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

Advertisement

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 #4: Manchester

Haha. It’s been a very very very very long time since I wrote my last AdventureNotes. And yesterday I bragged to Ryan about my trip to Europe and then I realized… well, I need to continue my AdventureNotes! This is the fourth, and the fourth goes to Manchester; not because I particularly like Manchester, it’s just because the fourth city I went to during my stay in the UK.

Manchester, to be honest, I do not like this city. I don’t know why but it’s just a city for me. I went there with my housemate and we visited the so-called biggest Chinatown in the UK – which for me, not too big and not too Chinese. It was a day trip so when we arrived there at around 11 – thanks to the delayed train – we grabbed lunch and went straight to Old Trafford.

I am not a football fan. I am definitely not an MU fan. But going to Manchester without visiting Old Trafford is like.. what are you going to do?? Unless you have other business plan or meeting with friends. The museum and stadium tour were quite nice. I got a 2 for 1 ticket because I took the train from Hull to Manchester. You need to note this! If you’re going by train around UK, you may be able to get some promotion or something like that. Check the website so you won’t miss it.

The Old Trafford Stadium was a little bit outside of downtown Manchester. I took the tram to get there plus around 20 minutes walking. We arrived later than when we should be there but luckily they didn’t make a fuss about it and allowed us to take the next tour. The tour is probably once in an hour so we didn’t have to wait that long. It took around 2 hours to finish the whole thing. It was nice, full of information, and you get to come in to different places in the stadium. At the end of the tour, you can shop if you want – which I didn’t.

After that, we went back to the city and just strolled around. There was this big shopping mall and a nice park. I didn’t really pay attention around really. But if you want to shop, go to Manchester! Especially during the Christmas sale because you can get almost everything with cheap price. LOL.

There are many more museums and places you can visit if you are going to Manchester. Unfortunately I didn’t go to those places. I heard that there is this football museum, etc. Yeah.. Manchester is not too confusing as a city so you basically don’t have to go around and around to go to places. The city center is compact. Plus! Free city bus! If you are going to certain places you can just take the free city bus. Yeap… That’s about it. I went to Manchester twice but the second one is for visa thingy so… it doesn’t count. LOL.

If you’re an MU fan then go to Manchester. If you want to know Manchester, go to Manchester. Travel never a waste of time and money anyway. 🙂

Dec 21, 2013