Created on Friday, 15 October 2010 02:19
Written by Susan Win
London is among the most famous capitals of the world, one that is home to a rich mix of traditional architecture and modern facilities. The cosmopolitan city also houses a very good mix of activities and attractions for everyone.
On top of that, London has a wide range of colonial and modern attractions coupled with many activities for visitors to partake in. There are the famous landmarks and museums, such as the famous London Eye and the Big Ben, to visit and theater shows like Lion King the Musical to watch. So go expecting to be intrigued by London’s various offerings!
I started my day by exploring the city on London’s iconic red double-decker buses. Taking a bus into town is one of the best things to do especially when you have the time. You can easily get an oyster card at any station and it would take you around the city. The oyster cards work just like our local ez-link cards: tap on the go, top-up at the self-help stations and it also allows us to buy travel passes. Travel passes are available for seven days, either monthly or annual, for specific zones. They will be cheaper if you are looking at travelling for at least a week or more. In addition, on a daily basis, there is also a price cap which meant that all your journeys will never be more than a price of a day travel pass.
More importantly, riding on a bus will allow you to take in the cityscape as you travel. London is separated into six zones in the transportation network, starting with zone 1 in the heart of the city up to zone 6 which includes the airport. I would suggest getting weekly or monthly pass to go around the most frequent zones. For example, single trip in zone 1 would cost £1.80, cap at £7.20, while a seven-day travel pass will only cost £25.80 (works out to £3.70/day for unlimited travel). It is very expensive to get a pass around just zone 1 or across all six zones, so if you are not intending to travel in zone 1 a lot, it is best to make do with the other zones. A pass for zone 2-3 only will cost £19, which is lesser than zone 1 alone or £47.60 for all 6 zones. Shop till you drop
Shopping in London is a very enjoyable process. Not only do you get Topshop on a much bigger and cheaper scale, especially if you meet the summer sales, there are also plenty of other brands that are not available in Singapore. My personal favourite would be the Swedish brand H&M, which has yet to reach Singapore shores.
I was very fortunate to meet with the summer sales while I was there. The word SALES was all I see everywhere I go, but I lacked the time to navigate those racks thoroughly as the bulk of my time was spent travelling around instead. I had no regrets though – seeing the different parts of the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe was a good exchange. Still, I can’t wait to head back there the next time!
Summer sales was already on when I arrived mid-July and it ended just before I came back in mid-August. So, if you are looking for a good time to shop, make sure you pick these dates to go!
The flaw with shopping London, as well as other European countries, is the fact that they close too early.
Why, you ask? As my British friends enlightened me, they have better things to do after 5pm, things such as drinking. So if you wish to do your shopping, please bear in mind that most shops start closing at about 5pm.
For example, Oxford street, which is the most happening place in town for shopping, closes at around 6pm to 7pm. The popular shopping street stretches quite a distance, from Bond street all the way to Tottenham Court road. There are five tube stations along the street and they are on the almost all the tube linesthe stations are on the Central, Jubilee, Bakerloo, Piccadilly, Victoria and Northern lines.
The only place that closes a little later would be Westfield, a shopping mall that houses many renowned brands; it is just like our Vivo City just a lot bigger. This mall closes at 10pm only on Thursdays and Fridays, and at 9pm on other days except for Sunday when they close at 6pm.
So be sure to reach early so you could take your time to navigate around the gigantic place. The place also offers a variety of Food and Beverage outlets. If you really have to do some shopping after hitting the sights, I would recommend you head there to do your “late night” shopping.
Westfield is located at Shepherd’s Bush tube station and there are many ways to get there. Among the easiest would be taking the tube to the station and exiting at the entrance of Westfield itself. Shepherd’s Bush is located on the central line.
That said, there are many other places to shop in London. Among them would be the world-famous Harrods. The brand and mall is synonymous with luxury, and its posh decoration and environment lives up to its name.
Harrods houses a very wide collection of items, which are neatly grouped according to their categories on different levels; it is a very big departmental store with a total of seven stories including the two basements.
Although there have been strict rules about dressing in the past, standards have been relaxed pretty much and almost anyone could enter the luxury outlet these days. Still, it is an experience not to miss.
What you might not know is some of their food items in the Food Hall go on sale at night and they close at 8pm sharp. Another thing to take note would be to refrain from photography in some area! You should also prepare to squeeze with the crowd to the memorial for the late Princess Diana at basement 2.
Besides the malls, clear out the weekends for a visit to the markets. There’s the Convent Garden, Portobello and Camden weekend market to enjoy.
Camden town is also a place to see with its streets lined with punks in their loud hair colours and dressings. Portobello market is on Saturdays and accessible from Notting Hill Gate station on the Central and Circle line. Portobello market offers include antiques, fashion and food as there is a lot to explore. Taking in the sights
Visiting London is a great opportunity to take in its variety of attractions. There are plenty of Museums, which are free because they are funded by the Lottery. An interesting and good concept, don’t you think?
London’s museums are home to many great collections from history, fashion to natural history. I checked out the Victoria & Albert Museum, Natural history museum and Science Museums, as they are all located nearby each other. It is a time consuming process so make sure you give at least a day for just the three museums. Also, highly recommended by my British friends are the Tate Britain and Tate Modern.
Aside from the museums, another must-visit place is the Buckingham Palace, the official residence of the queen; the tower of London is home to the Crown Jewels; the very beautiful Houses of Parliament, which is a sight to behold, along with its neighbour, the Westminster Abbey church.
There are also many beautiful open spaces to go bask in the summer sun. Hyde park, Richmond Park and St James’ park, which is across the street from the home of Prince Charles. The area around the London eye is also worth exploring. Rest on the green patch as you take in the wonderful sun, which lasts all the way to 9pm during the long summers days. Trafalgar Square is also another place to spend a leisurely summer afternoon people-watching.
Shopping and sightseeing in London alone would take up several days of your travel. So do plan your trip well in advance if you would like to really soak up the city’s atmosphere by visiting the theaters, stand-up comedy clubs and the like.
About the Author:
Susan’s love for travel was ignited after a trip to Hong Kong with four adventurous friends. The trip to several parts of Europe alone has further deepened her passion for travelling. Currently she is studying at University of Nevada Las Vegas – Singapore Campus towards a degree in Hotel Administration. She hopes to find a future career that will allow her to continue travelling around the world. In the meantime, she keeps in contact with all the lovely kind people she have met on her wonderful trip and looks forward to going back and seeing them again. She also has a travel blog to share her travel adventures. Related links: Westfield London
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