We really wanted to have everything ready before our trip, but sadly we were unable to describe our six-month-long adventure in Spain. We also didn’t have enough time to prepare a post about our preparations for the trip – visas, vaccinations, insurance, equipment, backpacks… We plan to fill those gaps a bit later.
Now, however, it’s about time to start writing about our trip, because 2 weeks already passed recently!
Let’s start the journey!
Officially, our journey around the world began with the flight across the Ocean. However, we didn’t fly to Toronto directly from Poland, but from London. Therefore, having to pass through London, we thought – why not to get there one day earlier and see some of most recognizable places ;)? Especially that apart from the tour we could meet a “long time no see” friend – Zosia – who became our very first host during the trip around the world.
We got to London shortly after 7 AM local time. We went with EasyBus from Luton Airport to Baker Street. This is the cheapest connection between Luton and the Centre, that we have found. It was a close to an hour bus ride, then a longer moment at ticket machine in the subway (to make sure we’ll buy a good ticket) and when we finally arrived to the apartment of Zosia it was around 9:30 AM. Quick chitchat, a few suggestions on what to see and what not, a quick nap – and before we went to see the city it was already 1 PM 😉
London in one day
We decided to start our sightseeing with… excellent, typical english breakfast. Eggs, bacon, sausages, beans in tomato sauce – all served with crunchy toast and hot coffee. Delicious, if you ask us. And by the way we had time to do a specific plan of what we want to see during the next few hours.
We went to the Centre by the Tube (London Subway). We got off at Green Park and from there we headed towards Buckingham Palace. In a few moments we started noticing who is a turist and who is from London. Do you wonder how? Well, since morning London had typical English weather – foggy with light drizzle. We, as most of the tourists in that weather, had trousers, hiking shoes and a waterproof jacket with a hood. But it was 14th August – and since it was the summer, locals didn’t wear long sleeves – more common view were sandals, shorts and dresses. We smiled a bit every time we saw girls in shorts and flip-flops hiding under umbrellas 😉
In our opinion, Buckingham Palace looks much better from a perspective that includes the statue of Victoria Memorial with fountain and green lawns. Standing at the fence surrounding the Palace we somehow didn’t feel any bigger thrills – no delight nor admiration. Big, gray building in some distance from the fence, in front of which two Welsh guards stand – and one of them is (kinda funny) marching once to the left, once to the right. Honestly, to Patrycja it resembled a Civil Engineering Faculty building at Poznan University of Technology – only bigger and gray.
From the Palace we went through Saint James Park (great place for a picnic – a lot of green lawns, small lake and a lot of benches where one can sit and relax) towards the Palace of Westminster. This time we weren’t disappointed. Parliament Square, around which a lot of flags were displayed, began a series of very interesting views. Powerful and dominant over the surroundings Big Ben, with neo-Gothic Houses of Parliament next to it, with Westminster Abbey and St. Peter’s Cathedral Basilica just a little bit further down the way. All objects dreamlike and looking exactly as on postcards 😉
We wanted to take some more postcard-like photos, so we went to Westminster Bridge to see Big Ben and Palace of Westminster from another perspective. On the bridge the crowd was larger than in any other place that we visited that day. Tourists posing for pictures, cyclists shouting at pedestrians blocking their ways, street artists along the way and lots of tricksters playing 3 cups along with their incognito crew, trying to lure tourists to come and play.
Being on Westminster Bridge it would be a mistake not to go and see London Eye from real close. We didn’t knew it is so big unless we stood directly under it. There wasn’t a big queue for riding the London Eye but we didn’t try it – it was quite foggy so we wouldn’t see as much as we would want. Besides, it was already getting later, and we were very keen to see one more place – Tower Bridge.
From the London Eye we went along the riverside towards Tower Bridge. After some 15 minutes walk and checking the distance we abandoned the idea of the stroll and searched for closest Tube station. This got us a little faster (and without getting wet from the rain) to Tower of London. Despite the fact that we could only see it from the outside, it did left a big impression on us. We walked along the walls and made it to Tower Bridge. Just like Tower of London – we really liked the Bridge. Powerful and elegant. And despite the fact that bridge was built over 800 years after the Tower of London, it was built to mimic the style of historical monument. We only regretted that there wasn’t any tall ship sailing the river, so the bridge would be lifted.
Unfortunately, here we had to finish our London sightseeing, because…
For the evening we planned a dinner with Zosia in Chinatown. We had a problem choosing a restaurant but it was nothing compared with a choice of dishes, which the menu offered. Finally, we ordered one of several menu sets for three people and it turned out to be a good idea. After starters that were lobster chips and duck-filled spring rolls, we had a main course. It’s hard to describe all the dishes accurately, but among many different things we tasted: sweet fried pork, sweet chicken with vegetables, and shrimps with some oriental sauce served with stewed vegetables. A very good balance to all that sweetness was bitter green tea.
After the dinner we went for a short walk. Zosia took us to the M&M’s store – we’ve never seen this candy in so many different forms. From the tubes with different colors of delicious sweets, through candy dispensers, figures, cups and plates, ending with socks, t-shirts and even pajamas in all colors with the M&M’s characters playing different roles e.g. Star Wars. 4 floors of M&M ‘s madness – there was even a secret flavor lab, where through the glass one could see the worker labeling packages of candy.
In the end, however, it was time to go home, although we’d love to spend a little more time in London and definitely see the city at night. But we guess we need to leave something for our next visit here.
- EasyBus from and to the Luton Airport operates on two routes – to Victoria Street and to Commercial Street, both with a few stops along the way. It’s better to buy the tickets a bit sooner using the website: www.easybus.com. The sooner you buy the tickets – the price is lower. What is worth mentioning – there’s no problem to board later bus if you didn’t make it on time to your scheduled bus (if there are free places).
- In case you don’t know it yet – subway (or the Tube) in London is really complex and you can reach almost every part of the city.
- If you plan to travel around London by public transport, the most convenient solution is to buy a Visitor Oyster Card. You can top-up the card in most of the ticket machines or ticket booths and you use it by touching card readers on entering and exiting the vehicle. or subway. The system automatically collects the fare, but only up to your daily limit (daily cap). This limit depends on the zones in which you’re travelling (more on that here). The card can be bought in many locations, where tickets are sold (e.g. Metro stations). Its cost is 5 GBP (8 USD), which are reimbursed when you return the card – along with the remaining balance.
- We decided to buy a paper version – Travelcard – and we bought 1-day tickets (valid in given calendar day). The price of that Travelcard is 12 GBP (19 USD) for zones 1-4. In case of longer stays, it’s worth considering the option of a weekly or monthly Travelcard.