Friday would be our last chance for a full day of London exploration. London is a big city. We had a lot left to see. We needed more time.
Out of our hotel, we headed first to the Tower Bridge, passing by the Tower of London along the way. With partial high overcast, there was more bright sun than we were used to, but the temperatures remained brisk cold.
At the Tower Bridge, we walked across at road level and then paid to tour the drawbridges upper echelons and polished mechanical infrastructure. Tower Bridge sits on the east end of the Thames. The drawbridge allows large boat access to the Pool of London, a short stretch of the Thames before the London Bridge, the non-Arizona version, prevents further upstream travel. It is striking, when you visit, just how small the Pool of London is for such an elaborate drawbridge. Looking at a map, the river distance between the Tower Bridge and the London Bridge is about 2,500 feet. This is only about a 1,000 feet longer than the world’s largest ship, the Jahre Viking. The Pool of London covers an area of around 2.5 million square feet, about 100 times the area of the big screen HD TVs at the new Cowboys stadium. The Tower Bridge is a lot of structure for a small amount of water. I’d have to assume that when the bridge opened in 1884, there were more docks and smaller ships to make the project seem worthwhile.
From Tower Bridge, we headed upstream along the docks past the light cruiser HMS Belfast moored bank side and used as a museum. Soon our compulsion to search for Invaders took over. In the course of finding the mosaics, we found ourselves at Borough Market near the London Bridge train station. The food market is covered by an impromptu combination of the elevated railroad track platform and lace ironwork supported glass. It offers the sights and smells of markets everywhere, but, as usual, retains a distinct local flair. We’d have missed this niche of London if we weren’t hunting for Invaders.
A Neal’s Yard cheese shop is located near the Borough Market. It is impossible for us to pass a Temple of Curdled Milk. Inside, we tasted some of the numerous cheeses offered by the ubiquitous man behind the counter. We’re not quite sure what we tasted as England and the United States remain as two countries separated by a single language. Though we had no good way to store it, we came away with a package of particularly stinky cheese. We couldn’t resist. Nor could we forget that we made the purchase. The smell was a constant reminder.
After the market visit, Invader hunt, and the Neal’s Yard cheese binge, we still had daylight left. We took the Tube to the St. John’s Wood Station and walked the short distance to Abbey Road and the Abbey Road Studio. Joining with the other pilgrims outside the studio we paid homage to the place where numerous Beatles albums and Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” was recorded. I’m not positive, but I think I spotted the little known Sixth Beatle on the nearby zebra crossing. As usual, the Sixth Beatle was running very late, about forty years late this time.
For dinner, the suspected Sixth Beatle and I met up at Rasoi Vineet Bhatia with G&C who traveled up from Southampton. Rasoi Vineet Bhatia is a Michelin starred Indian restaurant in Chelsea. The up market Indian food, with a western fusion bent (When’s the last time you had foie gras at an Indian restaurant?), was distinctive. The meal may not of lived up to its full promise, but it was still good and interesting nonetheless.