The Beauty of a Night Stroll: Big Ben, Bohemian Rhapsody and Our Walk on the South Bank

A perfect Sunday.  Start my day at the Museum of Natural History, follow it up with a ride on the London Eye, enjoy Sunday roast (and Janey’s birthday) at a wonderful restaurant, enjoy a scrumptious dessert, and then take a walk through a graffiti laden tunnel towards the Thames, walk along the South bank, listen to a beautiful rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody, photograph the lights, feel the energy of the city and listen to the ringing of Big Ben.  So much goodness.  Let me break this down a little for you.

We started our day off at the Museum of Natural History (more details on that to come).  We had been broken into two groups that day, so the two groups met up in front of the London Eye, just in time for our ride (details here).  Because it was Sunday, and in honour of Janey’s Birthday, we had reservations at a lovely neighbourhood restaurant around the bend from the Eye to enjoy Sunday Roast.  We also enjoyed (for the first time this trip) a lovely dessert – complete with birthday candle for Janey.  Following our dinner we were headed back home for an early night in (which is well deserved after such a busy first 7 days).  Since the group was headed back with the other chaperones, I wanted to take advantage of the great weather and location, and head back over to the pier to photograph Big Ben and the London Eye, all lit up.  So many European cities, complete with their iconic landmarks, have the most extraordinary vibe at night, and night strolling is one of my favourite things to do.  

I continued along with the group back towards the Tube station – through a dedicated graffiti tunnel.  My instincts were to assume this was a sketchy tunnel, but at second glance it was actually a tunnel of art.  Not gang related graffiti tagging, but masterpieces, creative expressions, the occasional political or social statement.  Overall – a really cool shortcut on the way home.  Right around the corner from the Eye and the Tube I bid the group farewell as they headed back home.  At this juncture a small group decided heard of my plan and decided they wanted to join me on my stroll.  And so myself, Mr. Becker, Mr. Dewinetz, Janey, Shelby, Serena and Celina headed towards the Thames.

The authorized graffiti tunnel
More of the authorized graffiti tunnel

Walking along side Jubilee park, the blue lights of the London Eye lit up the ominous cloud filled nights sky.  While I utilized the various posts, benches and rails to stabilize my camera, nothing is really a substitute for a good tripod and remote.  But even without the perfect photo, every moment of the walk was a welcome breath of fresh air.  The girls hopped up on the posts to post in front of the night Eye, and many photos were snapped as we drew closer to the river.

Janey, Shelby, Serena and Celina on the posts, with London Eye in the background.
Best Caption I could get of the London eye, with group in the foreground walking towards it.  Needed more time and a tripod.  But the view was incredible either way.

Along the bank of the Thames there were various platforms carved out or elevated to allow local artists to showcase their talents.  When coming across an abandoned platform, the 4 girls who had joined my decided to lip-sync and act/interpret the lyrics to the great Queen hit – “Bohemian Rhapsody.”  There is something awesome that happens when something so random, spontaneous, humorous, and authentic like this happens – you never forget it.  Also – you instantly hit record on your camera so that you can share this gem with one and all:

Following the musical interlude and a few hundred photo attempts, we crossed over the Westminster Bridge towards Big Ben.  It was nearing 9:00 pm, and so we decided to wait the extra few minutes to hear the bell chime before heading home.  In our attempt to take photos in front of the Palace of Westminster, we were photobombed by a couple of mimes who were quickly looking for a hand out – this is something that commonly happens to tourist.  I’m sure many are pressured to hand over a pound or two, but we had no problem shaking out head and quickly walking away.  Confidence is key in situations like that.  

Palace of Westminster and Bell Tower
Bell Tower, Group with the mimes, and Mr. Becker and I in front of the tower, 5 minutes before 9.

As 9:00 pm came, Big Ben echoed loudly (and in tune and good time) – a moment well worth waiting for.    A rewarding walk, and a wonderful treat at the end of a wonderful day.  

And I wasn’t the only one who loved it.  “I liked walking by the Thames at night and hearing Big Ben ring. It was nice to see how everything was out up and how different things are at night compared to during the daytime. And yes, we did have some fun there and on the way back too :D” – Shelby

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