London – Finally

Yes finally finally I made it to London. I was probably the only European over 20 that hadn’t been to London yet. Luckily the 30Euro Ryanair fare and the 19Pounds per night hostel rate made that possible. I have to say, Ryanair was much better than the hostel and I would fly with them again.
After a pretty uneventful flight to Gatwick, I bought train tickets and boarded the Gatwick Express. Well, turned out, I had bought tickets for another train and not the Express. 6Pounds and 30 minutes extra I got to Victoria Station where I left my luggage, bought an Oyster Card and then went out exploring. Walking around Westminster I was all giddy and excited about seeing Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, the Thames, House of Parliament and so on. Sooo cool to see these sights in real life! Then I walked up to Trafalgar Square via the Horse Guards and Downing Street. That all only took about 1 hour instead of my planned 2.5 hours (but that had included going inside Westminster Abbey but it was closed) so I decided to look at St. Paul’s Cathedral seeing that it was only open on Saturday. Stopped by a Starbucks on my way to the tube and man, those Banana Java Chip Frappuccinos are delicious!! πŸ˜‰
So I tried the tube for the first time and luckily it worked well and I was on my way to that church. It was huge! A wedding had just been going on there and the bride and groom were really pretty. I wonder who they were seeing that they got married in this HUGE cathedral. Hmmm. Anyways, I went inside and looked around and wow – impressive!
When I got out the sun was out and the clouds were all gone so I decided to go to the Tower and Tower Bridge to take some photos. I did that and again I was all giddy about it – almost felt like the first time I came to the US. Just to be safe about the weather I went back to Big Ben and took photos with blue skies. It was a good thing I did, too, because the rest of the weekend was rather cloudy or even rainy.
Rich then texted me and we met up at Harrods. The store feels more like a frickin’ museum than a department store. Soooo amazing! Looking at all the designer purses, I got shivers running down my spine.. *sighs*. The food halls were fantastic, too, and all the halls were decorated so spectacularly, not to mention the Egyptian stair case. Well, the restrooms were kind of disappointing considering the rest of the store but they were still really nice and I got to refill my water bottle with Harrods water from the fountain there, too. πŸ˜€
We then walked towards Piccadilly Circus and I had a sandwhich while we walked around some more and then I got into the Prince of Wales theatre for the Mamma Mia! musical show. I absolutely loved it, super fabulous! If you have a chance to see it, do it! Fantastic! I was so happy about it that I actually spent 15Pounds on a CD. Yeah it was that great!
Afterwards I just took the tube to Victoria Station, got my luggage and checked into my hostel. A clean place with nice, somewhat comfortable beds, ok breakfast BUT also a bar. And in that bar they played music until 5am – which was when the birds started singing so oh well. Yeah I didn’t get much sleep even with earplugs at all unfortunately and I actually stayed the other night at Rich’s hotel seeing that his friend Conny left on Sunday and Rich had the room until Monday. After dropping off my bag at Rich’s room we took the bus along Hyde Park (so pretty), had a snack at Mark’s and Spencer’s and then took the tube to the Tower of London. Pretty cool in there and we enjoyed talking to the costumed characters of Anne Boleyn etc. The white tower itself had loads of weapons inside and I was honestly more smitten with the crown jewels πŸ˜‰
We were starved by then but luckily there was a Wagamama restaurant right next to the Tower and Rich and I were both delighted as we had been wanting to try one anyways. Yay! The gyoza were delicious and my miso ramen was fine, too. Not what I had been craving for but nonetheless good.
All filled and happy we then paraded over the Tower Bridge and took the bus to the Tate Modern. Interesting art and an impressive building. Not as much fun as everyone had told me it would be but then again, there were no slides. πŸ™‚ Aparently there’s always more going on there between October and March so I’ll keep that in mind for the next visit.
The next stop on our agenda was the British Airways (love them) London Eye. The view from atop the 135m high ferris wheel was spectacular and the ride overall pretty nice, too. It’s a really neat construction. We then walked across the Westminster Bridge once again, looked at Downing Streeet for Rich and then went to Masala Zone for dinner. Really authentic Indian food. Totally tasted like the food at my old host family. Our appetizer, some puri with joghurt, was delicious and then the main course was in a couple of bowls on a big stainless steel plate (very authentic). As it was very authentic I can’t rave about the taste as real Indian food is not really that much my taste but it was good in the way that it was so authentic and brought back good memories of my host family. The mango lassi was excellent by the way. For desert we had a lovely view of the Tower Bridge by night. Pretty!
Monday, Rich left pretty early and I had some tea and shortbread at the Hilton (sounds fancier than it was but I slept the whole night!) I brought my luggage over to Victoria Station, did some shopping there and then got sushi from Wasabi. They basically had a big shelf full of individualy wrapped sushi, some onigiri, etc. You picked what you wanted in a aluminum box and then paid for it. Super cheap and really good!
All happy and stuffed from the sushi I went to the Dali Universe and enjoyed their exhibit. They had a lot of sculptures on dsiplay and it was a great complement to the Dali Museum in St. Pete. I really enjoy his works and thus had a great time.
Buckingham Palace was still on my list of things to see and so even though it was raining I walked there (nothing stops there unfortunately). and gazed at the guards for a bit. I kept on walking north then towards the British Museum and I kept walking because I had wanted to see China Town and I was close by it then but man, it turned out to be one big walk. πŸ˜‰ I finally did get on the tube at Leicester Square but when I saw a Starbucks in front of the museum (once I had finally found it…) I just had to go in and sit down for a bit with a skinny blueberry muffin and a latte. Yum!
The British Museum itself was absolutely impressive. You totally get a feel of how huge and powerful the British Empire once had to be in order to capture all these treasures. Seeing the real Rosetta Stone, Cleopatra’s Mummie etc. was brilliant. They also had some Meissner china but I have to say, that museum in Hamburg was a bit better in its collection of soup bowls than the British Museum. πŸ˜‰ (I took a photo just for you Ben). Well, I stayed at the mueum until closing time so it must have been really good.
A nice walk up on Oxford Street with some store browsing but no good purchases, except for tea, I went back to Victoria, got my bag, got some more sushi at Wasabi because Dublin just sucks when it comes to good, cheap sushi, and then boarded (the correct) train to Gatwick. I was a bit worried that the check-in desk would close before I got there but it was still open and then I flew back to Dublin. Uneventful flight again, thought I was lucky and would get out of the plane fast because I was sitting in row 5 but then we had to disembark from the rear so tough luck, it took forever. By the time I got to the luggage trains my bag was going by, though, so that was good. Had meant to take a taxi home but the line was miles long (at least ;-)) and as my bus was just approaching I took that instead and walked back the 1km to my place. Always a bit scary at night but all went well and I got home safely.
Great times! I absolutely loved London and there is so much more to see (and buy) there so I will definitely have to go back at some point. πŸ™‚
I tried uploading my photos to flickr last night but my connection was a bitch so I’ll try getting those 240 photos up tonight…

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16 Comments

  1. I have to admit, I am a European over 20 and I still haven’t been to London… *sigh* I have to go… and your post made we want to go even more. Sounds like you packed a lot of stuff into the short trip… great. I am going to check out your photos now πŸ˜‰

  2. That sounds like you had a fantastic time in London!!! I was there in 9th grade but only for a day! After your neat entry I really wanna go again!!!There is soooo much that I havenΒ΄t seen!!!!

  3. Wow your trip sounds fantastic! Amazing how much you saw and did! Mama Mia, DalΓ­ Universe and all the Must sees of London. Awesome! Nice piccies!

  4. I am going to be in London again in August after 6 years and your post really made me look forward even more. Sounds like you had a great time!

  5. em, i agree with sannie i am almost thirty and i have never been there, so dont feel bad. πŸ˜‰ glad you had such a great time!!! now i wanna go even more!!! big hug to you and thanks for your sweet comments!!!

  6. I knew you’d love it ;-D Nice, that you had such great stay there, and the pics are fabulous as always. And I knew you couldn’t leave without at least one corny museum to visit… πŸ˜› Serious: the British Museum is indeed great, enjoyed it as well when I was there last year.

  7. Hi Sanna,

    I found you through Ute’s blog. She told me you’re in Dublin, too. I’m also German and have been living here since September 2003. So you’re here for an internship and you’re writing your thesis at the moment? How much longer are you here for? I’m always up for meeting new people…if you’re too, just drop me a line ;-).

    Have a great weekend!

    Julia

  8. loved reading about your trip to london..it reminded me of when my hubby and i
    stayed a night in london to celebrate our 1st wedding anniversary in route to italy…
    celebrating in london was much nicer than on UnitedAir…hehehe

  9. Oh, how I love old London Town! Ben and I can’t wait to go back in two years. It will be my third trip there.
    Can’t wait to see your pics!

  10. i am glad to hear you had such a good time in london. i love london. i think it’s such a beautiful and interesting city. always something to do. eventhough it’s hilarious expensive i like the vibe over there. i was very happy i got there last time for work and was located pretty much in the center. and somebody else paid for the flight, the hotel and for the most important part;-) the taxi. lol
    and i am a frappucino addict, too;-) i am glad you were able to go finally and liked it so much.

  11. heeeeeeeeeeey, you finally made it!! πŸ˜‰ ^thumb^*

    Glad you enjoyed my second city hehe I actually adore London, really. It is impressive, it is like the small new york but much better because it has got something about a town charm πŸ™‚

    Mama Mia is playing there for more than 3 years now! I remember when I was there in 2004 and it was such success ! unfortunately it was too expensive for me then.

    I am happy to see you finally saw all the most important places in London πŸ™‚

    Gotta check your pics right now !!!!!!!

  12. Wow…I have been to London twice (before I turned 25 πŸ˜‰ *hihi*), but you saw more of London than I did. It sounds that you had a great time πŸ™‚ Good for you !!! πŸ™‚ I admit I am frappucino addict, too. Love, love, loveeee it.

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