So, day one started as a fine Saturday morning. I was told that on weekends, there is less rush on the road given that it is a holiday and Londoners like to spend weekend mornings at home relaxing while evenings can get active again. So, I thought of starting early (and it was still at 9am only, for Londoners that’s no way early). Nevertheless, I was prepared to walk more than 10-12 miles today so as to cover as much as I can and leave very little for Sunday as I also had an evening flight to catch.
Knightsbridge market, next to the Tube Station, a very central location dotted with some good hotels such as Sheraton and Mandarin Oriental, some very fine restaurants and the famous Harrods shopping mall
So, day one had the following spots I covered…
Buckingham Palace is right next to Green Park and St James Park, which I saw next, but since on Sundays, there is the famous Change of Guard show, I skipped the palace today and went straight for St James Park, which has very beautiful trees, St James Park Lake and variety of birds to look forward to.
St James Park, I thought was one of the more beautiful parks of London and where can spend the whole day reading book, relaxing and passing away a lazy winter afternoon (provided its sunny).
Birds and its friends in St James Park
Interestingly, while there were clear signs to not feed the birds or other animals, it was not tough to find people doing quite the opposite. Anyways…
Right across St James Park are The Mall and Pall Mall roads. Beautiful views there and of the House of Cavalry.
Well, when you stick a long black thing called lens into someone’s face, it is quite natural to get an expression similar to this. Sorry sir.. guess I knew you are supposed to stand at guard.
Next stop was the famous Piccadilly Circus. “Circus” is actually a Latin word meaning circle.. It is between Piccadilly, which is famous as a major shopping destination, Regent Street as well as towards Strand which has a number of important government buildings.
Continuing my walking through Strand I reached the Royal Courts of Justice. Commonly known as Law Courts, the building is also built of large grey stone edifice in the Victorian Gothic style.
Next stop was the St Paul’s Cathedral. The church has one of the most majestic architecture and is a key highlight for many tourists. Unfortunately, there was a movie shooting going on and I could not take a good picture of the church. But do google it up and make sure you visit the church. It is quite a sight. Nevertheless, there were other areas and spots that were also worth my camera’s attention 🙂
Next stop was London Wall.
Actually, London Wall is a relatively recently built office district of London. Not as new as Canary Wharf, the place has a modern look to it and houses lot of shiny glass buildings.
Enroute London Wall, there is also London Guildhall Gallery. It has been used as a town hall for hundreds of years, and houses some government offices and various public facilities.
Behind the gallery is London Wall.
Dotted throughout London streets are also bicycle rental stands, seemingly sponsored by Barclays. They can be rented and returned at any of the other stands in the city. Quite a thing that has now caught up in many cities. New York with the Citibank bikes for example. But this was a first for me. And quite a good concept, whoever thought of it.
As you can see, it was already getting bit dark by the time I crossed London Wall, and that too when the trip was almost non stop with a quick lunch at Pret in Piccadilly Circus. Time was 4pm and I was starting to have a sense of urgency here not because I was feeling London would be less safe in evenings (as long as I avoid too lonely roads), but I wanted to be at Thames around dusk which is the golden hour for photography.
Post London Wall, I headed on Moorgate Road towards The Monument. Enroute comes the Leadenhall market.
The Monument was the last stop before I touched the Thames River and cross the London Bridge to the other side. I was more meticulous from London Wall onwards in terms of following the maps properly and not wander off here and there as I was doing earlier when time was seemingly not an issue and I was in that exploratory mode.
The monument was designed by Sir Christopher Wren to commemorate the great fire of London in 1666. It burnt for three days and consumed more than 13k houses and 436 acres of the city. Taking six years to build from 1671-1677, the length is 202ft, which is equal to the distance westward from Bakehouse in Pudding Lane, where the fire broke out. The balcony at the top has a spiral stairway of 311 steps and is open 9:30am to 5:30pm.
As I was in a hurry to get to Thames, I skipped the staircase to the top. Maybe next time, will update here when I go again.
By now, I was in a bit of a mission mode to cover my spots and be on the London bridge in time for Golden Hour.
But with this being the last stop before I hit the Thames River, just in time for dusk, I was a happy person! Following are some of the stunning views from London Bridge, as well as of the Thames River from both sides.
View of the Thames River
Enroute, there is also Tate Modern, which is essentially an exhibition center and its bookstore is very famous as well.
So, post having a quick look at Tate Modern, as I was getting ready to see the all famous London Eye, imagine what happened!
My camera battery died! Ahh…. it was a total bummer! Why didn’t I carry an extra set of productive chemical reactions!
While I had a plethora of great pictures to talk about, I still had some wonderful attractions of London not yet captured in my brilliant toy. Nevertheless, I had another day to look forward to, had some great ideas in mind and so, I was not all that disappointed after all.
The next two hours, I went ahead and kept admiring the city as well as noted the best points and places for taking the pictures. You’d find a lot of fellow photographers also in many such “sweet spots” and taking reference from them was an enriching experience.
What’s left: London Eye, Bank of England building, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace in night and the Change of Guard etc. All that and more for Day 2. Read On!