Thursday, October 29, 2015

3 days in London

London is travelers paradise - it has everything - famous buildings and landmarks, world class museum, outstanding restaurants, fabulous retail and plenty of green space and all of history to go along with that. 

Earlier this month I was travelling back from India to Los Angeles and took a break journey to spend 3 days in this beautiful metropolis (also spent some time in Holland - but that's for another post). Having born and brought up in India with centuries of colonial rule, Britain has profound influence on India's history and culture. So, it was even greater interest that I was looking forward to my visit to London.

I had some luggage so picked a hotel near Heathrow airport in Housnlow City - in the hindsight not a good idea to stay far from central London since wasted so much time everyday to travel to city.

London is very well connected by train/bus and oyster travel-card that allows to travel on any train/tube or bus is perhaps the best way to move around - great value and saves you lot of time - I bought 3 day pass for around 20 pounds. I also bought London Pass (approx 80 pounds) separately that cover entry ticket for most attractions (note you can purchase Oyster Travel card with London Pass also)

Day 1 (afternoon) - Train Connection: Piccadilly line from nearest train station - Osterley.
Visited Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square. Dinner at Covent Garden - Great Thai food @ Busaba Ethai - highly recommended.

Day 2:
South-hall, Westminster, 10 downing street, to Big Ben (Parliament house). Then took City Cruise from Big Ben to go around other city attractions near water to London Bridge. Then took train to Wimbledon to see tennis gland slam courts and finally another one to visit home of cricket - Lord's Cricket Ground. 

Day 3:
Visited Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abby, Tower of London - among other things on display here are the crown jewels including Kohinoor. 
Then took tube to Bond Street station to window shop famous store Selfridges. 

With so many things to do, places to visit in this truly cosmopolitan and happening place it is easy to fall in love with the City. I also felt number of peculiarities - compared to living in US, esp southern California.
  • Everyone dresses formally - no shorts, even those wearing Jean use formal shoes!! 
  • Great public transport - perhaps most efficient and economical way of getting from anywhere to anywhere in metropolitan London
  • Everyone uses public transport - not sure how they manage last mile - distance from train/bus station to home
  • Even school kids seem be able to travel alone without any fear! 
  • Life moves at much faster pace
  • People generally more fit, polite but generally avoid talking or smiling at tourists!!
  • Roads less wider and cars generally smaller
  • The same fast food restaurants we have in US looks nicer and serve food that is more healthier and tastes better!
  • Brick constructed houses everywhere - suburbs with mostly older and established neighborhoods. 
  • No escaping security cameras - they are everywhere - train station, trains, elevators, streets even buses!! Eerie, but I guess necessary for public safety with all the nonsense going around in the world. 
  • No tipping - generally included in the bill - about 10%
  • Everything is more expensive - from food to stuff.
  • Weather unpredictable and it does rain a lot (even though I was mostly spared!!)
  • Street names posted on buildings - not on street corners!!
  • London underground - even more fascinating then the use of tube for transportation is the mystery and tales surrounding it (watch this PBS documentary  - also available on Netflix)
Overall it was lot fun. Obviously I barely scratched surface of London the short visit gave pretty good idea about the place and look forward to returning back someday to explore even more.

1 comment:

Manjitinder Singh said...

Good description. Staying near Heathrow was a mistake indeed.two hours travel time daily.public transport is preffered due to scarcity of parking and special congestion charges when a private vehicle enters central London.i think you should have tightened the itenary in London a bit more. Anyway seems you have enjoyed it to full.