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June 18, 2012 / Stephanie Vermillion

The Grand Tour: Trekking from Tower of London to Tesco, Kensington

My dad and I have the tradition of reading and watching A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens at least once every Christmas. So, I figured since I couldn’t celebrate Father’s Day with my dad due to the ocean between us, the next best thing would be visiting Mr. Dickens’ famous sites throughout London on a self-guided walking tour. Unfortunately, and not surprisingly, that idea fell through.

If you’ve been reading my blog much this summer, you’ll probably have the same reaction I did when first hearing “self guided” — there’s no way a directionally-challenged Stephanie should ever think of guiding herself through the narrow side streets of London. But, believe it or not I was actually fully equipped with maps and directions … I just didn’t think about the fact I have no WiFi for the Guardian’s self-guided tour audio file until I was eight miles away from home. So there went that idea.

I thought about taking the Tube all the way back home and working on some homework, but then I reminded myself 1) I’m already mostly finished with my assignments (mostly…), 2) I’m in the heart of London right next to the beautiful Tower Bridge, and 3) The sun is shining and no rain is in the (near) future. So I did what any normal person would do: Took a 7.8 sightseeing, round-about walk home. (I didn’t realize it was that long until a few minutes ago when I MapMyRUN‘d it … definitely making up for it with an extra dessert tonight!)

Although it turned into a longer walk than I expected, and lacked the Father’s Day charm I had planned on, it ended up being a perfect mix of London’s history and beauty along with some exercise and much-needed Vitamin D. (And I’m sure since I got my dad the best Father’s Day present ever he’ll let my Dickens disaster slide for now).

St. Paul's Cathedral, London, England

St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, England

If you’re wondering how I managed to walk eight miles without even realizing it, ponder no more. With all of these sights seen in just one day, I’m sure you wouldn’t notice the pain from breaking in flip flops, either.

My Sunday “stroll” of sightseeing was as follows:

  • Alighted tube at Monument Station, realized WiFi audio tour was not an option, stood in middle of sidewalk trying to comprehend my situation (and looked really smart at this time, I’m sure), walked to London Bridge and began my tour
  • Walked halfway across London Bridge to get view of the Tower Bridge
  • Followed Thames route to Millennium Bridge, walked halfway across and back
  • Visited St. Paul’s Cathedral, the inside is gorgeous (I couldn’t take photos, but here are a few I found online)
  • Enjoyed some soft-serve chocolate ice cream while walking around St. Paul’s Churchyard
  • Decided I needed to see The Strand since we stayed there last visit in 2004, so walked down Fleet Street (a typical, beautiful London city street with old, ancient buildings and a historic, awe-inspiring atmosphere)
  • Turned onto The Strand, stumbled upon the Somerset House with children and families playing in the sprinklers to celebrate a warm, sunny Father’s Day (wish you were there, Dad!)
  • Walked to Trafalgar Square where a huge Indian festival (Festival of the Chariots) was taking place, which I of course had to walk through when I saw the fun, exciting song and dance
  • Went down Horse Guards Road and decided I’d detour and say hello to Big Ben, Parliament and the Westminster Abbey
  • Doubled back and walked my usual running route home through St. James’s Park, Green Park, Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, at a much slower, more relaxing pace – which is perfect for those peaceful gardens
  • And stopped down at Tesco on Gloucester to get food before making it back to The Crofton with two feet full of blisters, a week’s worth of groceries and some great sightseeing photography!
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