathedral last night online (St Paul's Cathedral can process Canadian Credit Cards, but Southern Railways can not !).
Including an online discount, I paid 14.50 pounds.
But first I have to get there again:  This time I get the train to London Bridge, which is also much closer to St Paul's.  Some pics along the walk there:
Just in case you too wondered why the ship was called The Golden Hind

Just another bridge with the day's destination in the background

Up There I shall stand !

 There seem to be a lot of reflective curved metal surfaces in England.
And I can't resist taking self-Hobbit-portraits ;-)

My 14.50 pounds gets me one of those headsets with video-player combos to tell you everything about the Duke of Wellington.  I'm having an ignant day and am happy to associate his name with rubber boots at the moment, so after the machine tells me that he is buried here, I take off the headphones and put the player in my pocket.  I'm just a touch peeved at the no-camera signs, but then one can't really trust the average tourist to turn off their flash and I'm sure St Paul's wants to sell some postcards ;-) But I do ask the nearest available civil employee (not in a floor-long black dress ;-) how to get to The Galleries, the reason I came here.   There are no pictures of the Whispering Gallery, a walk along the inside of the dome above the nave. Someone with an overdignified demeanor in a black suite and white shirt (don't you know the type!) already tells me I have to walk counter-clockwise instead of clock-wise to get to the stairs to the higher galleries, so I don't even risk another holy war by taking out my camera.   More stairs, this time one-way since much narrower.  Then I get to the outside, the Stone Gallery.  The first thing I see is an Asian with a camera stuck to his forehead.   So I take mine out too ;-)

The view is still not overwhelming so I don't linger and start looking for the extra 150 stairs to the Golden Gallery.  I've seen people up there from the riverboat and I can't wait to get up there !

Close to the very top the separation of the walls of the passage is so small that I can feel the walls on both sides squeezing both my shoulders. A very weird feeling!.

And then I'm out:  The Golden Gallery.  The sunshine that was still in abundance when I crossed the Millennium Bridge seems to have been obscured by high-flying fog.  So the view is not quite as spectacular as it could/should have been.
the Eye in the distance

Millennium Bridge & Tate Gallery

Mordor ?

toy cars

The way down the stairs is faster than the way up was ;-)  And new things to discover.

After a quick tour of the Crypt I leave St Paul's behind.  I liked it.  I'm not even tempted to go back to Westminster Abbey with its abundance of dead people and pompous priests, even though I could get another glimpse of Newton for FREE by pretending to worship.  I know this might sound strange, but my gut keeps telling me that St Paul's was a good Karma church while Westminster Abbey was not.  So I start wandering towards tower bridge.
I have to work hard to ignore the oodles of male clones in their business suits swarming around The Exchange and the banking quarter.  The piece de resistance:  one clone in his shiny shoes, black, dark blue, or dark grey suit was standing in front of a Rolex store, longingly looking through the window.  All that money earned by swallowing one's pride !  There must be some lasting  satisfying compensation for that. And the need to find that compensation is evidenced by all those companies vying for those poor soul's business.  Buy a Rolex or a Porsche. It might not get you love, but it will get you RESPECT.  But from all the wrong directions ;-)

While London can be horribly expensive, Whetherspoon pubs are quite a deal. Not only does one get free internet (I'm typing this post in the pub ;-) but a 'Mixed Grill' (2 pork cutlets, 2 cow cutlets, 1 sausage + fries and veggies PLUS 1 glass of Chardonnay all for a total of 7.99 Pounds during week lunch hours !  Can't get that in Canada for that price ;-)
Not too shabby a deal
... and it includes a view

After my lunch at Wetherspoons I walk over to Tower
Stay away from here if you don't like crowds
Bridge. I pay the 8 pounds to take an elevator up the North Tower, walk through both of the upper spans, come down an elevator in the South Tower, and then visit some "engine rooms" with replica or old engines on the South Shore.  I’m not too impressed.  What bugged me most is that they blocked the view in the upper spans with some ‘exhibition’ of other famous bridges all over the world.  If you have kids along, having their picture taken in front of a Green Screen, and being able to obtain some postcards later with their visages superimposed on a 

background of Tower Bridge probably would amuse them, but it didn't tickle my fancy.  Just another example how London is almost like the PNE or other fair where they try to draw one’s last nickel & dime out of one’s pocket with any cheap thrills they can tack on instead of thinking about how to find some more substantial sustenance.   I would have more expected from the inside of Tower Bridge.  At least I got the apparently not quite that frequent opportunity to see the bridge open to let some tug boats float downriver.


On the train ride back to village I realize how exhausted I am because I keep nodding off and then have to use the GPS system on my phone to figure out where I am when I wake up.

to be continued ...?

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