Monday, March 28, 2011

The Best Way to See London

Art along the Thames Path
If you read my “Quest for Spring” post last year, you’ll remember that I found precious little spring but I did run into Richard Quest. This year my quest for spring took about five minutes. London’s in bloom this year, everywhere.

Since Lufthansa upped its prices, I’ve been flying into London on easyJet—or as we like to refer to it, SleazyJet—who treats passengers more like cattle than people, but OK. I can’t really complain about the service this time. The staff were friendly. They’re doing better. Moo.

The problem with flying into London with easyJet is that they fly to Gatwick. Lufthansa flies to City Airport, which is just a 20-minute train ride from my flat in the Docklands. The trip from Gatwick to London Bridge to my flat takes over an hour. As I came up out of the Tube at London Bridge, the blue sky and the mild weather gave me an idea.
My favorite view of Canary Wharf
I decided to walk home to Canary Wharf. Yes, I’m barking mad, but I’m a devoted walker. I love walking. I love walking so much I could skip—but that wouldn’t be walking, would it? It turned out to be a leisurely two-hour stroll, but I needed it. Like several of my writing buddies, I’ve been fighting against a certain broadening that accompanies a writer’s sedentary ways. We will win, guys.

With lots to discover and the river to help the orientation-impaired, the Thames Path is a walker’s dream. I’ve said it before, but it bears saying again: The Thames Path is the best way to see London. You’ll love the pubs and the art you find along the way.

Starting from London Bridge, walk west toward the Tate museum where Ai Weiwei’s Sunflower Seeds is on display right now. Yeah, the guy has balls to order 20 million porcelain sunflower seeds, dump them on the floor of the Tate and say “Voilà! That’s art, baby.” Still, you have to see it. So here are a few photos.

Ai Weiwei's Sunflower Seeds.

More sunflower seeds--porcelain of course.

And more sunflower seeds.

Get in all the touristy stuff. See The Globe . . .

Willy Shakspear

Go to Vinopolis . . .
I love this museum. Sheesh.

Walk across the footbridge to St. Paul’s Cathedral . . .

The Footbridge to St. Paul's from the Tate

Walk down The Mall and take a few pics of Buckingham Palace.

The Mall

Get it all out of your system.

When you’re tired of all that and you want to see London from a different perspective, start walking east along the Thames on the city side (St. Paul’s, Monument, etc.). The Thames Path will take you through residential neighbourhoods, parks, docks, and promenades. You can take this route all the way to Canary Wharf (and beyond, but I’ve never done it). When you arrive at Canary Wharf, reward yourself by doing a bit of shopping or having a cider in one of the countless pubs. With the Jubilee Line you’ll be back in the city in five minutes.

The Thames Path is a London treasure. I’m always astounded by how many runners use the path. This weekend was exceptionally mild, so there were thousands of people along the Thames. It’s not a pretty river, but the life and art along it certainly are.

I must be off,


Christopher Allen is the author of Conversations with S. Teri O'Type (a Satire), available from Amazon Anything and many other online bookshops.