on May 9, 2008
This is the second half of the walk to see many of London's historic sights along the Thames River. I split it into two halves as the entire walk (about 6 or 7 miles) will take the solid majority of an entire day and may be too long with families with small children or those not in great physical shape. I am in my early twenties and was exhausted by the end having gone all the way up the north bank on one side and then down the south bank in the other direction all in one afternoon. Continuing from where my previous review "North Bank of the Thames" left off you will be starting your walk at the Tower Bridge. If you already did the first half of the walk this is a good point at which to stop and grab some lunch and a beer in one of the nearby cafes. There are some cheap sit down places in this area where you can get a sandwich or a burger. There are a lot of interesting boats to look at docked along the River in this area, both naval ships and very old wooden ships...some of which are open as tourist attractions for a couple of dollars (of course). If you keep heading along the bank you will hit the Tate Modern. We were strapped for time and didn't have a chance to visit but I have a number of friends who studied abroad in London that all said it was an amazing museum. We wanted to go but just didn't have the time if we wanted to see all the main sights. There are some lesser known attractions on this side of the Thames that are worth taking a quick look at. Look out for signs or consult a tourist map or you'll probably miss them. The first is Shakespeares Globe Theater. Again we did not go inside becuase it was something like 7 pounds (15 dollars) just to take a tour but we peeked in and walked around the outside a bit. Apparently it is the theater where Shakespeare actually had many of his plays performed while he was still alive. They still have plays there I believe on an almost daily basis with different performances depending on the year and season so just go to their website in advance if you feel like checking out a show. The other interesting place we found was the Clink Prison. It's below street level and one of the most reasonably priced (albeit least famous) attractions we passed so we decided to check it out. It's not too exciting but it was interesting. It consists of a bunch of rooms containing artifacts and torturing devices from Britain's early days. The devices range from cruel to almost humerous. Don't miss the "Scold's bridle" - a wood and metal binding they used to strap to the heads of gossiping women so they couldn't speak. haha. If you keep wandering down the riverbank you will arrive at the London Eye. The London Eye is the giant ferris wheel opposite Big Ben and the Parliament buildings. We really wanted to ride it but it cost 15 pounds per person (about $34) and there was no way we felt that worth it so maybe next time...After you pass the London Eye cross the Westminster Bridge. While crossing the bridge you will have an excellent view of Big Ben and Parliament from the River. Snap some pictures and then walk around the backside of the parliament buildings. The intricacy of the architecture on these buildings is very impressive in person...you can't quite pick everything up just seeing them on tv and in movies. Directly across from the Parliament buidings is Westminster Abbey where most of the royal family weddings are held. The abbey is enormous and getting the whole thing in one photo is nearly impossible. At this point you will have seen most of London's most iconic monuments. Get a cold beer and go relax somewhere before dinner...if you do the whole walk in one day you will probably be pretty wiped out.
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