In her first blog post of the summer, CAPA London blogger Courtney Risner shares the sites she saw on a CAPA bus tour around this global city. Read more and check out her photos from the Tower Bridge to Buckingham Palace, and much more!
Welcome! I am finally in London, and by virtual extension, so are you. It is my first week out and about in the city and I want you to come along!
This week, I went on a bus tour of London arranged by CAPA for me and my fellow students. I was so excited to finally get out and see everything I’ve seen in pictures, on TV, and in all my favorite movies my entire life. So, on Tuesday, gleaming and giddy at 8am, my roommates and I grabbed our bags and headed out for the day.
The CAPA London Center.
Having only had one day before this to get to know the Tube, we impressed ourselves by finding our way to the CAPA Center without getting lost. It was so nice to gather around the famous red door and finally see all my friends in person.
The Tower Bridge.
The Houses of Parliament.
Around 9am, a big red bus pulled up and we all piled on. We filed into our own rows (mostly for safety precautions, but we’ll pretend it was luxury). As we drove off, our tour guide told us about all the sites we’d see today and pointed out a few others as we drove by, such as Trafalgar Square, Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament, the Ritz Hotel, the Globe Theatre, London Bridge, and many more. But, there were a few distinguished spots where we hopped off the bus and explored.
The dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral.
St. Paul’s Cathedral, designed by architect Sir. Christopher Wren in 1710.
St. Paul’s Chapel
Take your time. Go ahead, soak it in a little longer. You can read this in a minute, I won’t be offended. It’s nearly impossible to take your eyes off of this beautiful building. We got off the bus to go see this architectural marvel up close and walk around the entire perimeter to truly take it all in. The dome of the chapel is one of the largest in the world and let me tell you, it looks even bigger in person. St. Paul’s Chapel should be one of the seven wonders of the world in my humble, amature-architect option.
Millennium Bridge completed in 2002. It IS still standing, despite what it says below.
You’re going to have to bear with me while I geek out for a moment. This was one of my favorite stops on the tour. Now, to the... uncultured eye, we’ll call it, this may just look like another one of London’s many beautiful bridges. But, those eyes would be tragically blind to the true cultural relevance of it. The Millennium Bridge was used as a filming location in the sixth installment in one of the highest grossing movie series of all time: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. In the film, the Death Eaters fly through London destroying everything in their path, including the Millennium Bridge. I am a Harry Potter superfan, so seeing this bridge was a life-long dream come true.
Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London.
It is said that if the ravens that live in the tower ever leave, London will fall.
The Tower of London
Crossing over to the north bank of the River Thames, we went to look at the Tower of London (at least that’s what people who want to say it in one breath call it. The official name is Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London). Though originally built as a royal residence in the 11th century, the Tower of London has had many uses during the course of its history. In the Middle Ages, it was used to protect London, and even had a tortue chamber for its prisoners. Fortunately, the castle has ceased its violent activities and is now home to the Yeomen Warders and their families. But, there’s still a catapult out on the lawn, so I still wouldn’t try anything funny if I were you.
Not to be too predictable, but we did in fact save the best for last. Our final stop was the beauty and pride of Britain: Buckingham Palace. Walking up to the palace for the first time is a memory I will never forget. The sheer size of the palace is breathtaking. Add in the gold iron gates and the Queen Victoria Memorial standing in front, it’s unparalleled to any other sight I have seen before. Unfortunately, the Queen wasn’t actually there because she typically spends the summer months at her northern residence, Windsor Castle. However, we still got to see the guards patrol the palace in their brilliant red uniforms and the flowers around the courtyard in full bloom as summer crept in. We even saw someone entering the palace gates in a horse drawn carriage. Our tour guide told us it was most likely an established citizen or local diplomatic guest, but in my retellings of the story, it’s going to be Queen Elizabeth ll herself.
This tour showed me how beautiful and expansive London truly is. I am so excited to spend the next couple months getting to know and exploring more areas of this historic yet modern city. I hope you’ll join me for more of my adventures! Until next time, cheers.
Courtney Risner is an official CAPA London blogger for summer 2021, sharing her story in frequent posts on CAPA World. A Journalism and Political Science major from the University of Missouri, she is studying abroad in London this summer.
Courtney's journey continues all summer so stay tuned.