I've been out roaming around London - especially Christmas London needless to say. Can you believe I still haven't been to St James's Park? My favourite place in London! Maybe I can fix that tomorrow. It's all about minimizing the walking which is a different way of travel for me - normally it is the exact opposite. It's certainly a different kind of trip but I am here and it's all good. I am certainly glad I am traveling solo as I could not keep up with anyone else (and would probably injure myself even more trying) and they would be fed up with me!
Thursday December 8th I stayed in until mid afternoon and headed out as I had a 5 p.m. ticket to visit the Sky Garden. A must if you are ever in London! You need to book ahead...spaces don't open until about three weeks before. I was lucky to snag a ticket in a lesser time frame probably because I was just one. It's directly opposite the Shard but is FREE. This was my third time but with a twist as it was my first visit after dark. Firstly however I wandered through Leadenhall Market - there has been a market on this spot since the 14th century. The current structure dates from 1881 and was designed by Sir Horace Jones. It is absolutely gorgeous. And today it actually had people in it! Normally I stroll through on weekends when it is completely dead as it's only open Monday to Friday to cater to the workers in the City. Well worth a visit if you are in the area.
I then got terribly misplaced trying to find my way to the Walkie Talkie building (I don't even know it's full name...you will see a picture of this later in the post). I've only been there twice before...duh...after asking two people I finally found my way. I was able to say "hi" and blow a kiss to my favourite modern building in London - St Mary Axe but better known as "the Gherkin".
When I presented my ticket they asked for Photo ID and I went to grab my drivers license and realized it was in a pocket in my purse from the other night. The passport? Back at Claudia's. Luckily she accepted my Saskatchewan health card with no picture. Up the elevator and glittering London was there waiting for me.
Tower of London - all the lights at the bottom are beside the skating rink.
Photos aren't that great as the reflections from the Christmas trees affected things as well as the fact I am not a good nighttime photographer!!!
Reading my ticket to The Ceremony of the Keys it stated I needed to show Photo ID. I could not face braving canceled trains and crowded tube journeys back and forth to retrieve it from Streatham so I dithered whether I would even attempt it or not.
In the meantime I took two buses to get to Trafalgar Square right in rush hour. On the bright side the first bus was one of the old Routemasters which was fun. Except I can't "jump" on and off the back anymore as I did back in the day.
Trafalgar Square with St Martins in the Fields church in the background.
I had a bite to eat and then headed out on the tube to Tower Hill to take my chances. As it turned out there was no problem. The Beefeaters there certainly have a sense of humour I will say that. The one I asked teased me and said "nope go home" and when he saw my face he laughed and said "of course you can come in". No one was asked for their ID.
While waiting I took some photos of the ice rink and the pretty reflections that were on the walls of the Tower.
We were then gathered to attend the ceremony which is basically the locking of the Tower of London with all the bells and whistles. This ceremony has been done every night for some 700 years when the current king (whose name escapes me) found Traiters gate unlocked and was most perturbed. When told that the Tower was not locked he ordered locks to be made and it to be locked every night. Here is a blurb from Wikpedia:
- Sentry: "Halt! Who comes there?"
- Chief Warder: "The keys."
- Sentry: "Whose keys?"
- Chief Warder: "Queen Elizabeth's keys." (identifying the keys as being those of Queen Elizabeth II, the current monarch)
- Sentry: "Pass Queen Elizabeth's Keys. All is well."
- Chief Warder: "God preserve Queen Elizabeth."
- Sentry: "Amen!"
This is where I buy my tea (some of it that is)... I will swoop in for the kill before I leave in February.
The tall building on the right is the Walkie Talkie building (because it looks like one with the aerial sticking up) Overlooking London Bridge.
Southwark Cathedral beside Borough Market
The Globe theatre
Christmas markets were positioned all along the South Bank of the river.
I cheated and used "sunset" mode even though the sunset was just beginning - but thought it was pretty impressive so had to share!