From Paris to Moscow, great rivers are often the spine of a city. Sadly, so many city riversides are neglected and London is a perfect example-much of the bankside space of the Thames through the capital is given up to ugly office buildings and endless blocks of apartments. However, happily, there is a stretch where imagination has been allowed some elbow room.
Twenty years ago, London’s South Bank was a place to visit for a quick culture fix, but woe betide anyone who lingered. Badly lit at night and with a reputation for attracting opportunistic ne’er-do-wells, it was a dreadful waste of one of the best pedestrian walkways along the river. In 2013, the same stretch is unrecognisable: the beach has been resurrected, for a start. A potted community garden meanders alongside the water by Waterloo and the National Theatre’s pop-up bar is stuffed with props from past productions.
It’s the perfect place for the stiff drink you’ll need after seeing its brilliant Othello. Climb the winding concrete stairs, and you’ll find yourself in a rooftop garden filled with wildflowers and grasses large enough to get lost in as you watch the sun set over the river with a glass of English fizz. As the rosy memories of last year’s Olympics continue to glow it’s nice to know London is still making an effort.
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