I recently travelled to London for a one-week vacation where I had a truly amazing experience so I will only share the highlights. Being my first time in the much talked about city, I found it to be vibrant, noisy and truly multicultural. In fact, by the end of the week I realized that this city, which is known as a shopping paradise the world over, has much more to offer as it is always bursting with frenetic energy and ideas.
When I first arrived at the Heathrow airport, I took a taxi to King’s Cross where I had made prior arrangements for accommodation at Excelsior Hotel. This single trip cost me £48 for a saloon car even through you can pay up to £65 for the same trip depending on your choice of car. After about an hour, I checked into my single room at the hotel that offered the comfort I so much needed having been on transit for over eight hours.
I took a quick shower before setting out to find a restaurant where I could savor a meal as it was already nightfall. What I liked most about Excelsior is its proximity to not just the restaurant but also the train substation. I walked down the street and settled for an Ethiopian restaurant called Addis. Although I had never eaten Ethiopian food before, I enjoyed a hearty meal (Injeera) here for £7.50, not to mention the warm colors drawn from the traditional décor that make you want to have more of the Ethiopian cuisine. The price of main meals at this restaurant ranges between £6.50 and £8.50. If you are not into Ethiopian delicacies, you will find a few other restaurants in the area.
The Excelsior hotel package included bed and breakfast so I woke up early the next morning took my breakfast and set out eager to experience a real taste of London. My first stop was the British Museum that is located less than half a mile from my hotel and takes approximately a ten-minute walk. It is a very important history museum and I would recommend it to anyone visiting London for the first time as it houses all manner of historic artifacts ranging from prehistoric bones to Greek statues, Egyptian mummies, jewels and manuscripts. The museum is has an enormous glass dome and stands on about 54,000 square meters that is covered by various exhibits. Apart from the Museum, I also visited Regent’s Park that is an ancient game reserve that has a boating lake as well as a number of play areas making it ideal when you are in the company of children.
Another place that you must visit while in London is the Buckingham palace, the Queens residence. This palace is a major point of reference for British history. The main highlight here was the changing of the guard that I found to be quite a spectacle. The palace is furnished with extraordinary treasures that are referred to as a royal collection.
My seven days in London were quite thrilling because my itinerary was full of exciting expeditions from sampling different cuisines to settling down for a meal at a quite restaurant. Although I enjoyed walking on the streets of London to the museum, Regents Park and Buckingham palace that were not so far from my hotel, I loved the open bus tour the most. This is because it offers you a rare and unforgettable sightseeing experience as you pass through major landmarks and attractions. I paid £39 for a 48-hour open bus tour ticket with Golden Tours (Please note that there are several open bus tour companies that you can choose from) that also came with the Hop on hop off service with over 44 stops. This fee is
not inclusive of the entry fees charged at various attractions. During the tour, I was able to see the London eye, Buckingham palace, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Thames River, Tower Bridge, the Westminster Abbey, Oxford Street, vibrant Piccadilly and so much more. The best thing about Golden tours is that they allow you to make your booking online which is quite convenient. The beauty of this hop on hop off tour is the convenience as well as freedom to have an in depth experience of the city.
The weather was perfect and the tour guide was not lacking in knowledge as he took us through the rich British history, popular culture and even literature that made every minute of the tour worthwhile. The package also included a free Thames Clipper boat ride that was magical to say the least. Some of the notable stops that I found to be quite interesting as the bus went through the streets of London include St. Paul’s Cathedral, Madame Tussade and the Tower of London among other. By the end of the tour, I had literally explored the imperious London in its grandeur.
I could not leave London without going shopping so on the last day I went to Harrods and Harvey Nichols some of the biggest department stores in this city . If you do not have much money you do not have to worry as you can find fairly priced items that are targeted at bargain hunters. The fact that I set foot at chain stores like Marks and Spencer, H&M, Jigsaw and Selfridges was overwhelming. However, I had an awesome time that I ended up at my hotel room with bags of stuff. When the time came for me to leave, I wished I had one more week because I still wanted to explore this city a little more so I left with the promise of making a subsequent visit sometime next year.