Friday, February 26, 2016

The South Bank & Beyond (London 2016: Part 4)

At the end of my previous post, I was just approaching lunch time after wandering a good chunk of the South Bank of the River Thames, popping across to the other side for a visit to St. Paul's Cathedral. 

I wanted to explore more of Southwark, so I walked back across the Millennium foot bridge and kept walking. By now I was completely unashamed to appear the tourist, and had my camera out at every opportunity. London is extremely photogenic, especially when the sun is out.

Southwark Bridge (which actually has it's own web page). 

Recent restorations have the bridge looking gorgeous. 

One of many historic pubs in London--this one allegedly lies on pits where
Plague victims were buried. 

I did not go in. 

I did, however, go into a souvenir shop across the way. I did NOT
buy a duck, though the Big Ben one was tempting.
I never realized there was a replica of Sir Francis Drake's galleon in London.

 I took some pictures to share with my fifth graders, who did a unit on explorers
earlier in the school year.

Southwark Cathedral, looking splendid in the sun.

Bourough Market
The Shard looms large. 

Finally, I reached my next intended destination--The George.

According to the National Trust, it is the last remaining gallaried inn in London, and (according to Wikipedia, so take this with a grain of salt), it is likely the oldest pub in London. It survived the Great Fire, so there is that. What drew me to it was its connections to literary greatness--both Charles Dickens and William Shakespeare are said to have imbibed here, and it is actually mentioned in Dickens' book Little Dorrit. 

Add caption

The necessary sign pic.


The inside was a bit worn and shabby, but comfortable and
welcoming, too. 

I didn't buy a RUBBER ducky, just a little tin of lip gloss,
which I photographed while eating lunch.
I had a hamburger (I know, but it just sounded so good after all that walking, and it was on the specials board, and...) and spent some time just resting and enjoying my food. I wrote some post cards (which as of this post being published have not yet reached their destinations, and I've been home a whole week now). 

After lunch, it was more wandering...destination: Tower Bridge.

I started taking sign pics in earnest. My obsession with signs started in
London Semester 1999, because of pub signs. They're fantastic.

There it is! After seeing it from a distance all morning, I was finally there.

The Tower of London.

I love this bridge. It's magnificent.

Last time I was in London, there was only the gherkin (the blue pickle building).
Now there's all of these. The one on the very left makes me think of a Dr.
Suess book. 

Happy London Meg

I walked across the bridge. (Why? To get to the other side.)

There's the Shard again. 

The Gherkin and The Tower.

I walked by the Tower but didn't have the inclination to go's 25 pounds
for admission, and I've been in before. Maybe next visit.

Traitor's Gate

After leaving the Tower, my plan was to take the Tube to Covent Garden for some shopping. They have a Whittard Tea Shop there, and I was on the hunt for whiskey flavored tea. I started walking randomly, because the first rule of finding the Tube in London is to just keep walking in any direction, and you will happen upon a station sooner rather than later.

But first, you'll see one of the old red buses. 

And some gorgeous buildings.

And more pub signs.
Sure enough, half a mile or so along, I found Monument Tube Station, and I was whisked off to Covent Garden, which, even in February, is crowded with tourists and street artists (called buskers).

I didn't take a lot of pictures while there, but did a bit of shopping, wandering down to Drury Lane, then stopping at a pub for some orange juice and WiFi.

An antique seller in Covent Garden Market had these old printing
tray blocks. I was tempted, because Mom has a bunch of these.
Click on this one to make it bigger, and read the whole
thing. I absolutely love this.

Everywhere you turn in that city, I swear, there's something
worth photographing. 

And then, my day of solitude in London was over, when, at about 6:15, I was engulfed in a huge hug by an old friend, Libby, who had given up her Monday evening to have dinner with me.

Libby worked with me briefly at St. Peter's in Burnham before leaving for film school in the far away land of New Zealand...but we kept in touch via email (this was before Facebook and even before MySpace, gasp). Her Mom was a teacher at St. Peter's, as well. Even after I went back to the States, we kept in touch and eventually, of course, found each other on Facebook. So when I was planning my trip, of course I asked if she could have dinner.

We found a lovely Moroccan restaurant and spent the next five hours eating, sharing a bottle of Argentinian red wine, and talking, talking, talking. It was marvelous.

Finally, the restaurant was trying to shut down for the night, and Libby had work the next morning...then there was also the fact that I had been awake since 6:00 AM on a big ole case of jet lag. We took a farewell selfie in the Tube station and headed our separate ways. I got to my hotel around midnight and collapsed, exhausted but so, so happy, into my bed there.

Jet lag? What jet lag?

The next day would bring more joyful reunions, and I needed my beauty sleep.

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