London Part 2: River Thames & Hyde Park

NOVEMBER 2008…

London is a city built on the banks of the River Thames. As such, many bridges traverse the waters. The most attention-grabbing of them all is the Tower Bridge, with it looking like a replica out of a Disney movie. Many people mistake Tower Bridge for the London Bridge in the childhood nursery rhyme, but London Bridge is really a nondescript vehicular crossing upstream from Tower Bridge. Oh well.

Tower Bridge, London.

The Tower Bridge won’t be an inch out of place in a Disney movie.

Not far from Tower Bridge on the south bank is the futuristic-looking City Hall, where the Mayor of London goes to work. The egg-shaped structure was so cute I couldn’t believe it was a government office.

City Hall, London.

The futuristic-looking City Hall.

Walking further upstream, I passed by the Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe. This is also the starting point of the newest bridge on the block. Clad in metal and glass, the Millennium Bridge is a pedestrian crossing that has “new” written all over it. If you don’t know which one, it’s the one that’s been “destroyed” in numerous superhero and action movies since it was incepted in the year 2000.

Millennium Bridge with St Paul's Cathedral across the river, London.

Millennium Bridge with St Paul’s Cathedral across the river.

Even before crossing the Millennium Bridge, I could already see St Paul’s Cathedral looming large across the river from the north bank. Up close, its imposing dome over 100 m high was a sight to behold. Having survived fire and war unscathed, the dome has come to represent resilience and hope in the face of adversity for the people of London.

St Paul's Cathedral, London.

Up close with St Paul’s Cathedral.

The royal experience continues in Hyde Park
London has several green lungs in the city to provide recreation space in the urban jungle (and to recycle the carbon dioxide in the air). The one I chose to explore was Hyde Park, just off the northwest of Buckingham Palace. Hyde Park is one of the eight Royal Parks in London and covers 142 hectares. It blends seamlessly into Kensington Gardens on its west end.

Hyde Park, London.

The grand entrance to Hyde Park…

The Wellington Arch at Hyde Park Corner, London.

The Wellington Arch at Hyde Park Corner…

Ducks at Hyde Park, London.

And the resident ducks taking a dip in the waters.

Walking over to Kensington Gardens, I came across the Albert Memorial. Built in memory of Queen Victoria’s husband Prince Albert who died in 1861, it consists of a statue of Prince Albert seated in an elaborate pavilion.

Albert Memorial, London.

The Albert Memorial, built in memory of Queen Victoria’s husband Prince Albert.

Directly across the road from the Albert Memorial is the Royal Albert Hall, also named in memory of Prince Albert. Built in 1871, it is one of the world’s most famous concert halls and hosts the Proms concerts every summer.

Royal Albert Hall, London.

The Royal Albert Hall, also named in memory of Prince Albert.

I will be back!
I have made two trips to London so far and have enjoyed both thoroughly. While my first trip was a standard tourist routine, my second trip was more personalised. I could choose what I wanted to see again and what new sights I wanted to check out. There’s no doubt in my mind that I would head back to London again one day, to visit my old friend.

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