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.

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