budget vacation, Burberry London, photography, Uncategorized
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day 14 – travel journal – london, england for a day

I had this bright idea of visiting London for a day, since I hadn’t been for 15 plus years. The reason for my madness was the fact I originally wanted to partake in attending the 2012 Olympic games in London but since I couldn’t manage such a trip a month ago, I wanted to be in London this year no matter what .  So, from Paris we took the Eurostar early Thursday morning for our almost three-hour high-speed train ride to London.

The important thing to remember is that although Gare de Nord (Eurostar station in Paris) and London St Pancras International Station (Eurostar station in London) are easily accessible and not too difficult to get around, consider showing up one hour before boarding the train to go through the customs lines and border control. It’s funny you don’t think there should be border control between France and England, but there is. The other thing to remember while embarking on such a journey is that the moment you cross border control and customs, the Euro is no longer welcome on the other side (being the UK). This caught us, almost ignorant American travellers, off guard.

Once we got past the shock, we located the second class compartment on the train and took our seats for our journey, first along the French countryside, then through the Chunnel and then through England’s countryside to London. Here is another suggestion I highly recommend. Although first class is pricey, consider the luxury of travel associated with it if you want to travel in comfort. Second class is crowded, noisy and uncomfortable.

Anyway, when we arrived at Kings Cross Station (major public transport station in London)  we bought an off-peak public transport day pass (7pounds) for zones 1&2 (off-peak passes are good for public transport which commences after  9:30a.m and zones 1&2 are sufficient for tourist if you don’t plan to go outside the city limits) and took a complimentary tube map and stood on the street corner to chart our course 🙂 like any normal college student would, except we weren’t. It was as if time had stood still for us and we had no idea what we were about to experience for an entire day, which although doable, is not very wise for the over 40 crowd.

We took the tube, first to see Buckingham Palace, then we ventured to Westminster Abbey and discovered the price tag associated with going inside, so we skipped it, then walked to Big Ben and accidentally stumbled upon the London Eye (ferris wheel) , from there we took the tube to the London Bridge, which shouldn’t be confused with the Tower Bridge (the colorful one) located a half a mile away or so and after a tea stop at Starbucks (what can I say) we zipped past the Tower of London (where the crown jewels are on display) while snapping a dozen photographs and decided to take the overground bus to Piccadilly Circus just so we could see some of the city. (Phewww)

Alot has changed (of course) over the 15year span and what was sad to see, at least for me and my hubby, was that fact, how many modern (architectural disaster) buildings were erected in between the historical ones throughout London.

That wasn’t enough, there  was chaos everywhere as expected for a popular travel destination such as London, a maddening traffic jam which made getting from one place to another very challenging by overground bus (It took over an hour to get from Tower of London to Piccadilly Circus on the famous red double-decker), not to mention the fact, getting used to the oncoming traffic from the  opposite side of the street.

We finally managed to get off the bus in the middle of Piccadilly Circus and walk about the shops around the ritzy Regent Streets before stopping for dinner, which consisted of fish and chips at a pub  (Loved it :)). Finally around 5 in the evening, we headed  back to St Pancras International to catch our 7 o’clock train back to Paris on a crowded train.

Now here is the funny part, I have been to Europe as I said a hundred or so times and normally travel through Italy and France (in recent years) and although the traffic is just as horrendous and the crowds occasionally overwhelming, I never felt as lost as I did while in an English speaking country – go figure.

What I learned from this day trip was – never to do that to a destination I hadn’t been before or even for a while, by the time I got adjusted to the tube, it was time to go. By the time I learned to look left first I needed to readjust my eyes to looking right first upon my return to Paris. We didn’t get to visit the inside of any historical sites and hardly walked into stores. So, on my next trip to Europe, London will get an entire week to explore and fall back in love with.

{photos are the property of http://www.rawsilkandsaffron.wordpress.com and cannot be used without permission}

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