On my last trip to London, my last day in this incredible city fell on a Sunday. Since most of the shops in London were closed, I decided to take a leisurely stroll in the Westminster area starting from the Embankment. I even decided to hop on the tube and headed to Green Park in Mayfair. But I soon learned that Sundays can produced the most crowds in some of these places. Here’s how it went:
I hopped on the tube from Paddington Station and got off at the Embankment Station. Heading north on the Embankment I found myself in the face of Cleopatra’s Needle – a monument straight out of ancient Egypt, probably the only one in London outside the British Museum. After a few photos, I headed south crossing the Golden Jubilee Bridge (not far from Charing Cross) to the other side of the river heading south passing through the Jubilee Gardens and the London Aquarium. Did I mention that it was a chilly Sunday morning in January? So why am I walking next to the Thames on a chilly Sunday morning? Primarily because the locals are doing it even at this weather. So I thought, I have never been in this part of London before and I may not have another opportunity like this again. I continued walking despite the cold.
Not far from the London Aquarium is one of the most recent of landmarks in the city called the London Eye. Prior to leaving the hotel that morning I thought I’d take a trip up the Eye but when I saw the long lines and thick crowds I changed my mind on the spot. Besides, I have been up there before (back in October 2002). A word of advice, if you want to do this on the weekends, book tickets in advance, and come early for the ride. There was a long line for tickets and waiting to get on the ride.
Moving on, after a short lunch at the nearby cafe, I continued walking crossing the Westminster Bridge with Big Ben and the House of Parliament in full view. The bridge was packed with people which made it a bit difficult to cross in a faster pace. Continuing on, I found myself at Westminster Abbey which was closed for visitors on Sundays due to services. However, the Westminster Abbey shop was open and I got myself a little trinket with St. Christopher on it. St. Christopher is believed to be the patron saint of travelers. I think, it doesn’t hurt to say a little prayer or two to him for safe journeys. From here, I went to the Westminster tube station and headed to Green Park, another section of London I have not been.
From the tube station at Green Park, I headed east walking towards Old Bond Street, Savile Row, The Arcades, passing through the Royal Academy of Art ending up at Fortnum and Mason. After a little shopping at the food hall The air was still chilly and windy at 3 o’clock. So I decided to have an afternoon break at a small cafe for some hot chocolate and pastries.
After my afternoon snack, I headed west towards the Hotel Ritz toward Green Park. Despite the chilly and windy weather, people are still out at the park jogging, walking their dogs and their babies on prams, or simply hanging out. Walking at Green Park which is part of St. James’ Park, I found markers on the pathways commemorating the memory of the late Princess Diana. Heading south, I found myself at the Victoria Memorial and eventually in front of Buckingham Palace. There was no changing of the guards at that hour and the flag was up (the Queen is home) but there were people mostly tourists and spectators taking selfies and photos of and with the palace.
But this time, my feet were hurting and it was getting dark. The chilly air was getting into my skin and I felt like I needed to go back to the hotel, warm up, write and start packing.
For my last day in London, I did not make any plans. I know I wanted to go somewhere in London I haven’t been before and I think I have accomplished some of that on that Sunday. It was a great way to spend a Sunday in London despite the unfavorable weather.