Take some deep breaths and relax. You are just about to get a tour of London. Verbally but to that effect!
London was out of this world – best trip of my life. The fact that me and my friend went all by ourselves, managed everything and had an almost perfect trip feels like the greatest achievement of my life now. I can go around the whole world alone now. The contentment of a plan becoming a success was truly felt – physically and emotionally.
Feeling really proud of myself :)
The trip started very early at 4.00 AM on Saturday. We reached King’s Cross station in London at 7 30 AM and went straight to the underground to find out about the working of oyster card.
Oyster is the life line of travel around London – may it be train, bus, tram, boat or tube. It’s cheap and easy to use and after a certain number of trips a day, its simply free for anymore travel on the day! How cool is that! There is direction and maps everywhere around the city and underground, so you rarely have to ask anybody anything. I say city and underground specifically coz being half the time in the underground, I realized there is a city in itself in the underground of London. It’s like a huge maze – I just fell in love with it after the first travel.
After checking in our baggage at YMCA – an Indian Hostel, we proceeded to Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square and then walked the royal road to the Buckingham Palace. Did you know the guards there are not even allowed to move and they follow it really strictly? People were gaping at them from the gates and nothing budged them at all. I actually felt pity for them. From there we proceeded to Wellington Arch, then to the London Eye. It was a big surprise when we came out of the Westminster underground to find ourselves facing the two famous landmarks in London – The Big Ben and The London Eye.
We could see most of the city on our tour above the London Eye (it’s the giant wheel btw) It was a bit foggy so we could hardly make out the Wembley Stadium and the top of The Shard ( a real tall building).
We met Indians almost every tube we took and on every street and place to eat. Ha!
The city is crowded, yes and we got the chance to travel on an empty as well as jam-packed tube. But there is no noise or air pollution. It’s quiet and calm even with the number of vehicles and people. May be because of lack of space, joggers are everywhere, even underground: P But then I could see lot of greenery in between the sky scrapers too. Many streets reminded me of the big streets in Bangalore minus the horns and dust, of course.
There are lot of street shops – another similarity I found.
This part of the post is for the Harry Potter fans – so skip it if not interested. Our next destination was the Warner Bros. Studio – The making of Harry Potter Series. Oh, I saw countless things there which were used in the movie – the chess pieces, Privet Drive, Diagon Alley, The great Hall, Gryffindor common room to name some. You won’t believe to what lengths the producers went to keep the original stuff from the book. Some of the things I saw, I had not even noticed in the movie! The trunk in which Mad-eye Moody was kept to the Butter beer – everything was phenomenal! I can go on about this with no end. I will send you pictures when I can and you will see. The souvenir shop was extremely overpriced, so I hardly got anything. But I was shocked to see people actually buying those stuffs!
There were souvenir shops almost every corner and Porches,BMWs, Jaguars ruling the roads like Santro back home :P
We reached back the hostel at around 7.30 PM – tired and equally thrilled at having seen everything we had planned to on Day 1. The room was like any hotel room but the dinner took us home. Rice, chapatti, dal and aloo. Yum. After a long time we slept on a cot and watched some tv. We checked out early in the morning by 8.00 AM and were taken back home again on breakfast. Vada and Sambar. Like straight from mom’s kitchen. Relishing it, we got a bit behind schedule.
We headed straight to the St. Paul’s Cathedral. It’s not like anything I have ever seen before. Gigantic beauty with intricate carvings and huge pillars. We were awed by its awesomeness and got even more late.
After what we thought would take us to the London Bridge, we were taken to some other bridge (which is actually the London Bridge), we took a long walk to the London Tower Bridge (which is what we all have seen in the pictures) There, an old couple were kind enough to take our picture for us but somehow ended up cutting off the top of the bridge. After a lot of tries, the old lady got it right and we took their picture, thanked each other and moved on.
It was beautiful weather with the temperature a soaring 17 degrees. We took off our coats and soaked in the warmth of the sun long awaited. With all the delays, we skipped the British Museum (which I don’t regret, being a no fan of museums), we went to the Madame Tussauds. We met a lot of celebrities there but unfortunately we were too busy posing for pictures to stop and talk to them. ;) After around two hours of clicking we were finally out and hungry.
Burger King came to our rescue for lunch on both days, which has some delicious burgers. After a relaxed lunch, we took three tubes to reach the Natural History Museum. We literally ran all over the place to see whatever we could and got out by 5.30 PM. Our trip had almost ended.
After picking up our luggage from YMCA, last trip on tube, parting ways with the oyster card and running across the Victoria Coach Station, we caught our bus back to Leeds. There was a lot of sweat but none of them were of exhaustion. I can still feel the adrenaline rush through my veins when I think of what we had just achieved. The feeling is great and I hope it keeps me going for the next 40 days that I have to be in the UK. Amen.