👑 London Taste Test

👑 London Taste Test

For the winter vacation this year, we selected London and Egypt as our adventure.

Our experience for the flight to London was quite nice. We had lounge access at the airport and extra leg room on the plane. In London, we stayed at "The Hub" on Dacre street, in a tiny room the size of a basic cruise ship cabin. Since it's only for a taste testing 4 days, it wasn't a problem at all. Our flight was late by about an hour, and, we had trouble with a train workers' union holding a strike on day of our arrival, too. Nevertheless, we somehow made our way from Gadwick Airport to London via train.

Day 1, Friday

Greenwich, Naval Academy, Pho Place

Once we dropped off our luggage at the hotel and rested a little bit, we set out to do some sight-seeing. It was rather cold, and we were equipped mainly with spring/fall coats rather than winter coats. There was practically nobody in London, and we had a very short wait for a river boat. We cruised down to Greenwich, visited the Cutty Sark. The weather kept us very chilled. It was a bit of a culture shock that not many buildings were heated. We then went around the Old Naval College. Willow found a cute cat image that was irresistible and bought it. There was a cute, little Christmas Shop. We saw the famous Painted Hall. From there, we headed to The Royal Observatory.

The Royal Observatory, as it turns out, is where the famous initial Meridian Line was set. Thanks to our evening visit of the observatory, we got to see a unique and modern addition to the experience - a green laser representation of the Prime Meridian Line that beamed into central London in the sky.

Hungry, we sped down from the observatory and went into one of the nearest food options available to us: a pho restaurant. They made a tasty Singapore Fried Rice featuring roasted duck, roasted pork and other goodies. The 3-color drink was also very good. However, the Pho was not quite as tasty as the offerings available in Montreal.

After that, we had a bit of a challenge in figuring out how the public transportation system worked. Something called "LRT" had an odd ticketing system and it took us a while before figuring that out. It would have been nicer if they'd have gated the station platform by payment instead of making it open access with a ticket machine that was small and hard to notice.

Day 2, Saturday

Kensington Palace, Sherlock Museum, Bus Tour

On our second day, we used the Hop-On Hop-Off bus tours to get around town. Our first major stop was Kensington Palace. It was great because it felt like a very comfortable and cozy home to be lived-in. Another major highlight that made this palace wonderful was the fact that they also served afternoon tea and lunch on a walk-in basis, and the quality of the food was very good and the price was better than a whole bunch of other commercial offerings that also required advanced bookings.

We got on the bus route again and then had a very entertaining visit to the famous 22B Baker Street - the Sherlock Museum. Willow got a teddy bear, and I got a deerstalker hat. As part of the tour of the apartments, there were specialists dressed as maids, old-school police, and the staff were available to answer all sorts of trivia questions one might have about the famous Baker Street location.

The rest of the day was spent touring London on the bus line. Because the hop-on/hop-off service would end shortly after 5pm, we decided to just get back to the hotel and call it a night. There was a ton of traffic, so that was basically the right call to make.

Day 3, Sunday

London Tower, Bridge, Shard, Harrods

By subway, we got to the area of the London Tower Bridge. We did the walk of the bridge and visited its inner workings like its towers and engine room. Then, we walked to London Tower. The name is a bit misleading by modern standards. The actual tower within the site known as London Tower is towering by medieval standards, sure, however, the site was also actually a massive fortification built around the tower. All that fortification made the visit a great deal longer and more tiresome than originally anticipated.

After enjoying a special holiday lunch at London Tower, we aimed for The Shard because we reserved a viewing time for this day. There were no good public transport options to get us there, so we just walked along the river, crossed another bridge on foot, and eventually got there; rather cold, as usual. Unfortunately, the view from The Shard is absolutely terrible if the weather isn't favourable. The rain and fog made it a very unpleasant visit. All that is up there is a tiny walking space loaded with expensive snacks and drinks. Can't ever recommend visiting The Shard. Better options for bird's-eye views are available in other parts of the world.

After that, we used the subway to get to Harrods, the legendary department store said to sell everything. The unfortunate part of the journey was that the subway line known as Jubilee Line featured very small subway cars and was totally packing the passengers in like sardines. Extremely uncomfortable. At Harrods, Willow found more teddy bear souvenirs. We even got very lucky to be able to get into the temporary Dior exhibition, snagging entry through a very short "standby" queue. When we were finished there, we saw that the lineup for the "standby" people for the exhibition exploded to over 30 people. Earlier, they only had space for 6 extra people from the standby crowd.

Day 4, Monday


For our last day in London, we just walked over to Chinatown near Trafalgar Square and explored it a little bit, then had lunch, and returned the hotel to prepare for moving to the airport for our flight to Cairo. The "Black Cab" ride was very nice, very roomy, efficient (got to the hotel very quickly), and just comfortable. The locals say that Uber is a lower price, but, it likely doesn't hold a candle to the main Black Cab service with a flat rate, in our estimation, especially during a peak traffic period. It also beats having to squeeze into the tiny "Jubilee Line" subway trains.

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