Today was all about walking and acquainting ourselves with the city. While my legs may fall off, I was so excited to finally get to tour this beautiful city. One thing I noticed throughout the day was the old and new weaving together in the landscape, architecture, and culture of the city. Our morning walking tour of the traditional tourist sites, such as Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, and the Houses of Parliament, showed me the traditional architecture that has been in the city for hundreds of years. However, crawling throughout these historic landmarks were bustling streets full of cars and busses, and the Tube was running right below our feet. While London continues to take pride the buildings that showcase their extensive history, the city is extremely modern.
During our second walking tour of Kings Cross station, St Pancreas, and the University of the Arts, the disparities between old and new architecture were highlighted again. King’s Cross station is an extremely old building, but inside held Eurotrains and modern art. In the University of the Arts, Carol Ann pointed out to us that the old garage markings on the brick walls of the University. The city allowed the University to use an old building, but set rules to ensure that history was not destroyed.
After our walking tours, we went to The London Eye. It was amazing to see a bird’s EYE (hah) view of the city, and the experience again highlighted the juxtaposition of old and new throughout the city. We saw Big Ben and The Houses of Parliament from the top of the wheel, but the eye itself is only about 14 years old. Londoners take pride in this new piece of architecture, and it has become almost as much a fixture of London as Big Ben.
I’d like to think that this is a reflection of the culture of London. The city may be old, but the people are forward thinking, constantly looking for ways to modernize the city, without loosing sight of the past.