Chapter Fourteen - Our first foray into Londinium
Trip Start Sep 28, 2012
20Trip End Oct 14, 2012
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Byron looks at my parking fine without enthusiasm. The paper indicates an e-mail contact for any claims. I type an extensive story of our visit to the home country, the soaked documents and the error of placing them on top of my receipt in the hopes that it will be received by a forgiving clerk.
"Fat chance" states Byron, while we are having breakfast together. Nevertheless, I'm sure they will absolve an unwary visitor from across the pond.
Our hosts kindly offer to drive us to the station for our foray into Londinium today. It’s a 26-minute ride to Waterloo
From Waterloo we walk to the South Bank. In my days the South Bank was a somewhat dilapidated part of town, with factories, warehouses and an unsightly power station overlooking an unsanitary and polluted watercourse. What a change today. There is now a river walk and all the ugly industrial buildings have been converted to flats, shops and even a world- class contemporary art museum. The Thames is now packed full of fish and cleaner than it has been for 200 years. More than 125 species now live in the waterway which had been declared biologically dead in 1957.
The day is overcast and Old Father Thames is grey and uninviting. The river is tidal right up through London, and presently its low tide. An enterprising artist has created a sand sculpture on the banks of the river and people are tossing coins in appreciation of his creativity.
Our first destination today is the Tate Modern Art Gallery which is housed in a former power station built in 1963. It closed in 1981 and has now been converted by architects Herzog & de Meuron, the architectural company presently building the Miami Modern Art Museum in Bicentennial Park as well as the unusual parking building a 111 Lincoln Road and the Jade Tower
The Museum is spectacular though none of us are great admirers of contemporary art. What is more appealing to us is the intriguing Millennium Bridge. When it opened on the year 2000, it swayed so much that it had to be closed for restructuring. Thankfully it didn’t wobble when we crossed over the Thames towards St. Paul’s Cathedral.
We enjoy a lunch at Strada Restaurant facing the cathedral then wind our way past Cheapside into the financial district and towards the Museum of London. We continue past a pretty green garden called Postman’s Park on to the London Museum which we find far more interesting than the Tate Modern!
Wanting to see a bit of the West End, we board the No. 12 bus to Marble Arch. It takes us past many of the sights we saw yesterday from the car window
“It’s much more fun seeing London from the top of a double-decker bus” remarks Miryam.
We descend at Marble Arch and stroll a few blocks down Oxford Street, but this world-class shopping street is not very exciting on a Sunday afternoon
“Let’s tally up the total costs for our admissions to The Tate Modern Galleries, St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Museum of London.” I suggest.
“£0, €0, $0, we didn’t pay anything. They were all free. I just can’t get over this lovely word!”
Our total transportation cost has been just £7.70 ($12) each, which includes the train fare and a London Transport travel card.
By tube back to Waterloo, then Byron picks us up at the station after which we savour a lovey dinner prepared by Sheila.