** This post has been imported from Raga’s old travel blog.
Finally, it happened! Yes, I am in Europe!! I always wanted to visit England. A country with such a rich history, stories about castles, kings, queens, knights, with so many old chapels and historic buildings, cultural heritage, this is a must-see destination. In this blog, I am not only going to share my experience, but also provide handy information to future London visitors, since European destinations are a mystery to most of us.
I stayed at a youth hostel (Generator Hostel) with much prejudice. This hostel is very close to a major underground (tube)/international station called St. Pancras/King’s cross station. This is a 50 minute tube travel from Heathrow airport. Take the Picadilly line towards Cockfosters for this station. My hostel was at a walkable distance from the station. The hostel had shared bathrooms but they do a good job at constantly cleaning the toilets. I would recommend this hostel to all the backpackers out there considering the proximity to the international train station. If you are going to stay for at least 3 days at London, buy a 3 day travel card from any major station. This saves some money and also comes handy at zipping through the ticket machines at the stations. After freshening up, my first stop was British Museum. I decided to walk to the museum so that I could enjoy some fresh London air and explore the area. I was totally impressed with the English architecture and all the buildings had this brick work that looked fantastic. There was a park dedicated to Gandhiji which was quite surprising. I took so many pictures along the way, got lost in the middle, and finally found the museum. This was one huge museum with items all across the globe right from 6000 BC! I spent couple of hours here, understanding the various civilizations. I was quite impressed with the history of Europe!
The next day I took the red bus tour (which was pretty useful, I highly recommend this) and visited the royal Buckingham palace, where the queen resides. The palace indeed looked royal. With the guards outside, wearing the typical red uniform and black puffy hats, you will get the United Kingdom feel here. My next stop was at Westminster Abbey with Big Ben and it looked quite impressive. Built hundreds of years ago, this building looked vast and huge. The view of Big Ben with Westminster along the river Thames was beyond words. I took couple of pictures here and directly headed to the famous London Eye. Whenever I think of London, the first thing that comes to my mind is the London eye, together with the river Thames and Westminster/Big Ben in the back drop. This was one of a kind of a view that definitely needs to be visited. I got on to the London Eye capsule and from the top, the city looked truly beautiful. I wasn’t spared by rain Gods this time around and was caught in the drizzle (which is typical English weather during October I suppose). As crazy as it can get, the drizzle stopped and the sun appeared again to brighten the remaining part of my day. I met a friendly Australian guy in the bus and he gave me company for some time. I proceeded towards St. Paul’s cathedral that looked phenomenal. I could not go up the top since it was a Sunday and they were closing the cathedral in 30 minutes. I continued to enjoy my red bus tour and headed towards the world’s most famous bridge, the London Bridge. I got there around 6:30 in the evening and wanted to stick around until dark to capture the view of the bridge at night. My first glimpse at the bridge was honestly beyond explanation. A truly amazing, fantastic, stupendous view that is bound to steal your heart. I got the “Wow, I am in London” feel as soon as I saw the bridge from a distance. I spent few hours, taking photographs and admiring the view. It was cold in the night but warm roasted peanuts (so delicious) with the top-notch hot espresso kept me warm. I walked across the bridge, enjoyed the liveliness and with the images of the beautiful scene, I left to my hostel.
I did not do much the final day in London. I visited the tower of London that is almost 900 years old and visited the King Henry VIII’s exhibition on his history. That was quite interesting to visit the old tower and I am really glad that the government is taking all the efforts to preserve such locations. I wanted to visit the infamous Stonehenge but due to lack of time, I could not do it that day. I thought to myself, maybe next time.
I left London the following day to Paris , the romantic city! Good bye London and Bonjour Paris!