Tag Archives: Big Ben

My Travel in London 2 ~ St. Paul’s Cathedral and Temple Church ~ : Yes, I’m in London!

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     Saying Goodbye to Big Ben, I entered Westminster Tube Station. I went to Bond Street by the Jubilee Line, and there I changed trains to the Central Line and got off at St. Paul’s Station. (This is part 2 of My Travel to London. Part 1 is here: http://wp.me/p16bjt-uP ) When I went outside of the station, St. Paul’s Cathedral towered behind me. I was too close to the church to see the famous dome. london 074

     I had bought a ticket online beforehand. Online ticket is £13 and £2 cheaper than the gate price. According to the ticket, I was supposed to enter from its west gate and did not need to stand in line waiting to buy tickets. But I did not see any lines outside. Actually, there were few people around the building. I climbed up the stairs and opened the door. It was quiet inside from apart soft murmurs. I saw several people in dim light. No one was queuing there. I showed my e-ticket to a receptionist and got a real ticket. Then I started walking slowly and quietly. london 077

     I felt it was strange to be standing in the famous place as tombs for legendary British people like Sir Winston Churchill, and as a celebration place for the 80th birthday and the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II, or for the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana. Actually it was not comfortable for me to walk on gravestones at the crypt. I was overwhelmed by the cathedral’s solemnity, magnificence, elaborateness and, air of substance, and felt stifled. I had a little giddy feeling and went out. london 079

     The outside world was bustling with cars, buses and people. I started walking on Ludgate Hill, and headed to Temple Church on Fleet Street. The church’s open time is different every day. When I visited on March 19, they opened from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for visitors. I had heard that it would be very difficult to find the church, but I found it soon. It was a little bit earlier than 11 o’clock. So, I visited Twinings Strand Shop Museum nearby. london 080There were a lot of kinds of teas in the narrow shop. I bought their newly herbal teas: Butter Mint Sensation and Raspberry and Dragon Fruit Sensation. Don’t you think both of them sound interesting?

     london 081 After leaving Twinings, I dropped by a Tesco along the street and bought a plastic bottle of energy drink. Then I went to Temple Church. As you know, this place is very famous for an important setting in the film: Da Vinci Code. I waited for their opening time, sitting on a bench near the building and drinking.london 086 11 o’clock! I walked to the door and tried to open the door. But it didn’t open. While I was wondering whether it was a bit earlier, someone came out of the door. I glided in past the opening door. It was brighter inside than I had imagined. A woman at the door welcomed me gently. The entrance fee was £4. london 091

     There were many children inside. All of them were sketching something in the church. It seemed to be an educational trip from their school. The kids were doing their work without uttering a word. I just heard scratches of their pencils on paper and my own footstep. I was surrounded by peculiar silence. I felt as if time had stopped or suspended in the place.london 094 I was looking up the ceiling for a while, probably opening my mouth, from a bench inside. I was able to relax there. I thanked  the receptionist and tried to leave. But I couldn’t open the door again. “Excuse me, but I don’t know how to open the door…” I said sheepishly to her. She smiled and replied, “You turn the knob clockwise.” Of course… london 095

     While walking, I came to the side of the Themes: Victoria Embankment. I passed under Blackfriars Bridge and walked to the Millennium Bridge. I was going to Southwark via the bridge. london 096At last I was able to see the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral from the bridge when I looked back. I was very happy to see the figure and thought, “Yes, I’m in London!”

     I’ll write about Southwark area next time…

My Travel in London 1 ~ Westminster ~: Would you stop climbing up my leg, please?

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london 168      I opened the curtains and looked out of the window. It wasn’t raining. “Oh, I’m lucky!” I was at a room of a hotel near West Brompton Tube Station in London on the morning of March 19. I arrived at Heathrow Airport the previous night, when it was raining hard. Besides, the weather forecast on the Internet had said the week’s precipitation would be more than 90% when I had checked in Japan. london 010

     I got dressed immediately and headed to the restaurant in the hotel for breakfast. I was supposed to have continental breakfast, but I upgraded it to a hot meal by paying £5.50. It was at around 6:30 a.m. but there were more than 10 people in the restaurant. There were fruits, salads, sausages, bacons, hams, fried eggs, scrambled eggs, omelets, bread, cereals, juices, tea, and coffee on the counter. Everything  was delicious, and I ate too much.london 017

     It was my first time to visit London. Actually, it was also my first time to go abroad by myself. I was thrilled to plan where to go that day while having breakfast. I had many places I wanted to see. I got up early because I wanted to spend my time well. After finishing breakfast, I left the hotel before 8 o’clock. london 019

     It was about a five-minute walk from the hotel to the underground station. A man was giving Metro, the newspaper, to people in front of the station. Wow! You can get a newspaper for free in London! It was my first time to use the subway in U.K., but I was able to pass the gate smoothly with an Oyster, which is an IC card for taking buses, subways and trains in London.london 026

     London’s subway is very easy to use. If your destination is west from your present place, you just go to westbound platform. That’s all. So, I did not need to check the underground map during my trip. First, I changed the train at Earl’s Court, and then got off at St. James’s Park Station. My first destination was Buckingham Palace. I walked through Petti France and got to the palace. It took about 15 minutes from the station.london 029

     There were no tourists near the palace. I just saw some people who appeared to be in a hurry to get to their offices. It was before 8:30. It might have been a little bit too early for sightseeing. I heard something like drums while I was taking photos of the palace. I started walking towards the sound, and saw some guards were marching in Wellington Barracks. I was happy to see moving guards because the guards at Buckingham Palace looked like statues…london 031

     The place I was standing and looking at the march was an entrance to St. James’s Park. I decided to walk through the park to my next destination: Westminster Abbey. People were passing by at a quick pace. They must have been in a hurry to their work places, but I was in no hurry. I was walking at leisure. london 032There were many birds and squirrels in the park. When I stopped walking to see the squirrels, one of them came to me and started climbing up my leg. “Would you stop climbing up my leg, please?” I said that in Japanese. Oh, it understood Japanese! It stared at me for a while, then climbed down and went up to a fence and saw me off. Daffodils were beautiful in the park…london 034

     When I arrived at Westminster Abbey, I saw hundreds of people waiting to enter the church. Most of them were students on school trips. I lost my drive to see the inside of the building when I saw so many people. london 039So, I went to Dean’s Yard instead of the abbey. You can go there through the gate of the yellow building next to Westminster Abbey. There is a building called the Cloisters near the yard. london 043Actually, I was going to a café named Cellarium in the building. But I didn’t have some tea there because it was before 9 o’clock, when they would open, and I was still full. That was why I just walked around the corridors peacefully. london 046

     There was a demonstration in Parliament Square across from Westminster Abbey and Big Ben. The participants looked like students. london 067All of them were wearing the same masks of Mr. George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer of U.K. and holding the same bags written “IF”. london 068Afterwards I discovered that it was to remind the chancellor to keep his promise on overseas aid spending before he revealed the 2013 budget next day. It is wonderful that young people are interested in politics and think seriously about the world. Sadly most Japanese students are not interested in such issues… london 061

     After seeing the flashmob, I left Westminster and headed for St. Paul’s by tube. I’ll write about Holborn and City area next time.