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The Road Less Traveled By Serving to systematically document my travels on my journey to self-disovery. In reality, thoughts, musing, and experiences as I attempt to travel to as many worldly destinations as possible.

Saturday, Sunday, Southwark

UNITED KINGDOM | Tuesday, 21 January 2014 | Views [390]

I haven't been updating because, clearly, I have been spending every free minute walking aimlessly around London. Well, not aimlessly. I always start out with a plan! Take this Saturday, for instance. I took the tube to Southwark, down along the Thames River, with the intent of seeing the very old and endearing Southwark Cathedral. However, I spent nearly 6 hours taking in about every site that the one which I had intended.

Getting off of the tube, I crossed Blackfriars Bridge, not only beautifully engineered but offering a fantastic view of the many sites of Southwark. First, I came upon St. Paul's cathedral. I have no way to describe it except magnificent. It used to be the tallest building in London, as no other buildings were allowed to obscure the view of its vast dome. It took nearly 20 minutes just to walk around the entirety of the architectural wonder. I went inside, but instead of paying, I'm planning to go to a service there at some point, and therefore take a "tour" for free. Tricky, tricky. And planning on being completely broke sooner rather than later.

From there I ambled along, eventually finding myself in the banking district. It was fascinating to see banks representative of so many different countries lined up side to side along the cobwebbed streets. And I'm not talking European countries. There was a bank from India, Saudi Arabia, Turkey. You name it, and I'm sure that it was there. All surrounded by the wonderful Gothic architecture, particulary around the area of the Royal Exchange and Mansion House.

After ambling aimlessly, getting lost, getting found, I finally discovered the Millenium Bridge. This bridge connects the two banks of the Thames, and on the other side was the structure of my heart: the reconstructed Globe Theatre. It was absolutely stunning, a white beacon entrancing me as I crossed the bridge. Although I'll be there later to see 2 plays this semester, I couldn't help but walk around the building, currently closed, and wander in its courtyard. It's crazy to think that nearly all of the great plays of mankind where performed on that very site.

Right down the wharf from the Globe, past the very talented xylophone player and a man selling caramelized peanuts and almonds - the whiff of which made me drool - I encounted the Tate Modern. While modern art isn't really to my artistic taste, I of course went in and explored. I made it through 2 galleries. They were very interesting, and I got to see some incredible paintings and displays, including a few by Picasso, Dali, and Bacon. I swear though, Bacon's work, no matter how fascinating, will always terrify me.

On Sunday, I returned to Southwark, but again I failed to find my cathedral. Instead, I visited Guildhall Art Gallery. It was one of the most beautiful buildings I had ever seen. In a courtyard of white stone, the face of the gallery towered above in the intricate Gothic fashion. The inside was so plush, carpeted, with marble columns, and housed the artwork that I truly enjoy: oil portraits and scenes. The work was exquisite, and the sheer size of many of the paintings, particularly the various royal portraits, fascinated me. 

Guildhall is also an extraordinary site because, when they were reconstructing the gallery, the remnants of an ancient Roman amphitheatre were discovered. These, of course, were preserved, and are visible in the lowest, underground level of the gallery. They ruins are a part of the only amphitheatre known in London, and would have been where wild animals and convicts were set upon one another. All in all, Guildhall jumped its way up to one of my favorite London sites thus far.  

Tags: cathedral, england, globe, guildhall, london, ruins, southwark, st. pauls, tate, uk

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