Sunday, April 22, 2007

Wanderlust takes me to London - Day 1

I had decided to see London even before I had landed and that is what I proceeded to do – whatever I could in 2 days which was the weekend! So after researching a lot on the net – I decided that the best option is to buy the LondonPass!

Now the LondonPass is available from 1-6 days – It gives you options and free entry into a lot of places though I will tell you what it does not give you:

Ø Entry into Madame Tussaud’s
Ø Entry into Victoria and Albert’s Museum
Ø Entry to the Natural History Museum

This only means that if you are so inclined, you need to pay to get into any of them! It also does not provide you entry into the National Gallery, but the entry is free there! So as far as I am concerned, the LondonPass is value for money!

Now I had to travel from Slough, where I was staying, to London! I did some research onto what was the best way to travel and what I did was to get myself into a Hoppa – a service that the National Express provides from Heathrow and hotels close to the airport and the Marriott that I was staying at was one of them! For £4 I could travel from Heathrow to the hotel one way. I headed toward Heathrow, having a hearty breakfast and went to the London Underground also affectionately known as the Tube. The London Underground consists of many lines and each line travels in a different direction. Only one of these line, the Piccadilly line runs to Heathrow. So I took the Piccadilly line and got off at, where else, Piccadilly Circus! From Piccadilly Circus, the office of the Britain and London Visitor Center is just a stone’s throw away and the address is No.1 Regent Street, London, W1. The office is where you can pick up the Pass, though they will mail it to your address also, if you book in advance.

So I bought myself one and it cost me £42 for 2 days of sightseeing. Now, one of the places I absolutely had to see was the Tower of London and with the LondonPass, the entry is free!
The Tower of London had been built around a thousand years ago and has been the seat of the government and has been used as a prison to house royal traitors of Britain.

The tower took about 20 years t
o build and in places had walls 15 feet thick!

This link is extremely useful if you are a history buff:

From the Tower of London, I walked to the Tower pier and had taken some photographs of the London Bridge. I then had an ice-cream a really nice one, while I waited for my cruise ride on the river Thames, which is also part fo the LondonPass. The cruise takes you through the Thames from the Tower Pier via the Westminister pier to Embankment Pier.

I got off Embankment pier and then walked my way on the Victoria Embankment to Parliament square where you will see the magnificent architecture of the Parilament Houses and Big Ben. The sight is just spectacular!

From here on, walked again on Whitehall, where you will pass Downing Street – unfortunately the street was cordoned off and then I walked ahead towards the Monument raised for the Women in the wars, then towards Horse Guards, Admiralty Arch and onwards to Trafalgar Square.

Trafalgar Square is simply beautiful. It has fountains and statues and lots and lots of people sitting all over the place – you see children skating, evangelists pontificating, couples romancing, lots of people just sitting and eating ice creams and a few others contemplating! You will definitely see a lot of tourists – it is a huge draw.

Just ahead is also the National Gallery – the entrance is mostly free unless you would want to see Renoir landscapes and a collection names as Dutch portraits and the collection in the museum is simply awesome. Personally, my favourite was Samson and Delilah by Rubens and the Virgin of the Rocks by Leonardo da Vinci. It also has a prints of a few works and my favourite there was a Monet – The Gare St. Lazare, which was simply superb!

Please remember, to see London – prepare yourself to walk and walk a lot – This time of the year, the weather was glorious and it is easy – I would recommend you to wear easy shoes – preferably sneakers to be comfortable!

This is how I ended my day one – took the tube and train back to my hotel and fell blissfully asleep!

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