London (England). You don’t have to say much, just because so many images and ideas pop up in our heads as soon as we hear about this famous city. This is my first post about London, but it’s not the only one. My seven-days trip there was so full of visiting, sightseeing, walking, taking photos and discovering that I think this city deserves more detailed posts.
Let me just tell you that when you decide to go to this huge city, you have to be very well prepared. You can’t just assume you’ll walk around and see at the moment what you decide to do. That is just a waste of time and money. At least, for most of us. 😀
As a Romanian, life there is much more expensive: six times more expensive and lately (after all the Brexit situation), let’s say just five. All I wanted was to take advantage of each second spent there and come back home with amazing experiences and wonderful stories.
Therefore, I did my research online and tried to get to visit as many places as possible in the short time I had (not so short after all, but for a TravelHolyc, there is always something to see).
I know it’s not so “wow” and you want your holidays to be just fun and spontaneous, but planning it ahead was the best I could do. Of course, life is -luckily – unpredictable and you don’t always have to stick to the plan – but at least we have to do so for those destinations we already paid for. This is the program that came out after actually visited London:
- Saturday: arrived at Luton airport. Got to Peckham Lodge, where I had already booked my reservation. Sightseeing.
- Sunday: took bus 12 to go to the Center City. About 30-40 minutes long. Visited Trafalgar Square and National Gallery.
- Monday: got lost around Big Ben and walked for two hours in Hyde Park.
- Tuesday: London Eye. Outside of St. Paul’s Church – wish I had visited the inside, too, but I didn’t have enough time. Tate Modern Museum.
- Wednesday: Buckingham Palace, got to see the guards. Saint James Park. Westminster Abbey. Madame Tussauds.
- Thursday: Tower Bridge. Trafalgar Square again – meeting so many free-spirited artists.
- Friday: British Museum. Had my flight in the evening.
Great tip for budget travelers: discount sites
This time, I used Discount London in order to buy a package of four destinations, that included: London Eye, Madame Tussauds, Tower Bridge and Tate Modern. This way, I managed to save around 35-40% of the initial price, which is not bad at all. Anyway, I can’t say that all of them were worthy of their high initial price.
So many free places, though
The good thing about travelling to London is that it has amazing free places. You don’t have to spend a lot of money. Take for example the free museums: I only got to visit British Museum and National Gallery, and they were remarkable. I liked the fact that each painting or object had its own written explanation next to it, so at least now I know a bit of everything. Also, the huge parks are a blessing: I fell in love with Hyde Park, I would just go there anytime.
Since I recalled my two-hours walk in Hyde Park, I must confess, without exageratting, that the weather had changed around 5 times. It rained heavily, then the sun came up brightly shining, then it got all cloudy again, then it was kinda hot and then we had to hide under a tree, because the umbrellas couldn’t fight with the pouring rain. I had a love/hate relationship with the weather: in a way, I liked its surprising nature, in another one, I don’t think I could resist this sudden changes for long periods of time.
Another tip: people who live there can walk around in t-shirts in the middle of April. They are used to cold weather. I thought that a jacket and a scarf would be enough to keep me warm, since the temperatures were around 11-14 degrees. Despite my preparations, most days I walked around with one shirt, two or three sweaters and the jacket and scarf on top of everything – of course. And it still felt cold, especially around Thames. So unless you go there during warmer days, make sure you pack some items in order to avoid freezing.
I promised sincerity and I will stick to it: I didn’t like the food that much. One of the days I ate in an Irish pub, in a central zone: we also have some in Romania, but the food can’t be compared – it’s much tastier at home. A lot of meat, of course, but everything on the plate was deep-fried and I just didn’t like it. I only liked the potatoes. Also, we used to buy everything from a Lidl we had around the corner: since I’m trying to lead a healthy lifestyle, I wasn’t so pleased with all the fast-food we found everywhere. I know big cities mean hurried people and lack of time, so maybe it’s understandable. But I must confess that I didn’t pay so much attention to eating, ’cause there were so many things to do, so maybe I didn’t get to the right places.
Tip: if you want to save money for touristic attractions rather than lunch/dinner, go to well-known fast-foods or buy something from the market place. I am that kind of traveler that chooses starving if that means an adventure more on the list. But that’s just me.
No matter how big London is, you can’t get lost. Each bus station/metro station has its map. We also bought a map of the city from a store (1 pound) and we got easily to the destination – Internet provided from the hotel helped, too. I also advise you to buy an Oyster card: trust me, I did a research on how to save money while travelling in London, but this is the most advantageous option. You can buy it from almost any market – we had one right next to our hotel.
And if you are not so good with directions, don’t worry. There are so many people willing to help. Many times, some officers on the street deliberately tried to help us find our way. Also, remember that London is a multicultural environment: I expected to see english people mostly, but there is always a mix of everything. Also, London’s administration is at its best, therefore sustaining some stereotypes: even though the central part reunites people of all nations, the neighbourhoods belong to different nationalities.
Architecture, vegetation and administration
In the end, these are the three things that impressed me the most. Architecture is extremely different from what we have in Romania. I took so many photos of the buildings that people thought I was crazy – they were so used to them, of course.
Then, despite the fact that it’s a huge industrialised city, it doesn’t compare to Bucharest in terms of pollution. Maybe because it’s often raining or because nature is protected: there are so many different types of trees and plants and the parks are full with amazing birds and animals. And of course, coming from a country where administrative affairs aren’t very satisfying, I appreciated the way people were more organised and the respect it was shown to each individual.
I will come back with more articles about each destination I got to see in London. Until then, I have to admit that London has its own charm and everything positive I had heard about it before I finally got there turned out to be true!