London: The Highlights

As I have written in the previous post, there are a lot of things to see in London, so it is really hard to pick one. In our case, our first full day of sightseeing was a really long walk but included a lot of the things that most sightseeing buses offer to show 🙂 . Given the fact that we had two full weekend days to choose from to do the big sightseeing stroll around London, we had to pick one. Usually there are two factors here: weather and if there is something interesting going on on any of the two days.

Well, there was something interesting going on right the next day (Saturday): the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace. Normally in the summer time this is done daily, but in the winter period this show is only “played” every other day. So there you go, the sightseeing day was picked so easily 😉 . The changing of the guards usually starts at around 10:30, but by that time the crowds take all the strategic places where one can see stuff from. To top that, we arrived a bit late, but luckily I do not have too much problems with visibility over the crowds and additionally I can hold my camera real high 😛 . I could see something while I was there, but checking the movies afterwards helped a lot:

The show ended at around noon, we took a few classic pictures with Buckingham Palace and headed off on The Mall towards Trafalgar Square. There was a big show going on here, but there was still room for street performers in front of the National Gallery which were quite interesting to watch. By this time the sun also came out with a quite powerful shine, so we took some time to enjoy the scenery.

Next stop was Parliament Square and Westminster Abbey. Just the short stroll through the street connecting the two squares was a hustle. For this short 10 minute walk a strong wind has woken up and it also started to rain a bit (hence the need for a QUALITY umbrella). When we got to Parliament Square the sun was shining again and the winds have slowed down a bit. Again, we did not enter any of the buildings (the entry fee to Westminster Abbey is, I think, too much), but we heard Big Ben telling us the exact time (it was 2PM) 🙂 .
A walk across Westminster Bridge offered us a classic view of the Houses of Parliament, but at this hour the sun starts shining from the direction of the building itself, so it is really hard to take a decent picture. It is best seen, I guess, in the morning. In addition, the winds tuned their power a bit up again and this was really intense while standing on the bridge. We skipped London Eye and headed to get something to eat. We found a great place which offered food “Enough to feed an elephant” (that was the name of it) on York Rd., in parallel with the great big wheel 🙂 . It was really time to get inside somewhere, because by this time it started to rain heavily, so we took our time with the food until the sun came out again (we did not have to wait too much).

The next target was a bit further away from where we were, so we took the tube from Waterloo station to The Monument. The latter station is actually right next to the tower which gives its name. The Monument stands as a commemoration for the Great Fire of London. Visitors can climb up the long swirling staircase to the top for ₤3 and have a great view of London from there. It is a bit windy, but I think it is worth climbing. In the end, when you get down, they even give you some kind of diploma proving, that you climbed the 311 stairs all the way to the top 🙂 .

The next target was Tower Bridge, which towards the evening got lit up. We had a walk through it, took a bunch of photos and when we got off the other side, we even caught on camera how the bridge looks like when it is opened for tall ships (in this case a ship with a wedding on it):

The night scenery got lit up after a tube-ride from London Bridge station via Waterloo Station to Oxford Street station when we got to Piccadilly Circus. The neon lights and the “big-city shops” topped with a great steak dinner at Aberdeen Steakhouse (courtesy of our hosts, thanks 🙂 ) was, I think, a perfect ending to our walk. We had a lovely day, we have seen a lot, but we got kind of exhausted, so this was it for our day. And I think this is it for today’s post also…
London Piccadilly
Conclusion: if you have one day in London, there is no need to take the sightseeing bus. Just follow the above route and you will not miss much 😉


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