Backpacking to Europe – Part 28: A Day in London

Backpacking to Europe – Part 28: A Day in London

Previously

If you just reached here and wanted to read the start of our journey, let’s go to Part 1!

Wednesday, 15th February 2017

Big Bus Tour in London

London is a very interesting city. It has many attractions and many of them are known all over the world. Since we planned to visit the city on our 7th day of this Eurotrip, we bought a Big Bus Tour ticket for 54 Pounds each before we arrived. That was a mistake for us. London’s Underground system is very efficient and it covers many places of attractions in and around London. The city is also very spread out, so it is easier to take the Tube rather than to take the Big Bus Tour. Nevertheless, after a tiring night on the 6th day, we woke up fresher and eager to visit the city.

At King's Cross station - a day in London
At King’s Cross station

No-Refund but we were good, as long as we were happy

After waking up, we had breakfast at the hotel before proceeding to the hostel to take our luggage from the room. The room was empty when we arrived. We took our luggage and the linen and brought everything down to the lobby, telling them that we wanted to check-out. I asked for a refund for the night since we were not staying there, but the staff manning the reception said it was not possible. “Refund is given if you cancel within 24 hours“, said the girl in a Russian accent.

The reality at Platform 9 3/4
The reality at Platform 9 3/4

We did not mind at all and did not even argue. We were more than happy to leave the hostel since we were so much more comfortable at the MStay Hyde Park Hotel. At least, we would spend a day in London on a happy note. Then, we brought our luggage to the hotel and proceeded to the Underground station. We were going to spend a day in London!

Top Attractions for a day in London

Platform 9 3/4

First, we took the Tube to go to King’s Cross station from Bayswater. My wife is an avid Harry Porter fan and she really wanted to see Platform 9 3/4. However, there were so many people lining up to take photos there, we decided to just take a photo of the place but not ours. Most of the time there were spent in the souvenir shop. I even got myself a lanyard which I still use to hang my office ID card. Yes, this is a must-visit place if you plan to spend a day in London.

Tower Hill Medieval Postern

Medieval buildings across
Medieval buildings across
Tower Hill Medieval Postern
Tower Hill Medieval Postern

Then, we decided to proceed to go to the Tower Hill area. We took the Tube from King’s Cross station to the Tower Hill station. Upon exit, we saw the Tower Hill Medieval Postern, which used to be one of the gates to enter into the city of London. Other historical buildings are also in this area and it is very central. We walked along the pedestrian walk and enjoyed the beautiful medieval buildings whilst reading the history behind it on the signs available.

Tower Hill area
Tower Hill area
The heritage buildings and gloomy weather
The heritage buildings and gloomy weather
One of the gates
One of the gates

Tower Bridge

Us. Taken by a not-so-friendly fellow compatriot
Us. Taken by a not-so-friendly fellow compatriot
One of the gates at the riverbank near the Tower Bridge
One of the gates at the riverbank near the Tower Bridge

As we walked further, we soon realized that we were approaching the Tower Bridge. As we were walking during winter, we did not feel tired or uncomfortable at all. It was a very pleasant walk. We could not believe our eyes when we saw the Tower Bridge. It was like a dream came true. We even Facetimed our family to tell them that Tower Bridge was right in front of us!

Tower Bridge, not London Bridge
Tower Bridge, not London Bridge
Took this photo for my youngest sister. Told her
Took this photo for my youngest sister. Told her “you want a White boyfriend, take the front one, not the behind one”. Lol
Happy!
Happy!

Elizabeth Tower a.k.a the Big Ben and Palace of Westminster

It rained not long after
It rained not long after

After walking on the Tower Bridge, suddenly it rained heavily. It was so cold and we got wet. We saw a bus stop for Big Bus Tour near the London City Tour bus stop. So, we walked there and exchanged our voucher for real tickets. We even bought a ticket for Madame Tussauds from the Big Bus Tour staff since we could get a discount.

England's symbol of democracy
England’s symbol of democracy

Then, we got on the bus and the bus brought us to the Palace of Westminster. We disembarked from the bus and walked across the road to take some photos there. Before coming here, I watched The BFG and there was a scene where the camera was recording scenes on the bridge overlooking the Elizabeth Tower and the Palace of Westminster. I thought to myself “One day, I will go to London and take my photo at that exact spot“. Finally, the moment came!

Harrods

Next stop: Harrods
Next stop: Harrods

We thought that we wanted to utilize the free one-way boat tour ticket on our return trip from Central London that we obtained when we purchased the Big Bus Tour ticket. However, Amira decided to go to Harrods, so we ditched the plan to ride the boat (though I was feeling unsatisfied, heh!) and took the Tube and the bus (after asking around) and visited Harrods. In the end, we did not buy anything but just browsing through the things sold and looked at the people lining up to eat in the restaurant there.

Green Park

Princess Diana Memorial Walk at Green Park
Princess Diana Memorial Walk at Green Park

From Harrods, we again took the Tube and went to Oxford Street since the place is a famous spot for shopping. We walked around the Street before decided to go and see the Buckingham Palace. We took the Tube to Green Park Station and walked across the Green Park. The Park is a famous spot for people to have a picnic of just sit around or have an evening walk. We could feel the relaxed atmosphere of the Park and it was really well-kept. We just walked and walked until we saw the gate of the Buckingham Palace.

Green Park, London
Green Park, London

Buckingham Palace

The guards in their winter uniform
The guards in their winter uniform
Buckingham Palace, London
Buckingham Palace, London

The most famous Palace in the planet. Everyone knows about the Palace especially the uniquely-dressed guards. The experience of seeing the Palace first-hand was overwhelming and we could not believe that we were already there. Nevertheless, since it was winter, the guards did not wear the usual red dress. Instead, they donned a grey winter jacket.

A very majestic palace.
A very majestic palace.

When we were there, there was like a commotion at one of the gates. I thought there must be somebody famous going to exit through that gate. I joined them but unfortunately, the car was driven fast enough, I could not see who it was. So, Amira and I decided to walk around the palace and after taking some dawn photos, we proceeded to the left, to the Wellington Arch.

A day in London reaching its end
A day in London reaching its end

Wellington Arch

Beautiful triumph arch
Beautiful triumph arch

We did not know it was Wellngton Arch until we saw the signage. It was so beautiful at night when lights were switched on and brighten the arch. According to Wiki, it is an “arch located to the south of Hyde Park in central London and at the western corner of Green Park, where it is isolated on a traffic island. It once supported an equestrian statue of the 1st Duke of Wellington“. Whatever it is, it was built between 1826 to 1830, it is one of the heritage buildings in London.

Primark

Our final destination before we proceeded to go to the Indian restaurant at Bayswater for our dinner. We wanted to go to Primark but we went off at the wrong bus stop. Since we did not know where to go, where walked and walked around but to no avail. Then, we saw one Muslim lady waiting for her bus. She gave us the direction to Primark and finally, we arrived at Primark Oxford Street.

We had fun shopping here!
We had fun shopping here!

We spent close to two hours at Primark, shopped till we dropped. Lol. We bought t-shirts for our family members, perfumes, bags and luggage to replace my backpack since my backpack’s sling had broken. From Primark, we took the bus to Paddington station and went back to Bayswater before ending our day in London with a hearty briyani meal from one of the Indian restaurants on Queensway.

Waiting for the train to arrive
Waiting for the train to arrive

A day in London done. Next?

After dinner, we went back to the hotel to sleep. A day in London done! Tomorrow would be a new day for us. We were going to catch a train to go up north after visiting Madame Tussauds. Hopefully, we would not oversleep!

Amazing dinner!
Amazing dinner!

Next: Part 29

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4 Replies to “Backpacking to Europe – Part 28: A Day in London”

  1. Wah it’s amazing that you and Amira travelled to London during the winter. Not only is it freezing cold but wet too! Glad that you had a great time in London – the city is spectacular – and I guarantee you will visit London again and again and again 🙂

    1. Yes, the city is spectacular and I love the vibe. The people are friendly and even the announcements in the Tube intrigued me. As if I am watching some shows on BBC.

      But I did not quite like the wetness of winter. The same goes to Paris. I was coming from Amsterdam and Berlin where the winter was dry and cold. Suddenly, when I reached Paris and London, it felt a bit like in Genting Highlands. Lol.

      But I do agree with you. I am sure I will be visiting the city again and again somewhere in the future!

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