A Summer In London

Planning. I found myself packing straight after I finished my duty at 10pm of Saturday 20th of June. I filled my new delsey cabin trolley with 3 pairs of jeans, 4 shirts, 4 light jackets and a pair of shoes…and I’m ready. Am I really ready? I guess I’m not! I knew I had always wanted to see a picture of myself standing in front of a world famous landmark and the only way I could have this is to go to that place and bring a camera along! When I went to Singapore a few years back, I have well researched the place before landing there. I have visited all the websites, have maps gathered from travel agency and studied the location and read all the reviews about the hotels in Singapore and a complete list of itinerary. It was very much unlike my trip to London, where everything was abrupt! Nevertheless, I would say that it was a trip well worth it.

The Flight. Emirates flies to London Heathrow 5 times a day. It takes 7 hours and 40 minutes from dubai to London. This was my first ever European trip! I, together with Elsie who was so excited with this trip being her first, and Jinky, who “organized the trip” or should I say “she chose the date” (and everything else we leave up to fate!) boarded the flight EK001 at 7:30 am bound to London Heathrow.

Transport. Knowing nothing but the address of the apartment we have booked through laterooms.com, we headed towards where everybody was going to and soon after we saw a signage of public transport. We chose to take the bus going to Victoria Station. We paid £4 each after like, 45 minutes we reached Victoria. From Victoria we took a taxi to Marlin Apartment at the corner of Borough and Long lane st.

The Hotel. During the initial stage of planning we intended to stay in a hostel to save money but ended up settling for a more “decent” hotel instead. We were so happy with our room, (though costly for us at GBP202 per night, triple occupancy ) It’s a one bedroom apartment with a living room and kitchen complete with all the necessary utensils so we were able to cook, thus made us save some bucks on food.

The Marlin Apartment is located at Empire square near London Bridge. There is a convenience store near the building and a walking distance away from the Tube station. Our apartment has a 32" LCD tv and a spacious living area that we were not able to enjoy because we were all the time outside sightseeing and we only come here to sleep. If you are going to London for a short sightseeing trip and is on a budget, better check hostels near Victoria.

Sightseeing. After a heavy breakfast which Elsie prepared, we were all geared up for our first day in London! We took the bus going to Victoria and from there, a lot of tour bus companies were offering London city tours. We opted for a Big Bus tour of London and paid £ 20 each valid for 24 hours which covers all stops at the major attractions in London minus the entrance fee but includes a walking tour from Trafalgar Square and a ride to Thames river cruise which we did on our second day. We went to the Houses of Parliament and of course took our pictures with the Big Ben on the backdrop! We also took a look inside Kensington Palace but paid £12 pounds each, which I think was too much. There was nothing much to see inside and taking pictures were not allowed too! The Kensington Garden outside got a very good view of the lake with swans swimming. We saw a lot of people having picnics and just lounging under the sun. It would have been very nice to sit there for a while but the Madame Tussaud Wax Museum will close at 6pm so we decided to go. We dropped by to see the London Eye but didn’t try it. There was a big queue outside. We did a lot of walking down the street of Oxford where all the nice brands of clothing were lined up in the street. There was also summer sale so we got to experience shopping in London! On our second day, we had a round on Thames river riding a ferry. It offered a very good view of most of the picture perfect landmarks of London including the London Bridge. I always mistake the Tower Bridge to be the London bridge, I never knew that the two are different from each other. I didn’t get to experience what it is to be inside the Tower bridge since it would cost a hefty £15 but the view outside was good enough, in fact I love my picture taken there! It was very “London”! London wouldn’t be complete without visiting the Buckingham Palace. We arrived there at noon time only to see a flock of people, tourists and groups of students waiting for the changing of the guard. I was amused to see this much people and thought that if an everyday event like this attracts this much audience on an everyday basis, then London must have got a great deal on tourism. The event started with a parade of the guards with big piped band playing sounds we often hear in movies shot in a palace, while kings and queens, handsome princes and princesses wearing big gowns walk down the aisle with guards wearing big headdresses stand firmly on the side with swords….uh-um, ahem…back to reality, we watched only the changing of the guard minus the royal family! But I would say that this is not to be missed if you are planning on a trip to London.

Shopping boutiques lined on the street of Oxford......
At 9pm, the sun is just about to set.....

A lazy relaxing day at Kensington Palace Garden.....

Next time. Should I have another chance to visit London again, I’ll include an out of town trip to Stonehenge, see the castles, try the tube and experience the country side, perhaps in winter?

Planning on a trip to London? check http://www.visitlondon.com/; http://www.laterooms.com/; http://www.emirates.com/ ; www.booking .com

Travel Information

Visa Requirements: check http://www.vfs-uk-ae.com/ (fee 525 dhs, changes everytime)
Currency: British pound GBP (1 GBP = 5.93416 AED )
Tour date: June 21-25, 2008
How's the weather: cool summer.
originally published on July 2008, friendsterblog.


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