London has been a dream and then finally it is not, because I am here already! I will only be staying here for a couple days, and to be fair, not getting lost and everything, I booked isango! for a more comfortable tour around the city- by land, by water, and by air. Thus, the Hop on Hop off Bus with Thames River Cruise and Coca-Cola London Eye Tour.
Here are the 33 favorite views (at least) I had for just a day!
1.) Eurostar Waterloo station
This station is supposed to be an international rail service to France. As per our tour guide, it closed down in 2007 barely few years from its opening. They say many protests were received especially from the French because it is unacceptable that the journey to France will start from Waterloo- one of the greatest defeats of the French against the British during Napoleon’s wars (see Battle of Waterloo)
2.) Lambeth Palace
Lambeth palace is the official residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury in England for nearly 800 years. I checked the palace’s website and it is a sham that I did not get off the bus to have a visit. There are many interesting things you can check out especially if you have not been granted access in the State Rooms of the Buckingham Palace. Lambeth Palace’ State Room has a comparable beauty with the Buckingham’s. Next time I visit London, I will make sure to know about Lambeth Palace’ Morton’s Tower, Crypt Chapel, The Chapel, Guard Hall, The Great Hall, The Atrium, State Drawing Room, Cranmer’s Study, The Fig Tree, and the Lollard’s Prison.
3.) The Goring Hotel
The Goring Hotel is actually somewhere near this building below. I just failed to take a picture of it because I was mesmerized at it at first sight..and the bus has already passed in front of it! It would be interesting to check in Goring Hotel because Kate Middleton, now the duchess of Cambridge, spent her night there before her wedding to Prince William.
4.) Buckingham Palace
The bus has a stop here. You can get off and see the wonders of Buckingham Palace- the Official Residence of UK Royalties.
5.) Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey is a UNESCO World Heritage site.. It is one of the most important Gothic buildings in the UK. It was established by Benedictine monks in 960 AD. It has been the coronation church of monarchs since 1066, and the final resting place of 17 monarchs. Most famous event that happened here is the wedding of Prince William and Kate.
6.) World’s Famous Dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral
At 111.3 meters high, it’s one of the world’s largest cathedral domes! For 1400 years, the cathedral stood at the highest point of the city. It is the masterpiece of one of Britain’s most famous architect, Christopher Wren. The architect is even buried in this cathedral when he died in 1723.
7.) Mansion House
Mansion House is the official residence of the Lord Mayor of London. As the building is very historic and has a wonderful architecture and rooms too, you can avail tours to visit the inside of the Mansion House.
8.) View of the Tower Bridge from the London Bridge
Tower Bridge is one of the iconic symbols of London. It is also one of the modern bridges that have been built in the 1890’s. Imagine this, at that time, they already have a bridge which opens up to give way to passing ships! Definitely speaks about the genius of the British Victorian age!
9.) HMS Belfast
One of the historic ships which did marvelous battles before the outbreak of the Second World War. It was part of the British naval blockade against Germany. To remember its glory, it is now permanently docked almost near to the Tower Bridge and serves a museum for War memorabilia.
10.) London Modern Buildings
Our tour guide has a funny name for each building.. too bad I did not remember it all! It is nice to see a modern view of London amidst the lovely historic Georgian and Victorian buildings around. Can you spot the cheese grater and walkie talkie?
11.) The Shard
As the Shard is the tallest building in London, you can definitely see it around London!
12.) Tower of London
The Tower of London houses the crown jewels! Another trivia: Three queens have been beheaded in the Tower of London. The first and second are the second and fifth wife of King Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn (only on her early 30’s) and Catherine Howard (only on her 20s). Both were accused of adultery although some believe that neither may have been guilty and the King only wanted them executed so he can have a new wife! The third queen was Lady Jane Grey (only 16 years old) beheaded after merely 9 days in the throne.
Another comment: As you can see, you are not sure if The Shard is good. It is somehow a photo bomber to some of the iconic sites in London like in the above photo.
13.) View of Coca-Cola London Eye, Parliament Building, Big Ben and the Millennium Bridge from Waterloo Bridge
There are really some wonderful sites you cannot catch by camera. And the best thing is to see it in 4D by yourself thru isango tours. From Waterloo Bridge, you can see all icons of London. The Coca-Cola London Eye, Parliament Building, Big Ben, and the Millennium Bridge!
14.) British Film Institute
Who loves films? I do. And a visit to the British Film Institute is a must. They also screen movies for free! Trivia about the building. You know it is circular and all glasses around. So, this building also earns income from advertisements. And as it is circular, one burger company made this circular building looked like a Big Mac for a year to celebrate their 50th anniversary!
15.) Lambeth bridge
It is not just Lambeth bridge. A lot of British films have been shot here. First, Lambeth Bridge was featured in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban in a scene where the purple triple-decker night bus rescues Harry from another terrible holiday with the Dursleys. Second, a bus exploded in Lambeth from the film The Foreigner starred by Jackie Chan and Pierce Brosnan.
16.) Of course, London Bridge
This would still be the most famous for me. One of the first songs I learned when I was five years old is: ‘London Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down..London bridge is falling down, my fair lady!’
17.) Aerial View of London
You know what it feels when you are on top of the world! I got economy class though for this London eye. It is very inspiring to see executives rent the whole cockpit and hold a glass of wine with their black suit!
18.) Aerial View of The Shard from the Coca-Cola London Eye
So I became taller than The Shard, the tallest building in London. The architect is Italian which speaks about diversity in London in this modern time. You don’t need to be British in order to construct one of the famous building in London, or in the world rather!
19.) View of the Parliament, Westminster Bridge, and the St. Thomas Hospital
Our tour guide said the Parliament House was situated by the river so not all four sides of it will be bugged by protesters! And perhaps that’s the reason why a bridge was built straight to that hospital?
All civilisations start near a body of water. So London grew by the Thames River. And because of that, there are many wharfs by the Thames river. Some are no longer functional, but these wharf buildings are still preserved by the city government.
21.) Waterloo bridge
One interesting thing about this bridge: It is built by women!
22.) Views from the River Thames
Riding the circular cruise ferry will give you access to 5 stops: Westminster Pier, Embankment Pier, Festival Pier, Bankside Pier, and St. Katharine’s Pier. From Westminster Pier, you can check out House of Parliament, London Aquarium, and London Eye. From Festival Pier, you can check out the Royal Festival Hall. From Bankside Pier, you can check out Tate Modern Museum, Shakespeare’s Globe, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Southwark Cathedral and the Borough Market. From St. Katharine’s Pier, you can check out HMS Belfast, Tower of London, and the Tower Bridge.
23.) nearest view of HMS Belfast
Through our Thames River Cruise, I get to be near the hull of the HMS Belfast.
24.) Marble Arch
This white marble arch was designed in 1827 by one of the foremost architect in the Regency and Georgian era, John Nash. It was supposed to be the State Entrance to the Buckingham Palace. Queen Victoria didn’t think that it is very grand and royal so she had it moved somewhere in London.
25.) The British Library
The British Library has the largest collection of books in the UK. It also has a copy of every newspaper published daily since 1600.
26.) St. Pancras International
St. Pancras International currently houses an international railway station, a 5-star hotel, and many good shops. It was opened in 1868 and has been famed for its wonderful Victorian engineering. It is dubbed as one of the most elegant stations in the World.
27.) Nude Napoleon
28.) Coca-Cola London Eye by the River Thames
Trivia: The London eye has 32 cockpits symbolizing the 32 boroughs in London.
29.) Leicester Square
There are a lot of shops, restaurants and shows in this area.
30.) Trafalgar Square
I ask what is a significance of a standing Column in this area? Why do so many people flock the Trafalgar square? Why is it always full of people? I know that there are a lot of embassies and museums and galleries around this square? But I don’t get it at first until our guide budge in. He said that Trafalgar Square is a center of national democracy and protest. Rallies and demonstrations are frequently held at weekends on different political, religious and general issues. The Mayor supports this democratic tradition, and gives access to the square for such causes. Fair enough.
31.) The National Gallery
The story of European art, masterpiece by masterpiece! It houses a lot of artworks by Europeans. I got a glimpse of Vincent Van Gogh’s. Finally!
31.) SoHo- UK’s Chinatown
If you want to find less pricey items and foods but still with good quality, visit UK’s Chinatown!
32.) The Royal Mews
Home to UK’s historic royal carriages and one of the finest working stables in existence
33.) The Queen’s Gallery
Oh how nice to be a royal. The Queen has a lot of artworks! On my visit, the exhibition is currently about Leonardo Da Vinci’s works. Marking the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci, the exhibition brings together more than 200 of the Renaissance master’s greatest drawings in the Royal Collection, forming the largest exhibition of Leonardo’s work in over 65 years. The exhibit will run until October 13, 2019.
There are still a lot of sites included in this Hop on Hop Off Bus Tour with Thames River Cruise and Coca-Cola London Eye through Isango tours. We also passed by the Imperial War Museum, The Churchill War Rooms, Madame Tussauds, the British Museum, St. Mary’s Hospital, Kensington Palace, Kensington Gardens, Royal Albert Hall, Natural History Museum, V&A Museum, Harrods, London Zoo, King’s Cross, Royal Courts of Justice, The Gherkin, Westminster statues, Iceberg building, Jack The Ripper’s Old Bailey Street, and the National Theatre. If you do not want to get lost, and want to maximise your time, I truly suggest you avail this Hop on Hop Off Bus with Thames River Cruise and Coca-Cola London Eye through Isango tours.