The cold bit through my gloves. Even my nose was cold as ice! But excitement coursed through my body, keeping it warm. My eyes feasted on an evening London by the banks of River Thames. What had seemed like a concrete jungle by day had suddenly transformed into a festival of lights by sunset. The river by the London Eye Pier was alight with dancing reflections of the innumerable buildings by its banks.
As is customary for most tourists, I hopped into one of the giant Ferris wheel pods for a slow view of the historic city. I could see what the fuss was all about: from up there, the city looked like it was celebrating its own version of Diwali. It was probably a good thing that I got to gape at the pretty lights before I got off the pod for the river cruise. Because a slow sail by the London Eye Pier is not merely a feast for the eyes, but also the mind.
The first of the monuments I saw was the Palace Of Westminster. Actually, I’d say it was ‘Big Ben’ that was visible first. The giant clock is a landmark most tourists are familiar with. What I–and probably, many others on the boat–didn’t know was that the clock tower is a part of the palace. The palace sure seemed like it was straight out of a Disney movie, but I really couldn’t see what’s so fascinating about a big clock whose bells chime every hour. Turns out, during World War II, Big Ben’s chiming indicated that Britain hadn’t been defeated. It was the sound people hoped to hear on the radio at the time. Big Ben was a harbinger of safety for a country that was at war.
Big Ben was just one of the sights on this cruise tour that had a historical significance to it. Two more were right ahead. I’d watched the TV series The Tudors to learn a bit about England’s history. So, when the guide on the cruise announced that we should look ahead for the Tower Of London, I was all eyes and ears. I instantly recalled the sad and unfair beheading of Anne Boleyn, King Henry VIII’s second wife, at this palace.