Day 1,643 of Traveling the World | London, UK – Part 1 | August 2, 2022

With our hotel in Bankside, London – south of the Thames, near London Bridge, and roughly between Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London – we are in an up-and-coming area undergoing gentrification and lots of renovation. It is one of the oldest areas of London, and feels a bit gritty (but safe and pretty cool) with lots of trains and old train tunnels. We are a few steps away from the Tate Modern art museum. It really feels like life is happening all around us. There are lots and lots of tourists in London right now, so everything is busy and crowded. We are discovering why we used to travel in the spring and fall! Summer is crazy.

Even though we did okay with the language in France, able to read menus and signs in French, and say a few phrases to locals – it sure is great to be in a place where English is spoken! We can speak without our brains going through a translation process, sometimes trying to answer in French, but with Spanish coming out (“Oh, you speak Spanish!”), and we can once again order food with items “on the side” and be fully understood.

There are statues everywhere we look, with some shown in our photos. We have walked through Chinatown and past a lot of famous landmarks, including Big Ben. Westminster Abbey charges a hefty 25 pounds ($30.53) to walk inside, but we attended an organ recital on Sunday and so entered for free. But as soon as it was over, the staff was very insistent on everybody leaving right away. Whenever we go into a church for free (none in France charged admission), we always leave a donation, since we feature them in our blog, and since we realize that they incur costs such as electricity and maintenance. Still, we don’t ever donate $61 for two of us to walk through!

Our favorite activity here, as everywhere, is just wandering the streets aimlessly and seeing what we stumble upon. We get to see fabulous architecture, street decorations, statues and monuments, and the other day we came upon Borough Market, with all of its lights, smells, and colors. There is lots here to discover! We still have almost three weeks to continue our life here, and we can’t wait to see more!

Millicent Fawcett’s statue, near Big Ben. She was an author, and Britain’s leading fighter for women’s suffrage in the early 20th century.
Yet another memorial to a woman! Edith Cavell was a British nurse who tended to wounded soldiers of both sides in WWI. She helped 200 Allied soldiers escape from German-occupied Belgium, and subsequently was captured and executed by a German firing squad.
Also near Big Ben is this monument to Winston Churchill – it needn’t say more, right?
This is Churchill’s memorial stone, near the entrance inside Westminster Abbey, although it is not his burial place.
Westminster Abbey in all of her glory!
A view of the exterior.
The beautiful rear window panel.
Also near the front entrance is this beautiful memorial to the Unknown Soldier, decorated with lovely red poppies.
Above the entrance to Westminster Abbey is this array of 20th century martyrs, dedicated in 1998. Some we have heard of, some not. The key is in the next photo.
Here is the Key!
Big Ben, in all of his glory!
A view of Ben from the other side, with the London Eye peeking through.
The London Eye again, plus the River Thames, plus a tour boat, plus Big Ben in the distance, way over on the right side.
We liked this warrior-type man, holding up a building!
The Sherlock Holmes pub is just one of many that we saw just like it: a gold-detailed building bedecked with flowers, filled with people eating, drinking, and talking.
A pretty Art Nouveau facade above a doorway.
London’s Chinatown is very festive!
Here, the ferocious-tiger Bun House is adjacent to the Hippodrome Mansion, an award-winning gay bar.
Another pretty restaurant in Chinatown, Waxy’s Little Sister, with gorgeous flowers working their way UP.
Southwark Cathedral – with “The Shard” on the left. (Bet you can’t pronounce Southwark correctly! We had a heck of a time. It is – are you ready?? – SU therk.)
Yet another woman! This statue of Minerva, Roman goddess of poetry, medicine, wisdom, crafts, commerce, and strategic warfare, proudly stands just outside Southwark Cathedral.
The Borough Market delighted every last sense we possess. It was bright, cheerful, fun, aromatic, and packed with people eating, drinking, and buying wares.
Some would say Jan has a Big Mouth – but even hers pales in comparison to this big boy!
RIGHT???? (Although we LOVE our veggies!)
Such a pretty display from The Gated Garden.
Doesn’t this oyster bar worker look like a character?!!??
We had dinner here at The Charlotte one evening – cute drawing!
A British pub, part of a chain. The founder gave all of his pubs nonsensical names!