It was a friend’s birthday a couple of weeks ago, so we went on a day trip to London to celebrate. I’ll share my experience and hopefully inspire you with some things to do and places to see if you’re planning a trip to London anytime soon.
We got the train to London Euston, personally I wouldn’t recommend driving there. Take the underground, it’s usually faster and a lot safer in the sense that some drivers in London can be a little…crazy in my opinion. Plus if you have a group (3 or more people), you can ask for a group discount and get cheap train tickets! Getting things cheaper than you usually would is never a bad thing.
We went from London Euston station and walked to Euston Square station, it’s only a short walk of 5 minutes or so. Go out of the station and keep right, you’ll see signs for it. That’s one of the many things I love about London, it’s fairly easy to find your way because it’s so well signposted. Anyway, from there we went to Aldgate station and walked to Tower Pier (Tower hill station was shut). Walking to the Thames was much better in my opinion though, we saw some very nice architecture, hotels and restaurants on the way.
On the way to the river, we walked through Trinity Square Gardens which was a lovely little detour, I photographed the Port of London Authority Building, its architecture was rather beautiful and caught my eye. I also found the Merchant Navy Memorial Building interesting due to its engraved walls. Each panel on the wall was engraved with names.
Then we went to Tower pier for our sightseeing cruise – you can get cheaper tickets for these cruises on the Thames at Amazon local, search for “Thames” or “London” without the quotes to find out what you can get vouchers/cheaper prices for.
Some fun facts about some of the sights above:
- You aren’t allowed to advertise at all on the Thames as it is classed as a royal highway, so to bypass this law, the company OXO shaped the windows on their building to represent their logo. Now it’s a grade 2 listed building (these are particularly important buildings of more than special interest), because of this status, it’s not allowed to be altered in any fashion or knocked down. Whoever was the head of advertising at OXO at the time, kudos.
- Cleopatra’s needle is an original Egyptian obelisk. It’s there to commemorate Britain’s victory over Napoleon. Our crew member come tour guide had a helpful translation of the hieroglyphs for us: “Made in Egypt, this way up”. Made me chuckle.
- Waterloo bridge’s nickname is Ladies Bridge because it was built by women whilst the men were away at war. Their bridge replaced one which previously had failing foundations, it’s also the only self-cleaning bridge in London.
- The globe theatre is now thought to have been rebuilt in the wrong place, that’s because when a financial building was being built next door, they were digging the site for foundations and found what they thought were the original foundations of where the Globe actually was.
- Tower bridge has a small glass walkway you can walk over here.
It was VE day so the red arrows made an appearance as we were on the cruise. They flew right over us, and I managed to capture quite a magical photo which I’m not going to post here as I’m thinking about selling it (forgive me for not showing you guys the original photo, if I get it printed I’ll take a picture of that for you), I will however, show you photos of them flying towards the London Eye, and one of them flying away.
After the cruise we had lunch, and then made our way to the Shard. We were walking from the London Bridge to the Shard when we saw a bus/coach driver blocking a road because there was another bus/coach parked on his side of the road, it looked like he had tried to turn as another bus had been trying to turn into that road. So one bus was parked across the junction, one was blocked between the two buses and there was a large queue being built as a result. (Remember when I said about not driving in London…yeah).
On the way past the Shard we spotted a rather out-of-place looking patch of green in the middle of this built up area, so we had a closer look and found a small model of the area we were in, and a rather pretty metal screen, if you would call it that.
So when we got to the Shard, we were a little blown away by the sheer height of it.
As we entered the Shard, we were greeted by a well dressed gentleman in a waistcoat, actually, they were all wearing waistcoats (very dapper!). We got our tickets from Amazon local in advance as it is cheaper on there, I would recommend amazon local for whenever you are in the UK. We went up two elevators to reach the 69th floor where we got some champagne, the choices were between Brut, or a rose champagne. It just so happened that Brut was the only champagne I believe I have tried in the past, and so I said to the lady serving that I wasn’t fond of Brut with reasons as to why. Apparently from this, she thought I was some kind of champagne connoisseur, I’m not but I went along with it.
When we got to the 69th floor we were met with breathtaking views straight from the offset. I would definitely recommend this to anyone planning to go to London, the shard has the highest viewing platform in western Europe so the view is spectacular. I would definitely recommend this! All in all, a great day was had by all. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this, if you want to know anything about places I’ve spoken about in this blog, don’t hesitate to ask and I’ll answer as best I can.