London Bridge Station – within about a 2 kilometres radius around this point you can come away from a day of wandering that’ll leave you divinely exhausted with a shot in the proverbial arm that’ll keep your brain cells going for a time to come.
Simply stepping out of the station, you crane your neck, and then a little more, and maybe you can see the pinprick top of the Shard. The tallest building not only in London but also in the European Union with 87 storeys standing 306 metres high. Here’s a hot tip – if you don’t want to pay the £30 to get to the viewing deck, walk in to the Shangri-La Hotel as if you own the place, get a lift to the 35th floor, take another lift to the 52nd floor where the GŎNG Bar perches, buy a drink and feast your eyes on a view of London that can’t get better not even on the top floor of this amazing glass structure. Not the cheapest glass of wine in town but a good one and some tasty snacks to go with it.
There it is – the Tower of London, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the memorial to the Fire of London, the Thames of course, Tower Bridge, Millennium Bridge, the Cheese Grater, Boris Johnson’s office. I love the English. They take the mickey out of everything including themselves, for example the Cheesegrater, designed by Richard Rogers destined to be completed this year in 2014, a building that might catch your eye, it would be strange if it didn’t. Then there’s the Gherkin designed by Norman Foster and the concave Walkie-Talkie by Rafael Viñoly still under construction. Building seems to be rife in this city judging by the number of cranes dotting the skyline, an elegant sight in itself. Can’t imagine what a pretty penny that might cost.
Across the bridge again, down the steps, through the arches and you stumble upon the Golden Hind, the restored galleon of Sir Francis Drake. Next up is William Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre where you can either watch a show or just do a tour. By this time you’re in need of the English fix-all, a good cup of tea. What better spot than the Swan right next door. The atmosphere in this gastro pub with its simple fayre is special not least of all because of the old school service you find here. You can look over the Thames, watch the pedestrians on the Millennium Bridge while delicately biting your slice of cake and sipping your cuppa.
Then there’s the Tate Modern, a huge construction of a building that houses modern art and is free for everyone except for the special exhibitions. Start at the top where the Artists’ Rooms house suggestive photography by Robert Mapplethorpe (1946 – 1989), drawings by Louise Bourgeois better known for her sculptures.
Street foodies have died and gone to heaven when they enter Borough Market, a conglomeration of food stands for wholesale and retail purposes. Fresh fish, meat and vegetables are in plentiful supply as are vendors selling ready-to-eat meals ranging from Thali to crumpets to prosciutto. There’s a buzz in the air, people are talkative, playful and call you ‘Luv’, and even if you’re not hungry, you’ll end up buying something just for the hell of it. Vinopolis is a wine lovers’ mecca that starts off with an intro on how to taste and then leaves you free to use up those tokens. Prices range from £27 to £38 depending on how expensive your tastes are since champagne might set you back 2 tokens instead of 1.
It’s time to catch the train and thankfully it’s a short walk passed the famous Guy’s Hospital to London Bridge Station. The day has been full, you’re tired, your feet may be aching but you can feast on the richness that is London for a time to come.