(December 3, 2009) London: Tower and Tower Bridge
After the changing of the guard – if we don’t see it the previous day –
we would go to London Bridge subway station where we will walk between
HMS Belfast cruiser and the City Hall to the Tower Bridge, which we
will visit among of the Tower of London, which is just after crossing
After lunching, we would go to Trafalgar Square,
there is scheduled the ceremony of Christmas tree lightning for this
day, where will be the Mayors of London and Oslo, who brings the tree,
for a tradition since decades.
The points marked at map are:
1- St. Paul's Cathedral
2- Tower Bridge
3- Tower of London
4- Shakespeare's Globe
5- HFS Belfast
After a good breakfast, a bus ride a train to Victoria and a
short walk from it we’re in Buckingham Palace. Everything looks like
yesterday, even the sky: cloudy, but in front of the palace is the main
difference: today it is crowded. But while waiting for the changing of
the guard we start hearing rumors about it has been suspended. Then a
man with his daughters asking to a guard through the grill if is going
to be changing of the guard and I can join to hear the clear answer: it
has been postponed because of the weather for tomorrow. Well, if they
always postpone it when is cloudy… in England!!
Anyway, we will come back tomorrow. We’ve lost 30 minutes
here but we go back to the station to take the subway from “Victoria”
to “London Bridge” station, changing lines in “Monument”. The subway
here is fast, well signed and with high frequency of trains in a way
that, if you just see the back of a car leaving the next is about to
come in from the other side. All are looking the same regardless of the
line: so tubular as per being the source of its nick name: “the tube”.
A voice is constantly saying “Mind the gap, mind the gap”
here, recalling there is a short space between the car and the platform.
The exit from “London Bridge” underground station
is in a shopping mall which is looking today full of Christmas
decoration. We can see Thames river through the exit at the end of a
big hall and go to there. We access to the riverside then, where we can
see closely the cruiser HFS Belfast and, at right, the majestic view of
the Tower Bridge with its neat blue lines over the stone.
I must say the ship and the bridge, both of them,
have a main part covered because of improvement works, with scaffolds.
This cannot be a coincidence and I’m thinking now it’s due to the
Olympics games will happen here next year, which makes they’re working
on giving the best of the looks to the city iconic places. Somehow,
that is not explai9ning why Salisbury Cathedral and the Sights Bridge
in Oxford are in this group too.
The view of the bridge is calling us for a closer
look, and soon, in our approach, appears the modern building of the
We pass through an area with modern buildings of glass full
offices where we use a public toilette and go on to the Tower Bridge
with the idea of, not only going across the river, but exploring the
bridge with detail, as we’ve brought the coupons for it. In the
riverside in front we can see the Tower of London, the dome of St.
Paul’s Cathedral and that replica of the Agbar Tower in Barcelona – or
is the replica the one in Barcelona?
The two stone towers in the bridge are spectacular
this is a design unique in the world. In one side of one of the towers
we can find the small entrance, where we get two tickets by 6£ each.
With the help of the 2x1 we’re bringing the four of us are in with this.
It is a simple itinerary inside: you go upstairs from one tower, walk
through the platform, covered and transparent, between the two towers
and go downstairs by the other one. Somehow, as the entrance allows
access to the engines of the bridge, which makes the road through this
bridge can be broken and raised, we will need to come back to the
beginning as there is where the engines are. Therefore, we end crossing
the bridge several times, through down and up ways.
Thames views from the upper platform are unbeatable. Well,
by changing this grey sky… We can see too the whole castle they call –
and who knows why – Tower of London. The dome from St. Paul’s Cathedral
can be seen from here too. It is well known, and not only by being
based on St. Peter’s in Vatican City, but by being the opening image of
British series as “The Roper”, “Benny Hill”,… with an eight-noted
melody we can play in mind now.
The tour by the engines makes me think it is not real, just
because we’re used to active machinery not being the clean, nice and
Once in the other riverside, we pass along the walls of the
Tower of London with big doubts about when lunching today, as it’s 2 PM
now. We have not so much time for this visit but we need to eat, so we
leave the entrance with the beefeaters behind and keep going up, along
the ticket boxes at our left, and go across the street. We’re going
directly to a pub we already know:: Liberty bounds.
Salmon with salad, chicken, two burgers, three beers and one big water
bottle: 32.72£ in total. It’s less than 9€ per person.
When coming back to the tower we can see an ice rink along
one of its walls. We go to the ticket boxes and use the printed coupons
for being able to accessing all four by paying two tickets, at 17£
each. This is the most expensive visit in this travel.
We show our tickets to beefeaters, which is the name the
guards of the Tower of London have got. They’re wearing a special
uniform and yes, they look exactly like the guy in the label of a
bottle of Beefeter.
Inside we feel traveling to the past, walking
between ancient walls, over stoned paths and there are even torches
ready to be put in fire for the night. This castle is not looking as
changing a lot lately.
There are a lot of places to visit here, and we
can see in them exhibitions of armors – for humans and horses -,
canyons, clothes, objects and portraits from the old kings, but the
crowning jewel here is… well, the crowning jewel. This is the only
place in the world the expression is redundant. The Crown Jewels are
the most popular of this place, ravens and beefeaters would complete
the top 3.
The place where they are is the most signed and
guarded. The door is below an old clock.
The picture above at right is “stolen” from the aisle driving
to the crowns. Photos are forbidden and if in the aisle I could take
one, in the crown chamber is impossible. We reach this hall after
passing through rooms with objects and videos in display. It has the
jewels exhibit in the middle of the chamber and two flat escalators, as
the ones in the airports, at both says of them, in the way you won’t
get tired of watching at the jewels, but won’t be able of stopping too
much time for a specific one either. The gems are huge. There are some
diamonds fetching official records in here.
We’ve spend one hour and ten minutes in visiting the Tower of
London, used intensely. When we leave, because they’re closing, it’s
4:30 PM and it is already dark and we can then enjoy the view of the
Tower Bridge and the buildings in the Thames Southern riverside in
It seems late, but it is really early for our plans as the
Christmas tree lighting ceremony starts at 6 PM. We take the tube from
“Monument” to “Picadilly Circus”, changing line in “Oxford Circus”.
Picadilly Circus is a tiny version of New York’s
Times Square. The comparison is entirely ours. It is a corner full of
bright advertisement lights but I don’t know if the advertising is here
because it is a crowded street crossing or it is crowded because of the
attraction of the lights, as we have come for.
Once visited we walk Haymarket St. down until Pall
Mall St. and then reaching Trafalgar Square, which looks full of people
when is still one hour for the event. It’s a pity the National Gallery
is closed now as we could spend that hour in there, we will have to
come back tomorrow.
We look for a space for watching the ceremony the
best as possible and wait.
And we wait, even more than expected, because at 6
PM it has not started yet. Somehow, a TV reporter is interviewing the
people around and makes some questions just to the woman beside my
And then the Major of London appears dressed as majors would
already dress 200 years ago, and Major of Oslo appears too and exchange
nice words and press one button and the lights of the tree get on and
then the ceremony is over. There is a chorus singing every when and
then, but ceremony is basically that. It has started at 6:15 PM and it
ended around 6:30 PM.
Well, as we don’t want to walk more we take “Charing Cross” underground
station in the same square to Victoria, changing lines in “Enbankment”.
From there we take the train and then the bus to reach our rooms tired,
a few minutes before 8 PM.