My best friend, Philip, and I went
all the way to London to specially participate in Teddies 2016; one of the
largest Teddy Bear Conventions in Europe. It had always been a dream for Wayne
to travel to Europe and now he has finally fulfilled it!
Philip advised to have lots of sleep
in-flight in order to minimize jet lag due to the different time-zones between
The flight to London took 16 hours!
Thankfully there was a mid-transfer in Dubai which allowed us to walk around
and take a breather. The journey in-flight was dreadful as there was limited
space to move around and we were constantly seated in a upright position.
Although it was uncomfortable, we
managed to sleep for a couple of hours and ate well on plane as well!
Once we arrived at Heathrow Airport,
we went to the customer service centre to purchase train tickets. We bought the
train cards known as Oyster Cards, Big Bus Tour Tickets for 2 days, as well as
admission tickets to ZSL London Zoo, Tower of London, and the Sea Life London Aquarium.
They were slightly cheaper to purchase at the airport rather than directly at
the places themselves.
The Big Bus Tour brings us around
London for 2 days. There are 3 different tour routes, covering all the top
London sights. It also comes with 3 free walking tours of Royal London, Harry
Potter and London’s music scene. In addition, there is also complementary 2-way
River Thames cruise operated by City Cruises. There are a few different
operators providing such bus tours but we chose The Big Bus Tours as it was the
most convenient for us.
After purchasing the Oyster Cards, we took the
train to our hotel to check-in. The train map system, which is also known as
"Underground", is organized and easy to understand. It works
similarly to the MRT system we have in Singapore, albeit more complicated. The
train was fast and clean. To our surprise, you can bring dogs onto the train
and even eat or drink inside!
Paddinton Railway Station
As a Paddington Bear Fan, this place
was definitely one of the venues which Wayne must visit! We took the
Underground train to the venue in search for the Paddington Bear Statue and
Shop. To our disappointment, the silver statue and shop were no longer there.
However, we found a coloured statue hiding at a waiting corner beside a small
shop selling some Paddington merchandise. We took several pictures and quickly
move to our next destination.
Natural History Museum
We went to the Natural History
Museum on first day. The architecture of the museum was stunning and the place
was extremely huge!!! What's more, admission to the museum was free! There were
so many things to see inside! We would really highly recommend this place to
Inside the Natural History Museum,
you will see the taxidermy of different animals and sea creatures. There were
even dinosaur fossils too!
Building of the Natural History Museum
Stamford Bridge – Chelsea F.C.
a Manchester United football fan and so he couldn’t miss the opportunity to
visit one of the top English Premier League Football Clubs in London!
Unfortunately we were unable to visit Old Trafford as it was out of the way. We
went to the Chelsea FC Megastore and walked around. To our surprise, we spotted
a rare Pokemon “Mr Mime” in sightings in the Pokemon Go mobile game. After a
frantic search, we managed to find and catch him! Mr Mime can only be found in
Europe and although we wanted to catch him, we were not expecting to catch him
on the very first day in London!
ZSL London Zoo
The London zoo was really huge but
we managed to cover most of it despite the bad weather. It was raining and
cold. Fortunately it only started
raining after we had visited and took photos of the various animals. At the end of the day, we bought a few animal
soft toys as souvenirs for our family members.
Our dear friend, Linda Bean,
recommended this restaurant to us. We were certainly glad she did as the food
was great. We visited this restaurant more than 3 times during our 1 week stay
in London. There was also free WiFi in the restaurant.
Buckingham Palace, Victoria Memorial
and Harry Potter Walking Guided Tour
On our first day of the Big Bus Tour
around the city, we dropped off at the Buckingham Palace. The place was amazing
and filled with lots of tourists! We could see the Queen’s guards standing
still outside guarding the palace. We were not able to take a group picture
with them as the gate was locked and we were far away from them. On the other
side of the palace was the Victoria Memorial, a monument to Queen Victoria. It
has an elaborate scheme of iconography sculpture and is also a favourite spot
for tourists to take pictures! Naturally, we couldn’t resist taking a few
After visiting Buckingham Palace and
Victoria Memorial, we walked past St James Park to Trafalgar Square, where
there was a complementary walking guided tour by Big Bus Tours. There were 15
of us together with the tour guide Ken. He told us it was a 90 minutes walking tour around
various film locations from the Harry Potter Movies in London’s West End and
Whitehall. It also took us to the Palace Theater where the new “Harry Potter
and the Cursed Child” was showing. Ken told us it had already been fully booked
till 2017! We managed to take a very nice picture outside the theater! We also
visited the Hardys Candy shop and bought some bonbons to eat!
Big Ben, River Thames Cruise and Tower
Having purchased the Big Bus Tours
tickets, we were given a 2 way complementary cruise across River Thames. We
alighted at Westminster Tube Station and walked to Westminster Pier to take the
cruise. On the way, we stopped to take pictures in front of Big Ben! A gigantic
clock tower, it is officially known as Elizabeth Tower. We were amazed by the
intricate design and size of the clock tower!
After taking a few pictures with Big Ben, we proceeded with
the River Thames cruise. The tour guide on board the cruise told us the history
and other useful information of the various places along the river bank. We
passed under London Bridge, as well as Tower Bridge.
We disembarked at Tower Pier and
went to the Tower of London. Thankfully we did not need to queue up to purchase
the tickets as we bought them in advanced at the airport. We explored and
learned about the fascinating history behind this fortress. There was also the
Crown Jewels exhibition, showing off the spectacular priceless treasures of the
Queen. The exhibition also showcases some of the most extraordinary diamonds in
Sea Life London Aquarium
The Sea Life London Aquarium is
located on the south bank of River Thames in central London. Although it is the
largest aquarium in London, it seemed pretty small to us as the ones we visited
previously were much bigger. However, it is still a pretty good place to visit
if you are interested in marine life. It was very informative with detailed
descriptions of the various types of marine life. The underwater displays and
landscape were also beautifully presented.
We also realised that there was no
mobile reception when inside the aquarium. Hence, we were unable to access any
of our apps (Facebook, Instagram, mobile games etc) while inside. There was
also no free WiFi.
Located in central London, Borough
Market is one of the oldest and largest food markets in London. Philip and I
went there to try the Scotch Eggs as they were highly recommended by a friend.
The Scotch Eggs came with sweet potato fries + salad and the meal was really
delicious! We walked around and see the various types of food on sale. As we
went on a weekday, some stalls were closed and the place was not as crowded as
it would be on weekends. If you would like to visit one day, we would recommend
that you visit on the weekends when more stalls are open. But do be prepared
for the crowd.
Hamleys Toy Store
Hamleys, located at Regent Street,
is well-known to have the best collection of toys for all ages! They carry
their own in-house brands and many others such as Lego, TY, Steiff, Merry
Thought, Hermann Teddy Original, Barbies, Sylvanian Families, Paddington Bear
and many more!
What attracted us to the store was
the large collection of displays in the store. The shelves were generously
filled with toys from the floor all the way up to the ceiling! The friendly
staffs were always there to demonstrate how to play the toys. One of them was
throwing a boomerang when people walked past him. But he was skilled enough to
ensure that the boomerang does not hit the customers! Another was showing off
magical tricks and a levitating UFO! Everyone looked so happy there and I felt
like I was in Disney land! The toys were all very high quality and we would
definitely recommend this place to anyone who loves toys.
Harrods is similar to Singapore's
Paragon. It is an upmarket department store where you will find various branded
goods. Our friend, Allen, told us that they serve very nice afternoon tea. We
went and stepped out of the place after seeing the shocking prices on the menu.
We would rather spend the money on other things!
There was also a toy section on one
of the levels. We took a picture with the giant bear display and walked around.
On the ground floor, there was a section where they sold different types of
pastry, meats and salads for take-away. The food looked really nice but both of
us preferred to find a place to sit to have lunch. Perhaps next time we would
try the food although the prices seemed rather exorbitant as well!
Tate Modern Museum showcases a wide
range of art exhibitions from Design, Paintings, Videography, Photography,
Audio, Space, Furniture and many more. This is another venue which we would
recommend everyone who are interested in Art and Design to visit. As a
designer, Wayne enjoyed this museum more than the other museums he had visited.
Furthermore, there was no admission charge to visit Tate Modern.
This place gave different kinds of
visual and sensory experience to Wayne. The section which he enjoyed most is
the artist from Indian who used woven human hair to create a space filled with
hanging hair. Car bumpers were tied to the suspended hair. (Story to refer to
There were also different art pieces
created by Andy Warhol and Piccaso on display. The section on Nazi photography
was very interesting as well.
Victoria and Albert Museum
We visited this place on the last
day and realized that it was impossible to complete this building. As it was
our last day in London, we were both tired and restless. We managed to view the
collection of art and artifacts from the cultures of Europe. The collection
spanned 5000 years of art and artifacts from ancient times to present. It was
definitely an eye-opening experience for both of us. We would be back next time
when we visit London again.
Overall, it was a wonderful and exciting experience for both of us! We plan to visit UK again probably in 2018! Hope you have enjoyed reading our compilation of places of interest. Till next time!
Wayne and Philip