Monday, February 7, 2011

St. Paul's Cathedral

On Saturday, Lee and I went to London for the first time (that whole flying into Heathrow didn't really count). We drove about an hour to get to Epping, which is where one of the Underground lines terminates, and then had about a half-hour Tube ride into London, so not terribly long to get to from our house. I keep telling Liz that the Tube is *totally* easy to figure out ;) Anyway, I asked Lee what he wanted to see first and he was no help at all, he just wanted to go to London, so I asked myself "What would Missy do?" and we picked one of the places with the most stairs (at least, the most stairs according to Misty, not to be confused with Missy who likes to make us go up and down stairs): St. Paul's Cathedral.

This place is pretty massive; this is the west side I think. I wish you could see the dome from this angle, but alas.

Hey look, proof that I was there :) That's Queen Anne on the top of the statue, who was the reigning monarch when the cathedral was finished in the early 1700s after having burned to the ground (not for the first time, I might add) in the Great Fire of 1666.

You can read a bit more about the cathedral and a silly poem about Queen Anne's statue here.

Lee took most of the pictures I'm posting today, but this one (above) is mine and it's my favorite of the statue. Every once in a while we get a picture that I just love, and this is one of them.

Here's the clock tower on the right side.

This was actually the first picture we took, on the north side of the church, but for the purposes of this blog post it made more sense to start with the picture of the entire facade of the building instead.

Anyway, after we had taken a bunch of pictures of the outside of the cathedral, we decided to fork over the 29 pounds to go tour the inside, but alas (again, alas!) we were not allowed to take pictures inside. Had we been allowed to, we could have easily spent the entire weekend inside the cathedral, photographing the mosaics, paintings, carvings, statues...everything. Trust me when I tell you it is truly magnificent. Wikipedia does have a few pictures from the inside of the cathedral if you'd like to check out their page. And now I know why Princess Diana could have such a humongous train on her wedding dress; this cathedral kind of begs for an over-the-top wedding gown (given that I was a year and a half old when Charles and Diana got married, I can't say I watched it on tv. However, I will watch when the next royal wedding happens in April.).

We explored the cathedral floor with the aid of the audio tour, and then we ate lunch in the cathedral cafe in the crypt. Wish we could have taken pictures there, too, but still forbidden. Lee was amazed at how many names he recognized on monuments and markers and graves and such in there; we saw a statue of John Donne; the Duke of Wellington's ginormous monument (a statue with him atop his horse Copenhagen) in the main cathedral, and Admiral Horatio Nelson's grave, among others. I had to search a bit before I could find Sir Christopher Wren's resting place; he was the architect who designed and built the cathedral, as well as many others in London after the Great Fire, and he lived to the ripe old age of 91.

After we ate lunch, we went back up to the main floor and then up 530 steps to see the Whispering Gallery and the Stone Gallery. The Whispering Gallery is inside the dome, and supposedly when a person whispers at one side of the dome, someone else at the opposite side can hear everything that is said. Given that I was in band for seven years, I'm not a good judge of how well it works ;) The Stone Gallery is where you go outside and you can see fantastic views of London, *and* you're allowed to take pictures from up there!

Hey look, a couple of double-decker buses! Didn't get to ride one this trip, but I'm sure we will sooner or later.

There's the Millennium Bridge that was destroyed in Deathly Hallows Part 1 (obviously it's been fixed now, heh) and if you look a bit to the left of the bridge, that white building with the thatched roof is the replica of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre (not that he owned it, of course, but he's the one we most associate with the place now). We will definitely check that out up close and personal on a future trip to London!

A different view of the clock tower, and also one of my favorite shots of the day's pictures.

We didn't go check out what this monument is after we left the church, we just liked how all the lines around it radiate out from it like a supernova or something.

On one side of the dome, it was really ridiculously windy. You know that part in Mary Poppins where all the other nanny applicants are blown away in the wind? I thought for sure that was going to happen to us and we'd fly all over London.

And here we are! Whenever we hand over the big camera to someone the picture never comes out that great, but what can you do. Maybe next time we'll just hand over the little camera, that's easier to figure out.

I thought my dad would like to see this, considering that Walker used to be my last name ;)

And here's a picture of just a few of the stairs we had to climb down to get back to the main floor of the church (shh, I don't think we were supposed to take this one, hehe!). We were feeling a little bit jelly-legged by the time we got down, and it was definitely too warm for thermals after the climb. We went back down to the crypt and looked around there a bit more, and I got a book about the cathedral (on sale! That makes everything better) and a few postcards with pictures taken inside the cathedral since we weren't allowed to take our own (grr!). Well, if we had taken our own pictures, then we probably would have gotten our noggins stuck staring up at the mosaics on the ceiling and paintings in the dome ;)

So that was our first stop on our first trip to London. We had an absolute ball there on Saturday, and we're talking about trying to get out there at least once a month to job is to go through the London guidebook that Misty gave me for Christmas and make a list of all the stuff we want to see, and then we can kind of rank that and have an idea where to go next time we get into town. I'm thinking that other site with all the stairs: the Tower of London ;)


Melissa A said...

Ooh, I'm so excited for you to see all of the sights in London! Mike and I absolutely loved the city. The Tower of London will be a good spot to go next. We spent about 3 1/2 hours there, and that was rushing! It's huge and there is tons of stuff to see. I would advise buying your tickets online before you go. We bought our tickets before we even left the U.S.! This saved us about an hour wait in the ticket line (we went on Sunday, which is the busiest day of the week for the Tower). Also, go see the Crown Jewels first thing in the morning before the lines get long.

Here is a good link for some Harry Potter sights:
We went to Platform 9 3/4 at King's Cross station, Leadenhall Market (where the Diagon Alley scenes were filmed in film #1 and which is not too far from St. Paul's), Borough Market (Diagon Alley in film #3), and Lacock village (west of London, was used for village scene in film #6 when they go talk to Slughorn at the beginning).

We used Rick Steves' London guidebook extensively. Hope this helps!

Love, Mel

Giffysk8s said...

Yay~I get to see another country through Christy's eyes! (Lee's, too!) You simply MUST visit all of those HP places that Melissa mentioned!

We will be there sometime in June or July 2012 for 3 days. Next year is a BIG year for us: Emma will turn 5, Brittany and Brennan will both graduate with their Master's Degrees, Keaton will graduate with his triple Bachelor's Degree, and Rick and I will both be turning 50. To celebrate all of these events, we are taking all 6 of us on a 2-week trip: London, Rome, Venice, Tuscany, and Paris. Maybe we can meet up for a dinner or something at the very least!

Can't wait for the next round of photos!

CCsMom said...

Hey, I recognize that scarf . . . ! Hee hee! LOVED the pictures, and I'm with you about your favorite. I like the one of the clock tower, too. Wow, I can't BELIEVE you are in England now. That just blows my mind. Can't wait to get over there and see everything, too! Love you! Mom