I was chatting with this Londoner a while ago and asked her, ‘if there was one thing you could change about London, what would it be?’. She said she would like to make the City sightseeing bus tours disappear. I don’t know where that came from. But, it does make sense. Coming from Mumbai, a big city as well, I lived oblivious to the tourist crowd. I was especially not caught off-guard by a shutterbug from a huge doubledecker bus taking a picture of me.
Way back in 1999 when I had visited London for the first time, I had gone on one of these hop-on hop-off tours. Remember the moment vividly as I had left my camera behind on the bus and I had to run quite a distance behind the bus to retrieve it. Coming back to the present day… it would be indeed enjoyable to have a city without these sightseeing buses. After all, the best way to see a city is walking randomly and getting lost.
So, I will be regularly updating posts ‘London Walks’. I’ll keep it photographic and simple so that you can do the discovering yourself in person. I may not cover all the details. The same walks can be done in 2 hours or 6 to 8 hours depending on how many beers you drink and whether you spend money going into tourist attractions.
Start the tour from London Bridge station. Head first to the Borough market. As London’s oldest food market, this market is a massive tourist attraction. I wouldn’t generally recommended such a touristy place, but the Paella is so good, I couldn’t resist. After a heavy lunch at Borough market, the walk is a much needed one.
We wound our way around Southwark cathedral (visible from the Borough market) and reached the Thames Path. The first thing that you come across is the Golden Hinde Sailing Ship. The Golden Hinde is a full size reconstruction of the notorious 16th century warship in which Sir Francis Drake circumnavigated the world. Avoid going inside as it is the most sought after venue for Pirate themed 5 year old birthday parties.
If you had Brazilian friends like we did, you would already be taking a pit stop for beer. Old Thameside Inn serves up some amazing ales, all handpicked from around Britain.
Did you know that at one point of time, the Thames used to freeze? London Bridge which was constructed sometime in the 12th century allowed the water to flow slower and this enabled the freezing. River Thames frost fairs between the 15th and 19th centuries, during the period known as Little Ice Age, when the river froze over. The final Frost fair was held in 1814 and a new London Bridge was constructed with broader spans, to help the flow of the tides. The Thames no longer froze over and the frost fairs were no more. This stone installation tells the story…
Walk a bit more and you land up at the oh-so-famous Globe Theatre. Memories of high school play rehearsals and screeching voice of my English teacher. I decided not to venture in.
Further down to the left is the Tate Modern. An old power station converted into a modern art museum, explore only if you have a few hours. Don’t go to any of the paid exhibitions. Check out the free halls, which can provide ample amusement.
Later that afternoon, we took a pitstop at Southbank centre, one of London’s biggest art centres, with multiples venues. Behind this centre, you will find a street food market, with food from various parts of the world. No competition to Borough market, but I must admit the Brownies here were delightful.
Who doesn’t love second hand book markets? Located under the Waterloo Bridge, you’ll find cheap books, maps, old diaries, magazines and even antique book trunks. I could’ve spent the rest of the afternoon there.
And, the grand finale is the London Eye, just after the Waterloo Bridge and before the Westminster bridge. We didn’t bother wasting 18 pounds or so to get a slowmotion view of London. As you can see, my walks will involve spending very less money doing things and spending lot of money eating and drinking.
More walks to be updated in the coming weeks…