London Thames Architecture Tour

Last Saturday C. and I had tickets to an architecture tour along the Thames.  Even though the warm, sunny weather we’d been having disappeared and our winter coats, hats, and gloves were out again I was still excited. Whole days in London with C. are rare so I really enjoyed sharing his city with him. C. has all the photo credits. My hands stayed in warm gloves the entire time we were on the boat so were not at all photo-ready.

Tour starts near the London Eye.

Sorry about how dark these are. When it’s cloudy in London, it’s really cloudy.

Big Ben.

I learned two more British pronunciations on this tour. Baroque is pronounced “barok” and “quay” is pronounced “key.”

Houses of Parliament. You can't see the gold detail in the photo, but it was nice to see it close up. Quite stunning.

Millbank Tower

View from Altitude 360 in Millbank Tower, December 2010

The night views of the Thames on a clear night are my favorite and most magical moments in the city. I’d discovered Whistler’s Nocturnes in the Freer-Sackler Galleries in D.C. A much different river in his day, but the ethereal quality remains.

One more--I took this in 2009 the first time I came to London. The sunset was gorgeous that night.

St. George's Wharf

The tour guide told us that this series of slick, greenish buildings has many harsh critics.  She also said that the structures have been likened to “three massive owls,” and she really went out on a limb by confessing that she found them “quite jolly, actually.” I have to agree, although I don’t think the word “jolly” has ever come to mind. I’ve often admired the wharf from the train.

St. George's Wharf detail

MI6 Building--British Secret Service.

Where rich people live

The now empty Battersea Power Station, an iconic London site.

Didn't get a name for these but have admired these from the train too.

Battersea Park Buddha

Freezing for architecture

Very cool building but couldn't hear the name of this one. Too windy.

Vauxhall Bridge Detail

Lion protected from all the changes made to the banks during the 1940's London Fair. Everything else was built up around the lion and people protested to save it.

View of Big Ben on return

Royal Festival Hall. Very pretty at night all lit up but not so exciting during the day.

In a nearby building, the Southbank Centre, there are tables with excellent views and the Saison Poetry Centre Library, a huge auditorium with musical shows, readings, talks, etc. The annual T.S. Eliot readings are there–great venue and event if you’d like to get a taste of the current British poetry world. I’ve enjoyed hanging out at Southbank on a number of occasions.

The famous OXO tower and building.

At night the Art Deco tower lights up with a red OXO. Oxo is an English company that makes beef stock cubes and the like. They requested a permit for an Oxo ad but were turned down.  On the Thames, advertising was banned. However, in a “coincidence,” architect Albert Moore created a design that included the letters o, x, and o. They got their ad after all.

Unilever House

Didn't catch the name of this one unfortunately

Cool art deco spot.

The Globe

A guy singing in the water for passersby. Brrrr.

I don't know the name of this building but it's one of my favorites.

Hay's Galleria

Tower Bridge and ship. London Bridge itself is dull and ordinary, missable. Tower Bridge, however, is one of the most iconic of the many bridges of the Thames.

Tower Bridge at night. I took this in 2009 the first time I came to London. C. and I had just met and he took me on a walk along the Thames.

The Shard--soon to be another staple in the London skyline. The glass is treated so that it changes with the weather and light.

Small view of St. Paul's Cathedral. Also gorgeous at night.

HMS Belfast

Tower Bridge

Where the mayor and other civil servants work

The More London area toward the east end of the Thames. An especially modern section.

Tower Bridge detail

Another one of my industrial favorites. Love the glass balconies.

View from Greenwich observatory

Does Greenwich have a Waterstones? Unfortunately for C., the answer is yes. Great way to end the day, in a comfy leather chair with a pile of books on my lap.

Cologne & Dusseldorf Architecture

Post II on the Germany trip.

Besides the Christmas markets, which were incredible, Cologne and Dusseldorf are legendary for their architecture.  Having only a few days in each city, we stayed out of museums and I took a million pictures, stopping only when my fingers became frozen from the cold.  We especially enjoyed a glass of wine in the Belgian Quarter, which had tons of lovely restaurants, bars, and shops.

Lovely old city section of town

Lucked out with a bit of sun.

Think this is a Kathe Kollwitz sculpture on fountain.

Cool church

So many roof gardens in Cologne. Love it.

Local choo-choo that stops at all Christmas markets


Can't get enough of this shot

Dusk requires a whole new set.

Love that Dutch influence--Stepped Gables

Lights in the chic & magical Belgian Quarter


Rathaus, or City Hall--oldest functioning building of its kind in Germany

Art museum and back of cathedral

Art Museum at Dusk

Would take a lot of this to kill me.

Cathedral

View of a Christmas market from top of cathedral--long climb to top was well worth it!

View from top of cathedral

Gerhard Richter's pixellated window. Love the merging of medieval and modern.

Gorgeous window display

Art Deco Detail

And finally, a bit of fun:

Costume shop took up an entire block.

Truly something for everyone.

If you still can't find what you're looking for, there's always the Sex & Gay Center.

Dusseldorf

We weren’t as taken with Dusseldorf perhaps because it seemed to have a large seasonal area with cafés, restaurants and shops near the river that were all closed.  So it sort of felt, in some neighborhoods, like we were there off-season.  The Christmas markets were also nicer in Cologne.  Dusseldorf did seem to have more nightlife, so if one was college-age this town might be more fun at night, esp in the summer months.

We did find a gorgeous church though–St. Lambertus, or the “church with a crooked steeple.”   Inside we found objects from a number of eras:

St. Lambertus

Vintage Confessional

Gorgeous windows--20th cent

Tons of whole trees brought in for Nativity-in-progress

More Stepped Gables in the Old City

I seem to have a thing for ironwork.

Bed in Dusseldorf equipped with rubber duckies.

Scary. But I wanted to keep it. Are Christmas rubber duckies like the minibar...tempting but to be avoided?

Is it just me or does this duckie look like he's in the middle of a hold-up?

Two random notes about this Germany trip–we noticed that few locals had their cell phones glued to their ears as they do in most other cities.  Anyone know why this is?   No one walking down the street gabbing away.

Second, we flipped through the TV and indulged in a few American shows in true German form.  One was Extreme Home Makeover, and the German attempt at the crack-hyper Ty Pennington was outrageous and just wrong.  “Hoarders” was called “Der Messy-Chaos,” which is my new nickname.  (Am not a hoarder but do tend towards stacks of books and notebooks everywhere.)   Last–Lord of the Rings and Malcolm in the Middle.  The mom in MitM, in German, is equally as terrifying as an Orc in German.  Not advised right before bedtime!  Thank goodness for the rubber duckies. I’m sure they protect against German-Speaking Orcs.

Auf Wiederschen, and Germany I hope to see you again soon!


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