Tuesday, Christmas Day, we leave the hotel in good spirits and walk in the direction of the Thames. The weather is rather drizzly and London looks like a deserted city. Nothing is open, no shops, no restaurants, totally nothing. And just a handful of people on the street, probably tourists like us. No busses, no subway, but we want to see something of the city, so we have to walk and get wet. After a few hours we are also very tired and again we both have sore feet. And our travel guide says London is such a pleasant city to visit at Christmas.....
Christmas Day in a cold London without public transport
On Waterloo Bridge, from where we can see the Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, the drizzle changes to regular rain.
On the other side (south-east) of the Thames several impressive buildings can be seen, like the Royal Festival Hall and of course the big wheel of London, The Eye (picture to the right). Every wagon can hold 25 people and it takes about 35 minutes for one rotation. Elisabeth is very happy the wheel is closed.
Over the Westminster Bridge we walk back to the Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament (also called the Palace of Westminster).
The Victoria Tower (left on the left picture) is 102 metres high, the Big Ben (right) 98m. Actually, Big Ben is the name of the 13-ton weighing towerbell and not of the tower itself.
Although Westminster Abbey is called one of the most beautiful buildings of England we don't stay long, for it is just too cold and too wet. We care more for a dry place now and most other people, tourists probably, seem to have the same thought.
Walking towards Downing Street, we see 2 guards at the Horse Guards standing motionless in the rain. Would they (or the horses) really like their job?
At Trafalgar Square we decide to go back to the hotel for a rest. Teije has considerable blisters under his feet and we are both wet and numb with cold. Suddenly we see a small pub that is open! But they have special X-mas Day rates: £15 (€ 24) for 2 cups of coffee, a croissant and a sandwich cheese!
We would have liked to have some more coffee and to stay longer in this warm place, but we think the prices are a bit too high. So after half an hour we go outside, where a pale sun tries to get through the clouds! We are dry now and get more eye for the architectonic beauty of Londen. This phone box is outside the British Museum.
There are many nice buildings in London, but when walking through the rain and without any traffic London is not attractive at all.
After a short rest in the hotel we make a trip with the City-tour bus, the only bus that operates this day. We should have prepared better, for we now find out one buys a ticket for a whole day and one can drop off and board again at any place. We have been quite stupid to walk all day.....
It starts to grow dark already, but we want to see as much as possible, so we sit on the open upperfloor of the doubledecker. We are freezing in the wind; with ice-cold hands we try to take pictures. Really, we will never laugh again about stupid tourists doing funny things..., never again.
Despite the cold we see a lot of London, more than we have walking today. The setting sun and growing darkness also give a special atmosphere to the city.
Most of the buildings and monuments we have already visited on foot, but not yet St. Paul's Cathedral which was build shortly after the Great Fire of 1666. One can climb quite high in the cathedral, but our legs and feet still remember the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona and we skip this climb.
After an hour and a half the bus stops at Piccadilly Circus and there is no transport to Russel Square where we have boarded. So again we have to walk a few kilometres with sore feet and feeling very cold. All cabdrivers seem to have a day off, too.
Through Chinatown we eventually arrive at the hotel and we spend the whole evening in the bar of the hotel (for a moment we are afraid it is closed, too, because it looked so dark in there) with our travel guides. Despite the hardships of the day, we feel very content and about ten o'clock we fall asleep.
Travel through Europe and Africa
with Elisabeth and Teije