London and Wales, 2009 Home Previous Day Next Day

Day 7: Friday, Sep. 25
London: St. Paul's Cathedral, Museum of London, and Wicked at the Apollo Victoria

Friday morning Jennifer and I went next door to St. Paul's Cathedral for coffee and a scone at the Crypt Cafe (yes, in the crypt on the lower level), and then toured the nave (no photography allowed). We then took the 259 steps up to the Whispering Gallery (where we couldn't really hear any whispers above the shouts of a touring group of school children). Another 119 steps took us up to the Stone Gallery for some outside views, and with 152 more steps we reached the Golden Gallery with great views. We recovered by having lunch back down in the Crypt Cafe, followed by an expedition through the extensive gift shop. Leaving Jennifer at the hotel, I walked the short distance (could have been shorter, if I'd taken the best route) to the Museum of London to see exhibits from early London inside the museum and, outside, the remains of the original wall around Londinium. From there I walked down to the Thames and across the Millennium Bridge to the area around the Tate Modern and Shakespeare's Globe, and then back across to the hotel.

When Winston got back from work, he took us via the Tube to the Arbutus restaurant near the Tottenham Court Road station. We had a delicious early dinner, and then walked west to the Oxford Circus station, and took the Tube to Victoria Station. Right across the street was the Apollo Victoria theatre, where we saw the exciting London production of the musical Wicked.

Here's Jennifer in the Stone Gallery, where there are good views of London between the stone pillars. The high-intensity lights near the top of the wall make the Cathedral dome highly visible at night.
Toward the east, there's a lot of construction going on. Close up, at least some of it looks like a parking garage.
A little closer below there's a little patch of grass at the corner of the Cathedral. When we went by there on our way to the Mansion House Station, we often saw people stretched out on the grass, just relaxing.

The Thames is to the south, and you can see how the Millennium foot bridge leads to the Tate Modern (the old power plant with a tall smoke stack that's now a big modern art museum with a tall tower).

Halfway to the bridge, you can see one of the Big Bus tour buses. Just under a block to the right of the bus is the Church of St Benet Paul's Wharf, one of Christopher Wren's churches. It's the one with the dark pointed roof above a rectangular white-framed window. We didn't visit it, but I learned just today that it's designated as the City's Welsh church, with services conducted in Welsh.

We're now at the highest accessible vantage point in the Cathedral, the Golden Gallery. This view to the west includes the twin towers flanking the front of the Cathedral, and the urban canyon of Ludgate Hill, which become Fleet Street a bit farther east.

Our hotel is partly visible behind the main part of the tower on the right. It's the modern-looking 7-story structure.

Between the hotel building and the right tower is a curving older looking building that houses the Marks & Spencer Simply Food store where I got several helpings of porridge (ready-made oatmeal) during the week.

To the southwest, we can see two bridges. The nearer one is a railroad bridge, and the one right next to it is the Blackfriars Bridge. On this end of the bridge there's a Tube station that's quite close to our hotel but, unfortunately, it was closed for refurbishing while I was there.

Along the skyline just to the right of the middle of the picture you can see the London Eye that we rode on my first day in London.

London streches off into the distance to the northwest. The minaret-like tower piercing the skyline left of the middle is the British Telecom Tower, and bristles with antennas.

Nearer the left edge of the picture, below the skyline near Fleet Street, is the wedding cake tower of St. Bride's Church.

Just north of St. Paul's is Paternoster Square. In the middle of the Square is a Corinthian style column and, to its right but too small to see here is a bronze sculpture Shepherd and Sheep.
We often noticed little gardens on rooftops and terraces. This one was next door to St. Paul's on Paternoster Square, and was visible in the lower right of the previous picture.
More of the City, this time to the northeast. Most of the buildings are relatively new, a reminder of how much of the city was destroyed during World War II.
More to the east of northeast, you can see bullet-shaped (or pickle-shaped) tower known locally as The Gherkin but more officially the Swiss Re Tower.

The Gherkin is in the middle of this view to the east, above the construction zone.

In the haze much farther to the east are some tall buildings in the Docklands area, which is rapidly developing out of the old Port of London and which will be the location of much of the 2012 Olympics.

Jennifer enjoying the view. Notice the railing, not nearly as high as the more protective stone wall of the lower Stone Gallery.
Another view to the south of the Thames. The square red tower and black pointed top of the Church of St Benet Paul's Wharf is more clearly visible in the right half of the picture, this side of the Thames.

And again to the southwest, along the Thames as it approaches the Westminster area.

Many hands have held onto that railing over the years. There isn't much space between the railing and the wall, so the railing gets a lot of use.

Looking down from the Golden Gallery, you can see the people on the Millennium Bridge and, in about the center of the picture on the far bank of the Thames, the circular reconstruction of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. The ring-shaped roof is thatch, and the opening in the middle really is an opening down to ground level.

To the west, this closeup from the Golden Gallery includes the wedding cake tower of St. Bride's Church reaching from below the middle of the picture to the top.

There are many other church towers in the City, many of them hard to see when looking straight down from above, and even harder to see from the street canyons.

As we descended the wrought iron spiral staircase, I thought it made an interesting image.
It looks even better with Jennifer on it.

I went on to the Museum of London, just north of St. Paul's Cathedral. If I had stayed on the right road it would have taken only a few minutes to get there.

There was construction going on around the entrance, but eventually I found my way in.

There were many artifacts in the museum that were recoved from digs within a few miles of the museum itself.

This floor mosaic was unearthed in 1976 on Milk Street, about a quarter of a mile from the Museum.

I rushed through the exhibits, which included informative displays and film clips in addition to the artifacts, because the thing I most wanted to see was just outside.

Here is a remnant of the original wall around London, built by the Romans in about the 2nd through 4th centuries AD to protect their establishment of Londinium.
London wall closeup. The wall is massive. According to Wikipedia, it required 85,000 tons of stone from Kent, enclosed an area of about 330 acres, was 6 to 9 feet wide and about 18 feet high. The Romans left around 410 AD, but the wall helped to protect London for centuries thereafter.
View from near the London Wall. The Worshipful Company of Barbers was an old guild of the City of London. The original Barbers helped monks practice medicine, as the monks were forbidden to spill blood. Later surgeons who did no barbering joined the Company, but the surgeons eventually formed the separate Royal College of Surgeons.

The Worhipful Company of Barbers is no longer associated with barbers. It is primarily a charitable organization helping medical and surgical causes.
The old wall is so much a part of modern London that the address of the museum building alonside it is "140 London Wall."

From the Museum of London I walked back south. I didn't get lost this time, since I could just walk toward St. Paul's Cathedral.

I continued south past St. Paul's to the Millennium Bridge. Just before the Bridge, I turned around and took this picture of St. Paul's to the north.

Walking on to the Millenium Bridge, I approached the Tate Modern.

What gorgeous weather! I hadn't bothered to pack my sunglasses, since everyone knows it's always cloudy and wet in London.

Looking back across the bridge to St Pauls. Many of the people on the bridge just wanted to get to the other side, but there also were many taking pictures, enjoying the view, or just lounging.
The unusual structure of the bridge is easier to see from the side.
On the south side of the bridge and a few yards to the east stands Shakespeare's Globe. No one knows exactly what the original looked like, but this replica is the collective best guess. It's larger than I expected.

I walked back to the hotel, and caught up with Jennifer and Winston. Winston took us to a restaurant he wanted to try, Arbutus.

The food at the Michelin-starred Arbutus was both beautiful and tasty. Jennifer had thinly sliced lamb and smoked eel risoto, and Winston had a squid & mackerel burger.

I had a delicious pork stew, with Morbier (a semi-soft French cheese), and for dessert Jennifer had a "floating island" of meringue

After dinner we took the Tube to the Victoria Station. Looking around for the right direction in which to proceed, we saw the Apollo Victoria Theatre right across the street. The lobby was very crowded, and the line to pick up the tickets for the seats Winston had reserved online was slow-moving, but we were in plenty of time to get to our seats.

The set was amzaing, with intricate machinery and places for characters to climb and perch on the sides.

And high above the stage was a dragon, whose head moved and wings flapped, powered by men at the sides discretely pulling on ropes.

The singing was powerful, and the story (The Wizard of Oz from the viewpoints of the witches) was a compelling and often fun study of how one's obvious assumptions can be wrong.

It was an exciting end to another wonderful day.