AdventureNotes #27: London (again!)

It’s been a while! After more than a year, I finally have the spirit to update my website. Back with AdventureNotes as I have been inspired by travel vloggers. This is a trip that I did in 2016 during spring. And again, it’s London!

London is a city that I visited – and would like to visit – over and over again. Yes, you can’t get enough of it. This time, I went to London because of visa stuffs. I wanted to apply for a schengen visa for my trip later to Spain. My husband and I decided to stay in London for a few nights just because we wouldn’t want to miss spending days visiting places in London.

Day 1

We went, I think, in around April/May. Having a trip in Spring is perfect because the weather is nice, the flowers are blooming, and the day is neither too short nor too long. We decided that on our first day, we will visit Greenwich area. Who don’t know Greenwich? I think it is a vocabulary that you will come across at school. That is the place where the 0 longitude lies. It is located rather in the south east of the City of London, and you can take the DLR or tube to get there. From central London, you will pass so many modern office buildings, which is really nice and also different from the old-style London touristy places. There’s also other alternatives, such as bus and cable car. Yes, if you are interested, you can take the Emirates Cable Car to cross the River Thames and get to Greenwich area.

Getting down in Cutty Shark station, you can walk straight to the Greenwich Royal Observatory. However, we wanted to take a longer route and went near the river instead. We walked to Cutty Shark, which is a kind of monument made of a real ship. You can come into the place with a certain fee. However, my main goal was to go to the Royal Observatory. Therefore, we skipped that and walked along the street to the Greenwich Pier. From the river bank, we can go inside the University of Greenwich area. The most popular view from the University of Greenwich is its Old Royal Naval College building. It is a part of the Maritime Greenwich, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site (I just knew this!). We didn’t come inside as we don’t have that much time – and part of the complex is not open for public. We walked through to the National Maritime Museum to get access to the Greenwich Royal Observatory complex.

Photo source: https://www.guidelondon.org.uk/blog/around-london/top-10-reasons-to-visit-greenwich/

Greenwich Royal Observatory is actually located within the Greenwich Park. We needed to walk through quite elevated road to get there. It was around 10-15 minutes walk from the National Maritime Museum, crossing the park. It was a fun walk and up there, not even inside the Royal Observatory, you can see a beautiful view of the Old Royal Naval College and the River Thames.

It was not cheap, but for the sake of fulfilling our curiosity, my husband and I decided to splurge on some more money to get inside the Greenwich Royal Observatory. The ticket price is 10 per person for adult. We got in and explored the complex. The Greenwich Royal Observatory consists of several buildings. We can come inside each building and go up to the observatory. The visit was educational and the highlight was the Prime Meridian. There is a planetarium as well there, but we didn’t have a chance to visit it (extra fee!).

Finished with the visit to Royal Observatory, we opted to visit the National Maritime Museum. It was an unplanned visit, but we got attracted by the whole exhibition in the museum. As most museums in the UK, the visit to this museum is free of charge (except for the special exhibition). There are so many things to see and there is also a great children area. We went around and fully covered the whole exhibition before going out to see the Greenwich Market.

Greenwich Market is a so-called historic market in London. The area is full of small shops, selling many things from clothes to crafts. There are also food stalls there. At the time we visited the place, it was very crowded, with so many people queueing for food. The price of the food ranges from GBP 5-10. We decided to have a little snacks before leaving the market as we planned to have lunch elsewhere.

The rest of the day was spent to eat lunch (this best eating spot – at least for us – in London called Noodle Stop near Piccadilly) and to meet friends. Tired with all of the luggage and everything, we ended our day by resting in our pre-booked hotel room. Again, we chose to stay in Easyhotel. It is a hotel chain that has properties in many cities and it always has a great offers. The first time we were in London, we stayed in Easyhotel Victoria with only GBP 25 per night. This was such a deal – keeping in mind that it was Christmas and holiday season! This time, we booked a room in Easyhotel South Kensington. We chose this place because it is close to tube station and many attractions. We paid GBP 38 for a night and we stayed for 3 nights. The room was super small, but it is enough if you really want to spend the days travelling and visiting places and only use the room to rest. What prime is its location with Easyhotel. All super central and really close to everything.

Day 2

We went out pretty early in the morning to apply for Schengen Visa. We finished quite early, around 10 am. We got back to the hotel to put documents away and planned out itinerary for the day. We originally wanted to visit the Natural History Museum, which is very close to our hotel. However, the queue was super long, reaching to the underground station. We skipped that plan and opted to walk to the Knightsbridge area. There are mostly shops and shopping mall in Knightsbridge – yes, Harrods is there. We didn’t spend too much time there and decided to visit another museum in London. We went to the Museum of London. It was such an interesting museum with loads of information, mostly about London. The exhibition areas are divided based on era, starting from the ice age to the current modern days. I got to learn about the London great fire, how it was in the Victorian age, and how it is today. Cool.

After that, we searched for interesting places near the museum. Finally, we found that Leadenhall Market is not too far away. On this day, we chose to go around by bus as we have plenty of time. We got off the bus a bit far from the market as we wanted to explore the surrounding area. We walked pass the Bank of England (they have a museum, too!), London Troops War Memorial, and Social Stock Exchange. The Leadenhall Market is not too far from there. What do we do in the market? Well, in my opinion, it is mostly about the architecture. It is unique and I think one of a kind. There are shops and restaurants, but not too much of a choice. After exploring the whole market, we hopped on a bus and basically just wandered around London, going where the bus took us.

Photo source: https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/things-to-do/Pages/leadenhall-market.aspx

We went back to our hotel area and tried to explore the neighborhood. South Kensington is a quite famous neighborhood in London. It is known as one of the most exclusive real estate area and the buildings are really nice. We particularly were interested in the small shops around the Natural History Museum. There is this small bookshop with amazing collection. I couldn’t stop myself and bought quite a lot of books! Yes, the next day’s travel back to Birmingham would be heavy.

Day 3

This was our last day in London (and now I know that it was our last visit during our year in the UK). We only had the morning as our train leaves at 2.00 pm. After having breakfast in the hotel (nah, we bought our own food), we checked out and went to visit Camden area. I’ve always wanted to know the area since I watched this movie when I was in middle school. Now I already forgot the movie, but I’ve always wanted to go there. So this day was THE day.

Camden Market is located rather in the north of London. It was a huge complex with many crafts and food stalls. What they sell in the market is similar from one to another, and coming from Indonesia (where the crafts are beautiful), I didn’t really find an interesting stuff here. What was tempting was the food. There are so many food stalls with so many choices. There are foods from all around the world, I guess. However, it was nowhere near lunchtime and we were still full. We just walked around the market and the area. Again, we decided to take the bus back home. What interesting was that there are so many shops too outside the market. The road was just full with sellers, many of those sell London souvenirs. People say that the souvenirs here are quite a bargain and lots of tourists come here to buy gifts for their loved ones at home.

Photo source: http://retiredandtravelling.com/little-venice-and-camden-market/

Overall, it was such a relaxing and fun visit to London. We didn’t have that much in our itinerary, but for me, it was more enjoyable. Well, again, it was not enough. I don’t know how much more visit that I have to make to London until I see the whole thing. Anyways, see you next time, London!

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AdventureNotes #17: Mainstream London

After a week off last week, this is the last AdventureNotes article about London. Yeay! This last article will explore about the mainstream London. London’s first visitors certainly must at least pass along these places to really prove to the world that they have visited this wonderful city! The whole passing along these locations can be done in a day and cheaply if you are not interested to go inside those places. However, the museums and galleries listed in my version of mainstream London can take up to one day visit. Therefore, allocate enough time if you really are interested in going into the museums and galleries.

Everyone’s list of mainstream London can be different from one to another. I make this list of mainstream London based on my experience and the Visit London website. So, here’s the list and brief explanation about each of them:

1.      British Museum – a must visit place in London. If you only have limited time, I would suggest you to pick one or two galleries to visit. The place can be very crowded during the peak season, so beware of not being comfortable inside this museum. It is a good photo spot, especially inside its famous center hall.

2.      National Gallery – if you are an artistic person and are interested in paintings, you can go inside. The place is huge and again, you have to allocate special time for you to visit. I like to sit around the Trafalgar Square, instead. It is located in front of the National Gallery. Sometimes there are celebrations or special occasions held there.

3.      Natural History Museum – this place is huge! I think people can go again and again to this place because it is so interesting! The admission is free, another advantage for budget traveler.

4.      London Eye – this spot is one of the iconic places in London. Strolling near the London Eye in the Southbank is already satisfying. It is indeed worth it to pay the price for the London Eye ticket. It is quite expensive, but there are promotional options to get a better price. I love the view from the London Eye at night. It is so beautiful!

5.      Tower of London – The place is located near the Thames River and it is now a museum. There are galleries and tours for you to choose when you are visiting this place. You have to pay for the admission ticket, though.

6.      Tower Bridge – this iconic place is a must visit in London. You can just walk along the bridge, take pictures near it, or even come inside the towers of the Tower Bridge to see exhibitions. Again, you need to pay for the admission ticket in this attraction.

7.      Madame Tussauds – there are Madame Tussauds in other cities, indeed. I don’t really know the difference between those Madame Tussauds, but if you haven’t been to one, you surely can visit the one in London. The admission price is quite expensive and the queue can be very long, but you can take pictures, a lot of them, inside.

8.      221b Baker Street – Sherlock! For Sherlock Holmes fans, this is a must visit place. However, I was disappointed coming inside this place to see the exhibition because it is not that interesting for me. With the price and the queue, surely I wouldn’t recommend you to come except you really a hardcore fan of Sherlock Holmes. I think, taking picture in front of it and visiting the shop is quite enough.

9.      Buckingham Palace – an attraction that you can see when you visit this place is the changing guard. It happens daily or once in two days at 11.30. The procession lasts around 45 minutes. Quite interesting, but not that much. During the summer, the palace is open for public and you can see the inside of the building. Again, it is not free of charge.

10.  Parliament House – definitely cannot go inside, but taking picture in front of the Parliament House is a must. It really shows that you’ve visited London. The best place to take your picture in front of it is from the bridge just next to the building.

11.  Big Ben – attached to the Parliament House, this is also the icon of London. Take a picture of yourself in front of this place!

12.  Westminster Abbey – located just on the square of the Parliament House, Westminster Abbey is famous as a place for the Royal Family to do their religious activities. You can take a picture in front of it, and you can also come inside to see the place.

13.  St. Paul’s Church – I love this building! Walking across the Millennium Bridge and seeing this building is just magnificent! You can take pictures and come inside the church. All free of charge.

14.  Piccadilly Circus / Soho – it is not a building but an area. The place is so famous and is always crowded. I like to just walk along the streets in this area. It is nice!

15.  Oxford Street – shopping! That’s the word comes to my mind every time I hear Oxford Street. Lots and lots of shops here, where you can just have your retail therapy.

As I said, it only takes a day to visit all these places if you are not going inside and just take pictures of them from the outside. Most of the places are located along the Thames River, so it is not difficult to reach them. I would suggest people to go to the Buckingham Palace first, and then walk through the St. James Park to reach the Parliament Square, where the Parliament House, Big Ben, and Westminster Abbey are located. You can walk across the bridge from the Big Ben and follow the pathway to the London Eye. Then, cross the bridge again to reach the National Gallery and Trafalgar Square. From there, I usually take the tube to the Tower of London, quite near to the Tower Bridge and St. Paul’s Cathedral. The other places left are the British Museum, Natural History Museum, Madame Tussauds, 221b Baker Street, Piccadilly Circus, and Oxford Street. I like to categorize the places into their location. For example, the British Museum is not too far from the Oxford Street, which is adjacent to Piccadilly Circus. Then, Madame Tussauds and 221b Baker Street are close to each other. Finally, the Natural History is located in the museum quarter of London, where there are also Science Museum and Victoria and Albert Museum.

It is very easy to visit the mainstream London points of interest. If you like to take the bus, you can take London Bus Route 4, which passes along the Waterloo, Houses of Parliament, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and Barbican. Another bus route, London Bus Route 88, passes along the Regent Street, Oxford Street, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, and the House of Parliament. See? You can even just stay inside the bus to pass these iconic locations. The district and circle lines of London Underground are also the main route if you prefer to use the tube as your mode of transportation.

That’s all about London – well, up until now. I am sure that there will be loads and loads more after I visit the city more.

Mar 04, 2016

AdventureNotes #16: Harry Potter London

Who doesn’t know Harry Potter? The book, the movie, everything about Harry Potter is famous! Thinking about Harry Potter makes people think about the UK, too. Indeed, the movie set is also located in various places throughout the UK. However, the Warner Bros Studio is located near London. For you who are mad about the story, welcome to the magical world!

To visit the Warner Bros Studio, we have to buy tickets in advance. The place is very popular and in peak seasons, the ticket is likely to be sold out or limited. Therefore, I would suggest people to really consider the time they are going to visit. Besides the date, we should also pick the time of the day we want to enter the place. I’ve visited the place twice, once at night time and once during the day. For me, both times are perfectly fine. It has its own charm on different times of the day. Therefore, don’t worry if you get a slot at night to visit the studio. The official website to book the ticket to this studio ishttps://www.wbstudiotour.co.uk/. However, if you cannot find any ticket on your chosen date, you can also google other tours that may have the tickets, too. Usually, these tours also include the transportation price from central London to the studio location by bus. The price to enter this attraction is not cheap but it certainly worth it.

I wouldn’t say that the Warner Bros Studio is exactly in London. It is located near zone 7 London, which is called Watford Junction. From my city, Birmingham, it is almost half way to London. From central London, I think the journey can take up to 45 minutes by tube or probably 1 to 1.30 hours by bus depending on the traffic. From the Watford Junction station, we should take another designated Harry Potter Tour bus to the location. Minding the journey, I would suggest people who want to visit this attraction to start their journey around 1 to 2 hours before their allocated entry time. Sometimes you can enter a little bit before your allocated time. And don’t worry if you are late, too! You can still come to the place with your ticket!

Entering the studio is like entering a magical place, indeed! If you are a Harry Potter fan, you will love it! The entrance to the great hall, looking at the set of different places of Hogwarts, and taking pictures all around, all are unforgettable experience. There are indoor and outdoor areas of the studio with an additional area just opened last year. Nowadays, people can also see the Hogwarts Express that had just been exhibited there! OMG I SO want to go there again! I can spend hours and hours there. Don’t worry, you can spend as long as you want inside the studio.

What’s so amazing about the studio? Hmmm… not the Daniel Radcliffe or the Emma Watson part because they’re not there. For me, it’s the process of filmmaking. I can see how the people involved in the production were very dedicated to their work. I am amazed of the details, of the expensive tools and appliances they buy to make the movie ‘real’. I am amazed on the robot Buckbeak and the 2 meters tall Hogwarts miniature and the thousands of wand boxes hand-written by the crew. And surely, I am so fond of the butter beer! You should try the butter beer! It is non-alcoholic so as a Muslim it’s safe for me. It is rather expensive but for the sake of trying it!

I think coming out of the studio, I was left speechless. It is very amazing. But, you can also crave for more! Well, not many other Harry Potter setting is located in London, but there are some places you can visit to re-visit your experience watching the movie. You can join a walking tour or you can just visit them yourself.

The places in London that are used in Harry Potter movies include Kings Cross Station and St. Pancras Station. Both are next to each other. The famous 9 ¾ platform is located in the Kings Cross Station. If you can bear the queue, you can take pictures of yourself posing in front of it! Besides that, there are also Millennium Bridge, Charring Cross Road, and Leadenhall Market. The two mentioned last are the places that represent Diagon Alley. Gringot’s exterior is Australia House just near the Covent Garden. There are also Westminster Station, Piccadilly Circus, and London Zoo Reptile House that you can visit.

That’s not enough? There is another Harry Potter attraction coming up this June 2016. It’s Harry Potter theatre! It is actually an extended version of the Harry Potter story. Coming up in June, the ticket for the show is now sold out until March 2017. If you are planning to visit and want to see this, do make sure that you are coming after March to get the ticket.

I think there will be more and more additional attractions related to Harry Potter in London, considering how popular it is. Indeed, London is a good place to start feeling the real Harry Potter experience!

Feb 19, 2016

AdventureNotes #15: Budget London

This article is the second part of the London series in AdventureNotes. London is notoriously known as an expensive city. Indeed, based on the figures from Expatistan reported by the Independent UK, it is the third most expensive city in the world (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/london-is-the-third-most-expensive-city-in-the-world-to-live-in-just-behind-billionaire-playgrounds-10422924.html). It is also placed on the third place for its property cost according to Telegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/property/pictures/11450782/The-worlds-10-most-expensive-cities-2015.html?frame=3220484). These facts sometimes make people think more than once when they are planning to visit this city. Is it too expensive to visit? Will it worth the money? It surely will! There are numerous ways to visit this city when you are on a budget.

As its property price is so high, staying in London can be very, very expensive. The normal chain hotel price in zone 4-5 London is around £60. How can I afford that? Well, there are some other options for you who want to get the best bargain. If you are Indonesian, there is always Wisma Indonesia. The place is very cheap, around £15 per night. However, the location is quite far from central London where the attractions are. Combined with the transportation price, etc., I would say that there are other options. If you are travelling alone, hostels can be more affordable. There are various choices for hostels in London. I usually use this website, http://www.hostelworld.com/, to book hostels in UK. It’s pretty handy. However, you may want to check the hostel’s website to compare the price. Hostels can also be useful when you are travelling in groups. Besides that, there is also AirBnB that offers various properties to be rented in London. Want some more privacy? Why don’t we try the budget hotel chain? There are many budget hotel brands, such as EasyHotel, Tune Hotel, or Premmier Inn. Those hotels have properties in various central places in London. It’s quite a bargain if you want some more privacy and be close to London highlights. I visited London last December and stayed in EasyHotel in Victoria for just £25 per night. The room is very small but it’s okay for couples. I recon if you are travelling with kids, the other budget hotels might be better although a bit pricey.

Moving on, London’s transportation ticket is the second most expensive in the world. Having Oyster Card surely helps, but still, it can be as high as £8 per day. Want to get cheaper option? Santander bike (https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/cycling/santander-cycles)! You can cycle around London for only £2 per 24 hours. So much cheaper, right? So much more tiring, as well. Hahaha… Anyway, if you are in fit condition and don’t bother to be tired at the end of the day, I think you should at least try the Santander bike. It’s not only cheap, but also a good way to explore the city.

London offers many attractions free for entry. Most of the free entry attractions are museums and art galleries. Educational, right? Hahaha… Don’t imagine the museums to be boring places. In here, the museums are very interesting. The layouts are planned carefully so that the visitors can really enjoy the places. Besides that, you can always take pictures in front of famous places, like Big Ben or Tower of London. All are free! You can also look out for offers like 2for1 or advanced online tickets. It can be quite a bargain.

Living cost always includes food and drink. Personally, I would suggest us all to have a certain budget for food and drink. Why? Because sometimes I can get carried along, thinking that it is a primary need so that I shouldn’t pay attention on how much it cost. Turns out that, it can be the biggest chunk of all of the spending! I usually put my limit on £20 per day if I am travelling alone. Together with my husband, my budget for food and drink is £30 per day. There are cheaper options of food and drink if you are on a budget. For me, bringing my own drink is very helpful. I don’t have to buy those costly bottles of mineral water. Sometimes I choose sandwiches or other cold food so that I can avoid paying the restaurant tax. If I want hot food, I usually go to Piccadilly area where there are many choices of cheaper street foods. I think it’s just a matter of finding the right place to eat. Avoid restaurants or places near to famous attractions and you will be safe!

London may be expensive, but we can always plan our itinerary based on our budget. Find out more inhttp://www.visitlondon.com/things-to-do/budget-london?ref=nav-dl. See you next week on more about London!

Feb 12, 2016

AdventureNotes #14: Artsy London

As promised, this one, and the upcoming AdventureNotes will be about London. I think, London is a city in which art is a major part. Therefore, this first exploration about London will be on art. Artsy London. If you are an art person, London is heaven. The city offers many choices of activities for you, whether you are into visual arts, crafts, music, or theatre. For me, the best part of London is its theatres. I love it so much, especially the musical plays. I am not so much into visual arts, but I quite like seeing crafts and street music. Here’s my experience being an ‘artsy’ person in London.

Visual art is closely linked to art galleries. I may not be the best person to give you suggestion on this, but I should say that art galleries in London are fabulous. There are many art galleries in London, from those displaying more conventional type of paintings to those displaying more contemporary forms of visual art. Say, National Gallery, Tate Britain, and Tate Modern. Those are just the famous names. I can think that every corner of London (well, at least in zone 1) has a dedicated art display. Anyway, I haven’t been to Tate Britain and Tate Modern, but I’ve been to National Gallery. My first impression: the place is huge! You surely have to spare one day alone to explore the paintings inside. If you like looking at paintings from hundreds of years ago, maybe you can go to this place. When I visited the place, I also saw a group of children having a tour specifically made for them. They were given drawing tools and they can try to copy their chosen paintings. That is kind of interesting because art galleries can be boring for children. This way, they can learn to love the art and explore the art gallery without judging that it is such a boring place to go to.

I kind of like crafts – just to look at. Don’t bother to ask me to make one, I will run away. Exploring markets in London can make you stumble upon unique crafts. I especially like to go to Portobello Market because there are lots of small shops and street stalls selling unique crafts. You can find rugs, bags, jewelry, and household stuffs there. Not that I’ve bought anything there, but the stuffs there are quite interesting! I don’t know if there is any place offering some kind of workshop there, but surely it is a good place to explore crafts in London.

Music! This is what I love about strolling on London streets because I can see street musicians performing. I love it! I think the best places to go to if you like street performers are Piccadilly Garden and Southbank area, near the London Eye. I once saw this group of female street musicians who are just wonderful! I can stay and stay and stay until they finish their performance. Well, that’s enough for me who don’t want to spend too much money on concerts. However, there are many music events held in London each year. You can look at Royal Albert Hall websites, the O2 arena, and other places regularly held musical performance. Sometimes, there are also music festivals in Hyde Park. If this is your interest, I think you should at least once feel the experience of coming to a concert in London. Where else can you see famous musicians with relatively not too expensive tickets?

My most favorite part of the artsy London is theatre! God, I love watching musicals! And London is the center of it! Every single time I went to London, I always find time to visit the West End. The area covering Victoria up to Covent Garden is the heart of theatres. Each theatre allocates itself for one type of performance. Say, you want to watch Lion King the musicals, then you have to go to Lyceum theatre. There are tens of performance shown each night and believe me, it is mostly fully booked. If you are into this kind of thing, I would suggest you to buy the theatre tickets way in advance to get the best deal. They sell theatre tickets online and there are lots of websites claiming that they offer the best price. One website that I would recommend is: http://www.tkts.co.uk/. If you are in a hurry and cannot book the ticket online, the cheapest way to see a theatre performance is by going to the ticket office last minutes as sometimes they still have some seats left or as some people may return their tickets for that night. If it is not cheap enough, you can always wait in front of the theatre until the performance begin, and they will sell the tickets in way cheaper price – although you may miss the beginning part of the show. I’ve seen two musicals so far, Wicked and Matilda. Both are great! I wouldn’t mind if someone asks me to watch those again, really. However, I would really love to see Lion King. Indeed, the ticket price never goes down! Poor me. I’d have to save my money before I can watch that show. Fingers crossed, I want to watch the show before I left the UK this year!

Of course, art is not limited to the parts that I discussed. Those are just the big parts. There are many ways to explore London in artsy ways. Look at unique places, festivals, and local art groups to know about it deeper. Next on: Budget London! Stay tuned!

Feb 05, 2016

AdventureNotes #13: London, the Introduction

Okay! So the Adventure Notes for London will be divided into several parts because it is such a big city with sooo many points of interest. Therefore, the articles on London will be based on different point of views, such as Artsy London, London on Budget, etc.

In this first London article, I will try to give you basic information about visiting London. Of course, you can always find all of the information in http://www.visitlondon.com/. However, I will try to elaborate some important things and tips based on the website, several other websites, as well as my own experience. Here it goes…

1.      Getting there

London is easily accessible from… well, basically all around the world – according to your budget, of course. Mostly, people from around UK come to London by train. There are many options for the train, starting from the cheap one up to the high-end one. I usually look out for the best fare here:http://www.thetrainline.com/farefinder/. Using the website, I can get the best deal on the day I plan to travel. I could also change my travel dates based on the cheapest available ticket. You can also visit by train from Paris, using the fast train, EuroStar. It can be as cheap as £20 one way. Again, monitor the website, http://www.eurostar.com/uk-en, to get the best deal.

From other far point of departure, such as Edinburgh, cities in continental Europe, and other cities around the world, flying may be the best option. Look out of the best airlines deal here:http://www.skyscanner.net/.

If those transportations are not cheap enough for you, you may find Megabus attractive. Haha! It can be very cheap sometimes. I usually try to find the deals on more uncommon destinations or the destinations very expensive to get to by train. It can be very tiring, traveling by bus, especially if it is far, but if budget is your concern, it can be an option. Check your price here: http://uk.megabus.com/.

2.      Staying

There are actually many options to stay in London. As I live not too far from London, it can be cheaper to just have a day trip from my city to London. However, if you really want to explore the city, stay overnight is recommended. Where you stay will much depend on how you are traveling and your budget. Nowadays, AirBnB is quite popular. I haven’t tried it, but if you are traveling in groups or with your family, it can be a good bargain. As an Indonesian, I can always book a room in Wisma Indonesia. It is quite cheap although the location is quite far from central London.

I visited London several times and all of those times I stayed in different places. When I was with my friend or with my husband, I stayed in budget hotel or bed and breakfast. There are several options of budget hotel, including for those with families, such as EasyHotel, Travelodge, Premier Inn, and Ibis Budget.

When you are alone, the way you stay in London will be more flexible. I believe that hostel is the best option. Oh! And hostel is also a good option if you are traveling with several friends, say 4-8 people as you can stay together in a room for a cheaper price instead of booking several rooms in a hotel. People may think that hostel is… well, not clean, lack of privacy, and uncomfortable. In my experience, it basically depends on the hostel. Remember to read carefully the description of the hostel if you are looking for one. It usually mentions the ambience of the hostel, whether it is quite and businesslike or if it is hype and trendy with lots of parties around. Most hostels that I have ever visited are clean. The bathrooms are well maintained although it is a shared bathroom. Each bed will have its own access to an electric plug and each guest is given a certain locker with its key for the belongings. So, don’t worry, you can try to book a bed in a hostel!

My suggestion is, in looking for a budget hotel or hostel, do consider these things: price, location, room accessibility, and facilities in and around the hotel. For me, location is the most important thing. I wouldn’t want to travel far away to get to the places I want to visit. Therefore, I always compare the price with the location. Furthermore, London’s transportation fare may be quite expensive, so cutting the cost of transportation can help much of your budget.

3.      Transportation

The first thing about transportation in London is: Oyster Card. It is a must card if you are traveling to London. You can buy the card online or in travel information centers around London. It is a one-for-all ticket to get around London as you can use it to pay for the bus fare, tube, and waterway. Just top-up your card and you are ready to go! There are two different types of Oyster Card, the traveler one and the ordinary one. My suggestion is to buy the ordinary one. Yes, the traveler one has better design and cost less, but you can redeem your credit as well as the card when you finish using it. It costs £5 for the card and you will get your money back upon your redemption.

As you may already know, there are many means of transportation in London. There are tubes, buses, waterways, and bicycle. There is a London information website to find out live transportation report,https://tfl.gov.uk/. Using this website, I could avoid closed roads, late buses, etc. It is very helpful; especially to find out which tube line is in trouble or under maintenance.

Traveling around London is not difficult. Google maps and other mapping aps can direct you to certain places. What I need to be aware of is when it is difficult to get signal for my phone. A sense of simple direction, like North, South, West, and East, is important. Whenever you are going to get a tube or bus, think about your position and where you want to go to. Pretty simple, actually.

4.      Planning your itinerary

As I said, London is a big city. It is impossible to visit all places in one trip, believe me! Therefore, you itinerary should be made carefully. Choose the places you really want to go to, based on your interest. If you are just going to pass along some famous landmarks, you can do it in maybe 2-3 days. However, if you plan to visit museums, you have to allow one full day for one museum. Indeed, museums in London are big! British Museum has tens of galleries, the same as Natural History Museum. Just, don’t go too big in your itinerary. Be realistic, allow yourself to soak the London vibe. Oh, and a simple tips that I just figured out is that you can actually match your place of stay (hotel/hostels/others) to the places you want to visit. Visiting London per area is also a good option. For example, you can stay in Greenwich and visit only Greenwich attractions, and so on, and so on.

For this reason, too, the AdventureNotes on London is going to be divided into several parts, depending on the itinerary.

5.      Holiday season

It is pretty complicated to take this holiday season into consideration because most of us can only go to London during our holiday. BUT everything can be quite expensive during the holiday period. Besides, the city will be very crowded. I went to London during the Christmas holiday twice. On both occasions, the city was full – except on the exact Christmas date.

Another thing to be considered if you are traveling in holiday season is the availability of public transportations. They are usually limited on exact holiday. For example, I had to use the Santander Bike, https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/cycling/santander-cycles, to go around London on the Christmas day. It is okay for me, but for you with children or if you cannot ride bicycle, it may not be the best option. Another alternative is to walk. Yeaa… but you couldn’t go too far, could you?

Oh and one more thing! Not only the public transportation, other facilities such as toilets, shops, and restaurants are also usually closed on the exact celebration day. I really don’t want to experience the lack of those public facilities again during my trip, ever! It was quite horrible to not be able to find toilets and restaurants for a day.

6.      Budgeting

The last but certainly not least important thing to consider is your budget. London can be very expensive, so I usually set my daily budget to eat, etc. I also try to find the cheapest possible alternative to stay and travel. There are also lots of attraction tickets deals available for you. Do search for this and use the offers. It is worth to save one to two pounds, right?

Read the next AdventureNotes for more on London!

Jan 29, 2016

AdventureNotes #3: London

Baiklaaah.. Setelah cuti nulis (ciee) beberapa lama, saya maleees nulis dg bahasa Inggris. Hehe. Jadi, maaf2keun kalo notes kali ini berantakan yaa.. 🙂

London is a city that I like. Kalo liat London, mungkin sedikit2 inget Jakarta walaupun banyakan ga mirip nya siih tp yaa dibandingin Hull, masih lebih mirip lah. Hehe… Karena London adalah ibu kota dan pusat ekonomi juga, jadi London itu suasananya sibuk, it seems like everyone is on the go. Buat aku yang suka dengan ke-hectic-an dan kesibukan, menyenangkan banget sih jalan2 di London. Kenapa notes kali ini tentang London? Yaa.. karena setelah York, London adalah kota kedua diluar Hull yang aku datengin di UK.

Pertama kali visit London, saya pergi dg housemate saya. Pas banget waktunya lagi Christmas holiday. Tentunya di waktu winter dan suasananya Christmas banget. Yang harus diwaspadai ketika liburan di musim Christmas seperti saya adalah melangitnya harga2, mulai dari kereta dan akomodasi. Tips-nya, booking semua di awal. Bulan Oktober kalo bisa udah booking semuanya supaya dapat best deal. Untuk transportasi, selain kereta kita juga bisa naik bus dari Hull. Hanya saja perjalanannya 5 jam. Tergantung lagi, apakah beda harganya signifikan. Plus, kalau punya tiket kereta, kita bisa masuk ke certain attractions dan makan di certain resto with 2 for 1 price. Promo ini sangat2 menarik karena yaa sama aja dapet diskon 50%. Syaratnya, ke London harus bersama teman2 dan berjumlah genap. Hee. Lalu, untuk akomodasi ada banyak pilihan. Ada wisma KBRI yang katanya sangat terjangkau (saya sih belum pernah nih jangankan ke wisma KBRI, ke KBRI nya aja blm pernah, heheheh), ada juga hostel yang terjangkau. Sarannya sih, kalau bisa pergilah ke London bersama teman2 yang banyak karena bisa ngirit ongkos akomodasi.

Lanjut, what did I do? Pertama kali ke London, 4 hari dan betul2 niat. Semua itinerary nya dibuat dg oke. Beli2 tiket masuk attraction dari internet karena biasanya lebih murah. Ada juga deal2 tertentu yang memungkinkan kita masuk ke beberapa attraction dengan harga combined. Kalo nggak salah, pertama kali ke London, aku pergi ke Madame Tussaud, Sherlock Holmes Museum, nonton Wicked, ke British Museum, Portobello Market, Harry Potter Studio, Oxford Street, Parliament House, liat changing guards di Buckingham Palace, naik London Eye, dan ke Hyde Park. Yah, kira2 begitulah yaa.. Menurut saya sih semua attraction nya menarik dan recommended kecuali Sherlock Holmes Museum yang ngantri nya panjang banget dan cukup mahal tapi tidak sesuai dengan ekspektasi.

Untuk aku, it’s a must-nya London ada beberapa. Kalo nggak ke tempat2 itu yaa rugi lah (menurutku yaa..). Pertama, nonton musical di London. Teater tempat musical2 ini ada di daerah West End biasanya. And I love West End area. Nggak tau kenapa tapi rasanya festive aja. Hehe. I also love strolling around in South Bank. Again, lebih karena alasan environment. Entah kenapa suka aja atmosphere disana. Lalu, ke Harry Potter Studi. Dimana lagi bisa ke Harry Potter Studio? Agak mahal tiketnya tapi for someone who grew up with Harry Potter like me, sungguh2 nggak nyesel.

Menurut aku sih, pertama kali ke London itu harus dipuas2in. Bener2 harus mengunjungi apa yang ingin dikunjungi. Karena kita bisa jadi turis benerannya hanya pas pertama kali ke London. Kesempatan berikutnya ke London… well, pastinya karena udah pernah jadi kurang exciting walaupun kalo buat aku sih, pengen balik2 terus ke London. The city has a charm.

What can you do besides the normal touristy activities? Coba buka website nya visit London dan cari2 event apa yang sedang berlangsung. Menyenangkan sih, dateng ke event2 yang diselenggarain di London karena pasti niat. Saya pribadi sih pernah dateng ke Winter Wonderland yang recommended banget, HARUS dikunjungi klo lagi ke London saat winter dan ke Canada Day. Menarik! Coba juga jalan2 ke taman yang ada di London, dateng ke pasar2 yang banyak banget juga di London. Atau, kalo yang mau ngeceng silahkan beredar di jalanan kota London pas jam orang bubaran kantor. Lots of cute guys with suit. Hehehe…

That’s about it. I didn’t give anymore details about the website, etc but you can ask me anytime. If you wanna go to London, I’ll be happy to make an itinerary for you. Hehehe.. Okay then, London is a city with charm which makes me want to go there again and again.

Oct 18, 2013