Saturday, August 15, 2015

Twenty Something Travel to [London]

"Someday in your life, you will end up loving this beautiful city." 

As an "instagrammer", it is inevitable that you will come across stunning sceneries around the world uploaded by passionate travellers. Some cities are frequented by tourists and received high recommendations due to their climate, attractions, history, culture etc. London, although the smallest city in England, is the most populous city in England with diverse culture and people. I must say I love this place! London is pretty different from the cities I have visited in the past, be it Bangkok or New York. It has rich historic flavour with majestic architectures which will hold your step forward, just to give it a few more gazes and snap more pictures of them! You realise I don't spam pictures in all my travel posts. Trust me, it's a tough process having to pick and choose to upload them here. I just want to show every single picture that I have taken during my trip, especially those in London!

Streets of London


Telecommunication

Oxford Circus Station
You can easily purchase a SIM card with unlimited data at the airport when you exit the arrival hall. Again, you have a choice to use wifi (many of their cafes do have wifi) or purchase the ones with limited data, but I always go for the safest choice because you don't want your internet to stop working in the middle of your trip and get stuck in some place that you don't even know. Another thing is that their SIM with unlimited data is a pretty good deal because 30 days of unlimited data only costs you 20 pounds (fast internet with decent quantity of texts and calls)! What's even better is that you can use the SIM out of London. Yes, I also used it for my trip in Paris after London! There are different telecommunication operators, I chose Three as recommended by my friend studying in the UK. (Thanks Wise!) According to him, it has relatively good coverage. Just bear in mind that you can effectively call/text and use your data almost everywhere in Singapore but that's not the case in London. You may face poor network underground, particularly in their tube stations (the MRT stations in London).

Transportation


 St Pancras Railway Station
Walk and take the tube unless you have extra travel budget to take taxi. Bus can also be an option if you don't want to walk or when the weather doesn't allow you to. Taxi fares are very expensive there and we didn't even bother to experience it once, not even from the airport to our hotel. We took the tube to our planned station (usually central and near to all the attractions that we intend to visit that day) and walked from one place to another. It is very reliable and convenient. We bought Oyster Card for ourselves (the EZ-link card in London) to ease travelling. It saves you the time to keep purchasing every time you want to take the tube. You can also use it for bus! Just top-up an amount and you are ready to go! Read about Oyster Card here.

Few things to take note:
1. There are Oyster Travelcards available which will enable you to travel for free after you reach their daily cap. Useful if you take the tube many times per day or if your hotel is far from the central! 
2. Some Oyster Card machines only accept credit cards for purchasing one. If you don't have one with you, you can always approach the control station to pay cash. 
3. Don't forget to get your 5 pounds deposit and the unused credit back after your last trip.

Accommodation

Living in central London is never cheap, especially near Oxford Street. So, choose wisely according to your own budget. A tip to select your accommodation in London is: take a look at the tube map, know which stations you will frequent most (most attractions are concentrated and walk-able) and just choose to stay near a tube station which is not far from those. With a tube station just few metres away from your place, London is pretty much under your control. So just do your research and you'll be fine! You may consider a few factors when you choose: price, breakfast plan, accessibility, safety and reviews by other guests. 

Food

Not trying to generalise but I find one can't really go wrong with food in London. But of course, you must do your homework before visiting one. I love their steak the most! The meat was so tender and juicy, bearing some kind of texture and consistency that I haven't tasted before in my whole life. We pretty much explored different kinds of food throughout our trip and nothing was disappointing

Hearty breakfast in the morning

Lobster Pasta at Carluccious
Lobster and Fries at Burger and Lobster
Steak at Casa Brindisa 
Octopus Leg at Casa Brindisa
Thank you Alex and Auntie Jess for their food recommendations!

*Something different: You may try dining at Sketch for an extraordinary dining experience. Something worth doing! 

That's not all, this restaurant is full of surprises! Discover it yourself!
*Something cheap but delicious: Pret A Manger

Their famous fast food chain (they are so common to the extent that you can spot them every 20 steps)

Places

As this was my first time to London, I had a lot of research to do. Things would not have gone as smooth without the help of Alex (he accompanied and brought us around London), Uncle Joe (he took leave to bring us around despite having to get back to work early morning the next day), Vince, Wise and Li Chi (they patiently answered my queries about the weather, places to go, safety etc). And of course, my lovely family! 

We covered quite a couple of places. Here are some iconic attractions that we visited! 

Oxford Street
London Eye
Big Ben and Thames River (spot my boots)*
Tower Bridge

Buckingham Palace (there was a march when we visited)
Harrods
St Paul's Cathedral

National Gallery at night
The British Museum
Hyde Park a.k.a. one of my favourite places of all time!

The flowers were blooming so beautifully in Hyde Park! 
We also visited Victoria and Albert Museum, Science Museum, Camden Market, Royal Albert Hall, Trafalgar Square Tower of London and many more attractions. Everything was so perfect including the weather! 

Highlight of the trip


The Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty Theatre
Your trip to London will not be complete without watching a theatrical show in one of the theatres! There are wide range of shows and various timings to choose from. We picked the Phantom of the Opera since my sister and I read the book and it's a classic. Classics will never go wrong. We enjoyed the musical so much that we told each other it was the best show ever! A small tip: Instead of getting the ticket at full price, you can look for ticket booths that offer last minute ticket deals. The price can go as low as half the price with a good seat. 

London has so much to see, explore and enjoy. One post is simply not enough for an elaborate trip like this. Just a few days staying, I have already fallen in love with her. Will definitely visit London again! 

Meanwhile, if you have any questions/comments regarding this post, do leave them in the comment box below! 

Till next post!  

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