Next stop today was St. Paul’s Cathedral. But on the way…
In the gardens at the rear.
It was only here that I realised that I hadn’t budgeted my time to include waiting in a long queue! Well, to my surprise, there was absolutely no queue!
Photography is not allowed in St. Paul’s, so you’ll have to go here to see some of the wonders within. It was more beautiful than I could ever have imagined… The £18 entry fee included a very good audiovisual guide that let me explore at my own pace.
One thing I didn’t realise you could do was climb the dome! You start up a wooden spiral staircase to the interior Whispering Gallery, then climb to the exterior Stone Gallery through a narrow stone staircase. I thought the Whispering Gallery was alarmingly high up until I got to this first exterior gallery…
You then climb a series of metal spiral staircases to the Golden Gallery. Total steps from the ground: 527. OUCH. But the view!
The main things I took away from St. Paul’s:
-How controversial the design was for the day. The Protestants were used to Gothic architecture with its arches, not the domes of the Baroque style;
-This ornate church was more Catholic in style, but was very much tailored to Protestant practice;
-St. Paul’s survived the Blitz almost undamaged thanks to a fire brigade that patrolled the roof. Only one bomb got through.
-Almost nothing of ancient London survived the Blitz. This is why the city looks so modern and is so drivable as it was rebuilt after the Second World War.
I had about an hour and a half to my tea reservation when I came out St. Paul’s. When I had set out in the morning, I regretted scheduling tea for midafternoon, but it wound up being perfect timing since I was famished when I came out of the cathedral! I wandered around the area a bit, stumbled onto another major Sherlock shooting location that delighted me, and then took the Tube from St. Paul’s Station to Oxford Circus on the Central line, then I rode one block south on the Victoria line to Green Park.
That reminds me that I forgot to give my Oyster update! A newsagent on the way to Kensal Green Station was able to sort out half of my Oyster problem, ie. putting money on the card so I could travel today and tomorrow. I’ll sort out the other half when the charges post…