Work travel is a perfect way to explore a new city. I get to travel a lot as part of my job and was able to visit quite a number of countries (List). This time it was London. I had 2 full days during the weekend to spend time exploring the city.
While booking accommodation, I realised how expensive it was to stay in London. I ended up staying at a super small and efficient hotel (Classic Hotel). It was less expensive (not cheap), quiet, clean and super close to the Paddington station.
After breakfast on Saturday, I got ready to leave at about 10 AM. All I had with me as an accessory was a Map of London. At the start, I picked out couple of places to visit during the day and marked the nearest metro – my preferred mode of transport in any new city.
Stop 1 – London Eye.
The entry ticket cost was about 25 GBP. I could have paid few pound extra for an online ticket fast track ticket which means no waiting in the ticket line. I had to wait for about 25 minutes. As I had a lot of free time and limited budget, it made the queue manageable. Moreover, there was another queue for entry after the ticket purchase. I was in the pods (are they pods?) within 1.5 hours since I arrived.
If you visit London and have time for only 1 attraction, visit the London Eye. I highly recommend it as the views from the top are breathtaking. The whole experience lasted about 30 minutes. One negative part was that the pods tend to be a bit crowded and it was a challenge to find and hold on to good spots to take pictures.
Apologies for the poor quality – my Samsung phone camera was all I had.
Stop 2 – Big Ben
While visiting the Big Ben, I got first hand experience of the London Weather. Within a span of 10 minutes, there were clouds, little bit of rain, lot of wind and all of a sudden – sunshine :). This might be the most unpredictable weather I have ever faced.
Stop 3 – Westminster Abbey (Almost)
To be frank, I had no clue where I was going after Big Ben. I took a large sandwich (the food is so crazy cheap) for lunch and was walking aimlessly when I saw a super long crowd. It happened to be Westminster Abbey.
I just took couple of photos at the entrance and had lunch for the day. There was no point in waiting although I so much wanted to visit. Some other time :).
After a short stop for lunch, I had a random idea to visit Trafalgar Square. The map said go north and so I did. I got to see some interesting places on the way:
Stop 4 – Trafalgar Square
Well, it was not that impressive as I had imagined. T Nagar was more lively than this for sure!
It was already around 6 PM by the time I finished. Time to call it a day. On my way back, I stopped at one of the gazillion Desi restaurants in London and had some of the best Indian food outside India. It was tasty and affordable – easily half the price I pay in Stockholm. After dinner, I had a short walk in Hyde Park near the hotel before ending the day at about 9 PM.
Part 2 coming soon which includes Stamford Bridge, London Marathon, Tower Bridge (Another bridge :p) and a lot more aimless wandering.!