The Virgin Traveller: London, Part 1

Hi Everyone,

I am uploading a little early this week as I am off to Melbourne to visit my brother tomorrow so I won’t have time to write during the week and I didn’t want to miss posting as I have made a commitment to myself to upload these posts without fail!

I have decided to split London into two posts as I just finished writing the first 2 days and it’s pretty long, so please enjoy reading about our time in London – more to come! 😊

Day 1
We arrived in London on Monday afternoon, it was about a 3 hour train trip from Wales to London. We then had to catch the tube from Queen Victoria Station to Russell Square where our hotel was. I had heard a lot about the London tube, and it really is an amazing form of transport, so quick! The line we were on was down the equivalent to a 15-story building underground, I had no idea it was this far below London. We were lucky that Brandon’s grandparents were with us the first time, as we had our luggage with us and there are about 100 different lines you could get on, the trains come and go very quickly and are packed! It wasn’t even peak hour (I think peak hour in London is all the time!) and you can pretty much feel the breath of strangers on the back of your neck and smell the glorious afternoon odour of inner city public London. Once we got off, I swore I would take buses instead of the tube as it felt very claustrophobic and I wasn’t a fan, although we worked out how SLOW it is traveling above ground and ended up taking the tube a lot, but more on that later.

One we had arrived in Russell Square, we checked into our Hotel. We stayed at the Royal National Hotel, it was HUGE. It had about 700 rooms, 3 restaurants and was full of travellers. It wasn’t that fancy but it was clean, had the essentials and free WIFI (which is the case pretty much everywhere in Europe and the UK) and that’s all I really asked for. Also it was where Contiki was based so we knew where we had to be to leave for our bus trip later that week and it was also a major hub for tourist buses and information centres, which was helpful.
Before we said goodbye to Brandon’s lovely grandparents, we all had dinner at a typical London pub! I was excited, it was exactly how you see them in the movies. We had a bit of a quiet night after a busy few days. We explored Russell Square for a bit and then went back to the room and chilled out as we knew we had a few crazy week(s) coming up!

Day 2
I woke up at about 6:00am that morning as I was very excited about being in London! I had always wanted to visit London and I didn’t want to waste any of my time by sleeping!

We had booked a small Contiki package to see London whilst we were there for a couple of days, as it had some great inclusions for a lot cheaper than it would have been to do ourselves. We had an open bus ‘hop on and hop off’ 48 hour pass, so basically it went to all the places you wanted to go to and you could get off and back on when you pleased as they ran in loops all day. We had a ticket to a show on West End and a bunch of discounted tourist attractions through Contiki. The Contiki basement was also an awesome little place to hang out and re-group, plus they are staffed all day, so you could ask them questions whenever you wanted, it was great! I would highly recommended Contiki to anyone going overseas for the first time.
Once we had picked up our ‘London 3 Day Explorer Pack’ we got on the bus out the front of the hotel and headed into the city…40 minutes later to travel 10 km in London traffic… this is what I meant about how slow it is to travel above ground! The traffic is horrendous and I believe if you want to drive your car around the city you have to pay a tax of about £20.00 ($40.00ish Aud) and I couldn’t imagine how expensive it would be to park. It makes sense why everyone goes on the Tube as its about £1.20 to go from stop to stop. But anyway we were too excited to let the traffic bother us. We got off the bus at Leicester Square and explored. We went in the Huge M&M shop, Lego shop and the Nickelodeon shop, was very cool! We didn’t buy too much as we really didn’t need to carry around bags full of M&Ms with us (as much as I would of liked to). We did try the M&M milkshakes and the hot chocolate though, yum!

We made our way through Trafalgar Square and to Big Ben. It was surreal to be standing underneath such an iconic building. We walked around Westminster Abbey, such beautiful old buildings. I also want to add that I have never seen so many people in one place before, crowds and crowds of people in these areas made it hard to really enjoy being in the touristy places. That was probably one of the only downsides I have about London is its population, 8.6 million people live in London alone not including tourists, and it is currently bigger than New York! it makes you appreciate how easy it is to get around in Australia. We went to the London Eye for a look, we didn’t end up going on the Eye as there was a 3 hour long wait in line and we knew that we were going up the Shard (tall building) after our Contiki trip so we weren’t too worried about missing out on this. We found a funky Sushi Train restaurant on the South Bank called ‘Yo sushi’, it was good although we probably wouldn’t of had lunch there if we had looked at the prices first, it cost us £30 for 2 plates of sushi each, that’s $60 Aud!…for sushi!!
After lunch we decided to take the Tube to Oxford Street to take in the shops. There were a completely over whelming number of shops, so much so that I didn’t end up buying anything (and if you know me you know how much I like shopping) apart for a Disney jumper from the Disney Store. There was two of every shop on the same stretch and all of them where packed with people, for example we went into a two-story Lush store (oh which reminds me I bought a few bath bombs too, hehe) and then we walked about another 5 minutes up the street and there was another Lush store the same size!
It was about 4:00pm at this point and we were exhausted, after walking back to our Hotel I checked my Fitbit and I had done 27 000 steps that day, crazy! For dinner that night we walked across the road from our hotel to GBK (Gourmet Burger Kitchen) – amazing burgers, like “Grilled” in Australia.

There is so much more I could say about London but I don’t want my blog to be too too long!

Stay tuned for the next two days in London next week! 😊

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