We left lovely Porto in the rain, arriving in London during the late afternoon. By the time we arrived at our Airbnb near Baker Street—the home of Sherlock Holmes—the sun had set on day 32. But that wouldn’t stop us from doing a little sightseeing.
We exited Westminster Station directly into the massive shadow of Elizabeth Tower, better known as Big Ben. Other than a few people wandering the neighborhood and the evening commuters dashing by, we more or less had the area to ourselves.
Around the corner, the Palace of Westminster, home to the UK’s infamous Parliament, lay quiet. Big Ben anchors the gothic-style building at one end, while Victoria Tower—once the world’s tallest non-religious building—proudly flies the Union Flag at the other.
Across the street, the famous Westminster Abbey was equally quiet as flood lights highlighted the rose window on the north entrance. The abbey was founded in the 10th century and the current structure was built from 1245 forward. The neo-gothic western facade was a late addition in the 18th century. Royal weddings have been held in the abbey since 1100; most recently the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton.
Back near the station, the only crowd we’d seen all night lined the Westminster Bridge to take photos of the London Eye. Marking the unofficial beginning of the South Bank entertainment district, Europe’s largest Ferris wheel cast a colorful light upon the River Thames.
We hopped back on the tube toward London Bridge. Although it’s the subject of a famous song, London Bridge itself isn’t much more than a concert slab spanning the Thames. Its neighbor, the Tower Bridge, is the real star.
The 120-year-old suspension bridge connects the South Bank to the Tower of London. A four-year restoration project was finished in time for the 2012 Summer Olympics, adding a blue and white color scheme and LED lights that make the bridge a must-see on a London evening.
More Photo of the Day posts from our January-March 2016 trip to Europe