London guided walk: Between bridges (Part 1)
Written by Barbara Oliveira (Astor Museum)
I find that London is a great place for those who love to wander in search of wonders. Unlike what most people think, you don’t need to have a fat wallet in order to have fun in a city where you can discover something new, or something old, if only you know where to look. For those who value experiences over expenses, I recommend allowing yourself to get lost in the city while you are out exploring, for this is the best way to really get to know it and to uncover its hidden gems. But, for those who prefer a more planned adventure, there is a walk that I always recommend and always will, and it is one of my favourite things to do in London. And it’s completely free!
My walk usually starts at the south end of the Waterloo bridge, and it goes all the way to Tower Bridge. I recommend doing it after dusk when you can fully experience all the lights and attractions, as well as the variety of busking artists that you will find along the way. Under the Waterloo Bridge you will find the British Film Institute, more commonly known as BFI. This is a wonderful place for cinephiles of all tastes looking for a place that shows films outside of the mainstream at a reasonable price for London.
On top of that, you also have a mediatheque, where you can watch a great number of films, documentaries and other bits and pieces from the extensive BFI archive; a library fully stocked with material about films; a shop where you can get your hands on didactic books, DVDs, films, series, novelties and foreign cinema articles; two bars and restaurants where you can hang out with your friends and enjoy delicious meals, both inside and outside by the river. In front of the BFI there is also a second-hand book market, for those who love getting books at a good price.
After the BFI you’ll find the National Theatre, another great place both for plays, play related material, which can be purchased in their amazing bookshop, or just to hang out in their massive and comfortable lobby, where you can also have a bite to eat or a cup of coffee if you want to.
As you keep walking, notice the trees decorated with beautiful lights, there for your delight all year round. Eventually, you will arrive at a place called The Beach Party, a cosy corner of the river which often forms a little beach during the low tide, and where a lot of people go to enjoy the view and the sand art that sometimes pops up. Behind the beach, there is a little street filled with artisan shops and places to eat and drink, which I encourage you to explore. Further ahead you have the OXO tower, also an artsy centre of sorts, with a lovely view from its bar and restaurant at the top.
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