10 Stunning And Iconic Shots Of London

london eye With the 2012 Olympic Games only a few days away, we wanted to celebrate the beauty of London through unique photographs of the city’s iconic images and sites. While the Tower Bridge is a must-see attraction during the day, it’s even more worthwhile at night when it sparkles against a golden moon backdrop. Moreover, pictures of Big Ben at sunset, the city skyline reflected on the River Thames and an old-fashioned black and white photograph of the Houses of Parliament all pay tribute to this stunning city.

For a more visual idea of these beautiful and iconic shots, take at look at the gallery below. Looking for more London inspiration? Check out:

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[Above image via john.purvis; Gallery images via Big Stock]

10 best bridge walks around the world

sydney harbour bridgeAround there globe, there are many amazing bridges that combine interesting history, incredible architecture and breathtaking views. Crossing a great bridge, especially on foot, can be quite a memorable experience, not to mention it’s completely free. While it is hard to choose only ten, here is a list of some of the best bridge walks around the world that everyone should experience.

Sydney Harbour Bridge
Sydney, Australia

When it comes to the Sydney Harbour Bridge you have a few options. You can either walk across the arch-shaped structure from one end to the other, taking in views of Sydney Harbour and the Sydney Opera House, or you can climb to the top. In 2010, climbing the bridge was actually rated one of the World’s Top Ten Experiences by Lonely Planet. During the climb, which takes you up more than 300 feet, you will be given protective clothing to aid against the weather and will be secured by a wire lifeline. Beginning at the eastern side of the bridge, climbers will ascend to the summit and go down on the western end.Charles Bridge
Prague, Czech Republic

The historic Charles Bridge crosses the Vltava River and is about 1,700 feet long. Its construction began in 1357 under the sponsorship of King Charles IV. Today, the bridge is a lively attraction, with artists, entertainers, and marketers catering to tourists during the day. In the evening, the setting is a bit more peaceful and the bridge and Prague Castle are lit up, giving the structure an entirely different vibe. During both times, you will get great views of the city and its sites.

Brooklyn Bridge
New York, USA

One of the oldest suspension bridges in the United States, the Brooklyn Bridge connects Manhattan to Brooklyn and goes over the East River, giving walkers spectacular views of the New York City skyline. The main span of the structure is about 1,600 feet and is not only an icon of New York but also a National Historic Landmark. The bridge has been used during many situations by New Yorker’s to leave Manhattan on foot, such as during the blackouts of 1965, 1977, and 2003, as well as after the infamous 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.

henderson waves bridgeHenderson Waves Bridge
Singapore, South East Asia

The Henderson Waves Bridge is an 899-foot long pedestrian bridge that connects Mount Faber Park with Telok Blangah Hill Park. It is the highest pedestrian bridge in Singapore, sitting 118 feet above Henderson Road. What makes this bridge so special is it’s unique curved design, making it look similar to a roller coaster, with hidden alcoves and seats inside. Make sure to experience this bridge at night in between 7PM and 2AM when the LED lights are on.

Ponte Vecchio
Florence, Italy

The Ponte Vecchio is a Medieval arch bridge that spans the Arno River. It’s most famous for still having shops on it, as was once very common. Stroll across the bridge while perusing the goods of artisans, jewelers, and souvenir sellers while taking photos of Renaissance architecture. The bridge also has a bit of an ironic history. After being destroyed by floods and being rebuilt multiple times, it is the only bridge in Florence not destroyed during WWII.

Jacques Cartier Bridge
Montreal, Canada

The Jacques Cartier Bridge is a steel truss bridge that gives people access to Montreal Island, St. Helen’s Island, and Longueuil. It spans the Saint Lawrence River and walking over it will give you spectacular views of Montreal, especially at night. In the summer the bridge closes to vehicular traffic for the annual fireworks competition held at La Ronde, with the Jacques Cartier being the best viewing spot for the show, sometimes drawing more than 50,000 people.

golden gate bridgeThe Golden Gate Bridge
California, USA

The Golden Gate Bridge in a suspension bridge that spans the opening of the San Francisco Bay into the Pacific Ocean (also known as the Golden Gate) and connects San Francisco to Marin County. It has been declared one of the modern Wonders of the World by the American Society of Civil Engineers and has been said to be “possibly the most beautiful, certainly the most photographed, bridge in the world” by Frommer’s travel guide.

Tower Bridge
London, United Kingdon

While the stroll across the Tower Bridge is short, the views make this a must-experience. Often mistakenly referred to as the London Bridge, the structure holds two towers that are connected by two horizontal walkways. For a bit of an adventurous experience, go inside the towers to explore the exhibits of film, photos, and interactive displays. Then, walk across via the upper walkway for photo-worthy views of the Thames River and London’s famous sites.

Pont D’iéna
Paris, France

Of course, a bridge that gives views of the Eiffel Tower and the Chaillot Palace would have to be included in this list. The Pont D’iéna spans the Seine River and connects the Left Bank, where the Eiffel Tower is, to the district of Trocadéro on the Right Bank. Where the bridge begins on the Left Bank you will get the feeling that you are at a small fair, with the festive atmosphere and carousel ride. As you walk along, you can also see sculptures of warriors that were put there in 1853.

magdeburg water bridge germany Magdeburg Water Bridge
Magdeburg, Germany

The Magdeburg Water Bridge is a navigable aquaduct connecting Elbe-Havel Canal to the Mittellandkanal. This unique bridge crosses the Elbe River and, at 3,012 feet, is the longest navigable aquaduct in the world. Basically, this bridge is a raised body of water that sits over another body of water, which can be a pretty interesting sight (as you can see in the photo on the right from Wikipedia). Snap pictures of the German countryside while watching the ships as they pass by.

A medieval church, a lost village, and river walk in England

I’ve written about the Thames Path in an earlier post, but I recently discovered an even better stretch of that river trail that starts at a beautiful medieval abbey. So of course you folks get to enjoy the view without having to do the footwork. Aren’t I nice to you? Like all my hikes so far, this is an easy day trip from Oxford or London.

Dorchester Abbey is in the little village of Dorchester-on-Thames, easily reachable by direct bus from Oxford, or from London via Oxford. The Abbey dates from 1140 and has some wonderful stained glass, rare frescoes, and medieval tombs. There’s also an interesting little museum and when I was there, someone had drawn a chalk labyrinth on the floor. Church labyrinths have enjoyed a revival recently. Following their meandering lines is very relaxing and a good aid to meditation.

The town itself is worth a wander for its many old houses and 16th century inn, still taking guests and serving meals and drinks.

A short walk southeast of town are some interesting features. First are the The Dyke Hills, a set of parallel embankments that look like a dyke but in fact are prehistoric defenses. Beyond that is a nature reserve and a massive chalk hill called Castle Hill, so called because in prehistoric times there was a fort here. If you huff it all the way to the top, you’ll be rewarded with a magnificent sweeping view of the surrounding countryside, only slightly spoiled by the nearby Didcot nuclear power station. Enter the copse of beech trees and be rewarded with an amazing rushing sound as the strong, steady wind rustles the leaves. Stop at the Poem Tree, where in 1844 and 1845 Joseph Tubbs carved a poem into the bark. It’s no longer legible, but there’s a transcription on a plaque at its base, and even a website inspired by his work.

From Castle Hill you can see Day’s Lock on the river. Walk to it and head out for a country ramble on the Thames Path. From the lock it’s a flat, easy seven miles to Abingdon, a historic town that is a ten-minute bus ride from Oxford.

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One advantage to hiking the Thames Path is that it’s impossible to get lost. It may become a bit unclear in spots, but you never lose sight of it entirely and it never strays far from the river. A more complete description of this walk, with more pictures, can be seen here.

As you head out from Dorchester-on-Thames, you’ll pass by several little villages. The Didcot power station remains clearly visible for the first few miles. Try to ignore it. After a while you’ll cross Clifton Hampden bridge. Stop at the local pub, admire the thatched roof houses, and recharge the batteries.

Continuing on, you’ll pass through verdant, peaceful countryside, your only companions being the birds and the occasional river barge gliding down the river. Stop at Sutton Courtenay, where the Norman manor house dates to the 12th century. George Orwell is buried in the churchyard. I found this part of the hike to be a bit freaky. In the Late Middle Ages, Sutton Courtenay used to be much bigger than it is now, but for some reason most of the town was abandoned. You can still see the foundations of buildings and the faint traces of old roads. Nobody knows what happened. Did the Black Death wipe out the population? Did they get killed in some long-forgotten massacre? As I was passing by the abandoned part of town the clouds grew thick and a cold wind blew. I didn’t see any ghosts, but I felt like I was going to!

Barely two miles more and you’ll enter Abingdon, which I mentioned in my last post about the Thames Path. From there it’s an easy bus ride to Oxford, and then on to London. Enjoy!

Gadling Take FIVE — Week of May 30-June 5

It’s a new month and we’ve started a few new series. With Gadlinks, we’re browsing other travel blogs to let you in on what caught our attention each day. Aaron and Brenda are at the helm of this one.

Also, Jon Bowermaster is back, but now he’s traveling where pirates tread on the Indian Ocean. You can follow him at Bowermaster’s Adventures.

We’ve also embarked on 10 passengers we love to hate series. Yes, “hate ” is a strong word. But, aren’t there certain passengers who drive you a bit bonkers? See who bugs us.

Here are five other posts to add to your travel news pleasure:

  • If you’re thinking of a national park this summer, read Alison’s post on which parks are free and on what days. It’s good to know specifics. Even if you do have to pay for admission, national parks are terrific deals.
  • Sean has been walking along the Thames near Oxford, a read that makes you want to take an English countryside stroll.
  • Perhaps a trip along the Rio Grande Valley captures your fancy. Kraig knows how you might win one by stopping in a Patagonia store.
  • And for anyone who wants to come to New York City, but wonders how safe it is, never fear, Tom has proof– thanks to Mayor Micheal Bloomburg, that the Big Apple is better than ever. I’m in NYC right now, and I’m much more comfortable walking here late at night than I am in Columbus, Ohio. There’s nothing wrong with Columbus at night, but here, the city is alive well after dark.

Wherever you are this weekend, I hope there’s something interesting going on to suit your fancy.