Walking: the profession of Chris and Laura Beauchamp, our new full-time job.
The morning air was cold and a thin layer of snow covered the ground. We headed for the British Museum but it was 8:15 am and it didn’t open until 10:00 am. Instead we walked to the Covent Garden Market.
The market was just starting to unravel. Again, we were too early. So, we walked. We walked towards the river, along a place called Sommerset House, which was also closed and we kept walking up a street full of theatres with huge billboards and signs that would probably be flashing with life and entising the crowd, but they too were closed. So, we walked.
By now we were already quite cold. Chris didn’t have mittens or a scarf, but even with those I was getting chilled to the bone. To warm-up we found a coffee shop in front of a castle-like building, the Royal Courts of Justice.
After warming our fingers for a short while, we walked. Behold, out of the winding street and hugging British buildings was St. Paul’s cathedral. We took a couple shots and then went inside.
As I walked through the revolving door which informed me that this was the house of God and I was entering the gates of heaven, I was promptly informed by another sign that it would cost me 15.00 pounds to enter. I had a flash back to my high school history class and something about purchasing tokens or tickets for heaven…
Needless to say, we didn’t pay. Instead, we walked towards the TATE MODERN, a fabulous modern art gallery that has FREE ENTRY. Along the way we spotted this memorial in honour of the firefighters who died during the Blitz. It was covered in row after row of the men’s names.
At the Tate, we walked through the many galleries looking at Surrealism, Cubism, Arte Povera and more. A few of the pieces we saw were by Jackson Pollock, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso and Robert Therrien.
Not wanting to pay 10 pounds each to see the reconstruction of the Globe Theatre, we took a photo of the outside. Unfortunately during this time of year no plays are offered in the Globe. I believe they are only available in the spring and summer.
From the Globe Theatre we headed to the Tower Bridge, the famous bridge of London which is often confused as being “London Bridge”. It’s not. London bridge is remarkably mundane. The Tower Bridge on the other hand is quite remarkably extraordinary. They can still lift the bridge to allow the passage of large sea vessels, but a 24 hour notice is required. I was amazed at this considering the construction of the road looks like ordinary, solid asphalt.
We had fully intended on visiting the Tower of London, located next to the Tower Bridge, but it was 3:30 pm and it closed at 4:30 pm and at 17 pounds/person we decided against it. Nonetheless, with the wonderful lighting from the setting sun, I snapped a shot of Chris.
The tower was used to hold prisoners and to house the royals many, many years ago.
Chris and I had now been outside, walking, for 9 hours. I was thoroughly chilled to the bone and was having a lot of trouble warming up. We went and sat in a church for awhile to take advantage of the heat and then we started the looming walk back across the city to our hostel. Before we got more than 10 meters from the church we saw a huge column and people were at the top of it. “Let’s go” Chris said, “Some stairs should warm us up.” He was right, 311 stairs to the top warmed me up almost as good as a bubble bath and cup of tea.
The column was built between 1671 and 1677 to commemorate the Great Fire of London in 1666 which destroyed most of London. The column is the tallest free-standing stone column in the world. It is 202 feet (61 meters) tall which is the exact distance from it to the place where the fire started. It was after the fire that buildings were constucted out of brick or stone.
I recall Calgary, Alberta, Canada also had to learn this lesson in the late 1800’s after a fire destroyed most of downtown. They rebuilt with sandstone. Um? The reason why anyone would study history suddenly becomes clear.
Needless to say, Chris and I walked back down the 311 steps and kept walking until we finally got “home” at 10:00 pm. After walking this 14 kilometer journey through London, not counting the walking within buildings, we immediately went to sleep.