London Calling

Low angle close up shot of the clock on Elizabeth Tower
The top of Big Ben with a blue sky

I haven’t yet written about London, but I thought I’d do a complete breakdown of what we did! We’re in Zurich at the moment but you can imagine I’ve been a little too busy to write up what’s been happening. Hopefully I can keep that up by blogging on the go. But thanks for sticking around, and I hope you enjoy this post of our almost-week in London.

Day 1

On our first day we walked around Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben (Elizabeth Tower), rode the London Eye and took a walk down the South Bank and had dinner at a little English tavern. I guess we kicked out all those sights at once. We bought Oyster cards and topped them up with seven days of travel for a fixed price. It was the easiest option for us.

Wide shot of the front of Buckingham Palace, London
Buckingham Palace
Low angle close up shot of the gates of Buckingham Palace
A view from the gates, looking up
A golden statue on top of a pillar
The top of one of the pillars
Close up of a squirrel in the park
A lake in St James Park
View from inside St James Park
Side view of Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey
Nick standing in front of a gate with a Westminster Abbey sign
Nick standing by a Westminster Abbey sign
Low angle of the top of Westminster Abbey
A low shot of Westminster Abbey
Side doors of Westminster Abbey
Yet another shot, of the doors

It was great weather when we arrived, not like the cold and rainy London most people hear about. It rained later during our visit, but it was never too heavy. I was told to always carry an umbrella, so we did.

Most of you know that I have an obsession with London – culture, accent, everything. But it may not have lived up to my expectations. The food was underwhelming compared to Sydney or Melbourne’s. It was nice, but not amazing, and was often pricey.

Elizabeth Tower (also known as Big Ben) with roads and traffic in view
Elizabeth Tower, well known as ‘Big Ben’
Nick standing on the footpath with Big Ben in the background
Nick with Big Ben in the background

I liked the Underground (the tube). When you live in suburbia in Sydney, you know exactly how horrid trains can get. I was amazed at how often services arrived at each tube station. Good luck waiting less than six minutes for a service in Sydney. You have a lot of fun in suburbia waiting for half an hour.

And yet. I still see people running for the tube. I want that luxury, dude!

There is usually only one walking route in and out of a station, as given by the signs. You generally only have people walking in one direction unless there is an emergency. In Sydney, you can go both ways, so be prepared to run into people going in the opposite direction on every single flight of stairs and every walkway. It’s so much more efficient in London. I wish we had something like that, because people-congestion is horrid.

Bridge Street street sign
Bridge Street sign
Big Ben, a photo taken from the bridge nearby
Big Ben from another side
Extreme low angle shot of London Eye ferris wheel with blue sky background
Artistic shot of London Eye ferris wheel

Day 2

We went to the Churchill War Rooms. It was an educating experience. I’ve noticed that a lot of museums have free audioguides in England. I’m not used to having an audioguide, but I actually liked it. It made for a more interesting experience compared to just browsing.

We visited Trafalgar Square and Covent Garden, which I really liked. The atmosphere was nice. We spent a lot of time at the London Transport Museum nearby. It’s now one of my favourite attractions in London! I adored the design exhibition there, which went into great detail about the colours, styles and typography of the London Underground and buses, as well as the history of transport in London.

The British Museum was undeniably huge. We knew we wouldn’t have time to look through it all, but made sure we browsed the galleries we were most interested in.

We had dinner at Abeno, a Japanese savoury pancake restaurant. It was pricey and not as amazing as we thought. It was a disappointment. In Sydney, Japanese restaurants hold themselves to a high standard, and it seemed like this one was lacking.

That evening we went to see the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory musical. We had to see a musical in London and I think we made the right choice of musical. It was amazing. When I see more musicals in future, I will be comparing them to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The set was breathtaking, so detailed and like my imagination had come to life. The cast were fantastic! So much ‘magic’ came to life on stage, it really stayed true to the legend of Willy Wonka and the loveable character Charlie is. I loved Roald Dahl as a kid, and the original movie based on the book was so good. I think that the musical is only showing in London at the moment… but if it comes to Sydney, count me in!

Day 3

I already recounted our visit to Stonehenge, but this was the day we took a tour bus to Windsor Castle, Bath and Stonehenge. It’s all a bit out of town, so doing a tour was necessary. We had the most entertaining tour guide. He really made us laugh. (I’m happy to recommend and share the tour information with anyone who is interested.) Windsor Castle had a long line even though we arrived early, but it made for some great photo opportunities.

Windsor Castle turret with Union Jack flag
A turret with the flag of the UK
Wide shot of an open walkway in Windsor Castle grounds
A better view of the pathways in the castle grounds
Wide shot of a fenced-off area of Windsor Castle
This area was not open to visitors, but nice all the same
Medium shot of me standing amongst a small crowd in Windsor Castle
A photo of me at the castle

Bath was very interesting! I loved the area from the moment I stepped in it. Something about the old Roman buildings really captured me. The Roman Baths were very interesting to walk through and learn about. We even got to taste some of the mineral water. It was really bizarre-tasting though. :P We enjoyed a bit of ice cream for a treat.

Day 4

The Tower of London was our first stop. It was raining and we decided to get on a bus for a change. The buses are great, and are a lot cleaner and ‘brighter’ than Sydney buses, which are plainly gross. Although it was raining, it was a great opportunity to browse the city sights.

For lunch, we stopped at a little pub. Nick had a typical Sunday roast, while I had a good ol’ fish and chips. We just had a bit of a break the rest of the day.

Day 5

This was a fun day! We went to Camden Market, which was like the cheap Paddy’s Markets in Sydney where everyone sells the same cheap things; and Camden Lock Market, which was a whole lot more interesting as it had unique handcrafted things (I bought some tea there too) and a lot of food options.

It rained a bit (not surprising) but as soon as it cleared up we headed to Abbey Road. I was very excited about this because I love The Beatles and of course I wanted to get a photo walking across the road like on the Abbey Road album cover. Before we arrived there, though, we walked down the canals. We saw canal boats, and overall it was a really nice walk by the water. I think it was one of my favourite ‘areas’ of London. I can imagine myself just going for a stroll along the canals.

That evening we met up with Georgia – we have been talking online since 2008!

Day 6

I am not a fan of Harry Potter but Nick is, so we went on the Harry Potter Studio tour. I have read the first book and seen the first movie, but I have some knowledge outside of those books. It was really interesting seeing all the sets and costumes that were created and learning about such a famous book series.

We walked around the Natural History Museum. I made sure I looked at all the rocks, volcanoes and precious stones (Holly would be proud!), but we didn’t have time to check it all out. Maybe next time!

We went for a nice English afternoon tea. It made us very full and there were a lot of sandwiches and sweets to be had. That evening we caught up with an old coworker of ours who is now living back in London.

The End

London was great. I think that if I lived there, it would keep me entertained for a while, but I didn’t find any of the food good. Maybe we looked in the wrong places, but for us, they were overpriced. About double the price of Australian food, even factoring in how fancy or cheap a restaurant might be. I know transport isn’t really cheap, but it’s definitely convenient. I love the history behind London, and I would visit again, but maybe spend more time exploring, getting to know various areas or travelling to cities just outside of London instead.

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Comments on this post

I go to London quite a lot (I was there yesterday in fact, for a work thing!) – I think it’s okay. It’s a bit overhyped really, and I struggle to find decent food too!

London is indeed expensive and probably one of the most expensive cities in Europe. For a normal work day takeaway lunch, I can easily spend up to £10. On average, my boyfriend and I normally spend around £50 for a meal for two.

Transport is convenient and that is one of the best parts of London. The underground covers such a massive part of the city. Very rarely will you have to walk a long way or change to a different form of transport to get somewhere within zone 1-3.

It’s not so convenient once you go into the outer zones where there are no underground. It depends on your closest train station, but some less busy and more rural stations will only have a train every 30mins into central London. There are fix train times though, so usually commuters will know those by heart or will check online before leaving for the station. Is that the same in Sydney?

I love all the photos! Although I see London every day, I rarely stop to appreciate its beauty.

Food wise, I must say it’s really hard to find anything decent without prior research. Most of the gems around London are hidden in side streets and outside of the main tourist areas. Asian food is really meh in London, very very expensive, especially Japanese food. The British only started eating sushi in the last 5 years, before then they’ll totally go “ewwww” at it. Most of them are still like “what’s Korean BBQ?” The food culture here has massively improved recently, but still a bit behind others.

I’ve been to Abeno twice before, I like the place (I suppose it’s the only one in London) but it’s so expensive for what it is. The prices goes up to £18 (or something similar) for one pancake and it isn’t that filling either. I won’t be going back again as it’s just so expensive. I’m waiting for someone to open a similar store and drop the price down.

Anyways, I can go on and on about London. Glad you had lovely time here! You totally dodge the rain. It started raining a lot just after you guys left, like yesterday, it was rained the whole day!

It seems like you had a great time! I’m sorry the food wasn’t good and I hope that Paris is better in that area.

I got obsessed with London around 4 years ago after reading a book where the main character fights ghosts. So it’s been a dream of mine to visit.

I love seeing these photos! It reminds me of when I went a few months ago, I love London sights and the vibes and also the underground – especially the underground haha! I know, it was so efficient how it all runs in London. At my city (Sheffield) it’s never that busy on public transport, often empty actually so experiencing it in London and seeing it was awesome!

I’m so glad you got to see a musical. Charlie and The Chocolate factory too – I bet it was amazing! :) I’m sorry about the food, London is definitely much more pricier than other places in England. My boyfriend found when he visited recently that in my home town, a “meal deal” is around £2.50 but in London – it’s almost double the price! I really recommend Sushi Samba, I think it was the best Japanese place I went to in London!

I enjoyed reading your days in London, it’s inspired me to go to the places you went to too! I’ve been to London 3 times and haven’t seen as much as you’ve seen in 6 days ;)

Look forward to hearing the rest of your trip in Europe!

Really great to read about your daily adventures. It’s a shame that there was some issues with the food. I guess that is something that you could be prepared for when or if you venture over again. :)

Looking forward to hearing about more of your adventures.

P.s. I don’t know how you manage the time to blog as well as be on holiday!

I went to a restaurant yesterday that was a) reasonably priced and b) THE BEST FOOD I HAVE EVER EATEN IN MY LIFE and I was so mad I hadn’t found it sooner and could have taken you there. It’s called Mildreds, and I swear I died and went to heaven. Maybe I’m still in heaven. If you ever come back, we must go there. Words cannot describe how fucking amazing that food was. I had goyza dumplings to start followed by a smoked tofu burger. Dayum. It was a veggie restaurant too so the vegan options were there in abundance.

Still can’t believe we met! EEEEEEEEEEEEE! (Still want your accent though.)

I’m glad you had a good time, even if London wasn’t *quite* what you expected. I go through phases of loving it and hating it. It’s definitely more fun with other people,. that’s for sure. I met my friend yesterday and we spent the whole day just mooching around and it was great. At the moment it’s only really me down here and it can get a bit lonesome.

The British and History museums are like TARDISes. 1000000x bigger on the inside and far too big to ever explore properly, ever. But that’s what’s fun about them!

And your photos, as always, are so nice. I realised we didn’t get one and felt like a noob.

I wasn’t really into London when I went. I don’t really do tourist sights, so we just walked around a lot and hung out with the friend we were visiting and ate and drank, like I do in most places I visit, haha. But I didn’t like the vibe of London… I don’t know how to explain it concretely, but I didn’t feel welcomed or entertained or anything really…. I wasn’t there long though, and I should probably definitely give it another chance, I just haven’t gotten around to it. So I’m left with a “meh” feeling about it.

Finally got round to commenting on this! Loved your post. I was unlucky in that back in 2004, we were only in London for one day, as a family. We saw Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, Big Ben, Trafalgar Square etc. We didn’t go in the Tower of London because it was far too expensive for the four of us :(. The London Eye was closed for maintenance! (we went there in winter, in January). The fun thing we DID do was get the tube to Piccadilly Circus and Knightsbridge, where we visited Harrods department store which was amazing.

Anyway, I loved reading about the things that you and Nick experienced! I’d love to visit London’s museums in particular when I go next time. The musical sounded amazing; Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is such a great book. The squirrel photo is really cute :3 It sucks about the food, though… D: We don’t realise how good we’ve got it here in Australia! Mum noticed this too when she and dad were overseas in Europe last year. She said the food in Australia is so much better! We take it for granted.

Can’t wait to hear about your Switzerland adventures :D

London is gorgeous =) Glad you and Nick are having fun there. You keep sharing beautiful photos and I keep imagining myself there, and dancing or walking down those places. You could run to the end of the world, and it would still be so beautiful!

Oooooh London looks amazing! I can see why Chynna loves living here! It’s amazing to see how old architectures are still standing strong. Definitely a must-visit place~

I’m sorry to hear about the Japanese restaurant being a disappointment. Hope there are other great foods that makes up for it! The castle and its walls look amazing. I wonder how many movies have been shot here! I definitely need to take a look at the Natural History Museum. I am bought with the precious stones artifacts!

Glad to hear you had fun! Looking forward to reading more from your trip ;).

I don’t know why but that squirrel pictures made me laugh. It’s like, ah, who is taking my picture?! You have such lovely pictures btw, makes me wish I could visit London. I have to admit though, I don’t know all that much about the place. I feel this need to really study more on other countries now.

Short comment because I’m on my phone and also quite sick at the moment but I read “Harry Potter tour” and am now jealously screaming.

That’s a beautiful photo of Big Ben! It was so cloudy when I visited London, so I couldn’t get a photo with a nice blue sky. I love all your photos, especially the one of the pillar at Buckingham Palace and the ones of Westminster Abbey. I saw it too when I was there and really liked seeing all the details on the building.

I’m so jealous of the tube. We don’t have transportation like that, and it was so convenient while we were in London. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory sounds like it’d be a fun musical to see! I’m also amazed at how much you guys saw while you were there. We found a few good food places, but I do agree that it was pretty pricey. It was hard to get used to. I’m glad you still had a good time there though!

There’s a Beatles souvenir shop on Baker Street (near the Sherlock Holmes museum) that you might enjoy and your partner may like to go to King’s Cross Station to see Platform 9 and 3/4 and the Harry Potter gift shop! :-)

I’m glad you had a good time in England, if you like castles, North Wales would be perfect and also Cardiff Castle in Southern Wales. I loved the Roman Baths when I went there a few years ago and found that the town I live in got a mention (Corinium), as it was one of the largest Roman towns.

I’ve been to London, a lot, but there’s still so much I haven’t done yet. I love Camden Lock Market!! Also, Covent Gardens.

I’d really like to go to the Churchill War Rooms and the London Transport Museum on one of my next trips to London.