The Art of Exploration · a diary of day trips, natural places, and miscellaneous adventures

South Bank London

Saturday, December 19th, 2015 in London
South Bank London

Today, for the first time since I arrived in the UK a dozen days ago, the clouds parted and slivers of blue sky peaked through. It was a welcome change from the endless layer of thick grey clouds that have otherwise prevailed. The break in the weather gave us the opportunity go to London, and we snatched it up. A lovely Winter Market is in full swing right now in South Bank and that’s where we headed to enjoy the festivities.

There were dozens of booths set up along Thames Path where you could buy crafts, ornaments, gifts, and food. As we walked along the path from Waterloo Bridge to Blackfriars Bridge, one delicious smell gave way to the next: bratwurst, pasties, strudels. We resisted the urge to buy any food and instead reserved our appetites for a nice dinner we had planned later on.

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When our walk reached the end of the Thames Path and there was no more of the Winter Market to explore, we didn’t stop. Instead we wove our way through the crowds of people that had gathered on the patio of Doggett’s Coat & Badge and, once clear of that bottleneck, we followed the winding streets back and forth along the banks of the Thames, trying to stay close to the river all the way to Tower Bridge. Along the way, we stopped periodically to take pictures (I recently took an online course in nighttime photography and was excited to put my new knowledge to use).

It has been a while since I last visited London, but I still couldn’t believe how much the skyline had changed. There were several new skyscrapers, my favorite of which was The Walkie Talkie, also known by its address 20 Fenchurch Street. During its construction, it was discovered that the building acts as a concave mirror that, on sunny summer afternoons, focuses light onto the streets below with sufficient intensity to fry an egg or to melt parked cars. Other new high-rises we noticed on the horizon included The Cheesegrater (also known as The Leadenhall Building) and the Prawn (also known as The Willis Building).

When we reached Tower Bridge we turned around and headed back towards Waterloo Bridge. The crowds of people wandering the river bank were thinning out and the Winter Market was closing down by the time we had returned to our starting point. We were hungry and ready for dinner.

We ended the evening with dinner reservations at Brasserie Blanc. It was a lovely meal and a nice opportunity to sit down after our long walk. We feasted on trempettes, roast Bretagne chicken, and pearl barley risotto. Thus well-fed and exercised, it was time to go home. A lovely evening all-round.

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