This story includes the free tour in Hyde Park Corner, Wellington Arch, St. James Park (Green Park), Changing of the Guards, and Buckingham Palace)
Traveling around London is made easy by the tube, underground or overground. You can just hop in the tube to the major tourist sites and you can get there the moment you get off the tube. It was our first time in London but our friend Fiona was amazed that we could get around London without any friends going with us. But like I said, the Tube made it easier for us. One just need to buy an Oyster Card. Once you have an oyster card, you can go anywhere by bus and by tube.Or you can walk. The hubby and I love walking around London. We didn’t seem to get tired in walking much. I could only feel we had too much because of leg pain. LOL.
Anyways, we found some brochures in the hostel we’re staying and one brochure caught our attention: Free Londor Tour. I mean… it’s free… who doesn’t want free things? We saw that the places they were going to tour were the Buckingham Palace, Wellington Arch, Westminster Abbey, among others. So we got ready for that the next day. According to the brochure, they’re going to start at Hyde Park Corner. And when we checked the Tube Map, it was easy to find where it was. So we got into Central Line to go to the Hyde Park Corner station. When we got up, we saw that the Wellington Arch was there. And the tour guides with groups already forming, had started already. So we joined one of the groups that was the nearest.
Wellington Arch (sorry.. didn’t have proper photo of the Arch). we were in a hurry coz the group we joined was already leaving for St. James Park.
(I was glad to be wearing my sports shoes as the free tour lasted for 2.5 hours!)
From Hyde Park Corner where the Wellington Arch was, we walked towards the Buckingham Palace. But we walked passed St. James Park first. They call it the Green Park now. It was where Queen Elizabeth used to do her morning walks.
One of the things you could see at St. James Park
At St. James Park or simply called the Green Park.
When we got to the Buckingham Palace, I was amazed to see thousands of people at the fence/gate. I realized then thousands of people come to see the Changing of the Guards in the Palace. Changing of the guards is one of the most important daily activities in Buckingham Palace. I crammed to take photos of horses passing us by. But they were too fast I could only take the horses’ rears. LOL.
A close-up (zoomed in) take of the two guards.
Changing of the Guards with the Queen Elizabeth’s favorite music in the Background. The changing of the guards usually take an hour.
This was Buckingham Palace shot from the side. That’s the best shot I could take as there were literally thousands of people hovering there.
But how do we know if the Queen was inside the palace? They say that one would know if Queen Elizabeth is around because there would be 4 flags in the 4 corners where her room is. Hmmm… got a bit of a trivia there. Thanks to our New London Tour Guide.
And since we had tour guide, he took us to the place where we could take a shot of ourselves with the palace in the background. Tarannn!!! Had a good experience of getting to know a bit of London’s history.
Next Visit: Pall Mall Street, Westminster Abbey, the famous Big Ben…
On first day in London, we decided to take a walk around Bayswater just to get the feel of our place. We wanted to see Hyde Park at daytime. So went inside the Park and it took us to the Kensington Gardens. It was truly beautiful. I’m glad we’re staying in Bayswater where every important places to see and do is just walking distance away.
Princess Diana’s retreat house (pardon me… this used to be Diana’s residence).
The lake at Kensington Gardens
Next Story: Our Free Tour Guided trip around London: Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Prince Charles’ house, Pall Mall Street, Parliament House, Big Ben.
My family members had already “cautioned” us what to expect when we come to London. My brother-in-law used to fly a lot to London. He was in MAS International Flight before (now he’s in Malaysia Airlines regional flight as a steward) and my parents-in-law visited London last year for 2 months. SO they gave us all different kinds of stories about London.
But I was always fascinated with London from the books I read and from the movies I watched. So… coming here was really a treat for me, although I had to go through a lot just to get my UK Visa application approved.
We reached London two hours after expected time because there was some kind of delay from Malaysia. Again, Air Asia was two hours delayed. It happened when we went to Brunei also… our flight was two hours delayed. I don’t have complains though. Air Asia airfare is sooo cheap. In fact, we only paid 1,098RM per person for return tickets from Malaysia to London. And the flight from Malaysia to London was not so bad at all.
Anyways, we booked our stay in one of the hostels in Bayswater, Central London. And it’s the cheapest one can find. When you’re in Bayswater, Westminster, you are actually in the hub of central London.
We took the coach from Stansted Airport and got down at Marble Arch. From Marble Arch, we walked like 1 kilometer to get to Baywater. It was drizzling a bit but I was wearing my hat and my coat so I was protected. It was so cold though… we had 10 deg celcius temperature when we landed in Stansted London airport. It took us a while to get to Princess Square in Bayswater where Hostel 63 was located. We passed by some Middle Eastern girls hanging out at one of the Middle Eastern café so we asked them for directions. One of the girls actually checked her gprs in her phone. It was very kind of her.
When we reached Hostel 63 finally, the receptionist, which was an Estonian guy, sent us to their sister hostel called Central Hostel. He gave us direction but again, it took us a while to get here. When we came here, we met the French receptionist. He gave us the key to room no. 2. I was glad because I thought we would be in a separate room because we booked the dormitory type. When we came in, I got a shock of my life to know that we were sharing with others… both guys and girls. They had like 4 bunk beds and there were two available upper beds for us. They were sleeping when we came in… but we saw there were guys and girls. I didn’t expect that. But what to expect… we paid for the cheapest and the most conducive of all hostels to stay at while in London. There goes my 1st night in London.
Now is my first day and I haven’t met any English people yet. Well, probably the coach driver was… but I wouldn’t know. I met some of the backpackers staying at the same hostel but they were from other countries like Finland and others.
I can’t wait to go out and walk about. Bayswater is really central. I saw some Asian restaurants last night while looking for Hostel 63. There was Singaporean, Malaysian, Vietnamese and Filipino restaurants we passed by. There was even Bella Italia. Remember Twilight when Edward had the first date with Bella? It was in Bella Italia Resto… only in the US though. But I wanna go inside. At least I would have a feel of Bella Italia’s restaurant here in London.
Also, we passed by Hyde Park last night. And it’s soooo huge. I wanna go back there again today and see how it looks like at day time. It is fall/autumn in London so you can see a lot of maple leaves falling on the ground.