#europe2013whaddup – LONDON

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With this post on London, I conclude my whirlwind crazy adventure to Europe, which was also the first time I stepped foot into the continent. I really enjoyed my trip – there are trips you take with specific people and from there, create memories with, only which the few of you share. I find that really special. You can earn your money back, but never time, and the opportunity for new experiences. I’ve always firmly believed in that, even more so now, when life is yours to lead, and choices are yours to make! Carpe diem!

Day 1

Hi! If you’re new to this blog, yes let me get you acquainted with how my trip worked. I started blogging about Spain first – so that started from Day 2 all the way to Day 7, and now I’m returning to Day 1, when we first flew into London-Heathrow Airport. Yes, I like to make things complicated.

We flew into London via Doha by Qatar Airlines. Can I just say, a huge WOW. I was seriously impressed by their staff, their toilets especially (which are so roomy, it could fit two cabin seats in there), and their attention to detail. I think many airlines are losing sight of that. Their attention to detail was to me, who is a relatively fuss-free traveller, on the borderline of ridiculous, but in a good way, of course. Before we started every meal, the air stewardesses would lay a placemat before serving our food. And the food and drinks weren’t even chucked in some cheap plastic. Isn’t it nice to be pampered once in a while? I’m definitely taking Qatar if I return to Europe, or perhaps I’ll Emirates the next round, I’ve heard good things about the airline too.

We took the Tube from the airport to our hostel, Astor Hyde Park. The train ride was an interesting one – the seats were comfy, but perhaps slightly too close for comfort. Or maybe it’s just because my bags were taking up more space than I was. I reckon it took us about 45 minutes to get to Gloucester Road station. During the journey, I was a little started from the train lights going off, and the rickety sounds from the tracks, but it was a pretty unique experience!

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Our hostel was located in Kensington. It was a really lovely neighbourhood, with well-manicured lawns, and white-washed buildings. The area is a more affluent one, and we were really lucky that we got a spot there. As for the hostel itself, it was spacious, tidy and centrally located. They even had Paul’s in the neighbourhood, imagine that. If anything, the hostel could really use more toilets. But compared to the second hostel we stayed in, which was a different one, when we returned to London, this was wayyyyy better.
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The exchange rate was a killer, that we ended up having sandwiches, salads and soups for our meals. But then, we discovered Pret A Manger, which is one of the best things we discovered there. LOOK AT THEIR SALAD. I would eat that everyday, and everyone knows how much I hate my greens.
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We spent the afternoon roaming around town, it reminded me of New York’s Times Square – tourists were everywhere, ourselves included, and with the many souvenir shops to meet the demand. Then you have your buskers lining the streets. My brother then abandoned me for a few hours to meet his friends who were living in London, and that spelt… SHOPPING TIME. But first, we ended up at Marks & Spencer, made a mental note of all the items we wanted to bring back, then got upset because our baggage wouldn’t allow us to, and then we cursed at the realisation of how ridiculously priced the items at Marks & Spencer in Singapore are. I could spend my entire afternoon there, nothing makes me happier than going to a supermarket, maybe other than fries.

So during those few hours on my own, I walked the streets. I didn’t have a map, I kinda panicked at one point. But I did spot many people carrying Primark bags, so all I did was to walk in the direction they were coming from. And finally… shopping heaven! We also managed to get last minute tickets to watch Les Miserables that evening, the singing was amazing! But jet lag got the better of me, I dozed off a few times during the musical.

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Day 9

It was the last day before my brother and I were to part ways – I would be heading back to Singapore because work beckons. and my brother would continue on his travels around Europe – he travelled to places like Romania, Germany and Rome – all these after his first year of uni, that I scoffed “Your grad trip ah!”

So since we only had one day – we did what I like to call, a fast-forward sightseeing adventure. We managed to see so many places in one day that it felt a little rushed, but we wanted to maximise our time there.

We saw the London Bridge, the remains of Winchester Palace, Big Ben, London Eye, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and Borough Market. I would have loved more time at the market, but we were in a rush and could only afford a walk-through.

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But of course, the highlight of my London trip…. Shakespeare’s Globe! *SQUEALS/fangirl moment* I know it’s not even the original Globe, but for a theatre-lover like myself, this is like what Chanel is to a shopaholic. I was really looking forward to catching a play there. I could spot the building from afar, and from about 100 metres away, I wanted to sprint to the Globe and give it a big hug. Going to the Globe was extra special after my involvement in SRT’s Othello earlier this year.

I caught the Tempest. Once again, I didn’t make any booking prior to this, but luckily, there were a few standing seats left. Should I even use the word standing seat? That’s like an oxymoron. I would have loved to catch Macbeth, but beggars can’t be choosers. By the way, people here really love their Shakespeare – it was so cold that day, yet some would queue up 2 hours before the start of the show to get the best standing positions in the theatre. The standing area isn’t for everyone – true, the tickets may be cheap. But then it got a little sunny during the performance, and some started fainting. It was crazy, it seemed like an episode of Survivor, to see who could outlast, outwit and outplay. I would pay for a seat the next round, but still I loved every bit of the Globe!

Till my next visit!

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