Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Day 5 - September 28

Another morning when I didn't feel the best ... it took me a while to get going, but eventually I managed to get down to breakfast and head out.
Took a bus from Praed Street to St. Paul's Cathedral, and that's when things started to just feel wrong. I won't go into details, don't feel like being to personal here, but it just didn't work out....

Ended up going down to the Thames and check out the Millennium bridge instead which was really nice! However, I didn't feel well and fought with myself about what I was going to do.
Eventually, I ended up (sort of) following my original plan for the day and took a bus to Tower Hill. While I had originally thought of going to the Tower, I felt time was going by and after all, I have been to the Tower twice now.
I would like to go back, don't get me wrong there, but 1) I'd like to have a lot of time to spare, and 2) I'd like to have read up more on English history first! :-)

I ended up walking outside the Tower instead and headed for Tower Bridge. That is one really truly impressive building when you get close! Wow!!

I went on the 'Tower Bridge Exhibition' and that was quite an experience! I'm glad the morning's issues hadn't stopped me from going on this!
We were sent by elevator to the top of the North Tower where we viewed an introductory film, with the 'creator' and the 'architect' of Tower Bridge. I had basically no knowledge at all of the bridge's history so this was very very interesting.
After the film we were allowed to walk, and photograph, the East and West Walkway, the tiny little walkways on top of Tower Bridge - you can clearly see them when you see pictures of the bridge, but I hadn't quite expected myself to be walking up there! :-)
It was a really fantastic experience, though the walkways are quite closed in so you don't have a perfect view over London! Still, quite amazing and very impressive.
After having walked through there (for as long as you wanted) you took the stairs down - and I just have to mention the 'inside' of the North Tower. Unfortunately I didn't take any photos there (not sure if we were allowed!) but the inside was amazing - it looked really old-fashioned, like the stairs and the interior had been preserved from when the bridge was designed!
When we got down a few floors they had a minor 'store' where you could buy souvenirs. We had been photographed against a green screen upon arriving, and you could buy pictures of yourself (or fridge magnets, or coffee cups or other stuff) with Tower Bridge in the background. I'm normally not one that would do that, but since I was on my own and basically didn't have any pictures of me at all, I thought it would be a cool thing to do. Until I realized the prices! Okay, granted, I knew it would be expensive but this was almost ridiculous!! I looked for the smallest and cheapest thing - after all, I'm not that fond of seeing myself in pictures ... the smallest and cheapest things they had was a fridge magnet, about 2x3 cm (what is that? 4x6"??) - it cost .... *drumroll* £10!!!!!!! It's like 115 SEK ... €12.50 ... $16.20. Whoa - no way I was going to pay that!!
From this 'store', or desk, we were taken by elevator to street level, and told to follow the blue markings on the street to get to the 'Engine Room'. Said and done.
That was COOL!! I'm not at all technological, and there was no way I would understand how hydraulic power was transferred into mechanic power to lift and lower to bascules ... (?) - but it was still quite amazing.
At the end of the exhibition they had this really cool model of the bridge where you yourself could raise and lower the bascules for a boat coming through! :-)
I checked the souvenir shop at the end of the tour and ended up buying a really cool handbag! :-)

I took loads and loads of photos both before, during and after the exhibition - of course! :-)

I had originally thought of going on the Thames River Boat Cruise, from Tower Pier to Westminster Pier, but it was really cold and quite windy, and I saw the boats and the pier from Tower Bridge and it was crowded! In the end I decided to take this really cool bus, RV1, from Tower Gateway to Westminster. My Mum and I went on it in 2004, it starts from Tower Gateway, goes across Tower Bridge *cool!*, along the river (sort of) on the south shore, around London Eye, and across the river at Westminster Bridge (where I planned to get off) - and continues to Aldwych and Covent Garden.

I walked up to Tower Gateway and found the bus ... and apparently they had changed the bus routes since 2004 *lol* - not that surprising I guess ..:)
Instead of going across Tower Bridge, the bus went across London Bridge, at first I was a bit disappointed - I like Tower Bridge - but then I thought, I have already seen Tower Bridge up close, how cool I get to see London Bridge as well! :-)
 Then it turned out the bus didn't go over Westminster Bridge at all, but instead over Waterloo Bridge. It did cause some problems for my planning, but it was cool to go over Waterloo Bridge and you had an amazing view over London Eye and Houses of Parliament and Big Ben! :-)

I got off the bus at Aldwych where I had to walk for a while, but was lucky enough to find a bus that would take me straight to Parliament Square ... where I went to Westminster Abbey. Had a bit of an issue there initially as well (sort of) but it worked itself out in an amazing way in the end! :-)
Went on the audio tour - which was guided by Jeremy Irons, cool!!!! :-)
I learned a lot though I was quite tired and it was starting to get late, so I did skip a few steps of the tour. But I must say the church is impressive to say the least.
I am in no way a believer, I have broken most of the ties I might have had with the church, but being in the place like this really is moving. Even though I don't have a faith of my own doesn't mean I don't respect those who have ...

I took a bus from Victoria Street to Marble Arch where I had something to eat, took another bus to Queensway and walked around a bit, bought some water and snacks before heading back to the hotel - and managed to organize most of my packing! :-)


The Darkest Night said...

Sorry to hear you weren't feeling well!

I totally understand about the tower...I really wish I had known more about English history when we went there (plus being able to walk would have been nice)..I really want to go back again some day!

Tower Bridge sounds awesome!! A shame those photos were so expensive though!

I had planned to go inside Westminister Abbey, but in the end I found it too crowded (several groups of kids just arrived) and it did cost money..which St Margaret's Church didn't..so I ended up inside that Church instead! LOL Really beautiful but probably not as special as the other one I guess...

Jessica said...

Yeah ... things weren't great that morning ... ah well, I guess you can't be on top all the time, right?

I definitely want to learn more about English history before I see the Tower again, I have a feeling you'd get SO much more out of a visit if you knew more!! (and yes, being able to walk around does help ...).

Tower Bridge was AWESOME - definitely worth a visit! I did expect the photos to be expensive, but that felt really way over the top ... would have been cool to have as memory of course, but not at that cost.

Yeah, there were a lot of people when I was there as well (guess it always is ...) but at least no kids. However, getting the audio commentary really helped as you could walk around in your own time, listening, stopping, looking and basically not having to worry about everyone else ...

I didn't go into St. Margaret's Church this time (I think my Dad and I went there in 2004, from memory it is really beautiful!

The Darkest Night said...

yeah, I really want to be much better prepared for my next Tower visit!

Yes, I'm sure it would have been a great souvenir of Tower Bridge to have your photo, and I guess it's knowing that's the way people feel they can charge such an insane price for them! Too bad :( (I wanted to buy those kind of photos at Lisberg (on my first visit I think) but even those were really pricey).

St Margaret's church was really lovely..quite peaceful which was a nice break!

Jessica said...

Yeah, I think a visit to the Tower would be so much more rewarding if you are more prepared for it.

Mmm, I mean, I figured it'd be expensive but this felt just totally insane!! (and, not to be horrible or anything, but if you spend a little time with photoshop you can basically take a picture of yourself, crop it out and add it to a picture of Tower Bridge, or Big Ben or whatever you want ... right? okay, so maybe 'cheating' a little - but still ...)

I think St. Margaret's Church would be a wonderful place to take a break from the hectic and stressful London-street-life that you tend to live when you're there, in order to have time to do as much as possible!

The Darkest Night said...

yeah, I agree..sounds way too expensive! and yes...I'd rather "cheat" and do some photoshopping! LOL

Jessica said...

LOL! Well, I'd say in cases like these, cheating would be allowed! :)