G (with the aid of the street maps torn our of our road atlas) led us via Russell Square and Drury Lane to Covent Garden and the Thames where there was a Christmas fair beside the river, finishing up by the Tate Modern. There were stalls selling gifts and food and the trees were lit up with pretty blue and white lights.
Walking was to be the theme of the short break; my legs reckon that we must have walked 7-8 miles a day, but it's certainly the best way to see the city because you keep finding yourself passing some famous building or other. Also a good way to lose weight. I can now tighten my belt another hole and the jeans finally zip up properly!
I lived in London for a couple of years, though that was over 30 years ago now, and I spent a holiday there in my teens and we've done day visits since, so we've done all the traditional tourist things like Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, St Pauls, the Tower of London, the museums, London Zoo and the Pudding Lane Monument before.
This time we concentrated on seeing all the new London icons that weren't there 30 years ago, like the London Eye, the Gherkin, the Millennium Dome and the Docklands financial district (where I got told I wasn't allowed to take photos!*). We travelled on the Docklands light railway (the train that has no driver), wandered round Tate Modern and went round Tower Bridge. OK, Tower Bridge has been there for over a hundred years, but I don't think you could go round it when I was in London last. That was most interesting as you could go up in a lift and walk across the high walkway joining the two towers and then go down into the basement to see the old steam machinery that raised the leaves of the bridge.
We also walked through the old foot tunnel to Greenwich (which I didn't even know existed) and saw the shrouded remains of the Cutty Sark which is currently invisible behind hoardings and a white tent thing. Greenwich was bustling and from there we got the bus back to Waterloo (where I once worked in the Dept of Education and Science under Margaret Thatcher).
We only arrived home yesterday, but already what we did on which day has become a rather confused blur, partly due to visiting some places twice (like Covent Garden and the Christmas fair) and partly due to the rapid criss-crossing of the city.
I took over 200 photos, most of which are just snapshots, but I'll see if I can sort out some of the best to post.
Other random memories: seeing the feral parakeets in Hyde Park, seeing cormorants on the Thames (I'm sure they weren't there 30 years ago!), walking entirely round the Albert Memorial (which is all shiny and clean) and photographing it from every angle, watching the man up a ladder in a kilt in Covent Garden at the place where the first Punch and Judy shows were performed from the portico of St Paul's church.
And now it's time for bed. I'll process photos tomorrow in between cooking Christmas dinner.
Merry Christmas to all my LJ friends out there!
* We just walked on round the corner until we were out of sight of the security guy and then got the camera out again. :)