Please read the Part I of my London experience if you haven’t already. This is a continuation of that experience.
Tower Bridge and Tower Bridge Exhibition
Tower Bridge, which was built between 1886 and 1894, is a combined bascule and suspension bridge in London, England, over the River Thames. It is close to the Tower of London, from which it takes its name.
I had seen so many photos of people in front of Tower Bridge that when I saw it for the first time I felt that I had been there before. It was a nice summer day the day we went to the Tower Bridge. We walked along the Thames River taking photos of the bridge from different angel. Then we went inside to see the Tower Bridge exhibition. We had bought a London Pass and it was included in the pass.
The tour started in the lift while up to the top with a tour guide telling us what to expect. When the lift stopped at the top, we were ushered into a room to watch a video (which was good and informative). Then we were ushered to see some pictures of different bridges along one of the enclosed walkways inside the bridge. You can walk through the Tower Bridge exhibition at your leisure and have a self-guided tour as all necessary information was available at each point of interest. We loved reading the history of all the bridges from around the world that were displayed along with their photographs. When we saw Sydney and Harbour Bridge, I stopped to take a photo while when we saw Los Angles bridge, AS stopped to take a photo. I guess his heart is still set in the States despite living here for almost 2 years. Then we walked through the other walk way where they had pictures of cities which have hosted the Olympics over the years.
There were even free Olympic Games for the children, ring tosses, etc. As I am still kid at heart I tried the game and it was fun 🙂
The view from the top level of the tower was fantastic with views of Thames, east & west of the bridge. We both really enjoyed the visit.
Then we went downstairs to see some of the equipment used for raising and lowering the bridge. There was a video playing with information about the history and making of the bridge. We had the opportunity to see the Victorian-era machines that kept the bridge operating efficiently from the moment it was made operational, as well as other areas of the bridge. The engineering is wonderful to see.
On the way out we went to gift shop and bought some souvenirs.
St Paul’s Cathedral
St Paul’s Cathedral, London, is a Church of England cathedral and seat of the Bishop of London. Its dedication to Paul the Apostle dates back to the original church on this site, founded in AD 604.
St Paul’s cathedral seemed to have different opening time depending on what’s going on there. We were lucky that we checked the website to get more information and got the information that the day we wanted to visit the church; it was closing at 3pm. So we decided to go there first before going to the other attractions. We took the red bus to the Cathedral.
You need to pay to enter the Cathedral but as we had London Pass, our pass covered the cost. As soon as we got in, we were given audio guides which guided us through the place very comfortably helping to make sure that nothing got missed. The audio guide gave me a lot of information about the history and the construction of the building. The building itself was really beautiful.
The size of the building is immense, particularly when you step underneath the 365 foot dome. Taking the 259 steps to the dome, the whispering gallery is a must climb, no matter what shape you are in, it can take a while and definitely gives you a workout. That is when you begin to fully appreciate the magnitude and the sheer splendour of the building. It was a great experience. There is a painted line on the wall and it is believed if you whisper below that line then your words can be heard by someone on the other side of the gallery. The views down into the main church are also fantastic from there.
From the whispering gallery, you can take further 119 steps up to the Stone Galley where there is a viewing platform. Inside, I noticed along the way that there was a small window in the floor that allowed us to look directly down at the floor of the cathedral, which meant the window was right at the centre of the dome. From the Stone gallery, we can see many of the most popular sites in London. We could see the Tower Bridge and London Eye in one direction and the Millennium Bridge at other. It was a bit windy at the top but the experience was definitely worth it.
I thought that was it when we noticed that we were not at the top yet. There are 152 more steps to go to the Golden Gallery. Even though it was tiring, we decided to go to the top as we were nearly there already. So we went up the stairs for another hike. The top viewing area was really small but people were taking turns to take photos. It was really windy as well so in most of my photos, my face is either covered by my hair or I was trying to hold my hair. But I am so glad we went all the way to the top as the view was even better than from the Stone Gallery. You are so high up that you notice that people and cars on the street look like small dots. I was really happy to see the magnificent view.
After some time there we decided to return but this time we had to take 528 steps to take us all the way down to cathedral floor. It was a great experience with some exercise along the way.
Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus
There are lots of people I know who now live in London but I wasn’t planning to meet all of them due to the time constraint. One of my English teachers from middle school, Mr. R lives there as well. He used to be one of my favourite teachers in school. He is also my Facebook friend and always used to ask me to visit him if I ever came to London, so I asked him if he was free to catch up with us on one of the days we were there. He was happy to meet in London even though he lives in Reading. So we caught up after 15 years.
We both knew what was going on with each other’s lives thanks to Facebook. We introduced AS and his wife and all of us went for a nice evening out at Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus.
Leicester Square is a pedestrianised square in the West End of London, England. The Square lies within an area bound by Lisle Street , to the north; Charing Cross Road, to the east; Orange Street, to the south; and Whitcomb Street, to the west.
In the middle of the Square is a small park, in the centre of which is a 19th century statue of William Shakespeare surrounded by dolphins. The four corner gates of the park have one bust each, depicting Sir Isaac Newton, the scientist; Sir Joshua Reynolds, the first President of the Royal Academy; John Hunter, a pioneer of surgery; and William Hogarth, the painter.
Piccadilly Circus looked like a mini version of Time square. It had a similar feeling with lots of lights, the union flags everywhere and big digital advertisement screens. It is surrounded by cinemas, a wide range of eateries, pubs and clubs.
It is also near China town so after the Square, we walked along China town. While we were walking we noticed that one of the restaurant was a dual restaurant, Japanese as well as Nepali. We decided to have our dinner there.
We had bara (Newari version of lentil pancake), our favourite momo and chhoyela. Mr. R and AS also had Chhayng (homemade Nepali alcohol, made from rice). It was a great night out and chatting with my teacher and his wife.
The post is getting too long so I will continue on next post. Please click here for more photos.