I am taking it back a few years, to my first major trip oversees in 2013. London was the first of many destinations on this itinerary. I recall the deep anticipation I felt to finally see the architecture and history I had salivated over for so long in books, travel shows and documentaries. My imagination did not do it justice, however, and I pride myself on having a pretty good one! The immensity of the architecture was breathtaking and it made me feel small. My little personal-life bubble had been popped. There was actually an entire world out there living and breathing, it wasn't just a television show or a picture in a book. It was the first time I truly felt the enormity of the world, and it felt really, really good. London was where my Wanderlust began. It was also the first time I traveled with a "real" camera. Courtesy of my father-in-law, I was shooting with a Canon 40D. I didn't know what I was doing (I still don't really), however, since this 2013 trip I have noticed an improvement in the framing and compositions of my photos. Like all things, practice creates the master.
PALACE OF WESTMINSTER & BIG BEN:
Our itinerary in London allowed us just shy of four days in the city. Coincidentally, our friend Jamie was there on business so we spent two days sightseeing together. The only thing missing was his amazing wife, Julia. Our first stop was the Palace of Westminster, also home to the iconic Big Ben (Great Bell). Big is an understatement. It is huge.
Although we did not go inside, we admired the English Gothic details of the Westminster Abbey from the outside. The level of detail and craftsmanship that goes into building a structure like this is mind bending. Construction on the current church began in 1245, using the characteristic Gothic construction techniques of pointed arches, ribbed vaulting, rose windows and flying buttresses. I tried to imagine how they lifted the immense carvings into place but simply could not fathom how small humans could build this monumental structure.
Built in 1887, Tower Bridge is a combined bascule (drawbridge) and suspension bridge that crosses the River Thames. This iconic bridge took eight years to build. For years I thought this was the London Bridge, which is in fact so underwhelming I did not even take a photo of it. Apparently I am a bridge snob!
I finally caught him moving!!
The image below is a common site throughout Europe. When a building is under construction, they create a mesh facade with a printed image of what the building will look like once it is built or restored. The mesh facade doesn't interrupt the cityscape as much as an exposed construction site would. Brilliant!
This made me laugh!
London Underground (the Tube):
The Shard, also called The Shard of Glass, is the tallest building in the UK and the 105th tallest building in the world. Below you can see the tip jutting into the skyline. I enjoyed seeing the juxtaposition of contemporary architecture living among the historic relics.
Another contemporary building peppering itself among the classical architecture, is the 30 St Mary Axe, also called The Gherkin. It is a commercial building, completed in 2003, that is an unmistakable landmark in the modernizing cityscape of London.
St. Paul's Cathedral:
The Millennium Bridge:
Tower of London: