Exploring London

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(Day #1) 2 Maret 2008

Today’s itinerary:

  • Buckingham Palace
  • St. James Park
  • Parliament House & Big Ben
  • London Eye
  • Trafalgar Square
  • National Gallery Museum
  • Oxford Street
  • Leicester Square

We choose Jubilee Hotel to stay in last night since it is located not far from Victoria Station, 5 minutes on foot. Although it is a bed & breakfast, but we need to pay for ?50/night for a double bed room (size 140cm or 160 cm), shared bath room outside, and in-room heater. Not bad for putting your head and take a rest for one night after a long haul flight.

We wake up at 08.00 am, take a quick shower, take breakfast provided, and then check out since we will stay in another hotel today. We could leave our baggage at the hotel by paying ?1 per piece and here we are… ready to explore London.


What a beautiful morning in London, especially on Sunday, walking through Buckingham Palace Road, back to Victoria Station and no specific destination. It is still freezing but it is quite convenient to walk since London has a very friendly pedestrian. A 10 min walk lead us to Buckingham Palace, where Queen Elizabeth stays. We have to wait for another two-hour, at 11 am, to watch “Changing Guard”, a twice day event in winter. So you see in below picture as we come very early we can take picture without many crowd.

Buckingham Palace

Guided by our free pocket city map of London got from hotel, we walk through St. James Park to Parliament House where the famous Big Ben stands. All of famous icon of London laid here including Thames River, Westminster Bridge dan Westminster Tube Station, and London Eye.

Next, we pick up our London Pass at British Visitor Center in Regent St. (take tube, exit at Piccadilly Circus).

The London Pass is a plastic card including a computer chip which entitles the holder to enter a number of tourist attractions in and around the London region without paying the standard entry fee. The London Pass is most popular with international tourists visiting London for a short time and can be purchased for one, two, three and six day durations, with or without travel on London’s public transport included. The pass cost me £44.10 for 2 days but I would suggest you to buy the pass only. The pass could be purchased from Indonesia via website but you would need to pick the pass in their office by showing the print out as proof of purchase.

It is 10.30 am now, we would need to get hurry for Changing Guards at Buckingham Palace. Changing Guards has become a main tourism attraction. It is a simple procession but could attract thousand of tourism to here. Hmm… that is the magic of Tourism Marketing.

Changing Guard

St. James Park

Our next destination is London Eye, at a height of 135 meters (443 ft), is the biggest Ferris wheel in Europe, and has become the most popular paid tourist attraction. It is a little bid crowded on Sunday but we are lucky since we only queue for 10 min. You could hop into one from 32 capsules provided and rotate around 30 minutes by paying £15.50.

London Eye
Inside the Eye, we could watch London from the height, clear sky with minimum pollution. One capsule usually could hold 24 people but at that time only 10 people inside. You could ask from the friendly guests inside to take picture for you, it will not be a problem.
After that, we grab our lunch at Boots. One tips for cost saver lunch: try to find a special half-price sandwich at Boots at only £1.5. Big portion, and for the Asian, don’t forget to bring your hometown ketchup to add the taste. Yummy….

Tap Oyster Card

Tips for using London Underground/Tube: since Jan 2008, there is some adjustment in calculating London Public Transportation tariff. Try to use your Oyster Card everytime you ride into tube or bus. As comparison, you will only need to pay 90 p with oyster while you need to pay £2 by cash. One way riding tube in zone 1 will cost you £1.50. The most interesting one will be daily price cap system, a kind of maximum payment, Zone1-2 £6.30 for peak hours and £4.80 off-peak hours. Meaning, you could freely riding bus and tube, while in zone 1 and 2, and the maximum tariff will cost you is £6.30. You may read London Tube website for lot more cost saver tips.

Walk along the Thames River, ahead to Golden Jubilee Bridge. The bridge crosses the River Thames in London, and lies between Waterloo Bridge and Westminster Bridge and at the north end is Embankment tube station, Charing Cross railway station, Embankment Pier and the Victoria Embankment. We just keep walking, well finally decided to continue by bus, we ahead to Trafalgar Square and National Gallery Museum. It is free of charge, so nothing to lose to take a look inside although not much to see there.
Taking bus to Victoria Station, we collect our baggage and move to Travelodge King’s Cross Royal Scott hotel. Riding a bus in London is fun and a MUST DO thing. The London Bus is one of London’s principal icons, the archetypal red rear-entrance double-deck Routemaster being recognized world-wide, has been the iconic symbol of the city. You could see the importance of the bus as the city icon when seeing David Beckham stands up on the London bus at the Beijing Olympic official closing ceremony. Don’t be afraid to get lost while taking bus in London. A clear sign is provided in each bus stop. There is also a timing board informing you when the next bus will arrive.

Travelodge King's Cross Royal Scott
Travelodge Hotel, where we will stay tonight, located not far from St. Pancras station, 10 minutes walk from station. Got a special offer by booking online only for £29 and £49. Very cheap! Naming themselves as budget hotel, they will not provide us with amenities (but towel is provided), no receptionist at night, and of course, no free breakfast but the standard equipment such as convenient bed and 14” TV make our stay very comfortable. It is very recommended to stay at this hotel chain.
After clear out the check in procedure, we continue our trip and this time we headed to Oxford Street. From St. Pancras, we took the bus that takes us directly to this famous street. Hmm… I could simply describe this as the Europe version of Orchard Street in Singapore. With over 300 shops, it is Europe’s busiest shopping street, as well as the densest and it runs for approximately a mile and a half (two and a half kilometers). Using a very organized and attractive window shopping concept, Oxford Street is home to major department stores and numerous brands’ flagship stores, as well as hundreds of smaller shops. Well, being informed by my friends that I could buy Mark & Spencer’s toiletries at a very cheap price ?1 only, I stop there. Voila…. it’s true . But my friend forgets to inform me one thing, all shops closed earlier on weekends. So, we shop in hurry with a security guy urge us to finish the shopping soon.
Using our last effort… , we try to grab our dinner and we plan to try to have Chinese Food at Chinatown near Leicester Square. Stop there, looking around, and considering that the food price in London is not too friendly to our budget, finally we decided to eat at KFC.
Well, we are running out of power, we go back to hotel to recharge. See you tomorrow London.

Next >> Exploring London (day 2)

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  • http://www.ditaninfo.com/ Roy Gallinari

    I learned from the news on, The Shanghai World Expo will be very busy, May 20 I’m going to. China tourism will definitely very hot, there is traveling to China friend?

  • http://www.tonyshelley.info Agnus Biddleman

    I had fun reading your blog post hope you post more really enjoyable articles in the future.

  • thea

    Hi…aku mau tanya dong. Aku juga pesen hotel di Jubilee. Sistem bookingnya agak beda ya. Kita diminta detail CC dengan security code nya. Padahal di hotel2 lain, security code langsung dimasukkan ke dalam form yang hanya bisa diakses mastercard/visa saja. Kamu dulu gimana? Apakah keamanan CC kita terjamin jika menyerahkan info ke pihak Jubilee Hotel. Thanks a lot.