While the Disney movies of London streets are filled with wild magical tales, the actual London streets have hidden treasures around every corner.
On day three we went on a walking tour of London. A magical two and a half hours of walking from the University of London area to the Thames River. The tour guide was quite the character, an admittedly unattractive English gentleman wearing an over-sized sweater with an Aztec bird pattern and two pockets where he awkwardly placed his hands during lectures about the history of a certain area or the humorous incidents that happened in the most famous of places.
The guide began the tour giving an in-depth description of his hipster style and admittedly pretentious attitude, he graduated from Cambridge, so there was no surprise that his wit and charisma was backed by years of people worshiping his genius. Then he walked. Only stopping to chat when he saw fit. We stopped at the University of London student center; Syracuse is considered an extension of University of London because we can attend classes, use the library, and frequent the student union.
Following the mostly silent tour of the University of London we headed towards Bloomsbury Park, this is not far from where I am studying but stepping into the area reminded me of the great intellectuals I admire so much. The members of this group I have previously mentioned in this blog include people like Virgina Wolf, John Maynard Keys, E.M. Forster, Duncan Grant and more artist and innovative thinkers of the early 20th century.
As we continued to walk we passed the British Museum and walked through cobble stone alley ways until we reached Lincoln’s Inn, one of the four Inns of Court in which barristers in England and Wales are ‘called to the bar’ or summoned to court. The others are Middle Temple, Inner Temple and Gray’s Inn. We also toured Inner Temple which is just beyond Fleet Street. Here he spoke of his strong distaste for Dan Brown’s novels and the search for the Holy Grail. Which for those of you still searching, does not actually exist. The church where most of the Da Vinci Code was filmed now has visitors trying to dig up the floor in search of the Holy Grail. The guide said people began to lift the floor boards of the church only to find dead bodies.
Our final stops of the tour were along the Thames River. A murky brownish green mass of water which serves as London’s main water supply. Although in the sunset it is quite a brilliant view of Suffolk, the area of London that resides on the other side of the river. There you can find the arts and creative energy of Londoners. And of course the London Eye, a slow-moving Ferris wheel that allows you to see all of London for about 40 quid.
Before the turn of the century the city began to build attractions like the London Eye and the Millennium Bridge, an all pedestrian bridge that was built to connect Suffolk and the oldest part the City of London. Below you can see the view of the bridge from St. Paul’s Cathedral.
The Millennium Bridge and the London Bridge is the distance.
The tour concluded with an anecdote while standing in front of St. Paul’s Cathedral. One time a man was standing in the gallery of the cathedral where you can look over and see the entire congregation below. He then jumped from the ledge and parachuted down to the bottom and ran out of the building. The police took two years to catch up to him after the event and handed him a certificate for the shorted parachute jump in Guinness World Records.