Alright I feel I’ve kept you in suspense long enough as to the fanciest of suspensions across the River Thames: the Tower Bridge.
If you’re like me, then the Tower Bridge is one of the first things you think about when someone mentions the UK along with bright red double deckers, Big Ben, and Harry Potter. So when I found out this was going to be in our itinerary I figured my post-tour self could die happy.
Having spent the morning wandering in the shaded castle corridors of the Tower of London, we were quite chilly and so gulped down some steaming coffees whilst admiring the turrets of our next destination.
At first I thought we were just going to walk across it, but apparently it’s a whole thing where you can go up to walk across. They’d even installed a glass floor just to give you the extra shivers.
We headed over as soon as we’d wrestled our empty Starbucks cups from the marauding gulls and I was quickly overwhelmed by the architecture. Once again, England just does it right.
We got our tickets and were given the down low by the elevator attendant as to what we’d expect to find on the tour: the drafting room with the blueprints, the glass-floored exhibition hall, and the boiler room at the end – all the while offering more of those spectacular urban views we’d glimpsed on our cable car journey.
She wished us a pleasant experience and I wasted no time whipping out my camera to document the whole thing.
All along the walls of the exhibition halls – were facts about the bridge. My favourite was the popular legend of how the Americans thought they had successfully bought the Tower Bridge 1967 only to discover their mistake that they had only said the “London bridge” and ended up with, indeed, the entirely different London Bridge. I can just picture the refined British businessmen on the other end of that deal, decked out in smoking jackets whilst swilling brandies and sharing hearty chuckles.
But most exciting was, without doubt, the glass floor of the bridge.
I’m not one to get vertigo, and my logic circuits were well aware that it had to be safe if it was a major tourist attraction, but putting my foot on the glass was a lot harder than I thought it’d be.
I even took a video. It’s unedited which after doing so many Otherwise Chronicles videos (see #1, #2, #3, #4, #5) makes me cringe a little, but it’ll give the full, unsullied experience of what it was like to be there!
We stayed there for quite a while and had lots of fun goofing around being touristy and taking pictures of ourselves.
Did I mention being touristy?
Then it was around to the other side to enjoy the scenic urban sights on the opposite side of the Thames.
We spent a lot less time on this half, having exhausted our tourist attention span on the novelty of the first side, so we headed down to the boiler room.
On the way down (long, long, way down – many, many stairs) there were lots of plaques and statues illustrating more facts about the building of the Tower Bridge. The literal nuts and bolts of it, shall we say.
My favourite bit of trivia here was that the bridge was originally painted dark, lacquered brown as that was contemporaneous ruler Queen Victoria’s favourite colour. Happily to celebrate the Queen Elizabeth’s silver jubilee, it was later painted red, white, and blue. Still, that was a few decades too many to be in the previous, ah…chocolate hue.
I didn’t quite know what to expect with the boiler rooms and wasn’t particularly keen or not keen, but I should have known better.
Run on steam, it was like walking into an amazing steampunk reality. So flippin cool.
That was pretty much it for the Tower Bridge except for the gift shop which had all number of funky pens with Tower Bridges balanced on top and matchstick modelling kits you could build in the shape of significant London landmarks. I’ve been practicing being frugal, however, and was very well behaved, coming out with nothing but the photographs I have just shared (yay budget travel!).
In all it was just such a fantastic day – even more so because it was only the start of our three-day adventure. So be sure to stay tuned for more (I promise there won’t be so long a wait until the next post again).
Until next time!
For the complete London adventures, check out the links below!