A Travellerspoint blog

London, July 2012.

My very first trip alone, the beginning of my travel experiances.


The reason I decided to go to London was because of a disagreement. Long
story short I had planned to visit a beach destination with a 'close' friend and
had been planning for months only to be told a few weeks before that 'she' had
decided to go with some friends I had fallen out with, so basically I had been
skanked. I was desperate not to waste the days I had taken of work so decided
I'd go somewhere a little more interesting and new alone. I did have second
thoughts about going alone, wether I'd be bored, what people would think of me
ect, but non-the-less I went ahead and booked three nights in The Smart Russell
Sqaure Hostel, Camden, despite reading the negative reviews it was cheap and had
everything I needed. Next I booked my coach tickets with National Express and
chose to receive them via post, only for them not to arrive and after making
several long phonecalls to National Express I finally received a copy via Email
that I had to print off. Not a good start to my trip.

Wednesday 25th July 2012: Day One.

I arrived at Nottingham coach station to board the National Express coach to
London. Onboard the airconditioning was on full blast making the coach very
cold, other than that it was quite a pleasant trip as I had a seat to myself. I
arrived in London ahead of schedule and to save money (As I was on a tight
budget), I decided I would attempt walking to my hostel plus it was only like
11am and I couldn't check in till 1pm. So I followed what seemed to be the right
direction on the map I had only to find 20mins down the road that I was heading
in completely the wrong direction, it was hot, I had a huge suitcase plus a
small bag so decided I would take a bus to my hostel instead. So once back at
Victoria Coach station I boarded a bus to Oxford Street as I had read that my
hostel wasn't far off Oxford Street. Once at Oxford Street I began the awfully,
unrealised walk to the top trugging my suitcase. By the time I had reached my
hostel I was quite exhausted but walked back down and visited the British Museum
which to my disappointment I found rather boring, confusing and exhausting. It
was basically full of old pots from Egypt and other countries. I found it hard
walking up the many flights of stairs. There was a limited edition exhibit which
was a bit more interesting about the history of horses and jockeys ect except I
cam across a rather rude member of staff who shouted across the room that I
wasn't allowed to take photos (There wasn't any signs say not to!) and so making
me rather embarrassed. To visit this museum you must be interested in ancient
history and viewing rocks and ornaments which I am not so probably the reason I
found this place a little boring. After visiting here I headed to Oxford Street
to browse the many shops, as this is what I had originally planned most of my
trip to be; Shopping.

After a bit of shopping and getting a McDonalds I decided to go and sit in
Hyde Park for a while as I was very tired and the weather was very hot! Looking
at the map in Hyde Park I realised I was considerably close to Buckingham Palace
so decided to try and follow the directions. After about three times of walking
round the park I finally found the exit onto Knightsbridge which I walked the
wrong way down so had to turn back on myself. By the time I had reached the
palace itself I was so tired I could barely stand. The palace itself was really
spectacular, I'm not really into sightseeing but thought I'd go and have a look
as I was considerably close. It was beautiful and very atmospheric I would
advise anyone visting London to take 20mins or so just to stand at the gates.
The gaurds were marching back and forth which added to the atmosphere. After
spending around 20mins at the palace I decided it was time to head back to the
hostel, my feet were hurting that much from walking I could barely move but I
managed to make it to the closest underground station being Hyde Park Corner,
from here I was able to get a tube straight back to Russell Sqaure, a few
minutes walk from my hostel. This was my first ever experiance of travelling on
the underground and not a very pleasent one. I hate going down escalators as
when I was little I got my leg caught at the top of one and almost fell down, so
the extremely steep escalators in the tube stations scared me and the dust that
fills the platform gets into your eyes and mouth. Onboard my first tube I was
very overwhelmed by the heat, overcrowdedness and the sheer speed and rattling
of the train. However I finally made it back to my hostel and managed to get a
good nights sleep.

Thursday 26th July 2012: Day Two.

I awoke early the second day as breakfast at the hostel finished early and
wanted to go down and have it. Breakfast there was very simple; toast, butter,
jam, marmalade, tea and coffee, but it did the trick of surpressing my hunger
till lunch time. Anyway this was the day I attended Camden Lock Market, I love
bargains and looking around markets. This market was about a 20min walk from my
hostel. Again it was a very hot day. Upon arriving to the market it looked very
nice; a small river with motorcycle seats. However once walking around the
market it became apparent that most of the stalls sell the same things as one
another for expensive prices. Also if you wanted to look at something the owner
of the stall would be breathing down your neck and pressurising you to buy
something. The food stalls here were of a international variety but I didn't eat
here as the prices were quite expensive. The market continues into an indoor
building, but the inside part was more or less very retro clothing, and other
expensive ornaments and items. Despite my general dislike for this market I did
make a few purchases. After the market I wandered down the road and had lunch at
a Subway branch.

For the evening I had planned to attend a Jack The Ripper Tour, with a tour
company called 'The Ripping Yarns' (booking is not required). I have a
fascination with dark history particularly that of killers and horrible people.
As I had finished at the market a while earlier than anticipated I made my way
over to Tower Bridge where we were due to meet for the tour at 7pm, I arrived at
roughly 4.30pm so decided to go and sit by the river next to London Bridge for a
while. (I was in London at the time of the Olympics so there was a large Olympic
logo hanging from the bridge which bought a nice atmosphere) at around 5pm I
went to have dinner in the nearby Wetherspoons restaurant which was very nice,
it was then time to start the tour. Our tour guide (can't remember his name) was
very good, in the day he was a beefeater and the Tower of London. He set the
scene using his voice and provided pictures and print outs of important
information for us to hand around. He was very informative and introduced us to
many people who could of been 'Jack The Ripper' along with evidence to back up
the theories. He took us to all the important sites. The tour lasted around
2hours and at the end was escorted back to the tube station where we had met.
This tour was fascinating, amazing and very interesting. I would certainly go
again, worth the £7. After the tour I went straight back to the hostel and went
to bed.

Friday 27th July 2012: Day Three.

For day three in the morning I had planned to visit Portobello Road market
after reading all the great reviews. I arrived at the market to realise that
what was on the sale at the time was mostly expensive old fashioned clothing,
jewllery and antiques, I had also read the the market took up several road but
to my disappointment took up a mere one and a half the one mainly selling tacky
t shirts and vegetables, maybe I just visited on the wrong day. So I grabbed a
Subway and departed early to my second planned attraction; The Clink Prison
museum in Southwark. Overall the Clink Museum was rather small and aimed at
children, the exhibits were plastic dummies, however the information given was
very detailed and went into how prisoners were tortured and such, at the end you
can sit in a fake cell and have your picture taken for free which you then
redeem online, the souvenirs here are fairly cheap too. Would make a nice way to
spend half an hour or so in the afternoon. After visiting the clink I decided to
head back to Oxford Street and do some last minute souvenir and gift shopping,
at the time the main souvenir shops had a 50-75% sale on so managed to pick up a
few cheap, nice souvenirs. The souvenirs in general are of a wide range from
keyrings and cups to flags, clothing and other items. I then headed back to the
hostel early in order to get ready to leave the next day.

Saturday 28th July 2012: Day Four.

This was the day I was due to leave although I had to be checked out of the
hostel by 10am I had booked my coach back to Nottingham for 7.30pm so I could
spend the last day doing anything I wished in London. So I trugged my suitcase
out of the hostel and towards the Science Museum which is free entry and looked
quite interesting. It was a nice, calm atmosphere inside but I was generally
disappointed as it was more about history of trains and aircraft and such things
and the modern area was way to confusing to understand, I was expecting many
interactive exhibits but there were few, many of them were just information to
read. Whilst I was there, they had a 'limited edition' exhibit by Google Chrome
which was interactive and quite entertaining. You were given a free ID card
where you could store anything you did on the interactive machines and look at
it online at home. You could compose your own music, view live webcam footage of
businesses around the world and you could even have your photo taken and a robot
draw your picture in the sand. On the top level of the museum was the futuristic
exhibit which was pretty much all intereactive but not very much there. There
was a large spinning table with projected images on it where you could play
games with other visitors to do with futuristic things such as 'Should men be
allowed to have babies?' and having a 'Robot Toilet That Talks To You'.

I finished here at around 2pm and crossed the road to the park and sat here
for a while until I received a phone call from my Dad informing me that the
Olympic Bike Race was taking place and that I should go watch them cycle past.
I'm not into cycling but I though as I'm here it would be a great experiance to
watch a free Olympic event, so I walked up to the top of Knightsbridge where the
crowds were enormous, I slotted in a gap and managed to get front row view. I
waited almost an hour and a half until the finally cycled past which lasted
nomore than a few seconds but the sheer atmosphere was just pretty amazing! I am
glad I went to view this. After this it was time to head to the coach station to
return home. I grabbed a quick KFC and boarded my coach. Again air con full
blast and this time a woman sat next to me eating chinese food which didn't
smell to good also I was pretty exhasuted and the seats were quite uncomfy so
reclined a little but the man behind kept pushing my seat back up making the
journey home uncomfortable.

Overall I had a very nice time visiting London, and made me aware that I
should perhaps travel alone. The hostel I stayed at despite the many negative
reviews was very clean, and had a pleasant stay. Wasn't too noisy and for the
price it was better than expected.

My next destination will be Berlin booked for 26thOctober-2ndNovember 2012.

My itinerary's and things I would like to do in Berlin will be posted beforehand.

Posted by KayleighTwyman 08:49 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged london england travel market town city olympics hostel buckingham_palace tour capital hot europe uk first united kingdom alone british_museum camden olympic burnt july coach solo clink jack_the_ripper science_museum national_express

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