Once I arrived in London, I immediately fall in love with this city. London is really beautiful. It is also a big city with so many things to see and do… Well, one of the happiness is that I could find a place that surprises me at first sight without doing anything (yet). =)
A lucky day must begin with a delicious breakfast! I know there are a lot of good food in England, but I only look forward to having an English breakfast. Believe it not, having a full English Breakfast in England is one of my dreams! 😋
In London, I have English breakfast almost every day… I know it is fattening but I couldn’t resist! It is too delicious. Oh yes, I had the breakfast twice at 49 Café nearby my hostel (YHA London St Pancras). It cost £7 for a full English breakfast + a cup of good coffee in Central London. Not too bad right?
There are many beautiful gardens in London, and you will likely to cross one of them if you walk a lot like me. I was surprised when I walked through The Green Park – so lovely and peaceful. There are only very few flowers at this park and here is the interesting explanation:
“Or it may date back to a tale about King Charles II and his wife. Apparently, she discovered that Charles had picked flowers in the park and given them to another woman. In revenge, the Queen ordered that every single flower in the park should be pulled up and no more planted. “ ~Royalparks
So… don’t mess with women! 😈
The famous Changing of guard starts at 11am on the selected days (check schedule from here), but people already start waiting here since 10am. To be honest, I don’t quite enjoy the experience. It is way TOOOO crowded!!! To make it worse, I stand at the wrong spot so I couldn’t see too much.
In my opinion, seeing the changing of the guard in Buckingham Palace is just an overrated tourist activity in London. I was worried that I will regret if I miss it, but I really didn’t enjoy it. Too many phones and cameras and people fighting for good spots. There are so much more to do in London. Also, you can see the same guards in some other areas in London.
From here, I get to know the history of the hero – Nelson. He lost an arm and eye, yet he won the battle and then died at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. By the way, there is a city in New Zealand also called Nelson, and later I know that the name of the place is named after the hero. I always argue with Ben that Nelson is a place and not a person. 😆
Big Ben & Westminster
I have seen them in many websites and guide books, and finally get to see them in real life. Quite a nice spot to take photos. I did not pay the fee to go inside as I think it is good enough to view from outside.
Stonehenge & Salisbury & Bath
I have done a day trip to Stonehenge & Salisbury & Bath from London. It was an amazing experience and I wrote a separate post about it.
Tower of London
To be honest, I wasn’t aware that Tower of London was a castle (historically) before I went inside to it. The entry fee is £25.50 (discounted online price) which is the most expensive attraction that I have visited in London. I decided to go inside because it was suggested by Ben. And I really love it.
Usually, I think the castle is more impressive when I view it from the outside, but this is not the case for Tower of London. Surprisingly, viewing from inside is more beautiful than outside. You also have a nice view of the Tower Bridge from the castle.
The audio guide was good and you get to know some interesting stories in the castle. Oh yes, there is even a game room for interactive learning! I went in at 9 am and thought I could join the free walking tour at 11 am, but I was wrong. Spending two hours at Tower of London was not enough for me, I ended up spending more than 3 hours here.
Free Walking Tour
Usually, I join a free walking tour on the first/second day of my arrival, but I find too many things to do in London so I am only able to join it on my last day in London. Well, the best thing about the free walking tour is its flexibility!
There are many free walking tours in London, and I chose Undiscovered London. It was really good. My tour guide told us many interesting stories including the famous Michael Fagan incident (breaks into Buckingham Palace), story of Nelson and much more.
He said there are too many things to do in London – even if the people born in London do one thing every day, he/she will forever find something to do in London! In fact, London is bigger than Rome and many major cities. It is impossible to see everything in London, so please prioritise!
I took a train to Camden Town because it was recommended by my walking tour guide (he told us not to stay only in Central London). Although Camden Town is only 2.4 miles north of the Central London, it is very different. The town is very colourful and charming. You can find many street food stalls in this lovely town (not very cheap but still cheaper than Central London). I thought London is only about grand and luxury, but here is the lively side of London… just need to go a bit farther from Central London!
I met a nice Brazilian girl from the free walking tour and we went to SoHo together. This is one of the most exciting areas of Central London for entertainment. There are many bars and clubs, so we had a glass of beer at one of the bars with a good atmosphere. After 6 pm, SoHo becomes very crowded because many people like to chill out in this area.
City of London is just beautiful
I like the city itself. The buildings, streets and parks are so beautiful. I also like the feel of winter (though I am here in late March which is the beginning of Spring). The locals may not seem happy (as they do not smile), but I notice many of them are kind and willing to help others.
Before I came to London, some people told me that London is always cloudy and rainy. But surprisingly the weather is good during my visit. No rain. Only see the cloudy sky occasionally. I guess I am really lucky. But I like London even when the sky is cloudy as it is a symbol of London. Who says the sky must be blue to look beautiful? 🙂
London is amazing. It is much better than my expectation. The extra good thing is that I have met many friendly people at my hostels and a nice gal in the free walking tour. This really enhances my overall experience in London. I want to come back again.
Some Tips for travelling in London:
London is so big and you will need to take public transport to many places. Again, the Google map does a decent job for me. Public transport is quite expensive and confusing, yet it is a good way to feel the local’s life. I recommend getting an Oyster Card for the train and bus. The best thing about the Oyster Card is the daily capping, i.e. the maximum fare per day is £6.60 for Zone 1-2. It can really save you a lot of money!
Join the walking tour
If this is your first time in London, I strongly recommend joining the free walking tour. There are so many choices in London and you can find them online. It helps you to know the interesting history and culture and what is in London other than the well-known touristy attractions.
A day trip to Stonehenge & Salisbury & Bath from London
This is a wonderful experience. I wrote a separate post about this.
There are too many things to do in London, so you will need to prioritise. It is alright to skip the famous tourist attractions if you feel so. I really don’t like the museum so I didn’t spend too much time there, although most of the museums are free in London!
Don’t just stick to Central London
Go a bit farther by taking train or bus. So far I have only been to Camden Town in North London but I can already see the difference. I hope I can go to more places next time.