From the magical nursery rhymes of ‘London Bridge Falling’ and ‘Pussycat visiting the queen in London’ to being the city of our dreams, London as a city has always enchanted the aspirant inside us. The British capital London is a wonderful eclectic city brimming with culture, architecture, shopping, cuisine and much more to explore, which entices many travelers all over the world.
Our flight landed at the north terminal of the Gatwick airport. We took a free shuttle to the south terminal and boarded a Thameslink train to Bedford to get down at Blackfriars stations close to our first stop St Paul’s Cathedral. We had visited the UK for the Christmas holidays and were delighted to see the streets, shops and the buildings dazzling with decorative lights.
St Paul’s Cathedral
There is an entrance ticket for the cathedral and visitors are provided with a multimedia handset for guidance through the sections of the cathedral.
The first breathtaking view that visitors encounter when they enter the 300 years old St Paul’s is the exquisitely ornate central aisle that leads to the most interesting part of the cathedral – the dome. It is the second largest cathedral dome in the world with beautiful Grisaille paintings by Sir James Thornhill. American Memorial Chapel or the Jesus Chapel commemorates the 28k Americans died in Britain in Second World War.
One can climb the 257 steps up to the Whispering Gallery to experience the acoustic quirk which makes a whisper against its walls audible on the opposite side. Or climb the 528 steps to the golden gallery for the panoramic views of the city. The crypt in the basement houses the tombs of nation’s noble heroes such as Lord Nelson, Duke of Wellington and Sir Christopher Wren.
The street opposite to St. Paul Cathedral has some of the best food joints for light breakfast or even brunch. Our next stop was London Bridge. We visited the Hay’s Galleria which hosted a huge Christmas market with more than 100 lovely wooden chalets selling a wide variety of food items, sweets, and gifts.
One can spot the magnificent HMS Belfast standing between the two prominent bridges London Bridge and the tower bridge. A visit to the HMS Belfast provides with a free audio guide tour that narrates the stories of war and life onboard for the crew from Second World War to the year 1963.
The tower bridge is an iconic symbol, which makes a picture–postcard view of the marvelous city of London. The two soaring towers of the bridge are connected by walkways at the upper level. Bridge hosts Tower Bridge Exhibition which includes access to high-level walkways and a visit to the Victorian engine rooms for an understanding of the history of the remarkable bridge.
We crossed the bridge to visit the London tower taking pride in walking on the legendary tower bridge which we have been seeing all the time in pictures and movies. The kiosks at tower pier offer various options for tickets for a combined cruise and city attractions which you can choose from.
Tower of London
Yeomen or the Beefeaters, the ceremonial guardians of the Tower of London host the guided tour for the tourists, which are recommended for the fun-filled stories of the Tower history.
The Tower complex is located on the bank of the River Thames and is surrounded by defensive walls. The central tower called White tower was considered as the powerful fortress and has served as a royal palace.
It contains the impressive Royal Armories collections including the 300-year-old exhibition ‘Line of Kings’ and an 11th-century Romanesque chapel.
The tour of the crown jewels room was the most breathtaking tour of all with a spectacular display of more than 100 historic ceremonial objects including swords, rings, plates all of the gold and more than 20000 precious gems. The royal Crown Jewels are still in use by Queen for important national ceremonies. If history and the castles interests you check the best castles near London.
Cruising on the Thames
As the dusk fell the entire city was illuminated with gleaming lights. We hopped onto a cruise on the Thames and sailed under the numerous bridges watching the red buses, pedestrians, and the trains over the bridges and the Tower Bridge fading away in the distance.
The House of Parliament, the London Eye, the Big Ben all inundated with colorful lights was a captivating sight to behold.
We were already done with the major attractions of our dream city on day1 and day2 seemed to be more of a relaxed trip with shopping and Christmas markets. Read the remaining part of our trip for the best of London Itinerary. If you are planning to do London on a budget then do check out the best hostels in London for some budget friendly places to stay or you can take inspiration and hop onto a Europe backpacking trip.
How was your experience of visiting these places from our Day 1? Do share with us in comments.
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