ourist mode, ON! My first three days in London was dedicated to see famous tourist sites. I intentionally wanted a walking and biking tour so I’ll know my way around the city since I’m going to spend almost a month in the place. The plan was to see the metro from a worm’s and bird’s eye view then fill out the missing details in my itinerary
I could have done my own tour but good thing a family friend, Bryan, was willing to take me around the city. Hooray! I didn’t have to pay for any tour fees. Moreover, he runs therefore walking long distances wasn’t a problem. Plus, he loves history and culture so he was able to answer most of my questions.
Biking in London
Biking has been an integral part of the English culture that their government fully initiated a bicycle sharing scheme known as Barclays Cycle Hire. For just GBP 1, you can use their bikes for 24 hours using a valide debit or credit card. What’s even better is that it will not charge if you’ll only use it under 30 minutes. Check this link to know the costs.
I tell you, the bikes were very comfortable given its wide seat. The bikes were made with quality as well, helping you enjoy the biking experience. However, it was so heavy that I wasn’t able to carry 3 flights of stairs when the roads were closed for the Olympics. Good thing an English gentleman helped me out.
Pardon if the photos are not SLR quality. I only brought my mom’s point and shoot camera. Nonetheless, enjoy seeing London through my experience.
LONDON’S FAMOUS SITES
Most famous. This Ferris wheel is the biggest in Europe and the most paid tourist attraction in London. You have to pay GBP 28.80 or Php1,800 for a ride so you can see the beautiful skyline of the city. It’s free because my foster family #3 has a friend who’s supervising the security department. Though the experience was nice, I still prefer walk tours.
Favorite museum. It is the world’s largest museum of decorative art and designs. Good thing a friend recommended this place because I wouldn’t have entered after my concluded disinterest in museums. They have a mini park in the center where you can have your coffee. Plus when I ate in the cafe, a harp player beautifully serenaded the crowd.
Favorite, Hyde Park. It’s one of the largest parks in London and one of my loved places. I can ride a bike, have a picnic, lay down to relax, run for training, and chill at their cafe. Had memorable times in this park with Couchsurfing friends and Uncle Ador’s family.
If you want to see the world’s largest collection of living plants, this is your place. I was actually astonished that they grow tropical plants in their green houses. However, my grandma told me that it used to have more luscious and abundant flowers. I only went here because I wanted mom to get jealous, hehe.
Favorite garden discovery. I knew the redwood tree is the biggest and toughest in the world. Never did I know that it was that HUGE!
Favorite armory collection. I have been watching, playing, and reading fantasy fiction TV series, video games, and novels. So you can just imagine my joy seeing their vast collection of armors! Is there someplace on earth where you can actually try them on?
Favorite gallery section. My sister and I are very curious about torture devices especially during medieval era. She mentioned in her major class in photography before that she wanted to create a photo essay about it. This place could be good place to start but they only had one room showing the torture devices.
Collection of beasts by the royal families in Europe shows wealth and global exploration. They also used exotic animals as gifts.
Most iconic London film location (article here). Filmmakers usually include double-decker buses and black taxi cabs to establish the location. It also had special chimes during the opening ceremony of Olympics which was cool to hear!
This is where the royal weddings are held. It’s also one of the oldest churches in England. I was amazed by its Gothic architecture, a style from the medieval period.
This is the second largest tall church building in UK. It used to dominate the skyline of London for two and half centennials starting 1710.
The Shard. It’s the tallest building in Western Europe and also the most recent controversial one. Opposing opinions say it ruins the skyline of London. I understand why but I say it was a nice addition to the city’s mix of old and new architecture.
City Hall of London. I was amazed how big it was! Got more amazed when I learned that it has been called the “glass testicle” by their former mayor Mr. Livingstone.
Favorite sight while eating. It is both a bascule (a moveable bridge the opens to let boats cross) and a suspension bridge (a kind which has suspended roads with the help of cables at both ends supported by towers at intervals). Usually, people mistakenly refer to it as the London Bridge. I suggest that one should look for a nice pub or restaurant around the bridge while looking the orange sunset rays touch the sky, water, and buildings.
Millenium Bridge. One of the scenes in Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince was shot here where Death Eaters destroyed the bridge. Such as shame that I, a Harry Potter fan, just remembered after weeks of walking on it!
Victoria Memorial is right in front of Buckingham Palace where the British monarchy resides and works. It would have been lovelier if I was able to visit inside because they only open it to the public at certain times of the year.
Changing of the Guards. It is one of the famous tourist attractions in London. Four guards means that the Queen is inside, two means she’s absent. Looks like she wasn’t there when I visited Buckingham Palace.
Favorite event venue. Couchsurfers congregated in this area during the first day of Olympic games and gave me one of the best experiences. Observed very diverse acts here at the height of the Olympics, the performing Koreans being my favorite.
This is a circular space in one of the busiest places in London. It reminded me of Shibuya of Tokyo, Japan because of the big screens and density of people. The flags you see is hanged between buildings is a showcase of all nations participating in London2012 Olympics.
The Queen’s billboard. This has been the biggest billboard I have seen in London. Still, this is nothing compared to our EDSA.
Photos from the tours
Below are the links of the photos I was able to capture during my first three days in UK. Feel free to visit them in my Facebook account.
But there’s more!
This post is just one part of my trip. Listed here are the other articles that I’m going to post soon. Cheers!
- The Couchsurfing Meet ups Experience in UK
- Discovering English Countryside
- Everyday life: Cultural nuisance of the Brits
- English food hunt!
- Warner Brothers Studio: The Making of Harry Potter
- Loving the Musicals
- Scotland: The city, smalltown, and highland
- Flying 101: Tips on making your travels easier