Thursday, 19 December 2013

Bussing round the town

A young cousin is visiting from South Africa and has been staying with us for a couple of days.  December is not the nicest time to be visiting London, and it can be a bit daunting if you don't know where to start, so I suggested we do a round trip on the buses, so he could see some of the main sights.

We started off on a 35, which you can catch from outside my block of flats.  This took us via Camberwell and Walworth to the Elephant, and then to London Bridge station, crossing London Bridge and then up Bishopsgate, passing the Monument and the far side of the Bank of England, to Liverpool Street Station, where we got off.  We walked through the station to the bus station at the other side, and got on a no 11 - now a Boris-bus - at the start of its route.

I have to say, I wasn't very impressed by the Boris bus.  The interior is all dark red, mimicking the original Routemasters before they were refurbished, and the lights pretend to be like them, too, only of course they are modern halogen bulbs, not the incandescent bulbs of days gone by.  If you get on at the front, it just feels like an ordinary bus, only it is less comfortable, I thought.  The ride quality was good, but the seats were hard and not nearly as comfortable as the 35 we had just left.  Of course, when you want to get off you can do so at the back, or you can, I believe, get on that way, too.  But that doesn't impinge - it's not an obvious thing to do with it, although I suppose it is different if you are catching it along the course of its route.

Which, of course, is ideal for tourists.  The bus goes back down to Bank, this time passing the front of the Bank of England, and then along past St Paul's Cathedral, down Ludgate Hill, along Fleet Street and the Strand  passing King's College and Somerset House.  I kept expecting it to turn left over Waterloo Bridge, but of course it was not a 59 so it didn't!  It went straight on, past Charing Cross Station with its eponymous cross, to Trafalgar Square, and then down Whitehall, passing Horse Guards, Downing Street, the Banqueting House, the Cenotaph and so on, to Parliament Square, where you can see the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, St Margaret's Westminster and so on (including Central Hall and the Middlesex Guildhall which is now Westminster Crown Court).  The bus then goes up Victoria Street on its way to Chelsea and Fulham, but we got off at Victoria, and caught a no 2 back to Brixton.

The 2 goes over Vauxhall Bridge, and then down South Lambeth Road to Stockwell and thence to Brixton, but it was dark by then, and one couldn't see a great deal.  And then it was raining, so we got a P5 home.