Thursday, March 20, 2014

London Day 3

Before there was public transit people everywhere were forced to walk to all the places they wanted to go. (In this scenario horses and bicycles do not exist.) It seems I'm very stubborn and force myself to walk all the great distances rather than part with the money it costs to take public transit. Above is the map of where I walked to on March 19th on my 3rd and last full day in London. From the British Museum to the Monument to the Great Fire of London.

The good thing about walking everywhere is you get to go at your own pace. You can stop and snap a photo. The underground doesn't provide much opportunity for photos and though buses are great for scoping out places to visit, often they move past a place too fast for you to get a decent shot of whatever it is you want to photograph.

I strolled the streets of London, looking around at all the buildings and interesting shops but mostly trying to not get in anyone's way. Londoners love to run to work as well as bike. You see a lot of people in running gear with their backpacks on filled with their work clothes. I was heading past this church yard when I stopped and decided to go inside and have a sit. 

I enjoyed some of my short bread and some water, resting back and looking at the ancient brick surrounded by more modern buildings. The above photo is of Christ Church Greyfriars and the below photo is of its gardens. Wikipedia says the first church that stood on the site was from the 13th Century It had a rough time before being destroyed by the great fire of London and then was rebuilt by Christopher Wren, the architect behind St. Paul's Cathedral.
 The gardens were lovely. The walls surrounding them is what is left of the portion of the church that was destroyed during World War II. It's crazy to be surrounded by so much history. Everything has a story. While sitting and enjoying the garden I checked my phone's map to see how far I had left on my walk and noticed that I was just around the corner from Postman's Park. I packed up my bags and headed around the corner to the small little park.

 The park itself when you first enter it looks like any other park. Just a bit of green space between buildings. The further I walked into the park I noticed gravestones lining the walls of the buildings, tucked into the garden bed as if thats just how they grew. So strange and beautiful all at once. Their faces too worn to be legible.

 Around the corner from these lost markings is the George Frederic Watt's Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice, a memorial to ordinary people who died while saving the lives of others and who might otherwise be forgotten. Under the roof  are plaques listing the name and sometimes the age of the person and how they died.

I first learned about the park from the film Closer. Jude Law and Natalie Portman's characters wander through the park. It has always stuck with me and so was placed on my list of places to visit in London. I hadn't been so accurate in my sightseeing so visiting it this morning was amazing. It worked out perfectly on my way to the Monument. I read through all the plaques and recommend google image searching the park if you care to read more. They are in a wording that hits you right in the feels.

On my way out I took a few moments to contemplate this grouping of gravestones. Attempting to read some of the inscriptions but not getting far. Upon doing a bit of reading on wikipedia I have learned that Postman's Park is actually a combination of three different burial grounds. I am not sure if the graves have been exhumed but I think they were. I am still continuously being overwhelmed by London and its history. 
Leaving the park I headed back on my journey and arrived at the Monument. The Monument to the Great Fire of London is 202 ft tall and 202 ft away from the place where the Great Fire started on September 2 1666. It is the tallest isolated stone column in the world. The column was designed by Christopher Wren.
I arrived early in the day so the crowds were not out though I ma not sure how many people visit the Monument. Most of the people I spoke to at my hostel did not know it existed. After walking for so long the 311 steps seemed quite daunting but I told myself I would take it easy and not rush up them.  At £3 the fee to enter and go up it for an amazing view of London is a steal. It's not the tallest building in London but you still get a good view of the city. 

 At the start of the stairs, looking up. All those stairs! It's quite daunting!
The view down to the street.

Tower Bridge.
 The Gherkin.
 The new Shard.

The view was very breathtaking and I enjoyed it. A little bit windy there were only a few people that came up when I was there. I can't imagine being up there with more. I enjoyed my bottle of water and more short bread as I leaned against the metal railing and admired the view around me. 

The next challenge was to get down. The steps are quite small and tight at the very top and they slowly get larger the lower you get. It was a bit daunting at first but I got used to the spinning and made it to the ground without falling and taking out anyone.
After getting to the base I sat on a bench and wrote a postcard to Hillary, trying to rest my legs. I headed off and purchased stamps at the nearest post office before wandering around a little, trying to decide what next to do. I decided I would take in the Tate Britain. I have never been to Tate Britain but have been to the Tate Modern. I much prefer classical art so this was a good choice for me. I had to take the tube because walking there would have took me ages and after climbing up the Monument, walking really was not what I wanted to do.

I enjoyed the museum a lot. I highly recommend the museum if you like more traditional art. It's free! I was very happy to see a John William Waterhouse painting there. I wandered the rooms before I felt it was time to go. I dropped my cellphone on the floor on the way out and this lovely school girl chased me down to give it back to me. I am so lucky. I would have been devastated to have lost it. Containing so much info and a lot of photos from the day. Lucky day!

I decided that rather than taking the tube again that I would walk. My poor legs! It was about a 45 minute to an hour walk. I was slow. I stopped a lot. I sat down in the Victoria Tower Gardens and enjoyed some more shortbread cookies and admired the view of the parliament buildings. 

Along my walk I encountered Mr. Horse Guard. I thought of Carol right away. They stand on guard in front of the Household Cavalry Museum. I was tempted to go inside but I don't think they actually have any horses inside you can pet and it cost money. I stood and watched the guard though with a mix of interest and pity. He's a trained soldier and its an amazing honour for them to guard the palaces and everything but this one was sat on a horse. The poor horse! Having to deal with the hordes of tourists going right up next to it and taking photos. The horse was beautiful. Would have loved to give it a cuddle but probably would have been stabbed. Onwards I marched!

I was getting hungry by the time I reached Soho and as I strolled past this BBQ restaurant I had to turn around and follow my nose. In I went and happily I sat. The place was called Bodean's and they have several locations across London. I had the Boston Butt which was a delicious sandwich and the fries or chips as some people call them were amazing. Could of just had a thing of fries.

In my food coma I wandered the streets in the general direction of my hostel, twisting and turning and going through narrow alleys that would be perfect for a Jack Ripper murder. I overshot my hostel by about four blocks and had to wander back and over a little bit but ended up back in my hostel. Happily heading to bed early as I was going to be up bright and early to head to Cardiff.

Next stop/post: Cardiff, Wales

1 comment:

  1. Paige, what a wonderful entry today. I'm so happy that school girl notice you drop your phone and gave it back to you, that would have been devastating to loose.
    Your pictures are amazing, the information your relaying to us is wonderful and I was most pleased you liked museums. You are doing a wonderful job including us in your day.
    I did notice at the Honour Guard and his horse, there is a sign posted "Horses may kick or bite", so I'm glad you didn't try and cuddle him.
    I look forward to your next blog entry. Have a good day tomorrow! xoxox