My summer wouldn’t be complete without a little bit of travel. I had enough United Mileage Plus miles sitting in my account for two round-trip tickets so my sister and I took a two-week vacation to Paris, and stopped by London for 6 days on our way. I was excited, and my sister was more excited. She planned the whole itinerary (I wasn’t a big fan of planning itineraries.) and I was really grateful for it. I downloaded City Maps To Go on my phone as recommended by several of my friends but it didn’t work for some reason. Fortunately, there was a McDonald’s on every block in the city which made getting wifi really convenient.
We exchanged 100 pounds at the airport and I wish we didn’t. Everywhere we went accepted my Barclay Arrival chip and pin credit card, except for maybe one place that only accepted cash. We ended up not spending up all of the £100 and had some left. I guess we could use it as souvenir. Speaking of which, I had never been a souvenir collector but since my last trip to Cancun where I was approached by a store owner to exchange my t-shirt for any shirt in his store, I’ve since then started collecting t-shirts from places I traveled to. I’ll maybe frame them all up one day. A few days after we arrived in London, the temperature dropped, it was more chilly than I could handle without any sweat shirt. It was my perfect excuse to buy one that I could also use as a souvenir.
I had to confess, my original intention was not to spend all our time doing touristy things. Although I did enjoy some of them, fighting with other tourists for photo spots was not the most glamorous thing (but necessary); I was hoping to do something more low-key. We did manage to spend some time picnicking in a park and enjoying the nice weather.
We stayed with a host for three days who lived by Bruce Grove, which was a short Tube ride from city center. It made a huge difference knowing someone local who was able to tell us about things we wouldn’t otherwise know. We got grocery from a local supermarket, which was surprisingly inexpensive, and ate breakfast at a cafe near his apartment. It made our stay more affordable. There was also a Tube strike that lasted for 24 hours. We were lucky to have our host who helped us find alternative bus routes into the city. If we didn’t know anyone local, we would have probably stayed in all day.
I was a little sad the day we left London. I really enjoyed the city. People were exceptionally well dressed (especially the men ;) and there were so much to do. Maybe I’ll go back some day.
This was the Millennium Bridge. It was pretty much a pedestrian bridge that allowed people to walk from one side of the river to the other. We didn’t go on it cause it was too crowded.
The Tower Bridge was my favorite thing to photograph in London. In the above photo, we were on another bridge that was jam packed with tourists and locals trying to cross the bridge. People were literally walking elbow to elbow. I didn’t particularly enjoy how crowded it was but once we got off the bridge and walked closer to the Tower Bridge, there were a lot less people and I was able to get better angles too.
We stopped by the Palace of Westminster briefly. It was right next to a Tube station so we were able to get there really quickly. There were quite a few guards in and around this magnificent building. I wasn’t surprised. This place was total packed with tourists. It was impossible to move. Though we were memorized by the beautiful architecture and had to get a closer look. I didn’t have a wide enough angle lens to photograph the entire Palace of Westminster, but I did get a semi close-up shot of this clock tower called Big Ben.
We did a walking tour of London that was supposed to last for 2-3 hours. Our tour guide seemed really passionate talking about the history of each attraction. We got bored really fast and we were really tired. We decided to go our separate ways after stopping by our third stop, the National Gallery.
Up next is our amazing trip to Paris.