Wednesday, January 11, 2012

10th Dec 2011 Sat London - Here we come !

London lookings inviting from the air
Our travel to the UK was kicked off with a cheery phone call from Fifteen London while we were in Changi Airport, to remind us of our lunch reservation on the coming Sunday at their Westland Place restaurant. This call gave me great vibes to a great holiday.

We traveled by Emirates to London, via Dubai ( EK405, EK001 ). Because it was dear old Evelyn from Travelhaven which engineered the flight booking, she managed to wrangle a Dubai stopover  package from Emirates at Rolla Residence with 24 hr checkin.

The flight for each sector took 7 hours, with a 3 hour transit in Dubai. Thinking back, 3 hours is a good enough transit time, because the plane departing Singapore was delayed by more than an hour, while the return flight out of London was 2 hours late.

Compared to Dubai which was at a balmy 18C, London was freezing at almost 0C but sunny and dry. All of us were grateful for the sun despite the cold because the island was hit by a low pressure system just days ago, tearing roofs and bringing power down in many parts of Scotland.

At Heathrow tube station, Pat and I got for ourselves each an Oyster card, a stored value travel card for all modes of transport except the rail services. H's Oyster card application was supposed to have been done 2 weeks prior to London which I did not. Disqualification from a child's fare card, she would have to purchase a daily travelpass instead.

Top flat ( without any lift ) apartment
10 Gloucester Road , London
In June, I had booked an apartment with A Place Like Home, highly recommended by fellow travelers from , my go-to for DIY holidays. It was cheap ( slightly less than 700 GBP per week, all included  )  for an apartment located in Gloucester / South Kensington until I realized the trade-off  was the lack of lift.  Apart from that, it was well equipped, the agency was responsive and every thing  took off as planned. The locale looked just like what I saw with Google's street view. I liked the apartment's spaciousness and sky light from a glass roof top. Every room, other than the toilet, has a window that boasts  views of the roof tops of the South Kensington's area.

Home away from home
After APLH's rep Wynne's orientation, we went to King's Cross train station to claim prebooked tickets for Edinburgh, Cambridge and Oxford. We had a much delayed but delicious kebab lunch at Crystal kebabs near Kings Cross station. That was one item struck off our to-eat list!

Fed and sated, we trooped over to Trafalgar Square to catch carolers singing under the20m  Norwegian Christmas tree, a yearly gift from Norway for their help in WWII. Perhaps, it was Saturday, which explained for the crowd around Nelson's column. An interest group nearby were raising some sort of protest and caused a massive jam around The Strand and river front.

South of the square, we crossed Hungerford Bridge to take in the lights made by the traffic jam, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and London eye. At the other end of Hungerford, a Christmas market was in full swing. It was bitter cold even with our down jackets, so we filled up with gluhwein and hot tea. Christmas keepsake was overpriced and we browsed around instead. Jetlag was getting its grip on us and our bodies were straining under the cold and long walk.

From Embankment, we made the last trip of the day and went back Gloucester Rd.  As according to our usual DIY holiday practices, we carted back from Waitrose, located beside the Underground,  2 big bags of food.  That was our  midnight snack plan for the following day since supermarkets would be closed early  on Sunday.

So far, all have gone according to plan -the flight, the apartment, the food, the weather. It was a fitting end to a tiring journey from Singapore to London.

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