When jet lag keeps me from falling asleep, I think of the old Bing Crosby tune that advises “count your blessings instead of sheep.” My personal variation involves counting the visits to the current location (works best in Paris, London and other frequented places). If memory serves me, this most recent trip was my 15th visit to London! I am always on the look out for new adventures which become harder to find over the years
As I do before every trip, I reviewed articles that I had clipped the old fashioned way and keep in a file, checked Pinterest boards (travel magnolia and others), emailed friends and family members for their suggestions and perused online forums to plan my days. When I compiled my London List, at the very top was seeing Antony Gormley’s fabulous Quantum Cloud which rises above the Thames adjacent to the 02 Arena in North Greenwich.
First I stopped in at Borough Market, a sprawling complex at the southern end of London Tower Bridge and adjacent to Southwark Cathedral. In need of a caffeine fix, I headed straight to Monmouth Coffee. Highly touted and, unfortunately, highly visited.
I took one look at the queue and opted for this enterprising operation just across the way inside the market place. Fortified with a double espresso, I explored this venue that has been on my must-see list for quite a few years.
There are certainly smaller and more “authentic” markets around London, but if you are headed to the Tate Modern, or Shakespeare’s Globe, by all means add this as a stop. There are plenty of tables where you can enjoy the wide variety of take away on offer.
Just east of Borough Market, the Shard looms above with the highest viewing platform in London from which one can gaze over 1000 years of history. Unlike Paris, where most skyscrapers are confined to the outskirts and La Défense, London has new ones popping up in unlikely neighborhoods. At present, there are cranes just about everywhere you look.
Next, I boarded the Thames Clipper at the Bankside pier and headed east.
It is a treat to be on the river and see the sights from a different perspective. There are stops on both sides of the Thames from Putney to Woolwich, and various passes are available or you can use the Oyster Card, which comes in handy for travel throughout London.
After disembarking at the North Greenwich pier, I spent some time admiring the 30-meter tall sculpture.
It is a remarkable piece and is one of 13 works featured in The Line, an art walk project being promoted as London’s version of NYC’s High Line. The works are not contiguous, and spread several kilometers from the Royal Docks to Queen Elizabeth Park in Stratford.
Lastly, I took a round-trip on Emirates Air Line to take in the view from above – a great way to appreciate the scope of development. Rather than return the way I came, I took the Jubilee line from the North Greenwich tube station and was back at my hotel in no time at all.
NB: I did not have time to visit the Royal Observatory in Greenwich but it would be an excellent addition to this itinerary.