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Travel: London, I Love You!

The Parliament building in Westminister with the clock in the background, mistakenly known as Big Ben.
The Parliament building in Westminister with the clock in the background, mistakenly known as Big Ben.

2013 was shaping up to be one of my worst years ever. I am glad that I took the bulls by the horn and reversed it. Despite a few stumbles here and there and the loss of one of my relatives, 2013 actually turned out to be one of my best years, yet! One of the reasons it was so great was because I FINALLY did the damn thing. I traveled! 

The first stop during my 14-day Wonders of Europe tour via Cosmos was London, England.  London was never really at the top of my list of places to visit. But my curiosity piqued because of its ties to Jamaica and it turned out to be one of the most extraordinary cities of all of the ones that I visited during my trek across Europe.  Here are a few more photos and some tips.

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My selfie at the Tower of London. I used the timer on the camera while we were waiting on the Beefeater led tour through the ancient castle/prison/royal residence.
IMG_6665_Beefeater
The Yeomen Warders of Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress the Tower of London, and Members of the Sovereign’s Body Guard of the Yeoman Guard Extraordinary, popularly known as the Beefeaters, are ceremonial guardians of the Tower of London. In principle they are responsible for looking after any prisoners in the Tower and safeguarding the British crown jewels, but in practice they act as tour guides and are a tourist attraction in their own right, a point the Yeoman Warders acknowledge.
All warders are retired from the Armed Forces of Commonwealth realms and must be former senior non-commissioned officers with at least 22 years of service. They must also hold the Long Service and Good Conduct medal. Source: Wikipedia

London Travel Tips

1) 2-days is not enough to see London. You need 3 full days, and a weekday especially if you want to see St. Paul’s or Westminister Abbey. Church’s close early on Saturdays and tours are not available on Sundays. I wouldn’t recommend any more than 3-days. London is WTF expensive!

2) During your 3-day visit, take full advantage of the Hop On Hop Off (HoHo) tours. There are a few of them that are available, but I went with the Original Tours.  The tickets are good for 48 hours and it takes you to every major tourist attraction available in London. The great thing is that you can chose to get off the bus if you want to visit any of the sites and when you are done, you can hop back on the next bus to finish the route that you are on. Tickets also include a cruise on the Thames River and a few walking tours.

London Bridge, Eye of London and Barclay bicycles available for rent in London
London Bridge, Eye of London and Barclay bicycles available for rent in London

3) Download the free app called CityMapper. I didn’t meet up with Cosmos until the morning that we were leaving London and the CityMapper app was a God send for me. It helped me to navigate the  tube and the City as a whole.

4) The Tube is the most inexpensive way of getting around London.  If you plan to use it, do yourself a favor and buy the Oyster card. There is a London Travelers Card that is also available.  You can get more information here on the VisitLondon website.

5) I didn’t have enough time to take advantage of the London Pass, but if you are planning to spend 3-days there and you are planning to enter the paid sites, this might work for you.

Five Must See things in London

1) Ceremony of the Keys  It’s at night and it was a bit tricky to find the actual meeting site, but I made it, all by myself.  It’s actually FREE, but you have to request tickets by mail (regular, snail mail post) in advance.

2)British Museum It’s FREE! You won’t have time to see all of the exhibits, but the Rosetta Stone and the Benin bronze plaques are a must see.

3) Tower of London  This is a paid tour which includes the Crown Jewels exhibit.  You won’t be able to see this if you enter the Tower for the Ceremony of the Keys. Brace yourself for the really gory history of the Tower that the Beefeaters tell without apology or hesitation.

4) Westminister Abbey unfortunately, I didn’t get to visit Westminister Abbey because my flight was delayed and by the time I settled in and left my hotel it was too late.  You want to visit Westminister Abbey not only because famous marriages and funerals took place there, but also because some of the the who’s who of British history is buried there.

5)Picadilly Circus at night (trust me on this one and bring enough cash to shop and hang out at a few of the pubs).

London_Collage2

London Fashion

Most of the younger girls that I saw look like they were bloggers or should be bloggers.  There was a lot of mixing of “fancy” with “casual” wear. I guess British women go for a more natural look. Mascara and lipstick and carefully groomed brows were the only things that I noticed. I couldn’t detect eyeshadow or even eyeliner on most of the women that I observed.  I wish I could show you photos…

London Souvenirs
Umm… yeah, I bought one!

Surprises

  • Driving by the famous chalk White Cliff’s of Dover on our way to catch the ferry to the European continent.
  • I didn’t realize that the London Underground was 4 or 5 stories or more below ground.  That was the longest escalator rides of my life!!!!
  • I also didn’t realize that the Rosetta Stone was in the British Museum…
  • And for a people who adore their queen and all of that royal properness, the British are some of the most boisterous people that I have come across.

Still it was a great visit and I hope to return there one day, soon!

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As always, thanks for stopping by and reading. Wishing you and yours a very Happy Holidays!!!

Crown Jewel Christmas tree ornament that is available at the gift shop near Buckingham Palace
Crown Jewel Christmas tree ornament that is available at the gift shop near Buckingham Palace

XoXo, Natasha

About Natasha Samuels

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3 comments

  1. Amazing post on city London 🙂 Nice clicks … Loved your post title 😀 I love London too

  2. I’m so looking forward to your recaps on each of the cities that you visited!
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