We got up bright and early day two and took the tube to Kensington Park where our first stop of the day was. Kensington Palace, the official home of Princess Diana. It was interesting learning about the history of the royals that have previously lived there but to give my honest opinion, it wasn’t my favourite place. It was cool but not magnificent. The garden had some nice photo spots where you can get some pretty cool shots, though. We spent around an hour here, including outside so you don’t need to plan too much time around here.
From there, we headed to the City of Westminster to have a look and unfortunately, the Elizabeth Tower and Big Ben was under construction at the time. There were dozens of people and vehicles driving by with polar opinions about Brexit. They had signs and were protesting in the streets between the Palace of Westminster and the Westminster Abbey.
Westminster Abbey was marvelous. The place where coronations take place, where royalty are wed, and where royalty are buried. The building itself was grand, like a single sound would resonate forever within its’ stone walls. There was so much history in that place. You could sense that everyone was feeling the same thing in that building. Living the same experience. We all felt wonder at the tombs and statues at every wall and corner. The only way I can describe how I felt in there is minuscule. Sound just bounces off of the walls making the whole building seem endless and it is incredibly humbling.
From there we found our first red telephone box and of course, I had to take a photo. I’m going to be frank, I wouldn’t actually go inside one of these because it smelled terrible in there and it didn’t look very good either. There wasn’t actually a phone in there so I guess it was just for decoration but, it makes for a cool image
Our next destination was Borough Market and my favourite place in London. We spent well over an hour here so make sure to set aside some time to explore and definitely come hungry. Since there is so much to talk about in Borough Market and it is mostly food related, I’ve made a separate post in the London Food Guide here.
Southwark Cathedral is located a two minute walk from Borough Market and though it has a smaller community compared to St. Paul’s Cathedral, I really enjoyed it. In order to take photos, you need to make a £1 donation to the cathedral which I didn’t mind doing since entrance is free and it is a smaller cathedral. But with that donation, you get some beautiful photos of the architecture and the stained glass windows. Since the majority of cathedrals will not allow photography, this is somewhere you can go where you are able to snap some.
One of the special things about this place is that it is also home to Doorkins Magnificat who was once homeless but since 2008 has resided in the cathedral. She is beloved and has merchandise available to purchase in the gift shop and if you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of her.
Afterwards, we decided that we wanted to take a walk across the London Bridge to get some pictures of The Shard, which is that giant pointy glass building that actually looks like a shard of glass. We were lucky that day to have the rare sunny day in London so we had excellent lighting for our photos. The structure itself was gorgeous, though. The blue of the sky and the clouds reflects off of the glass to create an aesthetically pleasing image.
Our plan was to go up the Shard at around 21:00 to watch the sunset and the night scene from the top of the Shard but it was still early so we decided to go to the London Bridge Experience, located south of the River Thames.
The London Bridge Experience is an interactive and theatrical tourist attraction that tells you the history of London, like the Great Fire of London and Jack the Ripper. It’s a really fun way to learn more about London without having to read through a museum in silence. All the staff are in costume and character and act out scenes to give us a laugh. That was the first part of the tour called “the Experience”. The second part of the tour is called “the Tombs” which is a haunted house that you get to walk through. I thought it was a fun idea and different to most of the attractions in London.
Personally, I prefer the London Dungeons near the London Eye, which is a similar attraction but I had a little more fun there. Really, there’s no need to go to both and I would actually recommend the London Dungeons, which I will talk about in another guide.
We walked across the London Bridge to the business district where the huge skyscrapers are. It a clean and modern area of town where everyone is in suits or dressed for the office. As we strolled down the street, the Monument to the Great Fire of London and we made the insane decision of climbing it. It is 311 steps of narrow, winding steps that goes up 61 meters. The view is pretty nice and you get a work-out out of it. Once you get back to the ground, you also get a certificate congratulating you for climbing to the top. Just be aware that the Monument only takes cash payment so be prepared.
Finally, the sun was setting so we headed back across the London Bridge to the Shard. We took the elevator all the way up to level 72 to the indoor viewing deck and the open-air Skydeck. It is the highest building in Western Europe and has a stunning view of of London. There is also a bar available in the viewing deck that serves snacks, beer, and champagne. Be sure to wear a jacket if you want to go onto the Skydeck as it’ll get chilly. It’s worth spending the£25 for a ticket and definitely worth a stop during your trip. The View from the Shard is the perfect place to end your evening whether you day was a family outing, romantic date night, or just to see a beautiful view.