Europe city hopping: London 2017 (Day 1 itinerary)

While I hope that most of my readers would have the opportunity to spend more than 3 days in London (it’s a lovely place!), I know that most Europeans like to visit London for a long weekend like we did. 3 days is really short and we tried to make the best out of it, covering most of the hot spots and activities.

Day 1

We arrived in London early Friday morning, around 8am. It was easy getting into London from Stansted airport using the train. I had also booked an accommodation which was relatively near to the train station so we didn’t have to travel long on our last day.

Though we were lacking sleep, I was totally energized because I love it that we were in London, I can speak and understand the language fluently and everything feels familiar up to the point of traffic flow direction!

We started our journey by viewing the Westminster Abbey from outside before rushing off to catch a good spot to watch the Change of Guards outside Buckingham Palace at 11am. It was super crowded but the route was long and covered a large area so you didn’t have to pack yourself like a sardine can. I was surprised to see that a dog was also part of the troop.

It was almost lunch time when we left the palace grounds and I had a (food) list to follow! Though Bone Daddies was kinda far from where we were, I insisted on having ramen from this place because I don’t want to waste precious money and stomach space on food that isn’t recommended by my friend who used to live in London. ZH was a little upset because we had to walk close to 30 minutes but he gives in to me when it comes to food because I would be even more upset if I didn’t have a good meal.

We got a window seat and we didn’t know this while we were there but there was a Supreme shop just opposite Bone Daddies, and the queue to enter the shop was snaking so far back, it seemed impossible to see the end. It was amazing to see how many people would queue up at least 30 minutes just to buy one or two items from the shop (not many people left with big bags).

After our lunch, we continued our way to Downing Street, Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. It was just 2-3 weeks after the London attack outside Big Ben but it was still swarming with tourists. We didn’t go near the Parliament since it was crowded. We just took some pictures from across the street and headed off to the pier to catch a cruise to Tower Pier.

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The cruise was lovely with the narrator guide being super funny. There was a French tour group on board with us and the tour guide was funny, making ALL of us (and I really mean all of us, including the narrator guy) keep quiet when it was time for Big Ben to chime. I’m sorry but I cannot understand what’s the big deal about the chime – neither can the narrator.

We alighted at Tower Pier and then did a short walk to London Bridge. “London bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down…” sorry, cannot resist. The nursery rhyme is a big part of my childhood though the topic is quite weird for young kids.

From London Bridge, you can then continue to walk to Borough Market to fuel up. If you love food, you’ve come to the right place. There is a plethora of food stalls selling all sorts of cuisines – from traditional English fry ups to African rice dishes. The smells were amazing! Walk further in and you enter the ‘market’ area with stalls selling cheese, sausages, fresh fruits and vegetables. If I remember correctly, there was also a stall selling some premium olive oil and truffles. But I was on a mission then: to seek out fresh, plump oysters. My friend had 2 recommendations for me but I decided to go with Wright Brothers as they are more affordable – 4 freshly shucked oysters for £5.50!

Our energy levels were dropping fast by late afternoon so we decided to head back to the hotel and have a takeaway dinner, rest our legs before going out in the evening again for Tall Ships festival.

What better dish to represent England than fish and chips? Don’t say Indian food though it is their national dish now. LOL. I regret not trying the Indian food in London, I bet it’s wonderful. Anyway, back to fish and chips.

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We went for Poppies fish and chips at Spitalfields. You can either choose to wait and get a table or do a takeaway order. No prizes for guessing what we went for. Takeaway prices are also slightly cheaper than dining in. That makes it an even better situation for us because the place was crowded with diners and it reeks of grease (open kitchen concept).

I have had my fair share of this dish when I was studying in Perth. There was a chippie shop just down the road from where I live, and we would often get some takeaway and I love my fish with malt vinegar. However, the batter would tend to get soggy when you pour malt vinegar on it for a takeaway. This is not happening to Poppies. The fish was still crispy despite the steam bath along the 10 min walk back to the hotel. Thumbs up!

After dinner, we headed out again to view the Tall Ships festival opening. ZH was interested to look at the ships while he enticed me with the promise of a fireworks show at the launch. I got a little upset along the way because he didn’t check for the exact location and we ended up at a train station 20 minutes away from the exact point, and it was close to the fireworks display. And what really irked me at the end was his insistence that we were at the right place instead of going online to check. I had to shoot laser eyes before he decided to check for proper information.

Thankfully, we managed to make it to the correct location just in time, about 2 minutes before the fireworks started.

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