Thursday, December 15, 2011


City: London, England

Dates: 1-5 December, 2011

Transportation to City: Plane from Athens to London (Lufthansa)

Transportation in City: Our feet, the Tube

Places Seen/Visited: 
- Trafalgar Square

- London Tower
- Tower Bridge
- The Gherkin
- Leadenhall Market
- St. Paul's Cathedral
- Millenium Bridge
- Tate Modern
- South Bank Christmas Market
- London Eye
- Houses of Parliament
- Big Ben
- Covent Garden
- Hyde Park
- Green Park
- Buckingham Palace
- St. James's Park
- Victoria Tower Gardens
- Westminster Abbey
- Harrod's
- Victoria & Albert Museum
- King's Cross
- St. Pancras
- Regent's Park
- Primrose Hill
- Oxford Street
- Piccadilly Circus
- National Museum of London

Food Eaten:
- Mozzarella & Tomato Sandwich

- Apple & Pear Smoothie
- Apple Cider
- Baguette with Ham and Cheese
- Maple & Pecan Pastry
- Yaki Soba
- Peach Iced Tea
- Italian Sandwich
- Apple & Pineapple Fruit Cup
- Bangers & Mash
- Baguette
- Pineapple Slices
- Mixed Berry Cider
- Turkey & Cranberry Sandwich
- Yogurt Parfait

Hostel Review: 
PROS: Not too far from a nice Tube station (Fulham Broadway, which has a grocery store, pharmacy, pret a manger, and clothing stores inside). Staff nice enough, carried my suitcase up the narrow staircases. Had WIFI in the pub downstairs.

CONS: Big gap under the door, so very little privacy. Bathrooms dirty and had holes in the walls. Shower had very poor water pressure and switched back and forth between freezing cold and burning hot.

Things Learned:
- Don't try to eat at a pub at night. They're very crowded for the drinking crowd and will likely either not be serving food or won't have a table free. 

- However, pubs aren't a bad place to go if you need to use the bathroom at night. The crowd prevents you from being caught.
- Buy an Oyster Card for discounts on the Tube. They don't cost anything (you pay 5 pounds for one but it's refunded when you return the card). And if you have difficulties buying the card on one of the electronic machines with your credit card, go to one of the cashiers and buy it there. A regular ticket (like we bought) costs much more than an Oyster Card fare.
- Maybe make a list of places to eat beforehand? We had a lot of difficulty finding places within our price range that looked good. The one place I'd definitely recommend is Wagamama, an Asian restaurant chain, which is both tasty and not too expensive.
- Study the currency a little before you get up to a cash register. Some of the coins are hard to distinguish and remember.
- The Tube is confusing at first because each line has more than two ends. Look for the light board on each train that flashes the name of the end and be certain you're on the right train before you get on.
- Make sure the fashion exhibit is open at the Victoria & Albert Museum or you will be very disappointed :(
- Use up all your extra pounds before you get to the airport unless you want to make a bad, rushed decision.
- Definitely go to Regent's Park. It's filled with things to see- a rose garden, a zoo, a lake, a hill that overlooks London.
- Don't try to go to Platform 9 3/4 right now. King's Cross is under construction :(
- London is expensive. If you don't want to overpay for your food, just go to the grocery store. They have a lot there and you'll get more for your money. Especially for water and other beverages.
- Dress warmly if you're going in December and bring shoes that will keep the water out.

Favorite Parts:
- The tree lighting in Trafalgar Square. It was rainy and not terribly exciting, but still a great way to spend our first night. Plus, the area around Trafalgar is great. There are tons of charming shops and restaurants. Just walking around the area was wonderful and made me fall in love with London.

- Seeing Tower Bridge, commonly mistaken as London Bridge.
- The South Bank Christmas Market. Small, charming, and festive.
- Covent Garden Christmas Market. The decorations were extravagant, the stores ready for the holidays, and there were lots of exciting performers to see and enjoy.
- Picnicking in Victoria Tower Gardens. The perfect spot for a picnic overlooking the Thames.
- The National Gallery, a great museum in both size (smallish) and substance (Van Gogh, Monet, etc.)
- Regent's Park

The tree lighting ceremony at Trafalgar Square.

Ice-Skating at the Tower of London.

Tower Bridge.

Leadenhall Market (aka Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter movies).

St. Paul's Cathedral.

The London Eye.

Houses of Parliament.

Covent Garden.

My future home.

Buckingham Palace.

Victoria Tower Gardens.

Big Ben.

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