I had the best of intentions. I had planned a big day and needed to get up early. But then, well… a sleep-in happened. But since this weekend is all about helping you newbies fall in love with London, a sleep-in is almost compulsory so let’s just pretend I planned it that way. To make the most of the last day of my London Pass (which you can win HERE!) I decided to go to the area of London with the most tourist attractions per capita*, Tower Bridge.
First up was the Tower Bridge experience. I decided to do this one first up because I am a massive scaredy cat, and if I am going to be terrified I seriously want to do it in daylight. The London Bridge experience is frankly bizarre. The first half is a combination of pitch black scary things jumping out of you walk through, interactive historical re-enactments that were at best overacted, and the most boring museum you have ever been to. It was weird. The acting bits were plucked at random from history and took you from heads on spikes to Jack the Ripper all the while managing to not teach you a thing. The scary bit would have been fine if it hadn’t thrown you out into a sleep inducing exhibition about the building of London Bridge. The second half is the London Tombs which is a straight up scary walkthrough much like the London Dungeons, although it was all a bit too much for this scaredy cat. And to top it all of it is seriously expensive at £23, which makes it perfect to do for free with the London Pass.
Needing to find some calm after my harrowing journey through history I jumped on board a war ship, the HMS Belfast. The HMS Belfast is the big boat parked in the middle of the Thames just in front of Tower Bridge. It is essentially an excuse to run around and play silly buggers, hugely entertaining. Everything from kitchens to communication rooms have been frozen in time, you dodge the sailors sleeping above the mess room and hope like hell that the bombs aren’t actually real. Even for a short-ass like me I had a few head bumps as I ran up and down ladders and jumped across the decks. What was lovely was to see every single person on the ship having a similarly awesome time, and I mean everyone from toddlers to grandmas. If all else fails, you can go out onto the deck and get some truly unique views of Tower Bridge and the Tower of London. Visiting the HMS Belfast has quickly gone near the top of my Favourite London Things list (even if I did watch Pearl Harbour that night and give myself nightmares).
Next on my list was a visit to the Design Museum. I tend to avoid the Design Museum because of the ticket price, when most other galleries are free in London the £12 ticket is a bit much. But thankfully free with the London Pass I glided on in to the Paul Smith exhibition. Paul Smith, what a guy. The exhibition was a beautiful insight into his brightly coloured and chaotic mind; they had set up his office, workroom, first shop and other spaces to truly envelope you into his world. It was nice for a change to go to a fashion exhibition that didn’t take itself too seriously, instead it was pretty, informative and very well sewn.
Phew, are your feet sore yet? Thankfully our next stop is all about sitting down. I wandered over Tower Bridge and made my way to the pier, where I hopped on a boat and started my return trip to Greenwich. The river trip is a fantastic way to see London, even if you do totally ignore the commentary in favour of the musical stylings of Lorde. From the Thames you feel the crowded city streets just drop away, the river is the equivalent of standing in the middle of an empty field. You also get to see the back of the dock warehouses, the underside of Tower Bridge and a close up look at Canary Wharf. If I had been so inclined I could also have travelled up to Westminster on my ticket, but after my bus diversion of yesterday I declined that offer.
Last on my list was all about diamonds. I know the Tower of London has a long and head rolling history, but for a magpie like me it is the crown jewels the capture my imagination. My god they are impressive. Diamonds that are so big my brain instantly shouts FAKE, but with all the security around I am 99% sure they are real**. My favourite is the Koh-I-Noor diamond sitting on top of a purple crown; at over 100 carats it’s so big even Kim Kardashian would think it’s a little too much. In the setting sun I had a quick turn on the turrets (and in the process learned about the elephants and bears the crazy English kings have kept over the years) and then made my way back to the Thames for a nice cup of mulled wine.
I feel like I have overdosed on London this weekend, my heart is full of it. With all these beautiful, crazy, expensive, historical things to do why on earth are you reading this in bed?
I can’t thank Seven Seas Worldwide for my amazing weekend, and I can’t wait to see what adventures my winner gets up to!
*I have totally made that up.
**Turns out 1% of me is a conspiracy theorist.