528 Stairs and a Panda Hat

Yesterday was a fantastic day! I was slow to wake as most of the group rushed to get out the door for the changing of the guards and a visit to Westminster Abbey. It was nice to not feel like I was rushing some where for once. Since I had already done those things I decided to take an afternoon tour of St Paul’s Cathedral solo.

Last time I was in London we walked past the church just after closing time. I never got to go in. However, I do believe we broke out into Build Me Up, Buttercup as we walked away. We may have been delirious from lack of sleep at that point. Since that is my best memory of the cathedral I decided to make some new ones by heading on inside. Admission into the church gives you access to go most places but without video and photography. Which is really too bad because the church is amazing!!! I started my self guided tour (audio was available, but I like to wander on my own) by lighting a candle. It cost 30 pence to do so, but I really enjoy doing this, even though I am not catholic.

Trying to Get Most of it in The Photo

My Candle is The Bottom Left One
The tour offered a trip to the very top of the dome, which unfortunately, is not featured in the picture above. It is 528 stairs up from the cathedral floor but broken up into three sections. The first was 257 stairs to the Whispering Gallery. This overlooked the sanctuary of the cathedral. Unfortunately I couldn’t take any pictures inside. The windy stairs up, and a trip down a very, very narrow concrete passage caused me to be quite dizzy as I entered the very high up gallery. I sat for a moment to compose myself and to decide if I wanted to brave the rest of the way up. I decided to go for it, despite my better judgement.
The next gallery was an additional 119 steps up. These stairs were even more narrow and windy. I immediately regretted my decision to continue on. However, it is a one way trip so you really can’t turn back which made me feel even more panicky. By the time I reached the Stone Gallery I felt at ease. The wind was cool and the view was awesome! 
Check Out Those Stairs

View of Millennium Bridge From Stone Gallery

Windy Self Portrait

And at this point I really had to make the decision of whether or not I was going to complete my mission and continue onward and upward! Of course I decided to push my comfort to the max and decided to move on. Again, after about 10 stairs I regretted my decision, especially knowing that I still had 142 stairs to go! I was definitely winded but it was honestly the spiral staircases that were making me feel like I was about to tip over or vomit. I was able to make it to the top and was so glad that I did! It was a breath taking journey and a breath taking view! There was a guy right at the top ready to take my photo. Due to the wind it turned out to be less than framable, but I will still share it with you.

Can You Spot The London Eye?

That Looks Better

Can You See Tower Bridge?

Thames From St Paul’s Dome

And as I started my descend I said a quick prayer of thanks thinking the worst was over. How wrong was I! If you think the spiral up is bad, just think actually having to look down at your feet so you don’t go tumbling to your death in one of the most beautiful cathedrals, all the way down 528 stairs!

Down we go

Spiral, And Then Another, And Another

My Keens Helped me Arrive Safely to Ground Level

You would think after that physical and emotional challenge I would be spent. Not in London though! You must keep going! Seven of us had tickets to Zoo Lates. It is an after hours London Zoo party for anyone 18+ (legal drinking age in the UK) and you are able to enjoy drinks, street food, animals, music and performances. It turned out to be a very, very fun night! We even got a neat animal hat to go along with our themed night. If you are curious, we did wear them the whole entire time we were at the zoo, for the whole entire long walk around the park home, and even after we entered the dorms. YOZO- You Only Zoo Once.

Panda, Penguin, Lady Lion, Moose, and Two Feathered Divas

Work it

Waiting to See The Penguin Show

Moose’n it up

We all seemed to be disappointed after the penguin show, but I was really anxious for the Twisted Cabaret in the Amphitheatre. After waiting too long, and discovering too late, it was a complete waste of time. Too bad, we could have been seeing more animals. We still made the most of it and ended up sitting on the ground for the rest of our time in the zoo enjoying some street food (too much of it), drinks (probably too much of those too), and having lots of laughs in our hats (never enough). 

Enjoying Ourselves
Waiting For The Bad Show

Alexis and I

Cassie and Alexis

Final Group Shot

On Our Long Walk Home

If you are thinking we looked like silly Americans all night, I can assure you there were people more properly dressed than us. Many came dressed head to toe in animal costumes! The Minnesota Zoo should really start doing this type of event!


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