“When a man is tired of London….” That old adage is truer today than ever before. Oh sure, you can still visit the Tower of London, watch the changing of the guard and guzzle a pint or two in a pub. Or, you can try some of the new London that is changing both landscape and attitudes in this ever-intriguing city.
For a bird’s eye view of both the old and the new ride the London Eye, the world’s highest observation wheel, opened in time to celebrate the Millenium, more than a decade ago. The Eye’s 32 observation capsules hold 25 people each and offer visibility in all directions. The capsule interiors are roomy enough to allow you walk around and also have a center bench if you just want to sit and enjoy the view. The ride takes 30 minutes to complete the journey, plenty of time to snap photos, enjoy a glass of champagne, or even get married as many couples have done.
From our perch we saw London as we never had before. Spread before us was a panorama of English history from the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben to Waterloo Bridge, built by women during World War II; to St Paul’s Cathedral, designed by Christopher Wren to the Tate Modern. It was London both ancient and modern – London at it’s very best.
For a down-to-earth approach to experiencing the newer aspects of London is to walk the new footbridges of the Hungerford Bridge. Originally conceived to be one of the many millennium projects the footbridges were not completed until 2002. The very first Hungerford Bridge was first built in 1845 to connect the north and south sides of the Thames, and was a massive suspension bridge. The bridge was later replaced with a design by renowned engineer Brunel, making it the second longest suspension in the world. However, the need for rail transport soon displaced the pedestrian traffic and it would be more than century before people could easily walk this route once again.
Why should you walk the Hungerford Bridge? To connect the old and the new. You’ll have a good view of the London Eye.
New additions always seem to spur some controversy and the Tate Modern was no exception. The Bankside Power Station in Southward was transformed into this new museum which startles the traditionally minded by arranging its modern collection, perhaps the best of international 20th and 21st century art, by theme, and not by movement or chronology. Your eyes and mind will see art in a whole new perspective. This is the place to visually drink in Dali, Picasso, Matisse, Mondrian, Pollock and Warhohl.
Just a couple of ways to keep your eye on London!