Here we have St. Paul's Cathedral. See the two arrows? Those are the outdoor galleries (walkways) that the girls and I climbed to today! (Yes, Mom, you can cover your eyes now!)
We climbed up 528 steps, stopping at the Whispering Gallery (indoor, lower than both of the arrows), then continuing to the Stone Gallery and finally to the Golden Gallery. It was definitely a bit of a workout. The stairs to the Whispering Gallery are broad, shallow, wide spiral stairs. Piece of cake, even though there are 257 of them. Once you leave the Whispering Gallery, you are warned that it's steep, narrow, and one-way - no turning back. From the Whispering Gallery up to the Stone Gallery, the stairs - 119 of them - are spiral, but made of concrete. They're not very uniform, meaning that you have to watch your step, and the overhead clearance varies, meaning that you have to watch that you don't hit your head. At one point the passageway was narrow enough that my shoulders touched both sides. The views from the Stone Gallery are very good, but the railings are high and obstruct the view enough to make it difficult to take photos. The climb from the Stone Gallery to the Golden Gallery is on spiral iron stairs - 152 of them. The Golden Gallery is small - we had to wait at the top of the stairs for a few minutes for enough people to move on so that we could get out the door. The views are spectacular! And strangely, the railings are much lower here, a little lower than my shoulders, so it was easy to take pictures. The total climb to the Golden Gallery takes you 85 meters above the cathedral floor.
The climb back down is blessedly much less strenuous than the climb up. From the two upper galleries, there are separate stairs just like the "up" ones, so the traffic is again one-way. Once you descend to the Whispering Gallery, you rejoin the wide, easy spiral stairs for the rest of the way down. I told the girls that someday when they're 80, they'll visit again and that then they'll be really happy that they made the climb now!
We toured the interior of the cathedral as well, but photography was forbidden, so I'll just have to take my memories with me. Once again, the ceilings were my favorite part of the whole place. Completely amazing!
This next picture is of the main entrance of the cathedral. You can't see the steps in this shot, because I couldn't back up any farther to get it all in. Last summer, Katrina went to "Kids on Broadway" camp, and they learned and performed several songs from Mary Poppins. Katrina's favorite was "Feed the Birds", which begins, "Early each day, to the steps of St. Paul's, the little old bird woman comes..." I was treated to several beautiful rounds of the song while we sat on the steps of St. Paul's! I love moments when everything comes together like that.
Here's some great outdoor sculpture that was nearby, part of a temporary architecture exhibit.