Love at first sight.
That is exactly what I felt four years ago when I set foot in the United Kingdom’s capital. It was my first flight to London, and honestly, I didn’t expect much from the place. I just wanted to see it, that’s all. Little did I know that it will be my most favorite city ever! Since that day, I have been lucky enough to get London flights every month. Our layover is usually only 24 hours (17 or 12, pag minamalas), and in that time you try to squeeze in as much activities as you can. Needless to say, I instantly became an anglophile. I love everything from the British monarchy, to The Beatles, to James Bond, to fish and chips, and afternoon tea. As in, everything! Okay, maybe not everything (ugh, One Direction?), but even just hearing the accent makes me smile. 😀
The city proper is about 26 kilometers from Heathrow Airport, which makes about 40 minutes of travel via the London Underground (the city rail/train network). The station is just underneath the airport. Another transport option would be the infamous red double-decker buses, many of which operate 24/7. A bus ride around the Heathrow area is free, so if you’re staying at a hotel near the airport, you can easily get around from the Central Station to almost anywhere.
The only mode of payment accepted on the Underground and bus is with an Oyster card. If you’ve been to Hong Kong, it’s pretty much like the Octopus card, which you can refill, and refund if you have unused credits. A train ride costs 2 to 4 pounds, depending on the distance; and the bus fare is a standard 1.50 pounds per ride. If you are going to explore the city for the day, I recommend topping up your card with 10 pounds, which automatically converts it to a day pass. You can use this day pass on both the Underground and bus lines. You can take a taxi as well, but it’s not worth it, in my opinion.
Things To Do
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways! This is just a short list of activities and places to go to in London. There’s way more going on, so you have to check websites like Timeout or Visit London to see what’s happening on the day of your visit.
- London Eye – Ride this humongous ferris wheel to get an amazing view of the city. Better yet, check out the schedule for chocolate tasting in the capsule! Yummm!
- Museums! If there’s anything I do over and over again, it’s hanging out in the museum. I have only been to The National Gallery (my favorite), and The Museum of Natural History. I hear the British Museum is amazing, as well as Victoria and Albert Museum. I have yet to check those out.
- Borough Market – Endless stalls of gourmet food, fresh produce, and other mouthwatering grub. Nuff said.
- Covent Garden – This place is perfect if you want a chill vibe where you can have drinks and dinner with friends. And it’s just walking distance to…
- West End – Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera, Wicked, just to name a few. I say this is a must!
Harry Potter WB Studio Tour – It’s actually in Hertfordshire, north of London; but you can catch a bus from London which goes directly there, or take the train.
- Shop ’til you drop at Harrods, Knightsbridge, Bond Street, Oxford Street, etc.
- Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, and lots more!
There’s so much I want to share with you, but I will save it for future posts. One tip though – always be prepared for rain. Your London experience won’t be complete without it. ;D