Monday, July 25, 2011

Worth the Climb

Just when I thought I had seen the most impressive sites in London, our group toured St. Paul's Cathedral today.  A famously recognizable piece of the London skyline, St. Paul's has quite a history, even surviving the Blitz during the Second World War.  It is the masterpiece of prolific architect and astronomer, Christopher Wren.  Constructed after the Great Fire of London, St. Paul's is still a working church and the site for many royal ceremonies.  (Our tour guide thought we were too young to remember the wedding of Charles and Diana there in 1981, but I remember it vividly.)  After our tour, I climbed the 528 steps to the Golden Gallery so I could go out on the observation platform.  What a view of London!  The photo above, looking south and west over the Thames, is a three-picture panoramic shot that was stitched together.

A couple of classmates and I made a quick trip over the Millennium Bridge to the doorstep of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre.  After years of introducing Shakespeare, his plays, and the Globe Theatre to high school students, it was strange to be standing in front of a near replica of the original theatre.  I'm looking forward to Wednesday night when we will be going there to see Anne Boleyn.

One thing that still stands out to me about this city is the way Londoners use their parks.  Everywhere we walked today, there were people lounging on benches, steps, or in the grass.  The fact that it was a gorgeous day probably enticed more people to be out, but from what I can tell, it is standard practice to use and enjoy those open spaces.  We even saw a few businessmen, in suits, just lying in the grass.  How great is that?  :)

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