Friday, April 3, 2009

London: South Bank Itinerary

The Boston Foodie crossing Millennium Bridge, St. Paul's in background.

The last time we visited London we really saw and did a lot because we really planned out our daily itineraries. One of our most productive days was spent along the South Bank where there is plenty to do and see while still maintaining a a relaxed pace. The South Bank is a vibrant arts community, perfect for walking and has plenty of food along the way.

Start your day by riding the tube to Blackfriars. Here you will see St. Paul's Cathedral, the spectacular Christopher Wren designed cathedral and location of famous royal weddings (Princess Diana and Charles). Kids and teens will enjoy climbing to the top (although daunting) for a spectacular view of Tower Bridge and all of London. Walk outside and just a few steps away is the sleek, steel Millennium Bridge. Cross the Thames and arrive at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, a reliably authentic recreation of the original. Any fan of The Bard (and who isn't?) will ove the tour. A video snippet of ours is below.

Right next store is the Tate Modern, a former power plant transformed to house the cutting edge of art in London. Don't miss the giant Warhol portraits. If it's a weekend and the weather is good lots of people will be strolling the pedestrian walkway along the South Bank. Mingle with the crowds and enjoy the other international visitors. By now you'll be hungry. Stop at Gourmet Pizza Company for lunch and snack on pizza, soup or salad while enjoying a view of the Thames. We recommend the duck pizza.

Gourmet Pizza on the South Bank.
Gourmet Pizza Company
Gabriel's Wharf
56 Upper Ground
London SE1 9PQ

Continuing your walk toward Parliament you'll pass the OXO Tower, a London landmark which houses galleries, craft shops and artist residences. The Royal National Theatre is here as well. There's also a very popular skate board park with talented boarders so bring your cameras for the local flavor. You'll next move on to a section where street performers entertain. We spent time here just watching how people from other countries react to the performers. The USA has, apparently, not cornered the market on individuals who like to ham it up.

A street performer along the South Bank. Can you imagine saying: "OK, honey, I'm off to work!"

Another short stroll and you will be at The London Eye, a famous fixture on the skyline. If you are not afraid of heights you can take a spin lasting about thirty minutes, resting your legs from walking (you'll stand though)and enjoying the amazing view from the other end of the Thames. For photographers, keep in mind you will want to plan this for when the sun is not directly shining in your lens. The views of Parliament are fantastic.

The Foodie on Westminster Bridge. London Eye in background.

From here you are just steps away from Westminster Bridge, Parliament and Big Ben, all great photo ops. Across the bridge you can jump on the tube at Westminster and head off after a full day.

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