Monday, August 27, 2007

Walk on by

I like taking walking tours and London has some of the best ones anywhere. You only really begin to know a city when you've walked it seeing how neighborhoods connect together, something which the speed of the tube misses. We did 7 London Walks plus a discovery day tour of Cambridge, really two walks and a third bus tour across an entire day. I've already mentioned the Jack the Ripper and William Blake tours and will blog about Cambridge individually in a later post. My Dad also did the London Walks tour of the British Museum, which I didn't feel the need to take.

This is Lord Foster's redesigned Great Court which used to house miles of book shelves for the British Library's endless tomes. The circular structure in the center is the walls of the Great Domed Reading Room, where you can sit in the chair occupied by Marx while labouring on Das Kapital.

Along the Thames Pub Walk

Took this classic tour, which starts by the classic Art Deco Blackfriars Pub, crosses the Blackfriars' bridge, walks along the southbank of the Thames by the Founder's Arms, Tate Modern, Lord Foster's Millennium Bridge, the New Globe, the Anchor Tavern, the Clink Prison, the Golden Hinde, Southwark Cathedral, the Borough Market, and ending at the George Inn, London's sole remaining seventeenth century galleried coaching inn.

Here we look north across the Wobbly Bridge towards St. Paul's, the first new pedestrian bridge over the Thames in a century.

Two famous City landmarks: The Nat West Tower on the left and Lord Foster's controversial Swiss-Re building named the "Erotic Gherkin" on the right

Gilbert Scott's disused Bankside Power Station was converted into the Tate Modern as another Millennium project and instantly became one of the greatets art museums in the world.

Literary London Pub Walk

Wandered around Bloomsbury in the pouring rain: Woolf, Lytton Strachey, J.M. Barrie, Maynard Keynes and their ilk. Finished with a pint of Britain's Champion Beer, Timothy Taylor Landlord at Marx's favorite haunt, The Museum Tavern on Great Russell Street.

Soho in the Morning

First of two walks with retired Glaswegian banker Graham took us through London's Bohemia and Chinatown, aka Soho, which is situated north of Leicester Square, east of Regent Street, west of Monmouth Street and St. Giles High Street (1 block east of the incorrectly supposed boundary of Charing Cross Road and thus importantly incorporating London's "Tin Pan Alley", Denmark Street), and south of Oxford Street. Now the southern half is Chinatown, and the northern half serves a slightly different clientele as the odd door sign below suggests.

In the 18th century Soho was a newish fashionable neighborhood where Dr J. hung out and regaled others with endless anecdotes.

The Famous Square Mile

Another tour with Graham through the City featuring the Monument, the Leadenhall Market, the Bank of England, the Temple of Mithras, the site of the first coffeehouse in London now the Jamaica Wine House, and the Guildhall.

Inns of Court

A tour south from Holborn to the Thames taking in the four major London Law Schools/Inns Lincoln's Inn, Gray's Inn, Inner and Middle Temples, the famous Temple Church (from Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code) and Middle Temple Hall where Twelfth Night was first performed.

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