Day 2 (July 9th, 2010)
It was a bright sunny morning in London, quite unlike the weather Londoners are usually accustomed to. Our coach driver was patiently waiting in the lobby to greet all of us (The tourist buses are called coaches in Europe & that is the best mode of transport in Europe, especially if you have to cross numerous borders). After a heavy English breakfast, we headed out on a city tour with our local guide Sara. The first stop was Albert Hall. From there we proceeded to other London landmarks – Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Parliament Square, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, Tower Bridge, River Thames (in case you’re wondering how we managed to cover so many places in one day, we didn’t actually stop at all of these landmarks. We just got a glimpse of them from the coach, while we did stop at a couple of landmarks). We stopped for lunch at Bangalore Express in Southwark, a well-designed place with plush décor that served Indian food (Surprisingly, you get some of the best rotis & paratas in most European countries. It’s probably ‘coz they are so good at making bread). Our next stop was Madame Tussauds wax museum, where we spent a good 2 hours. We were then given just 1 hour to shop at Oxford Street. 😦 From there, we then drove to Harwich port to board the ferry – Stena Line Hollandica (world’s largest superferry) to the hook of Holland.
The Clock Tower also known as “Big Ben” after its main bell. Big Ben towers 96 meters high in the sky overlooking Westminster. It has 393 steps to reach the top.
The London Eye is just so prominent that you cannot miss it……but if you’re not particularly fond of slow rides, you can skip this one.
The Tower of London, which is also Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress is a historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames in central London. It houses the famous “Kohinoor” diamond.
The London Bridge (we all remember the famous nursery rhyme, don’t we?) & the Tower Bridge is not the same. London Bridge is a bridge over the River Thames, connecting the City of London and Southwark, in central London while Tower Bridge is a suspension bridge over the River Thames & is situated close to the Tower of London.
St Paul’s Cathedral – a Church of England cathedral dedicated to Paul the Apostle. It sits at the top of Ludgate Hill, the highest point in the City of London.
Piccadilly Circus – a road junction and public space at London’s West End in the City of Westminster. It is famous for its video displays and neon signs mounted on the corner building as well as the statue of an archer popularly known as Eros.
Monument to the Great Fire of London is the tallest isolated stone column in the world built to commemorate the Great Fire of London and to celebrate the rebuilding of the City.
Trafalgar Square – a huge public space with the Nelson’s Column at its center. There are a number of statues and sculptures in the square. The Column is flanked by fountains and guarded by four monumental bronze lions. The square is famous for its pigeons.
Oxford Street – Selfridges is located right opposite to Marks&Spencer and has a food hall at the basement. Don’t forget to check out Primark on Orchard Street. They stocks goods and fabric which are relatively inexpensive going by European standards.
The Royal Opera House – performing arts venue and home of The Royal Opera, The Royal Ballet and the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House. (Unfortunately, this was not on our itinerary! I would have loved to visit this place)
The first thing you notice when you land in London is the huge number of Sikhs around you (right at the airport itself). It’s mind-boggling! I haven’t seen so many of them at one place in India itself!! …… and there are plenty of Indian faces around…so Indians will feel very much at home here.
Secondly, all you Indian travelers, please DO NOT JUMP QUEUES. It is deemed extremely impolite & you will be at the receiving end of nasty stares if you do so.
Indian food is not at all a problem as there are Indian restaurants at almost every other corner. Given that the national dish of UK is the chicken jalfrezi (it’s no longer chicken tikka masala! :D), it’s no surprise that Indian cuisine is available almost everywhere.
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