If you’re going to London, bring your best walking shoes.
Especially if you get glorious September days like these. The London Underground is fantastic for getting around town quickly. Black cabs are amazing but expensive. The buses have a certain charm but are slow. Walking is the only way to take in the full glory of London’s parks and architecture.
And, some 15,000 steps later, we’d done exactly that.
We’re in town for a wedding, so friends and family are starting to gather. Today we’re meeting up with our niece and nephew Sinead and Jamie - siblings of the groom. And with Jamie’s girlfriend Audrey, who is originally from Nantes, France. We are a truly international group.
We walk south across the Thames on the Millennium Bridge, a pedestrian bridge built just 22 years ago. Behind us is St. Paul’s Cathedral - Sir Christopher Wren’s masterpiece. Ahead is the Tate Modern Museum, one of the world’s great collections of modern art.
Just as importantly - from my perspective at least - is that we’re just a stone’s throw from The Anchor Bankside pub. The Anchor, which sits on the banks of the Thames, was a favorite when I worked at old The Financial Times headquarters at Southwark Bridge. You can sit outside with a phenomenal view of St. Paul’s and the City. Or you can sit inside on one of the many rainy days in the multi-level, rambling building. The higgledy-piggledy architecture is understandable since a pub has been on the site for the last 800 years.
Jamie and Audrey were waiting for us at the Anchor, and Sinead was not too far behind. After a traditional pub lunch, we tootled off for a long walk past St. Paul’s, down to Fleet Street, into St. Brides - the journalists’ church - and on to the Middle Temple, one of London’s Inns of Court.
I’ve written about all of these locations before, and can only urge you most passionately to seek and find these treasures when you’re in London. St. Brides - with its famous wedding cake steeple - is a treat for the eyes. The Middle Temple is magical. First of all, it's not a temple, it's where London's legal community works. By taking a 30-second detour off the bustling Strand, you’re transported in a secret garden with beautiful flowers and ancient buildings.
We finish the evening back near the Anchor in the ever-popular Borough Market. We take over the tiny upstairs section of Whiskey Ginger, a bar that serves tasty burgers and chips. An added bonus is the view of Southwark Cathedral.
Tired, and eager to get some rest for tomorrow’s wedding, Grainne, Garrett and I head back to the apartment. Our taxi ride home affords us amazing views of the London Eye, the Houses of Parliament, the historic clubs along Pall Mall, the Ritz Hotel, Harrod’s, the Victoria & Albert Museum and finally the Natural History Museum, across from our apartment.
It was a lot of walking, alright. But such a joy to share these London treasures with family members who’ve never seen them before.