When you live in a city, you very rarely actually do the touristy things that city is famous for. I have never seen the Crown Jewels. I was a small child the last time we went to the Tower of London. And I must have looked at St Paul's dozens of times from across the river at Tate Modern and thought "I should really go back there". And so I did.
Yesterday, my friend Alex and I found ourselves inside one of Christopher Wren's most famous creations. Despite it being a sunny Saturday in August, it wasn't completely overwhelmed with people as I had feared it would be. It really is an awe-inspiring structure - vast, ornate, beautiful. The famous dome is huge, and massively high - it goes up to a top point of about a hundred metres inside. The ceilings are decorated in gold imagery, with the dome itself being painted with scenes from St Paul's life.
In this dome is the whispering gallery, so called because you are supposed to be able to whisper on one side and be able to hear it on the opposite side of the dome due to that damn pesky science stuff. We couldn't really try this out for a couple of reasons - it was already quite noisy up there and the sweaty palms that Alex was experiencing weren't from being in a highly religious space, but a small amount of vertigo that I didn't know about before. We then climbed up to the external viewing platform of the Stone Gallery at around fifty metres up and then continued our climb to the smaller external viewing platform of the Golden Gallery at around eighty metres up. From here, you could see the Crystal Palace television aerial and Wembley Stadium in the distance, and there were spectacular views of the City and the South Bank - wonderful stuff.
There was only really one negative aspect to our visit - the fact that you were not allowed to take photos, even without a flash, and the officious and humourless way this was enforced by the stewards. Yes, they're probably dealing with more idiots every day than you or I could possibly imagine, but they were just so dour and severe when telling us off that they made me a little bit angry. A certain type of Christian that doesn't act in a particularly 'Christian' way.
Anyway, all in all it was completely worth it, especially as Alex lied and got us in on student rates. We are most definitely going to Hell for that one.