Tuesday, 22 October 2013

A rushed weekend trip in London

The trip started with beautiful scenery when we were on the plane.

We were admiring the scenery and I got quite emotional, when I saw how beautiful the world was. Somehow, I just thought how nice would it be if everyone could enjoy this beautiful world peacefully, freely and happily. No evil thoughts, no killings, no restrictions whatsoever. Anyway, after a while, my mind wandered off and I suddenly got an idea, which when I told my hubby, he said I am silly Jia. I want my ashes to be spread in the Alps after I die, because I really love snow capped mountains leh.

Anyway, when we arrived at London Luton airport, we took the airport transfer, National Express, to London Central. The cost is 10 pounds per person one way for the 1 hour journey.

We alighted at the Baker Street stop and took the famous London Underground Tube to our hotel. We booked the Ibis hotel which was located just beside Wembley stadium as it was cheap, only around 70 Euros per night for a double room. We couldn't find any hotel or hostel at this price in London central area on that weekend night.

London Underground 
We have heard about London Underground but it's our first time seeing and taking it. Erm, to be frank, it's quite different from what we thought it would be. The shape of the Underground Tube was quite cute, it really looked like a tube, round round. But it was not spacious nor modern, and the lights in the Tube would go on and off at times. The most shocking thing we saw was sparks on the railway tracks when the Tube left a station! Initially I thought there're people taking photos with flash in the station, but no, it's sparks ignited from the railway tracks like a bolt of lightning in the tunnel. Initially we were quite scared, but after a while, we got used to it because we saw the sparks quite often, so it should be safe la.

Inside the Underground Tube

View of the Underground Tube from outside.

There's another type of tube, the Overground Tube, which travels above ground. These are more spacious and modern.

Travel Tip: Oyster Card
If you are going to take public transport in London, you must have an Oyster card. Buying the single ticket can easily cost you 4+ pounds for one short journey. But if you use the Oyster card, one journey is only 2+ pounds, around 40% savings.

The best thing about the Oyster card is the daily cap. For example, if you only travel within zone 1 and 2 on a particular day, the daily cap is 7 pounds. Once you traveled up to 7 pounds that day, your subsequent rides will be free, provided all your rides traveled are also within zone 1 and 2. We kept taking the Tube and bus to travel around London to save our walking time and we hit the cap, so our subsequent rides were free! Yeah! I love this system. Lol.

The Oyster card requires a deposit of 5 pounds which will be returned to you when you return the card at the information counter of any Tube station. Click here for details on the Oyster Card.

Tower Bridge
We visited the beautiful Tower Bridge on the first night. Love the night view of the Tower Bridge. It's so spectacular. And that's the moon at the top right hand corner of the photo.

Free Walking Tour
The next morning, it was cold, rainy and grey. We braved the rain and followed the free walking tour which started at the Wellington Arch at Hyde Park Corner and walked all the way to the end point at the Houses of Parliament. We regretted taking the walking tour because there's not enough time for us to take photos at the attractions covered by the walking tour.

Though the guide was diligent in giving us the history and background of London and the monuments we visited, he was too detail and long-winded in some aspects, like giving a super detail account on how traitors were being tortured and executed in the old days. Erm. We were standing in the rain with cold winds blowing while listening to his story, and that made the walking tour even less enjoyable. Anyway, if you are interested, click here for the website of the free walking tour.

Here are a few photos we took during the walking tour.

Wellington Arch

Our free walking tour guide 

Buckingham Palace

Queen Victoria

I dunno what is this..

London Eye at the back

Elizabeth Tower & the Big Ben

Side door of Westminister Abbey. We didn't walk to the front door. The guide told us that it was beautiful inside, but it was closed when we were there on Sunday. 

How could we not take photos with the red telephone booth..

And the London cab.. Harry Potter somemore.. Lol..

Natural Science Museum
That afternoon we went to visit the Natural Science Museum. It's a good place to shelter us from the rain and most importantly, it's free entrance. So happy! The museum was interesting, exhibiting how the solar system was formed, how Earth was formed, how life came about, the precious minerals in the Earth and many more. We could not finish the museum that afternoon, it's so big! There're many other museums such as the Science museum, Victoria and Albert museum in that area. I think even if we spend one full day there, we also won't be able to finish the museums. But I would love to visit the Science museum the next time if I will be and have time in London again.

To get to the museums, take the Tube and alight at South Kensington station. Then follow the signs and walk to the museum you wanna visit.

Nice design. The beginning part of the museum on how the Earth was formed.

Out of the museum, we walked around and saw these buildings.

Royal Albert Hall. Looks grand.

Across the road from the Royal Albert Hall, we saw this. At first glance, we thought it was a Thai temple. Lol.

Kensington Palace. Eh, dun look like a palace to me. It just look like a rich man's house at most.

Watching Musical 
Seems like the one thing that one must do when in London is to watch a musical with discounted ticket! I love the word 'discounted'. Lol! At Leicester Square, there were many booths selling discounted tickets. I guessed we bought them quite late that day, there're not much choices left for us and the price was also not very discounted at 39 pounds a ticket for the musical 'Dirty Dancing'.

The musical was quite nice. Other than singing, there's dancing too. Photography was not allowed in the theatre. Hubby took a quick pic of the theatre during the intermission and was warned by the staff. Anyway, we were quite hungry while watching the show, but we dun wanna spend pounds to buy food from the bar so we ate bananas that we brought during the intermission lol. Quite a nice experience to have banana in London musical theatre! Wahaha.

After watching the musical, we roamed around Picadilly Circus.

London Chinatown is very near to Picadilly. Still 中秋节 mood lol.. 

Oh. Nearly forgot to mention. We tried our luck for London To-to at Ladbrokes.

The name not auspicious leh. We were really broke in the end.

Just a weekend at London is definitely not enough, and the weather sort of dampen our spirits. Would love to spend more time here if hubby was able to get longer leave. We haven visit the outskirts of London such as Stonehenge, Windsor castle, Greenwich etc, we heard from friends that these places are worth a visit. If I happen to be in London again in future, these will definitely be on my list!

Thanks for reading. Going to Paris next.

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