Day 4:    Tower of London and Tower Bridge,  Southwark Cathedral,  the Golden Hinde, Shakespeare’s Globe,  Opera in a Tunnel, Millennium Bridge, St. Paul’s, Sky Garden

 

Day 4 Photos  (76)  

Day 4 Videos:  Southwark Cathedral    Tunnel Soprano

An early start—taking the overground from Lincoln Fields and then the tube to the Tower station—allowed us 4 heavenly hours at the Tower of London, soaking up the stories and totally captivated by the Beefeater Tour.  Our Beefeater was very funny and played off the crowd at times, but never in a mean way. His script was rich and full of detail—never dumbed down. Fantastic.

Over and over again, I was struck with the genuine hospitality and LACK of hype at tourist sites we visited. 

Lunch in an armory building at the Tower, where we chanced to sit next to 4 people from Kingston, WA, 15 minutes up the road from us.

Walked slowly over Tower Bridge to take in some of the Thames Walk. This large promenade along the Thames opens up wonderful views of Parliament, the Tower and all sorts of new architecture on the north bank across the river. We ambled past buskers and enjoyed seeing kayakers on the river, braving all the big ships that cruise on it as well.

Didn’t know what we’d find, and within a few blocks we bumped (literally) into Southwark Cathedral.  The oldest Gothic church in London, it attracted the likes of Gower, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Jonson, Harvard, and Dickens.

As my father graduated from Harvard, I was intrigued that John  Harvard, its founder, was baptized here in 1607. Has his own stained glass window and chapel. Also a niche statue and memorial to that playwright, Shakespeare, whose Globe Theater is just down the block.

It got to be a little exhausting, just sensing all the lives that had brushed these same stones, everywhere we went. Hard sometimes to keep taking it all in.

Leaving the cathedral, we entered a short pedestrian tunnel and encountered a coloratura soprano making good use of the acoustics. Accompanied by a techno-orchestra and small amp, we heard her sing two arias—the second was Puccini’s “O Mio Babbino Caro” which some people will recognize as the theme song from “Room with a View.”  Moved to tears, as were many others. We couldn't leave until she finished, and made sure to add some bills to her tip can on the way.  

Just past the tunnel there was the Golden Hinde, Sir Walter Raleigh’s ship, moored as an attraction. Hank recalled that he had taken his kids to see this very ship when it was moored at Commencement Bay in Tacoma the 80's. A little further and we passed the Globe Theater, the modern version of the original where so much history was made and performed a few hundred yards away. This Globe theater is thriving and performances often sold out.

We had only about an hour left to get across the river and head back to a restaurant on Gracechurch Street called The Folly, where we were meeting the rest of the family for dinner. We set off over the Millennium Bridge, set on at least glimpsing St. Paul’s Cathedral which stands about 3 blocks from the other end of this ultra-modern pedestrian walkway. But once we got there, we realized we were looking at the back of the church, so, of course, we HAD to amble around it to the front, take the classic photo on the steps with the spirit of Mary Poppins and the bird lady. It was drizzling by now and getting close to our rendezvous time, but finishing the walk around the perimeter set us in the right direction, so we took in as much as we could and sadly, said farewell without going inside Christopher Wren’s masterpiece. 

Dinner at another marvelous gastro pub and then we walked to the building known as the walkie-talkie and paid to ride up to the Sky Garden far above the city streets.  Incredible views and the drizzle lifted to show them off.  An hour of enjoying the sights and the spiffy people up there, and we caught a double-decker back to NE London. Pleasantly wasted and needing a good night’s sleep to get us ready for our driving adventure!

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