Friday, August 22, 2008

London - Day3 - III

Continued from Day 3 - II

St Katherine’s Docks -

This has been the focus of world trade and commerce for over 1000 yrs. With a mix of shops, restaurants, offices and apartments, all centered around St Katherine’s Haven, London’s premier marina.

Even though it was functional only in early 19th century, it was converted as it could not accommodate large commercial ships and it was also badly damaged during WWII.

This dilapidated Victorian labyrinth once a Dock and warehouse, which has now become a hyper-trendy residential quarter, where riverside views in converted lofts fetch $1M upwards!!

It also houses the Ivory House, which was built in 1854, Ivory House was originally used to store Ivory, Perfume, Gems and Wine. This is now converted into shop and restaurant.

St Katherine Haven – This is London’s premier marina. An impressive range of international yachts, motorboats and historic vessels, sailing barges can be seen here.

It also houses The Tower Thistle Hotel, Commodity Quay and The Dickens Inn.

Tower of London London’s original royal fortress by the Thames. Its over 900 yr old. The sheer volume of tourist here was really annoying. It was as if the entire tourist population was concentrated here. I did not anyway wanted to disappoint myself by the cheesy setup and the fake ‘Crown Jewel’.

Tower Hill, Trinity Square Garden - is one of the oldest parts of London dating back to Bronze Age.

The Port of London Authority Building, Trinity Sq Gardens, Tower Hill.

The Hung Drawn and Quartered – Erected in M CM XIV

This was considered the epitome of cruel punishment. First the culprit was Dragged on a hurdle to the place of execution. Hanged by the neck and then quartered.

Sign outside the Hung, Drawn and Quartered pub in Tower Hill, London

Walk past the Bayward Street, to reach ‘The Monument’.

The Monument -

A 61 meter Roman Doric stone column erected at the point were the great fire of London started in 1666. There is also a monument in Smithfield where the great fire stopped.

The Monument consists of a large fluted Doric column built of Portland stone topped with a gilded urn of fire, and was designed by Christopher Wren and Robert Hooke.

But unfortunately this was closed for repair and restoration.

Since, I had planned to walk a few bridges, the reverse track is zigzag.

I walk the Tower-Bridge from South Bank to North, and then take the London-Bridge to reach the South Bank. I again take the Millennium Bridge from South Bank to North.

The Millennium Bridge has the Tate Modern on South and St Paul’s Cathedral on the North.

St Paul’s Cathedral -

The interiors were as promising as the exteriors. The Sunday mass was in progress this Morning.

There is a Café beside St Paul’s Cathedral. A great place to for Sunday Brunch and a leisure talk, on an English summer morning.

The road from the Café beside St Paul’s, leads directly to the London Stock Exchange.

Sir Christopher Wren's great Cathedral opened in 1697 following the destruction of the old St Paul's in the Great Fire of London 1666. Features include the Whispering Gallery. The Crypt contains the tombs of Admiral Lord Nelson, Duke of Wellington and also Sir Christopher Wren.

Getting down, from the Millennium Bridge the path leads to Victoria Embankment. This walk way is ornamental and impressive.

The exit leads to Somerset House.

Cleopatra’s Needle – A pair of Ancient Egyptian obelisks were formerly erected in Alexandria, which were then gifted and thus re-erected in London and New York.

This Obelisk was a gift from Erasmus, was bought from Alexandria, encased in Iron Cylinder. It was abandoned during the storm in the Bay of Biscay, and was later recovered and erected during the reign of queen in 1899.

More interesting history here.

Cleopatra's Needle is flanked by two faux-Egyptian Sphinx, cast from bronze that bear hieroglyphic inscriptions that translate to, ‘the good god, Tuthmush III given life’.

The damage caused during the WWII bombing is still visible.

Crossing the road, I trace back route to reach the Charing Cross Station.

The National Gallery and Trafalgar Square was still inviting me after the previous visit (can also be read as, from DDLJ days)

Sunday noon and bubbling with people.

What next?

I hardly have a few hours. Oxford Circus was not plausible. It’s already been a lot of walking and energy levels low. I walk towards Piccadilly Circus. Oxford Circus still beckons me, but…….

I finally decide to visit China Town.

China Town contains a number of Chinese restaurants, bakers, supermarkets, souvenir shops, parlors, tattoo, tailors and cutters.

It was Sunday noon, upon that it was China Town. It was stinking. I would have never smelt much suffocating than this. The Ammonium Nitrate test in my Chemistry Lab was indeed pleasant. Ten more mins, I would have collapsed. I entered a nearby shop to catch a breath. It was impossible to differentiate or even predict the stuff stocked there. It was a disaster. Ten mins and I were out.

Piccadilly Circus I still had some shopping pending. I decided to visit Lillywhites at Piccadilly. But, just found very ordinary stuff, and my visit was disappointing.

The count down had already begun. I just had a few hours left.

This is one of my favorite click. I turn back and have a look at the lane leading to Piccadilly one last time. Dunno when next……..

I walk down towards St James Park. Sunday evening and its music time. I settle down for the next one hour recalling the previous 3 days. Bliss…...

Its time, I have to walk back to the Hotel, refresh, reorganize, reload and travel to Heathrow. People have already warned me about travel time from Victoria to Heathrow T3 on a Sunday evening.

Last click of Buckingham and I shutdown my Nikki.

As planned I took a Black Cab to Heathrow. I had never opted for it any of these days. Its really a nice experience and the safest option.

It was a tiresome day. Walk, transfer and boarding. I decide not to watch any movie and its peaceful sleep till Dubai.

London - Day3 - II

Continued from Day 3 - I

Tate Modern -

A former power station has been superbly converted into the world's biggest collection of Modern Art. And it's free! The two huge floors cover the complete century - there's a whole room devoted to Rothko. The layout and juxtaposition are certainly worth the hype.

The River was less busy. It was really enticing to just sit on the Bench, doing noting.

The Millennium Bridge and St Paul’s cathedral were in clear sight with Tower 42 and the Swiss Re building in the back drop.

7] Millennium Bridge This is the pedestrian-only steel suspension bridge. Londoners nicknamed the bridge as Wobbly Bridge, after pedestrians felt an unexpected swaying on the first two days after inauguration. The bridge was soon closed and modified to eliminate the wobble.

Remember reading about this, when it was inaugurated in 2000 June.

This starts from Tate Modern on the South Bank and end’s at St Paul’s Cathedral in the North.

Shakespeare Globe Theatre -

London’s first public playhouse established in 1576. The theatre was open to anyone who could afford the penny entrance fee. Oranges were to theatre in those days what popcorn is to the cinema now.

Loved the ornamental gate here.

8] Southwark Bridge -

9] Upper Thames Bridge -

Walked down toward the actual London Bridge.

The lanes were still empty.

At the exit of this tunnel is the London Prison Museum.

The Golden Hinde -

9] London Bridge First built by Romans this was the only bridge over the Thames in London until 1750.

Of all the Bridges I had plans to walk the Millennium, London and Tower Bridge from one bank to another. Standing in the middle of the London Bridge.

Custom House on the North Bank -

Why did we sing London Bridge is falling down, while at School?

This was real interesting bit indeed. Back home some search led me to this London Bridge history page.

London Bridge, Thames, Custom House and me. This was the only way I could photograph myself and the London Bridge.

My first view of Tower Bridge

Hay’s Galleria -

This is a converted dock/warehouse complex which has been converted into shops and offices. It is actually a converted ‘Warf’, an enclosed dock, originally known as Hay’s Warf named after its owner merchant Alexander Hay.

This place had Bric-Brac’s which were common in every lane of Commercial Street.

This is this pleasant kinetic sculpture 'The Navigators' under the glass roof of Hay’s Galleria.

HMS Belfast -

HMS Belfast is a cruiser. She was launched on the St Patrick’s Day 1938 and served throughout WWII. She is famous for playing a leading part in the destruction of the German battle cruiser Scharnhorst. After which she served United Nations Forces in Korea. In 1971 she became the first ship to be saved for the nation since HMS Victory. A reminder of Britain’s twentieth century naval heritage.

I walk down towards the Tower Bridge. It was this photo of London Bridge, which was in my Rhyme Book for London Bridge is falling down’. I had decided by this time to ask the other person for a click in return, incase I get a request. And a troop of girls from China arrive with their Biscuit size Nikons and Samsungs. After capturing them in every Camera and Cell Phone they had, I finally ask if they can get mine too. And all of them are ready. Now, I’ll have to teach them to click using a DSLR. I do, and this is the only snap of mine in London. J

Thames River cleaner working for a cleaner Thames.

10] Tower Bridge - The iconic 19th century drawbridge.

Walked down the narrow cobbled lanes in search of ‘London Design Museum’, but later decided to retrace path back.

London Bridge and St Katherine’s Dock.

The bridge goes up several times a week to allow large masted boats underneath. Although I tried finding it out from the timetable, the days weren’t anywhere near.

Butler’s Warf on the South Bank

Thames as seen from Tower Bridge

Continues in part III......

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