during 2005 UK trip to London
Day 3 Sunday April 4 (Part 2)
Just then, the worst downpour of my trip came down, but it let up as we started out and it only sprinkled a couple of times during the balance of the London bicycle tour. At other times, the sun came out. The other two riders were Maron (spelling?), a contractor from the Netherlands and his son. The boy had an Indian name which Peter couldn't pronounce and I didn't catch, so he was dubbed "Fred" for the tour.
The tour started out east along the south bank of the river with stops at London Bridge, the reconstructed Globe Theatre, the site of the original Globe, and the Clink (which was the jail of the Bishops of Winchester from 1107-1626).
Then we bicycled over the Tower Bridge to St. Katherine's Dock for a stop at Dickens' Inn, a pub in an 18th century brewery building that was moved to this site 25 years ago. Maron saw me order cider and brought one out to his son (not realizing it contained alcohol). After one sip the boy had to switch to Coke. We sat out in the sun and talked politics for about a half hour.
Then we rode along some canals and on into the East End, stopping at a small church yard and a little known large outdoor mural devoted to the 1936 Cable Street Riots. This area has seen generations of different immigrants for centuries. Currently there is a large community from Bangladesh.
We then stopped at Spitalfields Market and had a few minutes to explore on our own. My only purchase was a bottle of hot pepper sauce. Peter looked at it and sniffed that it was made in London and was not imported. I pointed out that it would be imported for me and Maron laughed. The balance of the tour included stops at Leadenhall Market, Aldegate, Royal Exchange, Mansion House, Guild Hall, and the Monument to the Great Fire of London, before crossing back over the river on London Bridge.
A fun 3 hours and 9 miles for only 15 pounds. Peter told me that the tour averages 12.5 people. If they run more than about 15 people, they bring along a trailing guide or break the tour into two groups. They offer different tours on Saturday & Sunday, with additional group tours during the week by arrangement
Following the ride I returned to the hotel, snacking on a cold Cornish pasty, to change and rest for an hour. Then back across town on the Circle Line to Monument Station. After a quick dinner at a nearby McDonald's (the biggest difference from the US is they give a discount for food to go) I returned to Monument Station to join the Haunted London tour with London Walks.
The guide never gave his name, but he did a pretty good job with the group of 70 or so folks. The tour got off to an awkward start when first a street person and then a smart aleck 20 something accosted the group.
This is a good walk, but you need to be in fairly good shape. The guide leads at a fast pace (I think he may have been afraid of a return of the hecklers) and starts with a climb many steps.
One of the interesting parts of this tour was visiting some of the same sites as the bicycle tour earlier in the day and hearing different things about the same sites.
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