Friday, 3 December 2010

Charlie (on holiday) in London (3): The Big Three

Does a holiday count if you decide to stay in the same city? To visit the sights and sounds that is normally mundane and routine? Well, we have a much quoted maxim, you never bother to see Madamme Tussaud's unless a visitor is in town. Well, last month I decided to head out into the city, and explore it, just a little. So join me this week, as I take you on a mini-tour of some of London's more fashionable (and quirky) sights.


How very true that above statement is. And there are a lot of sights in London that I barely visit or pass through without giving them a second thought. Despite living in this city, I very rarely take the chance to enjoy my own home town. And why not. So let me head to the big three of London. If there are thee landmarks to chose in the Capital, that are recognised worldwide, what will they be? Show any child or adult around the world these three buildings, and they will instantly associate the image with London itself. They are of course Parliament, St Paul's Cathedral and Tower Bridge.

These landmarks are not noted for their size, or even history, all three buildings being relatively new compared to the fabric of the city. However, they are all beautiful, and each structure has an architectural merit to them (as well as a great quirk) that makes the skyline of Central London what it is. And yes, I did (re)visit these three landmarks recently on my mini-break in London.

I have covered Tower Bridge in my epic quest across the Thames, so there is no need to head back and regurgitate what has already been written. Suffice to say, Tower Bridge is one damn pretty crossing, and if you really want to enjoy this bridge on a walk along the South Bank of the Thames, then start at Waterloo and head east. Therefore, you do not have to walk away from it when going to the tube station.

Tower Bridge is one of the world's most iconic bridges, but it is insane to think that inside of it is a proper museum, telling the history of the bridge, alongside the period when the bridge was built. Although I was i inside that museum over a decade ago, it still remains in my mind one of the best (Paying) museums in London. Worth a visit, but you do need a full day for this exhibit. This may not be the world's largest bridge, but do not be fooled by the size. The fascination of Tower Bridge is there to behold, both inside and out!

Hah, Parliament, and the Clock Tower. I can be pedantic and state that Big Ben refers to the bell inside the Parliament's Clock Tower, but that would take the fun away, and so here it is, in all its glory, Big Ben! It is kitsch, it stands above the most vile building in the city (we hate our politicians), but you know what, I love the old clock, and the fact that you can hear it above all the traffic down below is astounding. Do realise that Parliament Square is still a very busy road junction! Time your trip well, and your ears as well as your eyes can feat to the delight of the world's most famous clock.

Possibly one of the world's most iconic churches, St Paul's Cathedral. Located in the heart of the City of London, it was rebuilt after the Great Fire of London in a stunning style that mirrored London's emergence from the squalor of the Medieval age. It is such an important piece of architectural heritage, that sight lines from throughout the city are preserved for Londoners in the suburbs to enjoy the dome that rises 365 feet above ground (more on that tomorrow). It is brightly lit up at night, and is a handy marker in that is located on a slight rise up from the old course of the Fleet. Really, I could spend rolls of this blog just writing about St Paul's, but suffice to say that it is a pretty stunning piece of construction work. Whenever you pass it, you cannot help craning your neck to

So there you have it, three of London's most iconic sights, visited and ticked off on what is (to be honest) a pretty impressive list. The nights draw in closer, and so that means only one thing can lift the city's spirits - shopping! Of course, all of that will be revealed tomorrow...


Getting there and away:

Tower Bridge can be reached by Tower Hill/Gateway stations on the District/Circle and Docklands Light Railway.

St Paul's is round the corner from St Paul's station (Central Line) or Mansion House (Circle/District).

For Big Ben, head to Westminster station (Jubilee, Circle and District lines).

There are numerous bus routes throughout the city to all of these three places. However, if you want to take a scenic journey to these landmarks, then routes 11/N11 links Big Ben with St Paul's while routes 15/N15 links St Paul's with Tower Bridge.