Travel Report: Crossing Westminster Bridge, London.
May 2019. It had been a long, long time since I last felt the fresh River Thames air on my face at Westminster Bridge. In fact, racking my brain, it would have been something like fourteen years ago during a hectic afternoon ferrying Belgian teenagers around Central London. In fact, so stressful had it been that I don’t think I’d even taken the time to appreciate the bridge and its handsome city views. This time though it was different, a sunny afternoon in which I’d met up with my old friend Baddi and was at the beginning of my new life as a full-time travel blogger!
May 2019. Westminster Bridge (in its current form) opened to the public on the 24th of May 1862, which also happened to be Queen Victoria’s 25th birthday. No coincidence there I guess, although Victoria didn’t actually attend the event as she was still in mourning over the death of Prince Albert.
The bridge was named after the borough of Westminster in which it sits and after the Palace of Westminster that it overlooks on its western side. Its distinctive green coat of paint is a nod to the colour of the leather seats in The House of Commons. See the horribly disfigured block sticking out the back of the bus to Waterloo? That’s Elizabeth Tower, home to Big Ben, London’s iconic clock and great bell.
May 2019. It must be a real bummer to fly across the world only to find Elizabeth Tower obliterated by scaffolding. But at the end of the day them’s the breaks and at least it was still possible to see the clock face itself.
May 2019. On the eastern side of Westminster Bridge the view takes in The London Eye and the Southbank, heralded by some as the heart of the city’s cultural scene. Head down here for The Royal Festival Hall, The Royal National Theatre, Gabriel Wharf, The London Studios and the London IMAX Super Cinema.
No matter what side of the bridge you’re on it’s fun simply to stop for a moment and watch the traffic trundling by in both directions, from marching tourists, whooshing cars and rattling red buses to the amusing sight of locals bobbing past on wobbly bikes. I wouldn’t particularly fancy tackling Westminster Bridge on a bicycle.
A true Westminster Bridge experience wouldn’t be complete without a board-waving religious nut telling everyone the end is nigh, Jesus is returning, we’re all doomed etc. Mind you, as religious nuts go this guy seemed alright in the sense that he wasn’t actually saying anything and seemed reasonably smiley. Good luck to him.
For all your kitschy London souvenir needs, Westminster Bridge offers a large stall at the end of it western side. A solid crowd of feverish tourists can always be found here filling their bags with postcards, keychains, stickers, t-shirts and red telephone box ornaments. This constant flow of visitors must provide the guy who runs the stall a very decent living, although to me it looked like he hated every single one of them.
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