All the reviews said St. Paul’s was a good value, and well located, but that sleep might be difficult. They were right. Bells tolling, people on the next room talking, street noise, and what seemed like endless dumping of trash–particularly cacophonous cascades of bottles and cans kept me from a sound sleep. Around midnight I
Remembered reading that the rooms on the street side are particularly noisy. If you stay here, ask for a room at the back.
I went out around 5:30am to cruise the empty streets around St. Paul’s and found loads of jiggers, bicyclists, and a few tourists such as myself, wandering around with cameras. The rising sunlight illuminating the dome of the cathedral was a warm gold in contrast with the cool shadows of the vanishing night.
This city has a zillion cyclists at any time of day, and they are bold and apparently fearless, dodging in and out of traffic at fantastic speeds.
At this early hour, I found the HSBC Gate and pedestrian mall that leads to
The ultra modern Millennium Bridge, which crosses from St. Paul’s over the Thames to the Tate London, which is housed in an old power plant. The view up and down river from the bridge is one of the best in London, I suspect. From here you can see the London Bridge, now sporting the Olympic rings, and in the opposite direction, the Parliament.
I have encountered strange and colorful Cyclops figures everywhere. They are some sort of discovery trail. [These turned out to be markers for the route of the Olympic flame as it made its way through the city.] They remind me of Belfast Maine’s bear sculptures, another story entirely.
Today, I’m taking it slow, heading out to Kew Gardens. I don’t know what else I will have time for, as I must catch a bus at 3:30am to make the train out to Gatwick for my flight to Marseilles.
Although London is huge and a bit overwhelming when the streets and squares are crammed with humanity, the early morning city is peaceful and I felt very much at home. The changing light on all the man made angles combined with ancient and modern building materials makes for some fine photo ops. It would be very fun to have the telephoto lens here, but my iPhone and pocket Cannon are serving me well.
Landmark red phone boxes are everywhere. In front of the cathedral I saw about twelve tourists packing into one for a group photo. There are competitors to the red boxes, however. This black box was tucked away in a remote corner.
These drinking water refill stations delight me. Many people here are refilling rather than using throwaway bottles.