The last big thing we did on our first day in London was to check out The View from The Shard. That's the newest skyscraper in London, and it is presently the tallest structure in all of Europe. Located in Southwark in London, it stands alone as the only building of any real height. And like the Eiffel Tower, it was the sort of building that you could often spot from just about anywhere - it always seemed to appear whenever you rounded a street corner.
There's actually a hotel in The Shard, by the way. We stayed a block away, so it was really, really close. Like, THIS close:
The view of The Shard, from our bed!
Do you see that corner building just above that red spot (an awning) in the center of the picture? That is the Southwark Pub, and our room was the top floor, far right window. So funny when we realized we could see our ROOM from the Shard, just as we could see the Shard from our room!
We had no wait time to go up to the top, which was very nice and rather unexpected. Once up to the 69th floor (and later a short walk, though there is another elevator, to the 72nd floor) we were treated to these incredible views:
Tower Bridge, the Tower of London to the left, and at the bottom left, the war ship HMS Belfast. At the lower right, that rounded building is City Hall. I was surprised it was on the South Bank, I would have expected to be across the river in the City of London (which is the official name for that small part of London which was the ORIGINAL London).
Tower Bridge is really beautiful with it's blue and white painted accents.
Selfie with the same view. Of course.
Looking east toward Canary Wharf. Behind those tall buildings is the O2 Arena where we were going the next evening for Monty Python. Looking at the river I was glad I decided to organize transportation to/from the concert by Thames Clipper River Express, it just looked like such a relaxing way to get all the way over there and back, rather than by hot, stuffy, crowded Tube. (And I was right, as you'll see in an upcoming post.)
So, moving toward the left (north)...
High-rises in the City of London. You can make out the Gherkin, and in the lower left corner is Monument - the marker to remember the Great Fire of London. The Monument, as well as the new Saint Paul's Cathedral (the original one was destroyed in the fire) were among the works of Christopher Wren.
Continuing to look left and more westward...
Oh, hey, how did THAT get there? (Right - it was Bastille Day, so we brought the Tricolore to London with us.)
Saint Paul's Cathedral today, with Blackfriar's Bridge below. Saint Paul's was saved from fire during the London Blitz by volunteer citizen fire brigades - bless them for their courage. That dome looks solid but it's actually made of wood underneath and quite flammable.
Moving a bit further west, we have the Tate Modern museum (that building with the big smokestack; it's a converted industrial building with huge open indoor spaces that allow for some very interesting and unusual exhibitions). There's the Millenium Bridge, which people used to call the Wobbly Bridge because when it was first opened, there was a design flaw that made the bridge sway as people began walking across it. It was closed while they worked on some modifications and now it's very stable. Unless of course the bridge is being attacked by Death Eaters. Just below the bridge you can make out the thatched roof of the Globe Theatre.
Farther west as the Thames curves again, You can see the London Eye (great view from up there, too) and you can just make out Big Ben, although we were shooting more into the sun so it may be hard to spot.
On the 72nd floor, which is open to the air but also protected by the interesting design, we parked ourselves on the floor looking in this direction (they really ought to put a few benches there for people who can't sit on the floor), hoping for a really beautiful sunset. But unfortunately, there was a bank of low, dark clouds, so we didn't get the full sunset we wanted. We did get more beautiful views, and it was so peaceful up there - they even played music that sounded a little like angel choirs, very "zen".
My very relaxed, happy husband.
The levels above the 72nd are not for the public; radio and satellite equipment, probably.
The building was all unusual angles. I took a lot of photos of the architecture itself because our oldest is finishing his master's in architecture this fall. I think he should go to London and look at all the interesting building designs, especially this one.
It looked a bit like it was built with an erector set. And a whole lotta glass.
And then, to come back to our room after dinner, and be able to gaze at where we'd just been, way up there at the lighted tip. Incredible, and the perfect way to end a first great day.