I hope you enjoyed part one of my England trip, I am back with part two and my time in London! I spent five days exploring London and I was happy that I was able to see everything I wanted to during my time. I did a ton of walking over my trip. I averaged over 10 miles each day! I would start my days around 9:30-10 in the morning and be out until after dinner. It got dark around 4:30 and a lot of attractions closed shortly after. I stayed in two different hostels during my time, the first hostel was in central London called “yha”. It was nice, the staff was friendly, the rooms were clean, they had kitchens, and it was updated. My second hostel was not so nice. It was in South London and I can say it is worth staying in central downtown. The hostel wasn’t updated, or very clean, but the biggest problem I faced was that you had to fight over an outlet to charge your phone. The Hostel was called “Rest Up” and I would not recommend staying there. London is a very big city! I was surprised, from moving to the city of Portland I realized just how small Portland is ha! London is filled with so much rich history and I really enjoy learning about the past and the evolution the city took. Probably my favorite part was all the glorious architecture! I really wish the US had more great architecture and it really puts into perspective how young America is.
I took the London Underground to Westminster station where I began my journey through London. I walked across the Westminster Bridge for views of the Palace of Westminster and Big Ben. To my disappointment, Big Ben was completely covered in scaffolding. The sun was very bright that morning creating harsh shadows and washed out stone through the streets. I began walking back across the bridge taking my time to take in the sights. I saw the London Eye, strolled through the exterior of the Westminster Palace marveling at the neo-gothic architecture. Crossing the street to Westminster Abbey, where I would come back later (I had pre-bought a ticket ahead of time). I made my way to the Churchill War Rooms. The War rooms took you down below ground and brought you back into time to the 1940s and the harsh reality of war. The exhibit takes you through the how space was used through the war efforts and tells the story of Churchill. How he rose up into the leader his country and the world needed to put a stop to evil. After finishing the exhibit and climbing back up the stairs to the street it was if I step into another world. The sunny skies were gone, it was dark, within seconds it began raining, then pouring, then hailing. I was lucky enough to already be wearing my rain jacket, but I began walking as fast as I could not exactly sure to where but somewhere dry. I ended up making my way back to the subway where I was met with a mass of people not daring to go out. I was soaked and cold. It rained for a while so I decided to grab some lunch and dry off using the hand dryer in the bathroom. The rain let up and I made the quick walk to Westminster Abbey where I began my tour through the church. I opted to pay extra to go into the Queen's gallery, due to the time of when they allow you into the gallery I had to begin my journey through the Abbey there first. I wouldn’t recommend doing this first because you must walk around the church to get to the gallery. I didn’t know this going in, so I had to do some backtracking. I can best sum up my time in Westminster Abbey as a sense of Awe. You are blown away by the level of craftsmanship and detail that was poured into the creation of the building. It was almost too overwhelming with all the monuments and statues, your eyes always finding something new to amaze at. You have to take your time, sit, reflect, and allow the wonder to soak in. I will say my favorite part of the abbey was the lady chapel’s ceiling. Simply breathtaking. After my time at Westminster Abbey, I walked along Parliament Street to Trafalgar Square. I walked up the stairs into the National Gallery where I had an hour to look through the paintings before it closed. I walked to Leicester Square for dinner and strolled shops and watched some street performers before heading back for the night.
I made my way through the underground to tower hill to begin another day of exploring. I walked the waterfront peering into the Tower of London. I walked down to Tower Bridge where I began walking across the iconic bridge. When I got to the tower I found out that you could go inside the tower. I really enjoyed the Tower Bridge, It gave a brief overview of the building and purpose of the bridge and then you walked across the tower. In the middle they replaced part of the floor with glass to look all the way down! At the end of the tour, you got visit the engine room which used to power the bridge to open and close for passing ships. On the other side of the river now I walked down the river walk enjoying the nice weather making my way to the London Bridge. I crossed over the river again towards the Monument of the Great Fire of London. The monument is a tall spiral rising above the skyline. It is tucked into a small square surrounded by new office buildings and cafes. I climbed the 311 steps up the Monument for some great views of the cityscape. I made way down and took the underground over to St Paul’s Cathedral. St Paul was very impressive, it stood out among the other buildings in its surrounding. In fact, it is the only dome cathedral in London. The inside of the cathedral was more open than Westminster, and I felt it gave the church more presence to see the craftsmanship. The highlight for me was walking to the center and seeing the dome stretch upwards. The dome is all painted into different stories of Paul’s life. I spent a lot of time walking all the way around taking in every angle. But the best part was still to come, you are allowed to climb up the dome. There are three levels, the whispering gallery, inside at the base of the dome 30 meters up from the cathedral floor. They call it the whispering gallery because a whisper can travel all the way around the dome from one end to the other! From there you make your way up to the Stone Gallery. The Stone gallery is outside and is at the base of the exterior dome. You can walk around for views of the city. If you are afraid of heights this may be a good place for you to stop. Climbing still you head back inside up to the Golden Gallery. Climbing up the stairs you can see how the inner dome was built! At the top, they have a whole where you can peer down to the cathedral floor. At the top of the Golden Gallery, you are back outside and on top of the spiral of the dome 85 meters above the cathedral floor. I only thought the Monument had good views! St Paul ended up being my favorite out of St Paul and Westminster. I enjoyed the story of the architect Christopher Wren and the boldness of his style. After I finished I walked across Millennium Bridge and headed over to the Tate Modern art museum to finish out the day.
I could go on and on about all that I got to see in London. I had a wonderful time and I have taken back many memories and experiences from the trip. These moments were some of my favorites from my five days there. Traveling for me is such a rewarding experience. Seeing a different city, country, culture, landscape, it broadens your horizons as you see the differences from your home. But more than that you see how much we all have in common. As the last few days of this year comes and goes I am reminded of what a wonderful year this has been. I got to do a lot of traveling, meet many kind faces and explore many wonderful places. I am very thankful for the opportunity to see so much and forever grateful for everyone who made that possible.