I’ve anticipated this London trip for so long and yet have had little time to plan an itinerary. A work trip for the most part, I knew my touristic experiences would need to be squeezed in. I’ve opted to live with a friend, someone I’ve known since college and so, by default, I’ve been let into her little world. I let her lead me through her neighbourhood on my first day in what locals consider “the greatest and most beautiful capital city in the world”!
We started our stroll with a visit to her local square. Kids kicked a football around, a few stalls were selling trinkets and toys. The residential neighbourhoods we walked past were still and sleepy. A dog barked at us, a baby gurgles, the locals stood out in the sun in bunches, satiated with pints of beer and lazy lunches.
The neighbourhood square
Riverward..on the way
My friend lives in the London Borough of Southwark, south of the Thames and close to the London Bridge. And our walk took us river-ward. An area with Roman origins, the riverfront we walked onto is rich with wharfs and restored warehouses. On a surprisingly sunny yet balmy Saturday afternoon, the place had a zippy, young feel to it. Families out with their children, friends catching a drink at the pubs and restaurants that lined the Thames, that sort of thing.
Posh apartments, redeveloped from the docks that lined the Thames give this area a unique flavour
The ramps that took the cargo from the quayside to the warehouses. Pretty dramatic huh?
My first glimpse of the Thames…gasp!
Love the clutter!
View across the river
Public art, lots of naval stuff like enormous anchors strewed around for kids to clamber over…
The sun lit up the Thames and the famous landmarks that were spotted out to me dazzled and shone. The Tower Bridge, of course, the City Hall designed by Norman Foster and, as my friend put it, a miniature of the Bundestag Dome we saw in Berlin, and the HMS Belfast right there in the centre of the river. We walked across and around the Tower of London where, along with the swarms of tourists, the sea of ceramic poppies greeted us, a recently installed commemoration of the World War I in its centenary year.
City Hall, HMS Belfast, the sights and sounds of the river…
Walking around the Tower of London. I was here 15 years ago…
The poppies…oh the poppies! Blood red and stunning
Caught the Shard between the turrets! It’s Renzo Piano’s latest addition to London’s skyline
A surprising detour through the upmarket St Katherine Docks where the Queen’s gilded boat rests and where I was amused to see The Dickens Inn, rebuilt in the style of a 17th century timber-framed building and apparently inaugurated by the famous writer’s grandson. That the author spent a part of his life in this part of London is well-known but it was had to reconcile the images of Dickensian London in my head with the extensively redeveloped swank sights before me!
No longer serene, but still quaint, St Katherine’s is a lovely little marina, apparently the playground of the rich and famous
err….like the Queen, whose gilded craft is on the right side of this pic
Ceramic panels we walked by…
Posing in front of the Dickens’
An aside: A lovely little fountain and a peaceful square. Seeing the city through a local’s eye is the BEST way to do so!
No, can’t wipe the smile off!
And thus, after being introduced to this delightful part of London, I dragged my jet-lagged self back at last night, happily tired and looking forward to more good times here!