Sunday, April 6, 2008

reminiscing London

my highschool friend Laine posted her recent visit to London by herself, which prompted me to post here my super late London story. (don’t worry, i will not give you a blow by blow account of my trip – rather, i would just highlight what i did and the post places of pictures i’ve been to)

my visit to ‘The Green City’ was the week of the 20th May last year. i spent four days there to attend a conference, and stayed at The Grange City Hotel, which is right next to the Trinity Square and just across Tower of London. i arrived in the morning via London Heathrow airport. since the hotel’s check-in time was at 3:00 pm, i had a few hours to spare to check out the vicinity.

i didn’t immediately realize that i was right smack in the middle of the ‘insurance & reinsurance’ district. add the fact that it was Sunday, i had not much options in the area as every establishment was closed. i was desperate for a mobile chip as i needed to call hubby to let him know i arrived safely, and i know for certain that in London, people either walk or take the tube to get to where they wanna go. anyway, i went for the first alternative and checked out the stalls nearby to see whether they have any mobile chips available. since there was none in the area, i just decided to have a look around and take advantage of the pleasant weather.

Tower Bridge

St. Katharine's Dock

Trinity Square

Lloyd's of London building

after an hour of walking, i took a bus to get to Oxford Street as i’ve been told that stores were open there. true enough, every store was open, and the street was buzzing with busy shoppers. when i got my mobile chip from Orange, i immediately phoned home, and then took a short detour to Primark for some great deals & bargains. next thing i knew, i was on the tube with my shopping bag, and after a few minutes, had gotten off at the Westminster Station. after a little walk-about at the area, i found myself at the Earl’s Court to see my Dad’s cousin who owns a popular salon for Filipinos. wanting to feel like a Londoner for a few days, i got me an Oyster Top Up Card as i knew i’d be hippity-hopping for the rest of my stay!

London Tube

the weather was great during my visit – mostly sunny days, and sunset was at 9:00 pm. after each day’s session, i’d hurriedly change clothes, and head out to explore the city.

what i liked about London is that everything is almost pretty much right next to each other. i saw Big Ben from the Houses of Parliament right in front of me as i walked up from the Underground. and then there was the Westminster Abbey on my right, and London Eye on my left. if you make a little turn to your right, you’ll get to Downing Street, and will not miss one of London’s most popular address - 10 Downing Street - the historic office and home of the British Prime Minister. if you walk a bit, you’ll see the horse guards parade grounds, and if you walk towards the end, you’ll see the Trafalgar Square. from Trafalgar Square, you’re not far from the St. James’s Park, the Victoria Circle, and of course, the Buckingham Palace. walk a little further south from Buckingham Palace, and you’ll find the Duke of Wellington Plaza and Hyde Park. from there, you’re only a few steps away from Knightsbridge, where Harrods & Royal Albert Hall are. amazing, isn’t it?

by the 2nd day, i was already familiar with the tube system that i even went about my sight seeing taking the underground all the time. i knew which lines and platforms to take for all my destinations. being the ultimate ‘lakwatsera’ that i am, i also managed to meet up with Laine and her then fiancĂ© Merc (now her husband) at Harrods in Knightsbridge without any help for directions. they were very kind to treat me to a sumptuous meal at one of the Korean Restos in Piccadilly Circus . as an added bonus, they toured me to Leicester Square, too. i really appreciated their effort as they went out of their way to see me, despite the distance from their place to the city. (thanks again, Laine!)

Piccadilly Circus

having dinner

my flight back to Dubai was scheduled in the afternoon, so in the morning of my departure, i went to see The Monument, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and Tower of London - the only museum i managed to see. after that, i had my last meal in London. of course, i never left without tasting their famous fish n' chips!

at the Tower of London grounds

sharing a table with a golden girl

all in all, it was a memorable trip for me. in just a few days, i managed to see a lot of sights around London – mostly all by myself. i always felt worn out at the end of each day from all the walking i did, but i had a marvelous time. i hope to revisit London again soon, but on a holiday and definitely with Ryan. i promise to catch a show in the West End, see all the museums i’ve missed, and take a ride at the London Eye when i come back!

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