Sunday, 11 December 2011

My Europe Tour on A Shoestring: London Revisited (Part 1)

It had been more than 8 years since i'd been to London. The last time i stepped my feet to London was when I was on my way back to Malaysia thru Heathrow...How fast time flies... I never had thought of going back again as a traveller this time...and with my hubby...I couldn't remember how i got the idea but it all just happened. What i remembered was doing a long long research since we were going on a shoestring..needed to find cheap accomodations, transport, etc..etc...k, 1st thing 1st, check flight tickets...after surveying and surveying, i'd booked AAX tix to London via Stanstead under the promo price..Promo x promo sgtla, coz later (after i came back from the UK), i found there were cheaper prices...slightly cheaper...Anyway, my tix was around RM2000 return inclusive luggage,food, entertainment...ok la tu kot! It was June, the cheaper tix was in December..At first my plan was to go during December but after a 2nd thought, nothing much u could do in December after all....

After months of planning & research..we left for London with AAX. This was my 1st time travelling with AAX. I noticed that the legroom was slightly longer than AA. They served food twice, once at the beginning of the flight and later a few hours before arrival. We didn't bring along our kids coz i didn't think it was suitable for children to backpack, this was not a lazing trip where we would stay at nice hotels and all and last but not least, the trip to Europe itself had cost me a fortune, ok!

Our flight was at 3 something, the journey took us 11 hours and we reached London at approximately an hour to midnight.
A day in history: London Stansted Airport... Excited gitu...!
We reached UK nearly midnight. Immigration check out was fast, no hassle. Stansted is not as strict as Heathrow. I had booked National Express bus to Victoria beforehand via online. I wanted to book Easybus coz it's faster but i was afraid, if our flight got delayed, then we would be stranded until morning since Easybus was until midnight only. Even though it was nearly midnight but the bus stand was like a night market, busy as a bee!

At the bus stand: Hisap rokok jap lepas 11 jam menahan...:)

National Express Station@Stansted. View from inside the bus n from
my hp's camera...blurry!
Journey to London took us an hour and a half since the traffic flow was smooth. At 1 am Victoria was still alive. I took out my plan to the hotel. We were heading to Grovner Street. Weather was cold but still bearable. Even with the map, in the dark night, we lost our way. We did asked a receptionist at a small hotel, they helped us and gave us a new printed map. That's what i like about the UK people, they are very helpful. With the help of the new map, we found our hotel...EasyHotel Victoria. Very cheap no frill hotel, the cheapest in town, 30 pound sterling per night (inclusive tv channels). Rupanya, x berapa jaoh pon dari hotel yg kami tanya tadik, just a few blocks away... Checked in was no problem... Masok2 bilik..mak small..i'd never seen a room so small as this one..No kidding! And everything was orange...I knew i need not complain since the hotel's website had already warned about the room's size...X complain cuma terperanjat....But it was fine, actually, after all, we were only in the room at night just to sleep and shower..One thing i always like about EasyHotel is the shower... it has en suite toilet and the shower is strong... A few shots taken @ EasyHotel Victoria.

Tiny flat screen TV..Channels need to be purchased separately.
Underneath the tv is the coat hanger. On the
 right side is the door.  Depan sikit dari pintu tu, pintu
toilet. That's about it! (I was snapping this photo from my bed)
The lane to Easyhotel Victoria. Notice the small orangy dot on
 the right? That's the hotel. 
The hotel's entrance

Our 1st morning in London was cold... The plan was to visit the signature place of London, The Buckingham Palace...I'd been here once last time with my college friends. So, x da la excited sangat... We walked to the palace as it's within a walking distance from the hotel. Before that, we had our breakfast at Subway. At 9 we were already at the palace..A lot of people there..I even spotted a few Malaysians..correction! bukan sumer pakat2 naik AAX kot..he..he...Jom layan gambar @ Buckingham Palace.

This way to the palace
Even though the change was at 10, but people had gathered as early as 8.

The Queen's Gallery shop. I didn't go. Went there once last time. Hubby also not keen to go inside.

Capturing the moment from outside..
After snapping photos here n there, we took a rest at St. James Park nearby. The park was bounded with the palace..It is well maintained and i could see squirrels playing around... Cantik park nih...

Clean n well kept park
A squirrel playing happily at the park 
We snapped plenty of photos actually, but i guess these are more than enough for the blog, ya... After a while at the palace, we walked to Trafalgar Square...It was just around the corner. We just strolled slowly straight down thru Admiralty Arch... Pemandangan masa berjalan tu pon cukup cantik tambah plak dengan cuaca yang sejuk... You can even get to Trafalgar through the park but it's a longer route with nice scenery. Even on my way to Trafalgar, i saw a few other parks, Hyde Park and Green Park, if i'm not mistaken. Kat UK ni memang banyak park pasal omputih ni suka lepak2 kat park sambil menikmati udara segar-bugar... These were taken when we were walking to Trafalgar Square.
Ni bangunan kerajaan kot...X pasti plak bangunan ape...

Admiralty Arch

We spotted a Malaysian Flag
at Matrade London

Dah sampai Trafalgar
The lion from in front

Dah tak banyak dah pigeon nih...Not like 8 years ago...Migrated to other countries it seems...
Nelson Column

For yr info, Trafalgar is the 1st stop of the HOHO Bus London. We all x naik pon HOHO since we were short of time...So, jln2 sendiri aja... Puas lepak2 Trafalgar, we went to the Art Gallery. Since our trip was a budget one, so jln2 pon carik tempat2 yg percuma...There are plenty of free places to visit in London, so no need to worry! Just do yr research n u're set to go!
Street artist was showing his talent at the square (this was taken
 adjacent to The Art Gallery). You can drop coins in
the hat if u wish to...
Another street artist on the move! Kami ambik gambar
 curi nih pasal die bengang kalu ambik gambar tapi
x sedekah duit...hi..hi...
Another view nearby, St. Martin

Curi2 tangkap gambar..Actually, u are not allowed to take photos here.
The guard stopped me, so i didn't take anymore photos after that...
The paintings were magnificent! Too bad i couldn't take any photos. The gallery is partitioned into sections... Van Gough ada, Leornado ada, mcm2 lagikla..I'm not a fan actually tapi setakat Van Gough, Leo, Mic Angelo, Picasso tu kenal la...

After Art Gallery kami jalan2 lagik kat sekitar Westminster and snapped photos here n there... We didn't go into the attractions...Just seeing them from the outside would do!

Parliament House

Another view
Kids were playing football near Buxton Memorial
Westminster as the background
Westminster Abbey

St. James Park

The red tel booth memang
sinonim with London

Lepas jalan2 kat sekitar Wesminster, we took a tube and went to Fulham Broadway pasal ada Chelsea's fan wanted to go to the stadium. The journey was short, actually. We took the district line-Wimbledon branch and  stopped at Fulhams Broadway. At the main exit, turn left.  Just walked about 500m, you will see the stadium.

Sampai dah...Ni kat depan tube station
Jalan ke depan sikit, jumpa Chelsea College
Real x?

Upper tier gate 5-6. We didn't go inside.. Kene bayar lagik 15 pounds to enter .

Middle: Merchandise shop...
Back entrance

Habis posing2 dan belik merchandise kat sana, we all went back to London. Oh ya, we bought t-shirts (for us n the kids), key chains, cap,ball (for Faris) dan mcm2 ada...So, after Chelsea, we went to Tower of London dan sekitarnya plak..We took the same underground, and stopped at Tower Hill, no interchange. Senang ja, kan...! Oh ya, while u are in London, do not buy separate tickets, buy the Oystercard..atau kalau berduit lebih sket bolehla belik London Pass. Kami X masok pon..Tangkap2 gambar kat luar aja...:( Budget x mengizinkan... after all, x berapa minatla...
Souvenir shop near The London Dungeon

Near the Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge

Tower of London

If u have the chance n extra pounds, u can visit the Tower Bridge exibitions for a fee, about 7 pounds if i'm not mistaken... They will tell u aboutthe history, take u up to the tower and back to the engine. room. To cross and to look around are free, ya..x yah bayar...

After jalan2 dan belik souvenir kat souvenir shops dekat2 Tower of London, we went back to Victoria.. The time was already near 8 but the day was still  clear..In  June, Europe will be dark quite late, around 10, sometimes later than that...Hajat hati nak ke Eye of London tp tersangatlah penatnye...anyway, i'd been to Eye of London before, so no needlah... More or less like Malaysia n Melaka punya aja... I think Malaysia pon ambil ilham dari sini kot. Kene naik Jubilee line rasanya to get out straight to eye of London. We went back to the hotel after dinner at Victoria..Sorry guys, couldn't recall the restaurant's name.. We slept early that night..mengantuk sangat, still jet-lag, i guess...:)

Click here to read London Revisited Part 2

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