For the first time in 3 or 4 days i’ve finally got time to sit down, think & write. So what was i doing these past few days?
Up at 6.45am, left for airport at 7.15am, arrived about 9am for a flight at 11.30am. I get up for college about 7am every day during the year so it’s no big deal getting up that early, even though typically i don’t get to sleep until about 3am during the summer. The first flight out to London is about 6.30am which means i’d have to leave at 2am…. that really interferes with my sleep and internal alarm clock.
I’m heading back to London next month for another few days and i have a 6.30am flight then, so i’m not looking forward to that bit. On the plus side, the roads are dead at that time so there’s no work in driving, you just have to stay awake.
Anyway, the flight arrived on time in london and from there we got the train in to the city. Quicker and more comfortable than a bus, even though it’s more expensive. We were staying at the H10 hotel in Waterloo which is about a 15 minute walk from the London Eye, so it was in a decent enough location.
When i arrived i was told there were 2 rooms in my name which would have been fine had i booked two 😉 So a bit of confusion over that… they maintained i booked two rooms, i maintained i booked one & they were kind enough to only charge me for one.
So did i book two rooms? Possibly, but if i did it was their fault due to their crappy website. I distinctly remember having problems with it. Different urls for the same site, no confirmation emails at ANY stage after booking… I vaguely remember clicking ‘confirm’ and getting an error /404 page and then going back and rebooking… but it’s not as if i’m a novice when it comes to booking hotels or filling in forms on websites. If they had a booking from me, i wasn’t notified about it in any way which is why i would have went back and rebooked.
Apart from that though the hotel itself was great. Free wifi, free internet access & PCs in lounge (about 5 or 6 of them). Very handy for guests and hopefully we’ll see more of that as time goes on. We got some ‘welcome chocolates’ in the room on arrival which was a nice touch. Breakfast – good, staff – nice, room – clean & modern… not much wrong with it, just a good solid all round hotel worthy of it’s 4 stars.
After settling in to the hotel we headed to the london eye and got the thames clippers out to the o2. Remarkably smooth and it was nice seeing london from the thames whilst in transit rather than from the black tunnels we were used to underground
We had dinner in the o2 & after that it was a few hours of Leona Lewis supported by Gabriella Cilmi. I’m not a no.1 fan of either but Leona can definitely sing live 😉 After that it was back to the hotel on the underground for some well earned sleep.
Despite being in london about 5 /6 times now, i’ve never seen the changing of the guard at buckingham palace. I witnessed it on Thursday and it’s not the type of thing i’d like to witness again. Interesting for the first few minutes, a bit boring for the next few hours (or what seemed like it). We had managed to gain and defend our position at the gates though which at around 11.30am become very hot property, so we deliberately stayed watching in case something interesting happened. I took a ridiculous amount of photos but managed to get some very good shots through sheer boredom and after about half an hour we left.
It was on to Trafalgar square then after a walk through St James Park which had the most remarkable pelican. ‘William’ is his name apparently. He was responding to one old guy who seems to know all the animals there. ‘William’ was posing for photos, being stroked and even hopped up beside the old guy on to a bench when called.
It was hot on Thursday, so hot i got sunburned without knowing it. You can see what the weather was like from the photos anyway. After Trafalgar square, we headed to Leicester square where we picked up some tickets to ‘Sister Act’ on Friday night and then on to Downing Street (all on foot). Pretty disappointing for such a famous street… they need to make it more tourist friendly 🙂
After that we strolled up to westminster abbey and around the houses of parliament. Eventually, after walking a good 7 or 8 miles in total, we ended up back at the hotel where got more well earned sleep.
I’d read about westfield shopping center just before i left so it was on my ‘to do’ list. DO NOT go here with shopaholics. It just keeps going on and on. It seemed pretty quiet and it’s very modern and spacey so that’s all in it’s favour but it’s just too big. Disastrously big if you want to get away from it quickly. So if shopping isn’t your thing and you’re asked to go shopping in london with someone, pretend this place doesn’t exist 😉
After that, it was on to canary wharf where we caught the DLR (docklands light railway) to greenwich. A bit out of the way but worth it for the spectacular scenery and views. We didn’t go in to the museums or even the Royal Observatory but it’s an impressive enough area as you can see from the photos.
From Greenwich riverside then we caught the thames clipper back to waterloo (london eye) and then walked back to the hotel to prepare for the theatre later that night. ‘Sister Act’ was on in the London Palladium just off Oxford Street. 7.30pm and we arrived there about 6pm so we headed for something to eat in a restaurant next door.
All of these theatres in London are grand and royal. No plastic seats or concrete floors… it’s all luxury. We were probably some of the youngest there too… you don’t get too many screamers or glostick wavers in the west end, it’s all very proper (from surroundings, to audience, to the show itself) and that’s what makes it a nice experience. The show itself was flawless… music, props, acting etc… all top class and extremely professional. It’s expensive (i think our tickets were about €40 each but we got them almost half price) but it’s definitely worth while seeing a show, just for the experience.
And that brings us on to the last day – Saturday… our flight was at 4.55pm so we checked out of the hotel about 11.30am and headed straight for the airport. Got there about 1.30pm. Security, seats, shops, seats, queue, wait, wait, wait, board, take off & land back in Dublin on time about 6pm.
Ryanair are getting more clever though. As soon as the plane lands they’ll announce that the outbound flight is now boarding and they’ll tear tickets and send people off down tunnels or stairs even if nobody has stepped off the plane that has just landed.
They also seem to enforce this ‘one bag only’ rule getting on to the plane. Several people were pulled up. Women with handbags in particular. You’re not allowed a cabin bag & a handbag… you must put the handbag in to the cabin bag or pay a Â£35 fee.
So don’t stock up on all that duty free stuff because it’s cheap… you’ll end up paying more to get on the plane Anyway, a busy but enjoyable few days & i’ll be doing it all over again next month…