How To Walk Across London Bridge – Without Setting Foot In Blighty
Written by Jaillan Yehia
I’d been living in North America for over a year and was in search of a taste of home. So when I heard that I could walk across London Bridge without the expense or hassle of a transatlantic flight I was all ears.
Soon I found myself traversing John Rennie’s original London Bridge without leaving the states, as the structure that spanned the Thames for 137 years now graces Arizona’s rather more glamorous answer to Milton Keynes: Lake Havasu City.
Prior to finding myself hugging City of London dragons in Arizona’s mock-Tudor mile, I have to admit I was a bit of a Jon Snow when it came to Lake Havasu City; in other words, I knew nothing.
The first I heard of this highly unique part of the Grand Canyon State was simply that Lake Havasu City’s founding father had shipped London Bridge over from England in the 1970’s to form an impressive centre-stage to this new conurbation – and like many visitors before me that curiosity alone was enough to see me plot a trip to see London Bridge Arizona faster than you can say St. George.
At the risk of writing an entire post about how ignorant I am (or rather was) about Arizona, I have to admit that during my road trip through its terrain to reach Lake Havasu itself, I was stunned by the variety of different scenery and even climates I passed through within this one state. The preconception of Arizona being a one-trick desert-bound pony couldn’t be further from reality.
In fact I couldn’t put it any better than fellow travel blogger Curly Traveller who happened to be touring at the same time, and commented that this land-locked state actually has everything ‘cities, nature, parks, deserts, lakes’ not to mention beaches and of course the reason for my own trip, the 19th Century London Bridge.
Despite its man-made status (the entire city was carved out of the Arizona desert at the same time as the bridge was brought in) and its connection to England, Lake Havasu City’s lakeside area has the feel of a similarly positioned European city such as Geneva – fresh clean air, tranquil waters and a smattering of shore-side eateries – but happily the prices are not to Swiss standards, and the sun makes a far more frequent appearance than it would across the pond.
There’s a small British enclave adjacent to the bridge itself that you can’t miss, complete with red phone box, Trafalgar Square-style fountain and diminutive Landseer lions. While I was delighted to come across these little reminders of my beloved London, it was shame to learn that some of the more ambitious ideas for British-themed businesses hadn’t worked out; the ghosts of a pub and an afternoon tea shop were reminders of this.
My highlight here was a cute store selling hand-made soaps as well as a selection of tasteful and modern British toys, memorabilia and souvenirs, to which I of course succumbed.
I’m taken on a tour of the London Bridge Arizona by tourist office manager Jan, himself a native Dutchman – though for those wanting to take in the novelty and the views, a tour isn’t needed or compulsory but Jan certainly brought some of the history to life.
He pointed out everything from original 1940’s graffiti to metal sections of the structure made from melted down Napoleonic cannon balls dating back to the battle of Waterloo. I certainly surrendered to the temptation to take that all important selfie of a real-life Londoner, on London Bridge Arizona.
The London Bridge In Numbers
2.5 – The amount of dollars in millions, which was paid by lake Havasu City’s founder, for the bridge itself
3 – The number of years it took to transport the bridge to Arizona
4.5 – The cost in millions of dollars to transport the bridge, brick by brick, from London, England to Lake Havasu City, Arizona
6 – The time that the annual post-Thanksgiving evening swim across the river begins, with the first to reach the opposite bank having the honour of turning on the city’s Christmas lights
30 – The number of volunteers who man the tourist office supplying visitor information about the bridge
51 – The number of steps on London Bridge
1831 – The year the bridge was originally built
1942 – The year 2 American G.I.’s carved their names under the bridge before going to war, never imagining that one day their poignant signatures would be back in their homeland
1968 – The year that London Bridge was purchased by Robert McCulloch
1971 – The year of the bridge’s ‘Grand Opening’
SavoirThere was a guest of Go Lake Havasu
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