As I hinted yesterday, that was not the last full day. We had forgotten that our flight did not leave until late in the evening, so we had a “bonus” full day. Given our state of weariness we opted to have an easy day focusing on the Tate Modern art gallery. We had difficulty finding it on the London map, so asked for help from the concierge. She unerringly pointed us to a location on the map very close to where we thought it was – on the other side of the Thames from the Tate Britain. However, I was troubled by the fact that it said “Lambeth Palace” at that location. Undeterred we made our way there on the Underground. Once back on the surface Joan asked a passing cyclist for direction: forty minutes on foot that-away, he said. He then pointed to the correct location on the map, giving us a d’oh moment. Back in the Underground, helpful staff advised the most efficient route to the nearest station at London Bridge.
This was fortuitous because we also got to see Southwark Cathedral – one of the oldest in the city.
The gallery itself is housed in a converted power station, so not particularly attractive on the outside. Most of what was the turbine hall is still a vast empty space – quite impressive. The galleries are in what were workshops and offices. There was the odd interesting work, but most of what was on display did not speak to our tastes.
We wanted to eat lunch in the restaurant in the Tate as a treat, but the wait was too long. We had a drink at the bar instead, enjoying the great view on the other side, including St Paul’s cathedral.
After lunch in the café we hopped across on the Millenium Bridge (foot- and cycle traffic only) and on to St Paul’s where we looked in briefly. We then meandered around the streets in the general direction of the Bank, the Underground station for our route home.
The Guild had its own church in one corner – St Lawrence Jewry – an intriguing name.
Further on we were attracted by a gilded figure on a dome atop a massive building. After walking around the side to the main, rather unobtrusive entrance, we daringly popped inside. The porters were only too willingly to accommodate the rubber-necking tourists and allowed us to have a quick peek around the entrance hall. I naïvely asked them what this building was: Sir, this is the Bank of England! Oh.
Across the street was the Royal Exchange, emphasis on “was”. It now houses upmarket fashion shops and bars. Attractive inside and out. On the square was a statue (this is for Andy) of the man who first built a machine for boring the deep Underground tunnels.
Our return to the hotel was uneventful, as was the taxi trip to Paddington and the Heathrow Express to the airport. We got there very early, so had quite a good meal in one of the eateries there. We had more cash left over than expected and wanted to buy something, but could not find anything we wanted to splurge on. That surely is a sign of getting old.
As on the outbound leg, the flight to Hong Kong was awful. I commiserated with the tall man my height in the seat in front of me while we were both standing around at the back of the aircraft to relieve the agony. He was well-travelled and agreed that Virgin Atlantic’s seats on this plane were the worst he had ever experienced. Fortunately for us, VA had decided about four months ago to cease all flights into Australia as of June, so they re-booked us on Qantas for the leg home from HK. That worked very well for us, not least because we had used up inactive frequent-flyer points to upgrade to cattle class exit row seats.
Total flight time was 21.5 hours and we landed early at 6:50am. It had escaped us that this is peak hour so we had to stand all the way to St Leonards.
We got home at about 9:30am to be greeted by a driveway full of leaves, and mould on a number of surfaces, but with the hot water turned back on and a bottle of fresh milk in the fridge – thanks Roland!
Part way through our recovery nap, we were roused by a phone call from a sub-continent person allegedly from “Telstra Technical Department”, that out Internet connection was being terminated due to misuse. I used semi-polite choice words to tell him what I thought of that, given that this was not our ISP and we had not used our computers for seven weeks.