Day 1 of cycling around London was a success! I had been told three ways to get into London. David and Joanne (the Australian couple I met at Oxford) said, "Just follow the #3 bus." Janey said, "Don't cycle into London. Instead of following the #3 bus, just take the #3 bus!" Gillian, in Reception at the Caravan Park, said, "Just take London Cycle Network Route 23. It will take you right into the city." So, that's what I did. It was actually much easier than the other two options. The route was on mostly quiet streets. It was 7 miles from Crystal Palace into London.
First I stopped at a post office and sent home the souvenirs I've been collecting. It was almost 4 kg! It should arrive home around the 28th (Tim or Nolan--it will need to be signed for--it's two boxes.) It cost a bundle, but I probably would have been over the weight limit to fly which also would have cost me. Besides, now I can get a few more (uh... Don't worry, not 4 kilos!).
Since the post office was right on the way, I just continued following 23. When I got into the city, and started seeing signs for various places, I stopped following the route. I turned to go to London Bridge. On the way, I realized I was a little hungry. I stopped at Borough Market, the oldest Fruit and Veg Market in London.
I got some fresh squeezed juice (the juice stand is to the left), and a piece of bread pudding.
As I'm going across London Bridge, I can see what I thought was London Bridge to the right. The real London Bridge is just a bridge. The other, more famous bridge, is the Tower Bridge. I decided I would ride there. Of course, it's called the Tower Bridge because it is next to the infamous Tower of London. I thought about going in, until I saw it costs £22! Riding around it is good enough!
This is St. Thomas' Gate, also known as the Traitor's Gate.
I walked along the Embankment to the Tower Bridge. Here's a photo from the other side with better light.
I couldn't just take photos, and not go on the bridge! So Betsy and I made our way to the bridge itself.
We just went to the center, and came back.
By then it was about 12:30, and time for some lunch. There are a million places to eat, but I had decided today I would check a London Subway off the list. There just so happened to be one at the Tower of London (turns out, it's the only one I saw today).
After lunch, I headed for St. Paul's Cathedral.
I saw a sign for toilets, and it thought I should take advantage. I locked up Betsy, and also discovered a drinking water station. I filled my water bottle, then went in search of the toilets. I didn't see them. I got to the other side of the Cathedral Gardens, and still no sign of toilets. Then I saw another sign. The sign led to a very posh shopping place called One New Change. There I found the toilets (very nice ones too!). As I was walking out of the mall, I took this photo of the Cathedral.
I thought it was kind of cool how the dome was reflected in the walls of the shopping place.
Beyond St. Paul's I rode onto Fleet Street.
Nothing special, but a few red busses.
I worked my way back to the Thames on the Embankment. I went by Blackfriars Bridge and Waterloo Bridge on my way to Westminster. There was Cleopatra's Needle, and just before Westminster Bridge, but on the other side of the river, the London Eye, and the London Aquarium.
The London Eye
The London Aquarium
I reached Westminster Bridge and Big Ben.
Big Ben is part of Westminster Hall. No one is allowed in Westminster Hall, and each entrance is guarded by the Bobbies. I asked if I could take a photo of them with Betsy. They said sure, but it was the oddest request they had had today.
And the other guy walked away right as I went to take the photo!
Here's a photo of Big Ben and the Hall.
Well, some of the Hall...it's pretty big.
On the other side of Parliament Square was Westminster Abbey.
By this time, I was feeling pretty much done for the day. I still had to find my way back to Crystal Palace. On my way, I saw Route 4 which I will follow out when I leave London and head to Harwich. I got to Elephant and Castle (it's one of the big traffic circles, and a train station too). I found CS7 (Cycle Superhighway 7). Route 23 had turned into CS7 on my way into town, so I thought I needed to go that way. Well, I did, but I went the wrong direction (now I know this). It ended up being okay as I found another route (25) that went to Durwich Village which was where I had mailed the boxes in the morning. Then I started seeing signs for Crystal Palace. I think the route I came back was actually less hilly. I only came up one big hill (Central Hill). Funny thing was, I ended up at Crystal Palace Station (the train station), but I knew how to get back to the Caravan Park because I had walked to the station last night--quite fortuitous!
Soon, I was back at my tent eating an ice cream bar! A most awesome day finished! I was nervous about cycling in London, but it is really quite easy. I used the free Central London bike map, and really had no problems. I'm looking forward to another day in London tomorrow!