How do i love London? Let me count the ways… Part I

i’m finally getting down to blogging about London! yay ^^ it’s been too long aye? :P and i haven’t forgotten that never-ending list of more places i’ve not done haha. oh well, makes for a more interesting read eh ;) lots more coming up!! 

sooooo…what do i love about london? sorry for those who have seen my facebook album, i’m just gonna copy and paste a chunk of my album description here haha :p it’s hard to decide which is my favourite part of the trip…my first ever michelin-star meal/chilling on the grass in front of the london eye and big ben/an evening stroll through hyde park/being awed by the magnificence of st paul’s cathedral/eagerly anticipating the arrival of the Buckingham palace guards/admiring the grand tower bridge/breathing in the freshest morning air at Kensington gardens/stuffing myself silly at borough market/simply soaking in the beautiful sights along the streets of london :’) plus london has the NICEST people ever!! :) the service staff are the best, really (for everywhere in uk actually). and the number of people who offered to help me with my massive luggage in the subway? so super duper amazed and touched by their kindness :’)

*warning: this is a super long post. beware. haha :p 

What to do in London
oh where do i start? there are SO MANY things to do in london (i think i’ve probably said this a million times whoops! haha) i really didn’t think i would manage to cover everything in a week. well, we did see most of the places, but lots of them are places i would want to go back to, just to spend the time chilling and soaking in the atmosphere for longer :)

it’s really easy to go around london by the Tube :) love how they have so many alternative routes of going to places! makes things really convenient, especially when they have train maintenance on weekends. singapore should learn!!! one day when we have more train lines -.- if not the mrt is gonna keep breaking down sigh. the good thing is that london’s tube network is super extensive! and so it’s super convenient to replan your route even if some train lines aren’t operating. 

first things first, watch a musical! :) it’s a must-do when you’re in london. i have heard raving reviews about Phantom of the Opera, so must watch!!!! i didn’t get to catch it this time :( because we’d already watched it in singapore so mummy didn’t want to go again. but i’ll definitely make it a point to catch it the next time im in london! i watched matilda instead! which was pretty good too! i would say it’s quite different from all the musicals i’ve watched so far (like phantom & wicked), probably more light-hearted, like lion king! i guess cos it’s based on a kids book haha.

*[RANDOM: omg thank goodness for blogger saving my draft so well even without me having to do it! stupid chrome suddenly closed on me and i didn’t save -.- haha]

anyway, i recommend matilda too if you’re going to london and wanna watch more than one musical! ^^ definitely worth the experience :D Matilda is performed at the Cambridge Theatre. (Nearest tube station: Covent Garden – note that different musicals are at different locations & tube stations!)

there are TONNNNNNS of must-visit tourist attractions when you’re in london haha. not kidding. and i was super lucky to have really good weather when we were there! (: look at the sky!! so blue and pretty :)) thought it would be raining most of the time but surprisingly it didn’t! (: anyway, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey (nearest Tube station: Westminster) is one of the places for a compulsory photo opportunity! :D 

and so is the London Eye (nearest Tube station: Westminster)! which is just across the road from the big ben. they’re along the River Thames which is this huge river flowing through the city of london, and we had the happiest time sitting on a random grass patch near the river and just watching the world go by :)

trafalgar square (nearest Tube station: Charing Cross) is another pretty place for photos :D i think there is some history behind this place, but i’ve got no idea what it is about haha :p zhen & i really had a ball of a time climbing up the statues to camwhore though :p hehe. 

for those who don’t know, the “london bridge” you hear in the kids nursery rhyme isn’t much of a looker, so no one actually goes to see it in london :p what’s wayyyy grander and nicer to visit is Tower Bridge (nearest Tube station: Tower Hill)! 

and while you’re at it, check out the Tower of London as well! it’s this huge castle (?) where you can have a tour by a guy dressed in the traditional soldier’s costume (our guide was HILARIOUS! :P) and explore the exhibits in the place! there is an admission charge for it (£21.45 for adults), but it’s pretty interesting (: check out the crown jewels when you’re there!!!! i think there is some 500 carat diamond ring there (if i rmb what the guide said correctly haha) ooh la la *.*

Piccadilly Circus (nearest Tube station: Piccadilly Circus) is kinda like London’s equivalent of NYC’s Times Square :) it’s just a very pretty and happy place to be in! i guess also since we went there on our last day, i really enjoyed just walking along regent street all the way there and admiring the London streets :) 

i love how london has so many parks for people to chill in as well :))) and they’re HUGE! not kidding, they’re really humongous hahaha. i think one thing that london is really similar to singapore is the crowds. zomg. after going there from glasgow and york which had pretty small populations and lots and lots of land and space, and also from being used to the space in the rest of europe, i actually kinda got a culture shock in london from all the crowds on my first day in the subway. but it’s still less crowded than singapore definitely. and less hot, so it’s not so uncomfortable -.- haha. but it’s okay, i still love singapore :P oops, digress very far again haha. 

first park we went to was Hyde Park (nearest Tube station: Hyde Park Corner). probably the largest park in london! (: haha okay don’t quote me, i’m not entirely sure, but from the map it really looks HUGE. and i only covered like a tiny portion of it! but i loved walking along the huge lake, watching the kids feed the ducks and swans, watching the sun set :) it’s lovely how the sun was setting so late when i was there (although it’s a pity cos we didn’t get to see london’s night scene at all because we just didn’t want to stay out so late >.<) so that we could really make full use of our long days.

another one is Green Park (nearest Tube station: Green Park) which is near where the Buckingham Palace is!!!! :D 

you must go there to watch the changing of guards ceremony!!! it takes place every day at around 11am. okay actually if you want to watch the actual ceremony inside the palace, you’ll probably have to go damn early to plant yourself at a good spot right outside the palace gates (see where the people are standing at the gates in my photo background?). if you can’t, then just watch the marching in part. there will first be the band marching from mall st down to the palace. and we had a good spot there (reached around 10.30am?) to catch them coming in! ^^ but then we were wondering how come there were so few guards?! and omg shucks we suddenly heard music coming from the opposite direction and we realised we were standing at the wrong side!!!! :O :O :O haha totally ran all the way to the Buckingham Gate side and i was simply insanely sticking my hand above the crowd and snapping away, not looking at my camera at all hahaha. quite miraculous that i managed to find this straight photo cos more than half were slanted :P lol! 

my absolute favourite park of all :’)))) Kensington Gardens (nearest Tube station: Lancaster Gate). so so so breathtaking! i stepped in there in the morning, with dew still hanging in the air. kissing the leaves and refreshing us as we strolled through the greenery. breathing in lungfuls of the freshest morning air, the light breeze was comfortable on our skin (: it was amazing. it was so relaxing. and all i wanted to do was to stand there and close my eyes and melt into my surroundings :’) i didn’t even take many photos! because i just wanted to enjoy the serenity of this atmosphere. absolutely, spectacularly amazing ^^

visit Kensington Palace as well!! the humble abode of Prince William & Kate ;) hehe. aww we didn’t get to meet them! :p but it was nice exploring the place :D there is a museum on the british royal history which was pretty interesting!!! entry to the palace is £15 for adults. 

london has lots of museums that are open for free to the public!! i think that’s really nice of them to do so! (: very educational, if you’re into this kind of thing ^^ haha i’m not much of a museum person, but i guess spending a couple of hours in there is pretty fun and all part of the experience too! we went to the British Museum (nearest Tube station: Tottenham Court Road *harry potter!!!!*), which is massive and has collections from all over the world!! really no idea how they managed to get so much stuff haha. i think it’s after they colonized all the countries, they just happily excavated all their artefacts. if you’re a museum buff, you can probably spend an entire day in there. 

we also visited the Victoria and Albert Museum (nearest Tube station: South Kensington), named after Queen Victoria and her husband, which is an artsy museum with not just classical art pieces, but also contemporary, functional art pieces including furniture and costumes.

and finally, St Paul’s Cathedral (nearest Tube station: St Paul’s). the most magnificent and beautiful cathedral i’ve seen in my whole life! not kidding. i’ve seen more than i’ve needed to in a lifetime from travelling around Europe haha. quite bored of them already to be honest. but this one was something else altogether :O the interior was really beautiful, and it’s such a pity that i couldn’t take photos inside to show you guys! :( the audio guide is really great because it gives a really good introduction to the cathedral, and it’s very interesting! there is this whispering walls thing, where if you climb up a flight of stairs, you’ll get to an area where you can have a vantage view of the interior of the church (beautiful!) and apparently if you whisper into the walls on one side, it can be heard on the opposite side. we tried, but it didn’t work -.- and if you climb up 500+ steps of a winding staircase, you’ll go all the way up to the top of the cathedral to have a bird’s eye view of london! to me, i felt that exploring the interior of the church with the audioguide was the best part though! the view of london was unfortunately rather disappointing. london has many many many beautiful streets (i took so many pictures of just random streets – sam would have probably fainted haha – just bcos they were so pretty) but somehow the cathedral just wasn’t at a nice part of london so the view wasn’t so nice :( or maybe it just doesn’t look good from the top. unlike NYC :))))) anyway, you have to buy tickets to enter the cathedral (£16 for adults), but i assure you, it’s worth it :)

ah, and of course, there are markets, and shopping ^^ but i guess you’re tired of reading already (or rather i’m tired from writing haha!) so i shall save that for another post :D oh yes, and a couple more last tips! 

1. Check the weather forecast daily, and re-arrange your itinerary based on it (thanks jiayee for this ^^). it does make a difference seeing the attractions in the sunlight, or at least in the absence of rain.

2. Most indoor attractions, like london tower, museums, and i think st paul’s too, close around 5pm, so make sure you give yourself ample time to explore the place at a pace that is comfortable for yourself! (: 

3. Shops in london close later than the rest of UK (yay!) around 8pm i think, and they’re indoors obviously ^^ so you know where to go when it rains/at night! 

okay that’s all :D lots more parts of london to go! hahaha. 

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