It was the Romans who first built a city where London stands today, bridged the river Thames and constructed a road network to connect Londinium with the rest of the country.
From around AD50 to AD410 – a period as long as that which separates Queen Elizabeth I from our present Queen – this was the largest city in Britannia. Londinium was pre-eminent as a port, and goods were imported from all over the known world
I was on my way, with my friend Siddhartha on a six hour walking tour around London – we walked fast, bearing and braving the rain and the cold and fast because there was so much to see. My first time in London, for the first time in the famous ‘tube’ and of course the Brit weather. From getting caught up in debates about how ‘Jesus is the only true god’ to ‘How the monopoly of a few is screwing us all’ at the Speakers corner, to Leicester square, where a rump steak nearly left us penniless – it was all quite exciting. From the very British Hyde Park to Chinatown, the contrast was pretty pronounced, yet smooth.
We bristled with rage at huge commemorative structures erected of Havelock and others for their stellar role in crushing the so-called sepoy mutiny and amused ourselves silly seeing arbid structures in the middle of parks and columns, which had all been given names and meanings – for instance, a piece of rock that the Norwegians apparently gifted the British (why?!!). We were also in time to witness an inspection of the royal guards, which in the end was a little un-exciting but then, he!he!, one of the guards actually raised his stiff upper-lip to warn us not to go beyond a certain line – and we were thinking those dolls werent allowed to talk!
Walking to the Ttemms, crossing over the dozen bridges that go across the river, we took in the skyline – the eye, little ben and Westminister coming together to make a pretty picture. Smart simulations of the prisons and the London fire were avoided, since they looked sufficiently spooky and we were loving the fresh air of the TTemms.
Some of the art and the stories with them are simply stunning and it never ceases to surprise you how a tiny island charted the histories of the whole world for centuries together! Clicking our heels along Clink street, we went past a lot of history itself, with a Starbucks, Nero Cafe and Pizza Express punctuating the monotony of the past, housed in these buildings that were centuries old.