Tag Archives: London

LONDON – DAY 6 (last)

Good bye 21-beds dorm!

Sixth day… I cannot believe we only stayed for six days, it really felt like it was much longer! We did so many things that I felt like I was living several days in one. We were a bit sad to know we were going to leave so soon. When we woke up, we had already packed most of our stuffs and were almost ready.

On day 5, the electronic cards of our rooms had messed up and didn’t work anymore. Remember that my friend (who, by the way, shares the FancyLittleTalk blog with me!) and I went out quite late? We were really worried that it might not work when we came back. I don’t remember exactly how we entered the room though, but I think it wasn’t closed. Those electronic cards are great but, you know, it wouldn’t have happened with physical keys!

Anyway. We went to breakfast for the last time of the week. A bit nostalgic, isn’t it? We took various photos in the Hostel before leaving, saw a guy we had died to talk to for 6 days (but we never got the courage to do so, and ended up leaving without even knowing his name… what a shame!) and finally gave back our keys. It was probably around 10 in the morning and our train was at 5:30PM~, so we still had time to quickly visit some places we didn’t see before.

We were able to leave our luggage at the hostel in some locked storage so we could still walk around without worrying about our heavy suitcases.

room

Heading to Hamley’s

We crossed Piccadilly Circus, and seeing it on day light was rather different from the night-view we already had. Then we passed by China Town, which was an area we hadn’t seen before. It was nice and well decorated. Then, we headed to Hamley’s… you know, one of the biggest toy shops in the world?

It might seem childish, but Hamley’s was an amazing experience. Honestly, I really felt like a kid again! There were staff showing how to use the toys and children’s eyes were all bright and amazed.

And, and and… something so unexpected happened there… I was able to… take a picture with the Queen!!!! I swear!

queen&me

Fine, Fine, this isn’t the real queen, but still, it counts, right? right? I was reaaaaally enjoying myself. Such a kid. I wanted to buy everything. In particular this queen-dressed teddy bear. So cute! Look at this crown! But hey, £35 (~53USD / ~40€) is too much for me. Even if I love teddy bears. And the queen.

teddybears

Harrods

Harrods is huge. I mean, really huge. I don’t know exactly how much though, because we didn’t have much time to spend there. We saw many, many beautiful jewels. It was almost a torture to be there. And plenty of foods. everything being so costy, and we being so poor, we bought nothing in there. But it was definitely worth a look.

harrods

Leaving London

We then bought a few post cards before heading back to our hostel (remember? we had left our luggage there). Since it was around 3PM, the staff was really busy welcoming the new travellers. It was a bit weird thinking that we were going to be back to France in only a few hours.

Because our luggage was so heavy, we weren’t too motivated to take the underground and decided for a bus instead. We were a bit on a rush because we were running late (based on our schedule, don’t worry, there were no risk for us to miss our train anyway, but we prefered being early and wait a bit rather than adding more stress).

At the station we brought our travelcards back and since the deposit was refundable each of us ended up with £5. We obviously didn’t need it anymore though. I came back with only £10. At the beginning of the week I had £125, which means that I only used £120 (I paid the accomodation and the travelcard with my credit card, so the deposit doesn’t count in the calculation). I think I was rather thrifty!

In the end, this trip cost me £70 (accomodation) + £73 (train) + £30 (travelcard) + £120 (food & other spendings) + £29 (Harry Potter studio tour ticket). So around £320 (+/- 370€ or 480USD). If we had booked our hostel earlier, we could have paid a bit less for it, though it wasn’t that expensive either. I don’t think I could have saved much more.

I really hope you enjoyed my posts about this trip to London! I sure enjoyed writing them :)

From now on, I’ll be posting once every two weeks or so. My second semester is already well started and I have to study a bit, plus there is this other blog going on. But don’t worry, I’m not forgetting this one! Since I’m only 20, I don’t have many travel experiences like this one, therefore my future posts will be more random, like about a place I went or something I liked. I won’t be writing this diary-style posts anymore, simply because I don’t have any other trip like this one that is recent enough for me to remember that well about it!

Thank you very much for reading,

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LONDON – DAY 5

It’s me again! There is one thing I did not write about in my London – Day 4 post because it didn’t really fit there, but it is important to understand what will happen next. When we arrived at the hostel my friend and I, we only found a note of my two other friends saying they had gone looking for some famous people in the city. We were like, really? They really went after all? Well yeah, they did.

But the worst was that, when they came back, not only both of them were tired, but they were broke, too. They had spent all their money at Oxford street. Because of that, we were a bit limited in the activities we could do.

City of London

There was no way we could avoid going to the city, right? I mean, it’s emblematic. We learnt about it in class and all. So we went. The weather was not really agreeable that day, but it’s London after all. I noticed something interesting about The City… there are clocks EVERYWHERE! Seriously, I took pictures of them – not all of them though, because we could have lost too much time – and it was funny to see how many they were.

CityofLondon

St Paul Cathedral

We didn’t visit it. Though we wish we could, it was so expensive! In France, we don’t pay to visit a church, so that’s always a bit surprising to have to give way £15+ (I don’t remember the exact price) for that. We just entered it but had to stay near the door. For what we saw, it is a beautiful Church. Photos are forbidden, of course.

After this, we were looking for a place to eat. It was super difficult to find one. The City is expensive, and we did not really want to take the Tube again. Finally, we found a “Eat” and, well, ate there. I recommend “Eat” a lot, because the food is good, cheap and healthier than Burger King’s or other usual Fast Food chain. Since two of my friends didn’t have money anymore, it was a good compromise.

Tower Bridge & the Thames

It’s a must-see in London, right? So we went. The four of us even took a picture in front of it (on of the rare 4-shots we got during those holidays. Asking someone to take a picture is always a bit like… “will they run away with my camera?”). Then we lost ourselves walking along the Thames. Like, really lost. We arrived in weird places and there was no metro, though there were signs announcing one. We passed by awkward people, and one of them was obviously drunk since he insulted us (mainly because two of my friends are asians), which surprised us a bit. Until that moment we had thought that Londoners were actually quite polite and respectful, but in the end, there are rude people everywhere, right?

Tower Bridge

Camden Town

Another shopping place. You want to buy cheap souvenirs? Go to Camden Town. There are plenty of veeeeery cheap ones. It was a funny experience. The buildings were all decorated and there were huge bronze horses in the middle of the shops. You can really find many stuffs not too expensive, however a lot of shops had the same products, which is a bit disappointing. And remember, we had no money, so no shopping, just looking!

Camden

Famous People Hunting

Then it started. The craziness of my friend has no limit. I don’t know how she did it, but she knew where to find the studio, so I went with her while the two other were tired and went back to the hostel. Unfortunately, we didn’t find anything interesting. It was a residencial area and people were looking at us as if we were out of place. Well, we were out of place! But even if it was a complete failure, I was happy we saw this area, it was beautiful.

Residencialarea

We came back at the hostel around 7PM, with a crazier plan in mind – if that’s even possible. At 9PM, we left the hostel again, direction Mayfair. I dreamt to visit Mayfair, but it wasn’t part of the program so of course I was happy to go there, even that late. We were going to spy a club entrance to see one of my friend’s favorite star. Once again, it failed. But you want to know? The worst is that we stayed there from 9:30PM to 1AM! Yes. That long. In the night. The cold. Everything. It was quite interesting though.

Mayfair is AMAZING. Beautiful cars everywhere! I love cars. Really, I do. There were plenty of luxury stores too. Cartier, Dior…. and the people. Like. We were even ashamed of ourselves! Guys were all wearing suits, girls had beautiful fancy very short dresses and no tights. We were a lot more covered, to face the cold, you know. But seriously, those girls had to wait hours in the cold to enter in the club. And they were all saying “I’m gonna die!” or “It’s freezing!”. Well, OF COURSE it’s freezing! It’s 11PM, in February, in London! What did you expect?

But the funniest part… was around 11:30-midnight. Amazing. They were all drunk already. Not a bit drunk, but, reaaaaaaaally drunk. Laughable. Those girls who were looking so great a few hours earlier, it was a complete mess. One of them even fell on the ground, others were screaming, or staggering. One guy even regurgitated on the pavement. So not classy.

In the end, we failed. We didn’t see the guy we had come for, but we still saw another celebrity, so it was 50/50. We also had the opportunity to talk with a paparazzi guy (not exactly a paparazzi, in fact, it was more of an informer), who explained us his job and all. It was fun!

cartier

Getting back at 1AM

That. was. impossible! We were stupid though, we weren’t paying attention to the hour. In Paris, there are metros up to 2AM, so we were not used to the London system where the Tube stop at 0:30. Honestly, why so early?

We didn’t have money to take a cab, so we thought we had come back with the bus. What a mistake. We took no one, bus SIX buses to finally get back to the hostel. We ended up in weird places, at 2AM, it was really scary. Be careful with it. We should have asked someone for help, but we really thought we were going to find easily. Well, that made a good story to tell everyone when we came back!

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LONDON – DAY 4

I am sorry it took me a little longer to write this one. But I have good excuses you know! I had so many, so many things to write, it was too much for only one post. So I thought about it over and over and finally decided that I had to make choices. Not everything had to be said. I could leave some of those details out, not because there aren’t interesting but because it’s too much. So, I hope you will enjoy reading that post!

Early start

Very early, to be honest. For me it was fine, because since the beginning of the trip I had found a rythm (8AM every morning), but for my friend who was coming with me it was a bit harder. Or so I thought. In fact, we were both too excited to sleep, and we were ready even earlier than expected. Yes, that much excited.

Finding our way

None of us wanted to take the Tube. It seemed like it would affect our mood, somehow. Like, you know, it’s dark, underground, a bit gloomy. So we took the bus. Going from Swiss Cottage to Euston was easy, and we were amazed to see so many people in suits! I know, I know, it’s normal. At 9, everyone is on their way to work.

We needed to buy a ticket for Watford Junction so we went to the machines. Bad move. We were completely lost! Like, prices ranged from 9,8£ to 210£ (yes! I swear!) and we did not understand AT ALL what we were supposed to buy, if it was a return ticket or not, etc. So we abandoned the idea. Way better talking to a real human being! Funny enough, the guy guessed right away where we wanted to go. My friend just had time to say “We want tickets for…” and he finished “Watford Junction?”. Was it written on our faces? I suppose it was, as we were all smily.

So, of course machines are practical, but if you are not too sure of what you want, definitely go ask someone. The guy was really nice to us, there was no line at all, and he even gave us tips on which train to take. The first one going to Watford was stopping by a lot of stations and we would have taken this one if he had not told us to take the next one (direct to Watford). The ride was really fast! Around 20 minutes I think.

Shuffle Bus

We did not know where to go to find it. There was no sign or anything so we were a bit lost. Two spanish guys asked us where to go, but of course we had no idea so the four of us went back to the station and we asked someone of the staff. After that, we only had to wait for the bus to come. And then, it started hail. Yes, to HAIL. Like, why? The weather was cold but, but, hailing? Seriously? And no bus! Just us waiting, with the two spanish guys and a group of german girls!

Finally, I saw it. The shuffle bus. Impossible to miss, yep! A huge “the making of HARRY POTTER” was written on it, it was… well, better post a picture, right? Honestly at this point we were so, so impatient!

ShufflebusHarry Potter Studio Tour Shuffle Bus

Arrival

The Shuffle bus ride was around 15/20min. When we arrived, girls started to scream and to run around EVERYWHERE! We were calmer. I mean, we were excited indeed, but we did not run screaming. Not quite. I was impressed by our composure, honestly!

We still had to exchange our tickets (I was a bit disappointed because they only gave us a white paper… I wanted a true ticket! You know, with pictures… anyway.) so we lined up. It was fast, probably because it was a thursday morning (around 10h25~)

There were huge chess pieces outside so of course we took pictures with it (and that was only the beginning, I think I took around 600 photos on that day). Then we were supposed to wait our entrance time (at 11) but since there weren’t too many people, we entered earlier.

ChessQueen, Knight and Tower

Flying carMr. Weasley’s flying car and Tom Felton picture

CupboardHarry’s cupboard

Intro

Then we entered a room where a guide introduced us the tour and we watched a short movie about Harry Potter’s history. It was really interesting and quite moving too. As we entered there we truly realized that it had come to an end, you know? Like, we read the seven books. We watched the eight movies. And we were going to see where the magic had been created. It’s difficult to explain it.

After that we entered in a theater with a big white screen and watched a message from Daniel Radcliff, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint. If only they could have been there for real! No but, it was really well done.

I won’t reveal everything, but at the end of that message something happened and we were all surprised, in a good way! They really put plenty of efforts in this tour.

Discovering Magic

I started writing this part and it was so long and detailed I felt like it was too much. So, I re-wrote it and it is now a lot shorter, you will see!

We saw plenty of amazing things during this tour. I feel like if I tell you everything you are going to know too much and it will spoil the surprise when you get there.

We indeed visited the Great Hall. One of the best experience of my life, you bet. It was just as impressive as I expected it to be! I loved the tour. All the details everywhere, we really saw how much efforts, time and money they put in the creation of the movies. All those details we are not even aware of are there to make it all look real. They managed to create an entire world, it is a bit like Muggle Magic, right?

If you go there, definitely watch the little video about the portraits, it was very funny! There were screens everywhere with messages giving information about this or that, really entertaining and interesting. TAKE YOUR TIME! That’s the most important. Read everything. Watch everything. Take pictures. Don’t think you have to hurry up because the tour is supposed to last 2 hours. Me and my friend stayed there for FOUR hours straight. We did not want to leave anymore.

Gryffindor’s Common Room seemed so real! And Diagon Alley was amazing. There were tons of props and papers and costumes too.

My favorite part was the “Creature Department”. I loved seeing how they created all of those characters and weird creatures! Of course, I learnt things that I’d prefer to ignore (like, Hagrid is not always human, did you know? There is a mechanical head acting on its own!), but overall it was really instructive (and somewhat scary, too!).

The end of the tour comes with two surprises I enjoyed very much. So, to resume it all: If you liked Harry Potter, DEFINITELY GO VISIT THE STUDIOS! It is worth it. Really, really, really!

G.CommonRoomGryffindor’s Common Room

LettersVarious papers

CreaturesGiving birth to magical creatures

BooksFlourish & Blotts

Shop

Of course, at the end of the tour, we came to the shop. It was very, very, very expensive. Way too much for us. The smallest stuffs cost around 5-6£. Therefore, we could not buy as much as we wished to. It is very difficult to resist though! I had a 30£ budget, and didn’t surpass it, so I was quite happy with myself. I bought a book (yeah, I know, I love books too much) and a gift for my best friend. There were plenty of funny stuffs, like Bertie Bott’s beans (real ones, yep, with disgusting tastes, of course), wands or clothes…

Platform 9 3/4

We were in a “Harry Potter Mood”, so as soon as we went back to London, me and my friend ran to King’s Cross to take pictures on Platform 9 3/4. They created a fake one in the station (the real plateform 9 isn’t really the place where they filmed it anyway), and we were able to take pictures there, with scarfs (I chose the Ravenclaws’ one!). It was really fun~

Platform 9 34Going to Hogwarts!

What a dreamy day~ I felt like if I was 12 again!

Thank you for reading! I hope you’ll go there someday!

If you wish, ask me questions! I was rather general, but I can answer anything you want :)

As ever, pictures are mine :)

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LONDON – DAY 3

Computers & University Mess

Yeah, we are in London, but we aren’t completely away from our students’ lives. So, we absolutely had to register for our second semester courses first thing in the morning. If we did not, we would risk to lose our places and that would be a total mess…. So, in our Hostel, there were computers in the lounge, so we went there at 9 in the morning (right after breakfast) and started the Internet registation. What a nightmare it was! Nothing was the fault of the connection, though, we believe that too many people tried to access the website at the same time and it was so slow! When we finally got to the page, our optional course was no-where to be found and we ended up registering for a random class. Well, it still took us almost an hour, and I imagine that everyone in the room was annoyed by how loud we were, complaining and trying to understand what we were supposed to do. I feel sorry for them, as we were really noisy so early in the morning…

Notting Hill & Portobello Road

You know, travelling as a group of girls truly is something. We are loud, we run away when we see squirrels, we take pictures of everything, everywhere, at anytime…

And we agree on the place we want to visit. For example, that must-see for any romantic-comedy lover in the world: Notting Hill. Who don’t like this movie, really? Spike is magical. And the story is cute. And the Bookshop is legend!

So, we went to Notting Hill. The neighbourhood is lovely, with many colourful houses. There are plenty of shops on Portobello road, for people who like shopping. I would encourage anyone to buy its postcards and other stuffs like that in Portobello, because it is way cheaper (around 20p for a postcard instead of 35-50p in other areas).

NottingHill

Notting Hill bookshop

Nando’s

So, why did we end up in Nando’s? One of my really, really, really wanted to eat there. Let say that the official reason is “Nando’s is famous in England, I need to eat there at least once!”, although we have reasons to believe that there was something else behind it. Nando’s is nice. It tastes good, staff is kind, and you can drink as many sodas as you want. However, I was still a bit hungry after my menu, which barely ever happens, so I wonder if a guy could eat enough with just a basic menu? Of course, you can order more, but with our menus around 6-8£, it will end up being too expensive.

For the little story (and because it will be of major importance in my later posts), one of my friends, who is a big fan of a particular group, was a bit upset to know that one of the members went to that very same Nando’s the day after. Aha, unlucky unlucky!

Nandos

Westfield

The Nando’s we went was at Westfield. For the who~~~le afternoon we were shopping there. It is the biggest shopping mall of Europe, isn’t it? Well, it is big. So, as I don’t like shopping that much, I was tired of it very soon. My favorite part was the bookshops! I was very happy to find a WHSmith because even if we have one in Paris the prices are cheaper in the UK.

I did not buy anything else but two books. We were so tired that we all sat down somewhere and would not move anymore!

Diner

Two of my friends went to a concert, so the other one and I came back alone to the Hostel.

Because we were tired of chips, we had bought food at M&S. The soups (very tasty by the way) were quite affordable (around 2£ each). However, if you buy a normal one-person dish it will be around 4-5£ and you can find cheaper stuffs at Eat, for example, that are really good too.

Then, we honestly went to bed quite early because, well, Day 4 was going to be so awesome, so amazingly unforgettable that I needed a full rest.

Thank you for reading!

Photos are mine, please don’t use without my consent,

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London – DAY 2

8:00AM, Early start

It is important, when you are on a short trip like we were, to not spend too much time sleeping. I mean, you are abroad, there so many things to do and so little time! We had set departure time at 9, but, of course, only two of us were ready on time. We should have anticipated it, because we were 4 girls and girls are usually slow in the morning. We ended up leaving at least 30 minutes later. Believe us that we did not do the same error twice, we woke up our friends earlier the next days!

Breakfast was nice (I think I already wrote about it in my first post?), but crowded after 8:45. I suppose it is the same in every hostel so wake up early, it is worth it! You can still go to bed early later.

The British Museum

Another free museum, indeed we had to drop by! It is huge. Like, really huge. The roof is so high! We visited the egyptian part of the museum, a bit of the greek/roman part and then went to see the Chinese, Thai part as well. We really saw many beautiful things, and read interesting ones as well. As we are a very multicultural group, it was interesting to see how some cultures actually have things in common but explained or used differently. We stayed there for an hour and a half, I think, but we did not visit everything AT ALL. The British Museum is reaaally big, so if you want to visit it all (I am not even sure it is possible!) you need at least an entire day. However, two hours are enough to enjoy it.

British Museum1

Covent Garden

We were supposed to go there on the first day but we were too tired. Covent Garden is a lively place, and it is a must-see, right? There was a pregnant woman singing Opera, she was amazing! We did not stay very long, though, because it was lunch time, and honestly it was nice to see it but we wouldn’t spend hours there as there were not many things to do but looking around.

CoventGarden1

Finding food and cashpoints

I had to write about it. It was a nightmare, honestly! First of all, the UK is very different from France. Here we can withdraw cash everywhere. Cash machines are everywhere! But in London… it is not the case at all. Well, there are cash machines, but not quite as much. So we walked, we walked, we walked… Finally we found one and then we wanted to eat but where we were there was nowhere in our prices. London is expensive, like, really. We couldn’t help, 10£ was too much for us… So we walked again, plenty. It was horrible because there really was nothing! We ended up around Westminster (as it is a tourist attraction we thought that maybe there were some restaurants or stuffs like that, we were very wrong though!) but finally decided to move again and went to a Burger King (can’t remember exactly where though).

For the first time in my life I tasted Raspberry cola. It was awful. Tasted like a medicine, terrible! My friends loved it though. I don’t understand why! But Cherry Schweps is fine. Burger King is good, and you can drink as many sodas as you want (well, when it is cold and rainy outside, I can tell you, you won’t drink that much at all).

So all of this to say: when you see a cash machine, use it! Don’t think you will find one easily later!

Westminster

We finally came back to Westminster as we had decided to visit the Abbey at any cost (hey! Kate and William married there after all!). We passed by the Parliament and Big Ben (another must-see!) and took plenty of photos. Let say it, Westminster abbey IS expensive. We had student cards so it was 15£ (around 17€) instead of 18. It is still a lot, and we wanted to make the most out of it. Honestly, despite the price I strongly recommend you to visit the Abbey. You can have an audioguide in plenty of languages and the staff is really kind. We wanted to know how it was organized during the Royal Wedding and one of the woman who worked there explained everything to us. She was very patient, and even gave us more informations than we asked for! She seemed very happy to talk to us so don’t hesitate to ask questions.

We were so slow to visit that we unfortunately missed the gardens. They are not opened all the time, and close earlier, so we could not visit them. However, we did enjoy the cloister, it was beautiful, and I bought postcards to make up with the fact that I could not take any photos inside. I suspect it is exactly what they wish tourists would do, but I could not help myself.

Big Ben

Finding each other

One of my friends had already visited Westminster Abbey last year and so we decided that we would meet up at the exit at 4:30PM. We were exactly on time but her… well, she was late. Unfortunately when you travel like that you don’t have an easy way to contact each other so we wondered if we had understood the same thing or if we were mistaken. It happens that three of us had cellphones that we could use in emergency case (well, emergency because one message is 0,10€ and we don’t want to pay too much at the end of the month just because we cannot find each other), so she managed to warn us that she was at least half an hour late. Waiting half an hour in the dark, cold and rain was not that funny but well. That is to say, when you travel abroad it is very important to be on time. It can become a nightmare rather quickly if one doesn’t, as there is no way to know if one is coming or not. We were lucky to have our phones, but it is not always good to rely on it.

M&M’s World

This. shop. is. HUGE! No but, honestly, so many m&m’s! It is almost a museum! We had a lot of fun there, like finding our “mood color” of the day through a scanner. I was Yellow (wished to be pink but oh well, I love yellow too!) and it said something like “even if it’s cloudy outside, you’ll brighten someone’s day today!” SO CUTE! I was delighted, indeed!

So, M&M’s was fun but incredibly expensive. One of my friends spent more than 40£ there! She would never have done so if she had known the price before, but you can fill your own bag of M&M’s and the price is for 100g so there is no way you can know in advance the exact amount you will have to pay. I was rather angry about it because they could at least let people weight their bags on scales before paying. Of course she could have been more careful, but it was not entirely her fault. She regrets it a lot now. I know there is a similar shop in the US, I don’t know if the system is exactly the same but I cannot say it enough: BE CAREFUL.

As ever, pictures are mines, don’t use them without asking!

That’s it for our second day in London!

Thank you all for reading,

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London – DAY 1

9:13AM, Gare du Nord, Paris

Train is leaving. I am honestly excited, my first time in London, I cannot wait! Two of my friends were obviously too tired to stay awake (one of them had been so afraid to miss the train that she had not slept AT ALL the night before, crazy! It is definitely important to have a good night of sleep before going on a trip or you will be exhausted!), but me and my other friend chatted all the way long about how amazing it was going to be.

We took the Eurostar and I think it is a very good way to go to the UK, even more if you anticipated your trip. We bought our tickets almost three months in advance and only paid 84EUR (approximately 115USD or 73GBP) which was a really good price for a roundtrip ticket. There are some controls at the station so be sure to arrive early enough! It is not as heavy as in airport but still takes some time.

10:39AM, St Pancras International, London

Something like two hours and a half is the time it takes to go from Paris to London thanks to the Eurostar. Amazing, isn’t it? It does not seem that close on a map but it definitely is! There is one hour of time difference, so it was not even 11 when we arrived. Me and my friend had already planned the whole day and it was going to be very busy so we had not any time to lose. Unfortunately, my other friend who went to London last year was absolutely sure that we had to go upstairs to leave the station! It was not at all the case, obviously, as we indeed managed to find a way out (after quite a long time though) but on a back street completely unknown. In fact the best way would have been to actually follow the signs but she was so sure… never again! Anyway, we finally found the undergrounds and bought a travelcard for the week.

  • 7-days travelcard: I would definitely advice anyone going to London for more than 5 days to take it. We took a travelcard zone 1 and 2 and had unlimited access to all the public transports (buses, underground…) at any time of the day for only 30,4£ (plus a 5£ deposit refundable when you give back the card). Honestly it was really a good purchase because when it is raining or very cold, knowing you are not forced to walk and that you can always take a bus or the Tube is important. We surely made it profitable.

So! Now we have our cards so we can finally get to our Hostel! We had booked it a few months in advance as well (11/11 for a trip starting on 01/28) so it was not too expensive but be careful when you choose your accomodation as some of them can be… well, there are some bad surprises sometimes. It took us an extremely long time to find one that got everyone’s approval, as you can imagine, but did not have any problem so be sure to take your time before booking! We arrived really early as normally check-in was at 2PM but we were there around 11AM. The staff was very nice and we did all the paper-work right away so the only thing we had to do was to wait 2PM to get our room. We wanted to start visiting already and they had luggage storage so we let our suitcases (veeeery heavy, as you can imagine) and left.

Lunch Time, Regent’s Park

We had bought our picnic in Paris before leaving so the only thing we needed was a place where to have lunch. We thought Regent’s Park was a good idea, as it was nearby. We did not expected the rain to start exactly when we got there though, but hey! it is the UK after all! When we arrived in the park the very first thing we saw was an awful squirrel who literraly chased us. Yes, for real! It was very agressive and huge (I supsect that people feed them and so when they see someone they expect them to give something… anyway, scary!) so we had to run away. I think people thought we were crazy… So, if you are afraid of squirrels, be careful when going there!

As I said, it started to rain so it was not that fun, but I am sure Regent’s Park is a beautiful place so if you are luckier than us you should enjoy it better! As incredible as it might seem, English people do not look like they care about rain. We were the four of us completely cold and wet but they were still acting like nothing, doing a jogging or walking around…

National Gallery

First thing in the afternoon we went to the National Gallery. It is an amazing museum. Trafalgar Square is a awesomely beautiful place and we took plenty of photos there before actually getting in the Museum itself. As I wrote in my first post I am not really a fan of museum but one cannot avoid them eternally so I was happy to visit it anyway. Plenty of beautiful paintings in there, and it is free so it is worth paying it a visit!

DSCN3615Trafalgar Square & National Gallery

Buckingham Palace

Ok, it was raining. But we had 6-days to do as many things as possible so complaining was no option. So we walked from Trafalgar Square to Buckingham. It was not too long, for what I remember, and St James’ Park was beautiful. Buckingham as expected was stunning. I was very impressed by the place (maybe more because of WHO lived there rather than the arquitecture in itself as it is indeed beautiful but nothing close to Versailles), I wished I could visit it! Unfortunately it was closed (until April, I think)…

DSC_0037Buckingham Palace

Green Park, Piccadilly Avenue, Piccadilly Circus

After Buckingham we continued our little walk and crossed Green Park to go to Piccadilly Avenue. We passed by the Ritz and entered in Fortnum and Mason. That was a bad idea. This store is HUGE and there are so many, so many things inside! As if we needed that much temptation right away. I was honestly poor (only 130£ for the week, not counting accomodation or transports that I paid with my credit card. I did not wish to take more cash because it costs…) so I did not buy anything there. However, even if I said it was a bad idea, I would advice you to visit Fortnum and Mason, it is beautiful inside (I particularly loved the chinas on the first floor) and there were plenty of good ideas for gifts (some not too expensive, some reaaaally costing a lot). Then we went to Piccadilly Circus (a must-see for first time tourists, I guess), and it was… well, Piccadilly Circus. Not a big fan of huge adds. Too bad, because the buildings are beautiful…! Then our two friends (who had already slept in the train…) were too tired to go on, so we took the Tube and went back to the Hostel.

Palmers Lodge Swiss Cottage

That is the name of the Hostel we stayed in. It had very positive reviews around the web so we thought it was rather safe to book this one. It was a nice place to stay in. Sometimes a bit weird (I mean, we had to pass by the toilets to take the last stairs to our room! It was a bit surprising at the beginning but we got used to it) but definitely beautiful. We were very happy with our choice.

We had chosen a 21-beds female only dorm so quite a lot of people where staying in the same room as us but unexpectedly it was rather silent and calm. We had beds with curtains so still a bit of privacy (not much though, as the curtains were unfortunately too short… but I added up my scarfs (I had taken 4 of them!) to cover it up. There were lockers under the beds (too small for my huge suitcase but big enough to let stuffs like a laptop or a camera) and only the people of our room could enter (thanks to electronic cards). I never took a cold shower so it was nice (that was probably the thing that worried me the most because I have very long hair and washing it with terribly cold water would have been a torture) but be careful not to use them on rush hours (at 8, it is fine, at 8:30 it is already crowded). I took mines around 6PM when we got back from a long day of visit and was always the only one at that hour, so it was perfect! Every morning we had a free breakfast with juices, various types or coffees or teas, croissants, toasts, jams, etc. It was a basic continental breakfast, just as we expected, but my friends enjoyed it very much (I don’t eat in the morning so I cannot tell if it was good myself, but apparently it was).

Also, there was a restaurant opened from 6PM to 10:30PM and we used it quite a lot. It was agreeable to come back to the hostel and know that we did not have to go out again to buy food or eat, as we were tired (and often frozen too). The food was good but a bit expensive I think, as we suspect it to be frozen food sometimes, so if you are braver than us, know that there was also a microwave (not really a kitchen but…). We wanted to use it until we understood that it was almost as expensive to buy microwavable food (I wonder where are supermarkets in this city? Nothing like Paris! Marks&Spencers is too expensive compared to French shops, honestly I was shocked by the prices there. The only thing that was ok was soup, around 2£. Anything over 4£ was too much for what it was, in France I would have bought the same for only 3€).

The free wifi and computer access was necessary and worked well in the lounge, however not at all in our room (normal, as we were on the 3rd floor…). We spent all our time in the lounge, but were too shy to speak with the other travellers… We regret it now but well, it is too late, right?

Well, it is quite a long post I just did! Please remember that the photos are mine, so don’t copy or use without asking me first!

                    Thank you very much for reading until the end,

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