Sunday Afternoon Walk along the Thames

Lately, the weather in London has been either bitterly cold or rainy.  When it is nice out, I feel like I need to get outside and appreciate the good weather.  It reminds me very much of living in Maine…a sunny day, you better get outside and enjoy it because you don’t know when the next one will be!

Today, it was overcast but the temperature was close to 50 degrees.  I decided that I should walk to the Tower of London and the Tower Bridge, a section of London that I haven’t spent much time at. From my apartment, it is about a five mile walk along the Thames River.  I started at 12:30 thinking that the walk would take me about 1 1/2 hours….I got to the Tower of London at 3:00!  There was much picture taking along the way and looking at the various places I passed.

Christmas is in the air everywhere!  As I stepped out the door of my apartment, there was a line of motorcycles getting organized for a toy run, possibly?  Many were dressed in Santa outfits and a couple were dressed as snowmen!  It was a fun way to start my walk. I saw the same group a half hour later by the Parliament building!

There is a walkway along the Thames in many places. It is nice as it gets you away from the traffic of the road that runs along the Thames.  This is part of the path with the Vauxhall Bridge in the background.  I love the base of the lamps.  They are fish wrapped around the post and are on most of the lampost on the Thames path. After crossing over the street to the other side to continue my walk.

I came to a park on this side of the Parliament Building.  There was a Rodin sculpture which I had missed the last time I was walking in that area!  So glad I got to see it today.  It is called the Burghers of Calais and was made to commemorate the citizens of Calais who offered themselves as hostages to King Edward III after he had besieged the town for nearly a year in 1817.  Their lives were spared because Queen Philippa of Hainault intervened on their behalf.

This is a photo of the statue with the Parliament Building in the background.

At Westminster Bridge, I took another picture of the Parliament Building.  I don’t have a wide angle lens with me and can’t get the whole building in my picture. In this picture, the part of the building on the opposite side from Big Ben is cropped off.  Actually, all of the pictures I took today, I used my iphone!  Sometimes, even when I have my camera, I find that my iphone takes better pictures!

Once on the other side of the river or the section known as the South Side of the Thames.  I passed the London Aquarium and the London Eye. I thought of Perry as I passed it as he really wants to go up in it when he comes on the 19th!  I can’t wait!

Along this part of the Thames path is a Christmas market, much like the one in Hyde Park.  The path is lined with booths selling a variety of Christmas decorations, gifts and food.  It was packed with people!  Along the way was a group of carolers who added to the festive Christmas feeling.   It was fun to listen to some Christmas music.

The buskers were also in the spirit of Christmas as were the sand artist on a little section of beach that I passed. I applaude and support anyone who is creative in trying to earn some extra money and not just sit there and beg….especially when they are smoking a cigarette!!!

Notice the smiley faces with buckets on them for people to throw money into!  Further down the beach, the artist were creating furniture from sand to “sell”.  I loved it!

I passed Borough Market which I didn’t know existed.  From what I read, it looks mostly to be a fruit, vegetable, fish and meat market.  There were a few stalls open today but for the most part, the market was closed.  I will have to go back with Perry and David when we go to the London Eye.  It looked like an interesting place to walk around.

This picture is of another shopping area near the new City Hall building, further down from Borough Market.  It is called Hay’s Galleria which was formerly the Hay’s Wharf in the 1850s.  Ships from all around the world were docked here in the heyday of the commercial trade on the Thames.  The most impressive of the ships were the clipper ships that brought tea from  the India and China.  By the end of the century, perishable food was taken to another area of London and this dock went into decline.  Today, the Hay Wharf area has been lovingly restored. If you walk along the Galleria, you will stand where the majestic Clipper ships edge their way along the wharf over 150 years ago!

Nearby the Hay Galleria is the City Hall complex with the Shard rising behind it.  The Shard is the tallest building in western Europe with a height of 1,016 vertical ft.  In February of 2013, the observation tower will open to allow people a 360 degree view of London….competition for the London Eye!

It was from this area that I got my first view of the Tower Bridge and the Tower of London on the other side of the Thames.  I saw the Tower Bridge briefly in September when I was at the Tate Modern museum.  It was from quite a distance and I hadn’t seen it since.  Memories came rushing back as I remembered running across the Tower Bridge, with thousands of other runners, back in 1999 when I did the London Marathon.  What a great memory!!

I walked across the bridge to get to the Tower area.  Again, I remembered running along the path past the Tower of London during the marathon.  I remember that a runner in my “Team Diabetes” group was getting ready to sit on one of the benches. I grabbed him and told him to walk with me. I was afraid if he sat that he wouldn’t finish and we were only a couple of miles from the finish line….he couldn’t stop at that point.  I am pleased to say my efforts helped and he crossed the finish line!

I walked around the Tower a little. There is an ice skating rink set up nearby for hardy and brave souls to skate.  It was busy today.  I read a couple of plaques about the Tower.  It is impressive the Tower of London was built in 1066 by William the Conqueror.

So that was my Sunday walk along the Thames.  There is always something to discover and explore in this city, just strike out walking.  For the record, I took the tube back!  It was much quicker and it had started to sprinkle!

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