Thursday 14 June 2018

Travel Diary: London in Three Days

These are a series of posts covering my 5 weeks in Europe, and each country I see in bite sizes. Or as my best friend likes to say, “speed touristing.” I visited most places for 4 days, with the exception of Germany and some day trips. This is my way of taking you guys on my adventures through Europe, giving you guys my thoughts on each place and any tips I’ve picked up! 

London in Three Days

I sped through London in three days and loved every moment of it! Out of all the cities, I’m fairly sure I did the most touristy things here. Navigating through the city was super easy and I didn’t have to rely on public transport too much. London really turned it up for me, being super sunny and warm, so I took full advantage of it and walked pretty much everywhere. 

Places I Visited

Hampstead Heath
I spent my first day lazing around at Hampstead Heath, just one of the many parks London has to offer. It’s insane how people swarm to parks, not just in the U.K but pretty much everywhere in Europe as soon as the sun comes out. I guess coming from a country like Australia where we sometimes do take advantage of the weather we get, it really shocked me how much people loved being outdoors as soon as it was nice and warm. My cousin, who’s just migrated over there, told me that London’s weather is never like how it was when I was there. I was getting 27-28 degrees days, which suited me plenty.

Tower of London and London Bridge
I did a quick walk around the Tower of London before deciding it wasn’t necessary to actually go inside. I will say I am a huge history buff and the Tudor era is one of my favourite periods in history to learn about. However, as a tourist, I’m not one to venture further than what I consider necessary. The tower was impressive to look at but I wasn’t very keen on spending almost $50AUD for a ticket into the place. Instead, I walked along the river and saw the bridge before crossing it.  

I did opt to take up the William Shakespeare Globe Tour, and was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it. My tour guide was a very enthusiastic girl who made the whole tour really exciting and fun to listen to. Even better, they handed us free tickets to watch the Twelfth Night that was currently being performed. That was enjoyable for about 30 minutes until standing right underneath the sun became a bit too much. 

St. Paul’s Cathedral
I ended the day by walking over to St. Paul’s Cathedral and seeing how grand it was followed with doing a quick walk down Oxford St. 

King’s Cross Station (Platform 9 3/4)
I got there to the iconic Platform 9 3/4 platform for a photo at 9:30-10:00AM and there was already a line, so be sure to get there early or it’ll just get busier! Bless the girl in the line behind me who was alone as well - she took a killer photo. They have a person to help stage the photo and props available. 

Buckingham Palace and Harrod's
Then it was more sightseeing with Buckingham Palace my next stop. I actually didn’t realise that 11:00AM is when the guards change their posts and there were so many people. I was trying to side step someone to see what was happening but had a police officer tell me off for overstepping the boundaries. Oops. In all honesty, I got kind of bored so I began to walk to Harrod’s instead. Harrod’s is a huge department store with very fancy interior and exterior. I popped in to buy some Harrod’s tea and then went to the other side of the street to shop some more. 

Favourite Things I Did

Les Miserable
I bought tickets to Les Miserable one afternoon and it was by far my favourite thing I did in London. The musical was playing at Queens Theatre and was so magical. Hands down, Les Miserable has topped my list of favourite musicals - it is a must watch! 

Tottenham vs. Newcastle
Then it was a mad dash to Wembley Stadium to see Tottenham versus Newcastle, which was also super fun. I watched football, or as we Australians like to call it, soccer, when I was younger, but to actually be in the atmosphere and see what the crowd is like was incredible. 

What To Eat

Please, please do yourself a favour and head to one of the Dishoom restaurants in London. I went there for breakfast and was so sad that I was by myself because I couldn’t order everything on the menu! As soon as you take a bite from the dish you’re just overwhelmed with all the different spices and elements that come together to create an amazing taste. Really, I would go everyday just to make my way through all Dishoom has to offer.

If you’re a fan of food stalls/trucks take a stroll through Borough Market and try to decide what you want to eat the most. There are so many options it took me forever to decide! But I felt like the best choice was fish and chips considering I was in London after all. 

This Michelin star restaurant was well worth the money. There’s a set menu you can order, which includes entree, main and dessert and complimentary cocktail. Loved the entree and the dessert was amazing. There are a few options for mains and my cousin and I shared ours so we could taste both. 

I couldn't not eat brunch, and after heaps of research I hunted down Granger & Co for some acai. I also found out a fellow Aussie set up this place so I knew it would be good!

Quick Tips

Transport from the Airport to the City
I took the Underground, which was immensely cheaper than the Airport Express option, which the airport has so many signs for. Don’t be fooled! It’s different to the local trains that London has so read your signs carefully. The only thing is taking trains underground means there is no reception so make sure you’ve plotted your trip beforehand to know which stations to get off and if you need to transfer. 

Accessing Public Transport
Super easy! If you’re only there for a few days there’s no need to purchase an Opal card. Instead, you can just tap your debit/credit card at each station and on the bus and that’s it. I relied on Google Maps to know which trains and buses to take and it was pretty successful. It was also kind of exciting to be on a double decker bus - I know, super cheesy.

You could definitely say I had a very “English” experience, and ultimately I did fall in love with London. The weather really did help in my case but I loved that it reminded me of Melbourne but had much more history in its buildings, giving the city a more whimsical feel. 

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