come rain or shine, this time I was going to see the city!! Luckily Illiana was by my side (travel buddy from Jakarta trip) and just as determined as I was 😉
We decided to take the train from Gatwick to Victoria station, and Matthew (fellow south african I’ve flown with to Kuala Lumpur) were meeting some friends in Camden so he helped us to get to the station, buy tickets and left us a station before we were suppose to get off, so we felt a bit more confident taking on London on our own…
we walked our little butts off trying to see as much as possible as I’ve never been there and won’t just settle for Big Ben and the London eye… so luckily Illiana had more of an idea as she has been there two weeks before so I let her be the tour guide, hehe.
The streets of London were quite colourful with the red busses and cute taxis brightening up the streets. There were also some signs still of the olympics and we were there on the day of the opening of the paralympics so the streets were busy!
We started off with Buckingham palace, a few gift shops with some royal family souvenirs and off course the guards of the palace in their red uniforms! wish I could just go and poke one! haha. to get to the rest of the city we walked through the beautiful park with such pretty flowers, birds and even a huge crown carefully cut and designed out of plants?!
Next up was westminister abbey, the beautiful St Margarets’s church which is still in regular use for worship and for recitals of music.
Accross the street on parliament square I also saw someone familiar, mr nelson mandela (as a bronze statue). The square is home to ten statues, mostly of well-known statesmen, with a bit of South african representation 😉
- Winston Churchill (1874-1965) Prime Minister
- David Lloyd George (1863-1945): Prime Minister
- Jan Christiaan Smuts (1870-1950): Prime Minister of South Africa 1919-1924
- Lord Palmerston (1784-1865): Prime Minister
- Lord Stanley, Earl of Derby (1799-1869): Prime Minister
- Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield (1804-1881): Prime Minister
- Robert Peel (1788-1850): Prime Minister
- Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865): President of the United States 1861-1865
- George Canning (1770-1827): Foreign Secretary and Prime Minister
- Nelson Mandela (b. 1918): President of South Africa 1994-1999
The Big Ben were now in our sight and we headed in that direction. I just could not resist the ‘photo op’ with a typical red phone box, so here it is 🙂 the Big Ben was well big… and had a lot of detail, we admired it for a bit while also looking at all the different people (mostly tourists) wandering around taking in this widely renowned landmark of london.
Accros the Thames river was another famous landmark, the london eye. Very cool to see but it seemed like it took forever for it to complete a full circle and the clock was ticking so we rather decided to walk on as I will go crazy in one of those bubbles knowing I’m stuck in there and my few hours in london is running out!
The atmosphere around this part of town is buzzing, so many tourists (even though it was rainy and quite cold) it made you want to stay longer and just sit on the bank of the Thames river and watch the sun go down, but we unfortunately had to mve on…
We passed by travalgar square where the paralympics opening ceromony were live on a big screen, with a band performing as pre-entertainment. it was pretty cool to catch this special moment and to see how much it meant to the people of london. they were standing in queues to get into the square
Covent garrden were just as busy with the people sitting around watching a street entertainer at the one end, and in the center some people had an early dinner while listening to a young girl singing opera. there were a few market stalls selling some interesting stuff but I was mostly amazed by the huge pan of paella at the one restaurant below as well as an ice cream shop called the icecreamist (with a skull on their logo) but they seem to know what they were doing as a lot of people came out of that shop 😉
Illiana and I continued onto Leicester square, crowded with people and shops, restaurants and some interesting places, like the ripley’s believe it or not museum with some creepy employees that wants to lure you in, he even tried to force me to get into the smallest road-legal car ever! not gonna happen thank you, even though thinking back it would’ve made a cool picture!
We had a quick walk around through piccadilly circus which is a busy meeting place and tourist attraction particularly known for its video display and neon signs mounted on the corner building on the northern side, as well as the Shaftesbury memorial fountain and statue of an archer popularly known as Eros. By this time our feet were aching so badly and we simply could not imagine making it all the way back to victoria station. so we did what all the locals do, we catched the next tube at the underground station, which in itself is a must do for visiting london, so it was actually a win win situation 😉
After getting a bit lost at the huge victoria station we manage to find our way to the national rail train that would take us back to crawley. when we got there we had a tilny little problem with my ticket as I gave the wrong one at the beginning of the journey and was now stuck with a crawley to victoria station ticket instead of the other way around. Illiana and i put up our most honest faces and tried to explain to the man what happened, as he did not believe us, he called in another woman and she could probably see how tired we were and let us go on the train with the wrong ticket , thank you, whoever you are! i got to save about 6euros, yay!!
we got back at the hotel safely and late… after being awake for about 24hours, but it was all worth it as I got to see london, finally! 🙂 the end
oh… just a quick shout out to our little friend(s) on the streets of london, without you guys we would not have been such awesome little london travellers 😉 thank you! here’s a photo of Illiana with one of these little helpful guys!