(First, let me say that this is more for my own nostalgic benefit than for you reading pleasure. It’s basically a copy from my travel diary, which means it’s going to be looooong… Pictures are up, they have been for a while now. I’ve been too lazy to do this blogging shit after I came back but at least I uploaded 335 pictures to flickr!)
11/18 Friday, 7:30pm Virgin Atlantic flight out of JFK airport. I must say, the food and service on VA is excellent! The best airline food I’ve had in years! We flew JAL last Feb to Tokyo and its food was great too, but Virgin was extravagant! Lavish!! Too bad I didn’t actually eat it! 😀 I was way too sleepy from the sleeping pills I got from my doctor, man that stuff is great, they really knock you out cold!
Arrived London Heathrow at 7 am, 11/19 Saturday. (Had 6 hrs of sleep thanks to the pills.) London was cold! Took the “Tube” (London Subway) out to London. Needed to change to the District / Circle line but the thing about travelling in low season is, things are often not open or in repair! There was no service on those 2 lines that day! We got back on the Piccadilly line and changed to the Central line for St. Paul. Took the long way for a 270 degree view of St. Paul, and our hotel, Club Quarters, was right in front of St. Paul on Ludgate Hill Rd.
We got to the hotel at about 10 (Damn! Why did it take so long?!) There were 2 receptionists working, one of them kinda pretty. She has one of those bitchy looking face that reminds you of Posh Spice, cold and un-smiling, which makes you want to bitch slap her across the face! (But I must say, she’s still prettier than Posh Spice!) LOL.
It was too early, they don’t check in until 11 am, we were going to leave our luggages at the counter but since we had no locks for them (thanks to airport security), it seemed kinda risky. So, we took them with us across the street to the only open store, Benjy’s, for breakfast. Full English Breakfast! God I miss that stuff… baked beans man!! They are the best!! I don’t understand why U.S. doesn’t have it, instead we have porky beans(?), which tastes like shit.
Double decker buses had passed by a few hundred times, and 99.9% of them had Harry Potter ads on them! The street was slowly getting busy with tourists taking pictures of St. Paul. After we finished our food, we walked to the tourist info center on the South side of St. Paul. Got some maps and info on the bus tour. Went back to the hotel to check in. Wash up a bit and head back out for the “Original London Bus Tour”. Passed by places where we could see the Swiss Re building, but couldn’t take any picture of it coz the bus was going too fast!
Cross the King William Bridge(?) and arrived at the London Dungeon. This was something we planned to go, but not as one of the first thing, u know? But since we were already there, and could get half price and skip the line b’coz we were bus tour customer, we went anyway. London Dungeon stinks! Literally. I think they used some fake urine spray or something. Plus, they probably don’t clean their toilets, which added some authenticity to the smell! 😀 I think the greatest value to the place was the actors and actresses. The people who worked there were all young and they put on quite a show, which leads me to think that they’re all actors getting part time jobs there. Just like in NYC, you see a lot of beautiful people working as waiters / waitresses.
The interior designer for London Dungeon must’ve done a pretty good job, b’coz I constantly felt uncomfortable inside and couldn’t wait to get out! Once out, we waited for and got back on the tour bus, it continued East on Tooley Street toward Tower Bridge. Now, at the corner of Tooley Street and Tower Bridge Road, was an excellent place to take picture of the Tower Bridge + Tower of London + Swiss Re Building. Unfortunately, the tour bus was driving too fast again and we didn’t have the chance to take any pictures. Now people, a little advice, DO NOT go on bus tours on your first day in London. You’ll just end up sleeping on the bus while listening to the headphones plugged into your ears. (The boring commentaries + jet lag will put you right to sleep, and you’ll only be awaken by the pain in your ears caused by the poorly manufactured headphones.) We fell asleep and when we woke up, we were already on the far West side of London, around Buckingham Palace. 16GBP bus ticket went down the drains.
(OMG! Even I am tired of reading this… I should probably set up some “highlights” so I don’t have to read through the whole thing. :P)
We finally got off at Oxford St., which is a major shopping area that was so crowded, it reminded me of Mong Kok (Hong Kong)! Queenie wasted 1GBP to make a phone call to her friend. 2 minutes later, we walked into “The Link” and got ourselves a Vodafone pre-paid SIM card. (The little bugger cost a whopping 10GBP, 9 being the cost of the card and 1GBP credit, I added 5GBP more credit to bring the total up to 15GBP!) London is too expensive. Walked East along Oxford St toward Oxford Circus, had a late lunch / early dinner (it was 4:30 pm) at an Italian place, when we got to Oxford Circus, we finally found “Top Shop”. Queenie had been raving about this place since the beginning of our trip! She disappeared into the crowds and I went upstairs to the mens department. It’s not that special, really… I spent like 5 minutes, then went back down and sat at the stools across from the escalator and wait for her. Queenie took her sweet time, (she said the check out line was long… Sure… ;). Afterwards, we called her friend Penny and asked her to meet us at the London Eye, and then we took the Tubes back to the hotel to drop off Queenie’s new luggages.
From the hotel, we walked across the Millenium Bridge to the South side of Thames. Penny already arrived at the London Eye!! So now we were in a hurry! When you’re in a hurry, you get lost! We wandered into the Tate Modern, then we were like, trapped in some small streets and couldn’t get out, my knee was hurting and I was tired and Queenie was mad because we were late. Finally, we got out on to Southwark Street, there were no bus or bus stop in sight! We finally just took a cab and ride the rest of the way there (we were very close).
It was like, 7:50 already and London Eye actually closes at 8! Can you believe it?! 8!! We hurried to get our tickets, and went for the 30 minutes ride. A lot of people could fit into one pod, and our pod had like… 15 ppl, which sucked. We were lucky with the weather though, the night was clear and we had a great view of London. The 360 degrees windows were intelligently designed so that you can take pictures with flash without the flash getting reflected!
After the ride, we walked North along the water front, had (2nd) dinner at Giraffe. Then we walked across the foot/train bridge over to Embankment Station. The tubes that Penny needs were closed, so we walked up a bit more to Strand (Street). Penny took a bus home and we took a bus on the opposite side going West back to our hotel. FINALLY!!! END!!!