Some touristy things to do in London


– Join the 3.5 million tourists who ride the iconic London Eye each year. At 135 meters high, on a clear day you can see as far as 25 miles away.

– Pose with a Royal Guard, even if he is a fake!

– If you are in the bar scene and you want to do a most ridiculous act in your life, try the bar on wheels, the PediBus, with your friends.

– It’s actually sitting in a mobile bar that you and your friends will move yourself.  How?  By pedalling!

…. Yes, pedalling along the famous sites of London. It’s  a surefire way to attract stares and snaps from the public.

– For the young at heart, watch the soap bubble show in Jubilee Park.

– Pose with the London Metropolitan Police.  They are only too willing to “say cheese!”

– London is a city of artists.  You only have to look around you to see their art. Have your photo taken with it for souvenir.

– As one of the greenest city in the world, there are parks and gardens to laze around or picnic.


– It’s also one of the largest cities in the planet so one of the best ways to do sightseeing is by bike.  Join a bike tour group for a more pleasurable experience.

– Get to one of the most famous streets of the capital and ogle at the black door where the British Prime Minister officially resides.

 

….. also meet the men in uniform whose work is to  make sure that you and the others are prevented from loitering through this road.

– Do your most romantic act ever, with your special someone.

– And take that romance up to the next level.  Get married – in style – by riding the red vintage Routemaster.

– Do London with your best friends forever!

– Hang out at the Buckingham Palace gates.  You might be lucky to catch a glimpse of a member of the Royal Family.

– Create history.  Get a crazy shot next to one of London’s greatest icon, the Big Ben.

– Take that magazine cover photo of yourself.  London St Pancras International is an ideal venue.

– Amble at one of the most famous tailoring street in the universe.  Previous customers were Winston Churchill, Lord Nelson, and Napoleon III.  In these modern times, Prince Charles and Jude Law top the list.

– Create that creative shot of the Parliament and the Big Ben.

Day 2 – London Eye and River Cruise

Previous:  Day 1 – Sightseeing in London

This morning, we are hitting the London Eye and after that the Thames river cruise.

But first, let me confess that I never really liked ferries wheels.  I have fear of heights.  I was eight when I first tried one and  still remember how my stomach turned upside down when the wheel started descending rapidly. Never again, I thought.

(Fast forward)

When my sister and her family announced that they are coming to the UK for their holiday, I found myself making an online search for the London Eye.  The reviews say the landscape is breathtaking when viewed from 135 meters above and the  rotation so slow that it takes half an hour to complete a single revolution.   I didn’t need any more convincing.

We wanted to avoid the queue so we pre-booked online but, alas, when we got there,  we still  had to wait in line for about 30 minutes before we could get into the capsule.   But it was well worth it.

The London Eye is the most popular paid for tourist attraction in the UK, with over 3.5 million visitors each year.  It was built to celebrate the millenium in London.  Designed by the husband and wife team, architects David Marks and Julia Barfield, it was the world’s tallest ferris wheel when it was erected in 1999.

It costs £70 million to build,  has 32 air-conditioned capsules or glass-pods and each pod can  carry up to 25 people.

Each pod is spacious enough to enable everyone to walk around freely….

… and there is a center bench provided.

You get a staggering view of famous landmarks  such as the Big Ben and the Parliament building  with the Westminster bridge below.

You can indulge in “Guess-the-name-of-that-bridge” game with friends and family.
This is the railway Hungerford Bridge sandwiched by two pedestrian Golden Jubilee Bridges

The roof of London Waterloo station and above left is the UK’s tallest building, The Shard

 The former London County Hall now a commercial space for several businesses,  hotels and aquarium.

 

Next in the agenda, the River Sightseeing Cruise.
I really like this one!  Nothing beats seeing the famous landmarks of London from the water!

Actually, a boat tour is my all-time favorite when sightseeing in river cities and if I had my way, I would do a day tour as well as a night tour!  I have done this in Paris,  truly a breathtaking experience to see the City of Lights in all her lit up glory!

There are many spots in the city that look  more magical when seen from the water and if you are lucky enough to have the same  bubbly tour guide as ours narrating their history, it will leave you hungry for more of London’s secrets and mysteries!

This one on Temple Pier is called the King’s Reach Memorial, so-named because it commemorates the  25th anniversary of the accession of King George V (plaque dated May 1935).

These red columns are the remains of  a dismantled bridge, one of the two bridges that comprised the Old Blackfriars Railway Bridge.  The remaining one is currently in operation .    In the background is the road and foot traffic Blackfriars Bridge.

The infamous water-gate entrance to the Tower of London which is called Traitors Gate.
Many prisoners, accused of treason, have passed through it, hence, the name.

 You can guess this bridge with closed eyes – it’s the Tower Bridge, of course!

And to round off our day:
The 4D cinema experience that made us almost jumped off from our seats trying to fend off the seagulls that seemed to come out from the screen flying  straight over us!  Such a excellent film documentary about London, Bravo!!

London eye + river cruise + 4D Experience
Adult – £21.42, Child – £12.68 (plus VAT)

Next:  Day 3 – Buckingham Palace

Day 1 – Sightseeing in London

Previous: Tourist Great Britain in Two Weeks

 

I can confidently brand myself now as a professional London tourist for I must have scoured all corners of the capital on foot, by a double-decker bus, on the tube and even by ferry. Hence, taking my guests to the most important sights was more like a breeze, it’s just a matter of pressing the break every now and then as I have to remind myself that this is supposed to be a relaxing holiday! But sometimes I get carried away, so we ended up seeing a lot of London in just a day!


First things first,we armed ourselves with the one thing that would give us peace of mind public-transportwise.  We bought the Oyster Card.  For a fee of 5pounds for the card +  day fare   for Zone 2, all we did was to hop on and off buses and tubes unlimitedly…

Of all the modes of transport available in London, the best way to do sightseeing is through the double-decker bus.  Make sure you head to the upper deck, at the front row!  This is the best spot!  It’s like taking a sightseeing bus without the multi-language commentaries.  But who cares!

With a bus map, you can choose the routes that will take you to the icons of the capital including the excavations going on!  This is the Gherkin, or I shall call it by its official name, 30 St Mary’s Axe after the number and name of the street where it stands.  The ‘gherkin’ nickname comes from the English-slang for cucumber.  Now you see the similarity?


A must-stop sight is St Paul’s Cathedral.  Entrance is not free but you can go to the chapel to say a little thank you prayer (for having the chance to see London, for example!).  From here you can do a lot of sightseeing on foot!

And don’t forget to explore the cathedral gardens.  Lots of historical statues to discover and flowers to enjoy!

When you think you have taken in enough of St Paul, take the direction of the Millenium Bridge ……

……and enjoy the sight of the Thames river below and beyond.

This is the City Hall.  A misshapen egg, the tip of a phallus….these are just some of the names they throw on it.  I leave you to make your own.

Time for lunch!

My nephew wanted so much to try that British legend, the all-time popular fish and chips.  He got his wish … but a dish with a French touch!  We had it at a French restaurant along the Thames.

And for me who is still obsessed with busting the fats, this dish of protein and veggies made me feel satisfied but without any sense of guilt!

While the diet plan says that desserts can be eaten once in a while, I think, when one is  on holiday, more energy is required to withstand those long walks and steep climbs!

The restaurant has a good view of the most famous bridge in London, a good enough reason to take our time and compose those much-needed shots!


Not content with just looking at the view, we had to walk it!

Another icon to see and to try is the London Eye.  We’re going to try it tomorrow, hurray!

 

While the London Eye could give us the chance to see the city from above, the recently constructed “The Shard” building could also give us the same view.  But I prefer to stare “AT” the tallest building in Europe instead of “FROM” it!

Another must-do is to pose next to the iconic red telephone boxes.  You see lots of them in the capital but it won’t be for long as they will soon disappear from the face of England.  I know it’s a stupid plan and majority of the English are against it, but who are we to protest?  Anyway, at least, we have taken these souvenir shots!

Undeniably the most beautiful building in London is the Big Ben with the Parliament attached.  Another “must-pose next to it” photo to prove to your friends that “You’ve done London!”

It’s dinner time, time to scout for food.  While walking along Shoreditch, we    stumbled upon a temporarily-abandoned-construction-site-turned-Lebanese-street-food-court and thought we should give it a try!  Even the dining furniture has the  street-food looks!  The stool is actually great for my stiff back,


And this is the feast!  Not only delish but light in the pocket!  We’ll come here again!    That’s what is great about this city.  Because of its cosmopolitan nature, foods from all over the world are easy to find!

Next:  Day 2 – London  Eye and River Cruise

Touring Great Britain in two weeks

Two weeks and a tour of Great Britain, wow!  It sounds like one of those greatest trips of a lifetime, but looking at the map closely, this great nation is huge and comprises  Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and England not to mention the many isles that need to be reached by ferry .

But my guests – my sister and her family coming from Dubai – have only two weeks to spare and they prefer that this be more of a relaxing holiday rather than chasing flights and hopping from one hotel room to another.  So I was left with a challenge of drawing an itinerary that is not too physically exhausting nor mentally stressful, at the same time giving them a taste of the United Kingdom in all her glory and legendary  eccentricity.

In short, I just chose one representative city each from Scotland and Wales but had to cancel the Northern Ireland leg, here represented by Belfast, because judging by the news reports, the situation there was getting unstable.  Then few cities from the Midlands until we wound our way back to London.

Let’s start the trip!

 

 

Arriving London

 

 

Coming from Leicester in the Midlands, I, playing tourist guide for the next two weeks,  arrived n London St Pancras International to the sight of many Robins gathering in front of the ticket counter.  If my hunch is right, there would only be one Batman – he’s nowhere to be found though – and he would be the future groom!  Yes, I’m pretty sure they are going to a Stag Party!  And I couldn’t let them go without a souvenir photo and thankfully, they welcomed my request with toothpaste-ad looking smiles!


This is the flat which was to be our home for four days.  It is a 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom property located about a hundred meters from Liverpool Street Station and bordering  The City.  For five people – my sister’s family and me and H – it’s still cheaper  and  more comfortable than a hotel!  The wifi connection is a bonus!


For my guests, what a perfect day to arrive in London than the last working day of the week!  It’s the chance to observe the British’ love for their pub which takes it peak on a Friday night!  Here, grown-ups congregate just outside a pub with their glass of beer.  This sight goes on till 11pm when the establishment closes for the night.  In that case, if they are still on a party mood, they could  head straight to the Clubs!


And speaking of pubs, a trip to the UK is not complete without getting inside one.  It’s not only to try their lager, it’s also to get a feel of the ambience which is a bit noisy so forget about making serious discussions about work or love.  Just enjoy yourself and observe the classic interior decoration, unless it’s a modern pub you want to go to.

Next morning….

From our fourth floor flat, we could see the Saturday street market going on. Great for impromptu shopping for designer-looking bags, clothes and souvenirs, but the only hitch was, it was darn too  noisy the previous night as the sellers had to wheel their metallic clothes hangers onto the road, creating sounds that can drive you bananas!

 

Next:  Day 1 – Sightseeing in London

A trip to the Botanic garden

Oadby, Leicester, England

The summer holiday season is nearing its end,  so I am looking forward to updating my blog on a more regular basis!  Apologies to my regular followers and I promise I shall come back with a vengeance…. errr..floral, that is!

 *

Yesterday, I went to the University of Leicester Botanic Garden. It was my third attempt to go there hoping I could spot again the butterflies I saw last time.   I had  only my point and shoot camera then and I promised myself I shall return with my DSLR.  But the seond time proved to be a disappointment –  I suppose because it was mid-day and butterflies prefer to fly around in cooler temperatures e.g. in the morning.

So yesterday was the D-day!  I made sure (1) I was early – between 9 and 10am – and (2) my 4GB memory card is empty so I could shoot relentlessly.  And I was in for the expected surprise!  They were there!  Thousands of them!

Lesson of the story: I am learning a lot from nature!

She was staring at me, wondering what is that big black machine infront of her…..if I know, she was probably enjoying looking at her image on the camera lens!

Then off, she fluttered away…

“Hey Mr bumblebee, leave some nectar for me!” says the baby bee.

 

A hardy fuschia plant


I love eating boiled artichokes dipped in sauteed anchovies, it’s pure heaven! But after seeing this flower, I am now torn between eating it and letting it just flower..



These two bees seem to be having a nectar-sipping bout!


Honeysuckle!


Blackberries…when red turns into black, then they’re ready for eating!