Posts Tagged ‘ travel: uk: london ’

to the duke and duchess of cambridge,

the duke and duchess of cambridge.

While I did not enjoy the insane hype in the week leading up to your nuptials today, I have to say that even I tuned in to share your happy day.

However, despite most people’s attentions focused on you, I have to say, my eyes were peeled for my preferred royals. I was disappointed to only find the 247th in line to the British throne in attendance – Queen Margrethe II.

In any case, I was delighted to see her seated so close to the altar, although, since she is your grandmother’s cousin, I can see how this would be fitting.

Didn’t she look lovely… albeit a little reminiscent of another much publicised (but only in Denmark) recent royal event – the christening of the twins. Take a look!

her majesty the queen, in what i have read is 'robin's egg blue'.

In addition to my Danish royal spotting, I did so love to see your beautiful London dressed up as it was. It was definitely a far cry to the predominantly grey London that I saw while I was there earlier in the year. However, I will take this moment to relive a beautiful afternoon I spent at the top of the Monument.

london in mid-january, 3-4pm.

Thank you for letting 2 billion people, and I, share in your special day.

Best wishes,


{LDN} the one where i refresh my memory.

kgardens, m&c's street.

On Thursday 23rd, I caught 53 into Westminster, and, after a really long bus ride, I got off at the stop on the southern bank of the Thames, figuring I would take a nice walk across the bridge and get in a few nice shots. This turned out pretty well… besides the WIND FACTOR! :( I almost lost my camera into the Thames trying to self timer when I ventured back later… but that comes later.

the river thames.

the houses of parliament and the clock tower with the big ben bell.

big ben from its various sides.

I also walked a little on Victoria Embankment, saw the London Eye from the other side… :) So so many tourists taking pictures. But hey, I can’t complain. I was one of them!

the london eye... and all the tourists.

Walked down Whitehall (yes, the one in Monopoly) and had a peek at Her Majesty’s Treasury, the inaccessible Downing Street, Cabinet Rooms and finally stopped at Horse Guards.

whitehall; hm treasury; downing street; cabinet rooms.

horses guards.

I first came to Europe with my parents when I was 6. I obviously don’t remember much, but there are some things that I have found rather familiar while I have been in London at least, that I didn’t remember before being here. I can remember crossing the bridge and looking at Big Ben, much like I did on this day, although I thought it was facing a different direction along the river, but whatever. I can also clearly now remember being at Horses Guards, and walking through the archway into that big courtyard, though my memory thought that it was near Buckingham Palace. I guess everything looked palace-y back then… and I probably wasn’t paying much attention to Teddy, our fantastic guide. :)

horses guards.

horses guards and guards memorial.

Mentioning memorials, there are a few a long Whitehall.

memorials on whitehall.

After Horses Guard, I went along Horses Guards Road, taking in more views of the stately government buildings, and Clive… some… dude, who you can see in the first pic below. Also, to his right, you’ll see the Cabinet War Rooms and Churchill Museum, which I have, of course, not gone in yet.

from horses guards rd: "clive", hm treasury, the foreign and commonwealth office.

I arrived back at Whitehall and decided to venture back towards the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey. I couldn’t help but take a picture of one of the more stereotypical London images: the red telephone booth. It is hardly as exciting once I remembered that there is one in the Rocks, but still, this is a REAL London one! :)

london icon.

Oh yeah, I went back to the bridge to try to get a better picture with Big Ben. I did actually get a better one, at least I think so, but this one is more amusing. :) Self-timer was a little bit scary though, because it was so windy, and it was perched precariously at the base of one of the lightposts…. there was one point where I actually thought that the wind was going to blow it into the Thames! Luckily, it was not to be, and I still have my camera safe and sound. :)

i mentioned that it was windy right?

So yes, I eventually got to looking at the Houses of Parliament, and down through to Victoria Tower Gardens.

houses of commons and lords.

A number of statues are around the area. Richard I, or Richard the Lionheart, was a particularly surprising, but exciting one to see, after learning about him when studying Eleanor of Aquitaine in Year 5… :)

oliver cromwell and richard i

Wandered a little further down the street…

from victoria tower gardens, and 'the burghers of calais'

self timer ftw. :)

Headed back, and checked out Westminster Abbey (the outside of course) and St Margaret’s, which I could go inside.

westminster abbey and st margaret's church.

I then headed across the road and stumbled across the new UK Supreme Court. Since it was open to the public, I headed in and adventured a little bit. I actually got to talking to one of the security guards there, who was originally from Nigeria, but then came over to England to study law, and I guess working security to earn a bit of money….?

Anyway, yeah, court 3 there is used for the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, which is still the final court of appeal for a number of UK territories and the like (you can see the countries represented in the flags on the table), while courts 1 and 2 are used for the Supreme Court.

It was a bit of a geeky indulgence. :)

courts 1 (left), 2 (top right) and 3.

One thing that I read while reading through the UKSC exhibition downstairs, was one of the reasons that the old Middlesex Guildhall was chosen as the building for the court: so that Parliament Square really reflected the three branches of government, with Legislature, in the form of the Houses of Parliament, the Executive, represented by HM Treasury, and the Judiciary, the UKSC, but also balancing the Church, in Westminster Abbey.

views of the institutions surrounding parliament square (clockwise): legislature, church, executive, judiciary.

After warming up inside the UKSC, I had to go outside again, and it was already starting to get dark… at 4pm. Headed back down Whitehall, onward to Trafalgar Square.

nelson column, statue of charles i

Interesting story about the statue of Charles I. On that spot used to stand the original Queen Eleanor’s Cross. Fun fact: all mileages from London are measured from the site of the original source. (Thank you little plaque sitting in the floor behind Charles I. You were very informative.)

My six year old memory informs me that Trafalgar Square is supposed to have far more pigeons than I saw that night. I argue back and say that it was probably because I went during the evening. Six year old me argues again and says that it was near Buckingham Palace… yeah, obviously six year old me thought that everything was near Buckingham Palace…!

fountains in trafalgar square, national gallery

I like the fact that a lot of the museums/galleries in London have free entry. So I will definitely be coming back to the National Gallery… :)

It was still early, despite the fact that it was so dark, so I decided to do a bit more wandering around. So, since I had gotten pictures of Whitehall, and now Trafalgar Square, I decided to try and take pictures of a number of other Monopoly streets. Pall Mall was nearby, so I found that, but got a little bit distracted by Haymarket…! :)

haymarket in theatreland, featuring her majesty's theatre and the theatre royal, haymarket.

Her Majesty’s Theatre is currently showing The Phantom of the Opera… :)

Wandered also through to Piccadilly and then through Coventry Street and then Leicester Square. Well, that’s all yellow done! :)

piccadilly circus needs to be photo-ed again...

coventry street and mamma mia! at the prince of wales theatre.

Found my way back to Trafalgar Square, found Strand… also Northumberland Avenue. But yes, after getting so many that night, I’ve kind of decided that I shall go and find them all. :) Then I’ll do a post dedicated to my Monopoly street signs. :)

Made my way home, changing and changing on the tube, and arrived back, a little before  M+C came back from grocery shopping… and we had meatballs for dinner, because they couldn’t fit into the freezer. :D


P.S. Oh yeah! Remember this post? Well, imagine my delight when I saw this on the street…!

bus no. 11.


the river thames, 2011.

In the middle of my time in London, which, as usual, I have failed to keep up to date with, I pause to reflect on the past year.

Certainly, it was business as usual for the better part of the beginning of it, but in all the preparation to go away, it did make me realise who and what was important to me. Being half way across the world, I knew that I would have to somehow maintain the friendships from home, with all the new-ness of exchange and travelling… I’m always the one who comes back and feels like things have moved on without me, but this time it was going to be different.

In the end, I guess I know where I stand with people, and I think that’s important going into the new year.

2010 was an amazing year for me, albeit a bit of a rollercoaster. I am so thankful for the experiences that I have had, the people who I have met, the places that I have been… :) I cannot wait for a 2011 full of much the same. :)

So, Happy New Year everyone! I hope that you can look back on 2010 with joy, and look forward to everything that 2011 has to offer.


{LDN} the one where i wake up late.

So after my very tiring night, I slept in a lot on my first morning. Sickness was getting to me a little bit also, so I only woke up at 11.30. Got out of the house by 12 and of course, London greeted me with rain on my first day there. It was only sprinkling though, so it was ok. Caught the bus to North Greenwich, and then tube-ed it to London Bridge.

london bridge station.

Got out there, and since I was due back home for dinner, I just decided to wander around the area. Out of the station, and through Hay’s Galleria, which is situated on the south bank of the Thames and used to be an old wharf in the mid-1800s, before being destroyed by fire, WWII bombings and general dilapidation. It is now a shopping and eating complex.

hay's galleria.

I then walked along the water, what is known as The Queens Walk, passing by HMS Belfast, an old Navy cruiser that was in operation during WWII. It is now home to a museum.

the queens walk; hms belfast.

And of course, I was hit with the iconic image of Tower Bridge, and took plenty of photos, being the wonderful tourist that I am. It seems that I have lost touch with my self-shooting ability…

tower bridge. (thank you self timer and dad, for the mini tripod!)

I also passed what I found out was City Hall… and apparently you can go inside too…

city hall (and random jelly bean...?!)

Before crossing the Bridge, I headed through to Shad Thames, which used to be an old warehouse complex, in the late-1800s.

shad thames. (click for bigger)

shad thames.

There are heaps of nice places in that area, though far too nice for my wallet. But I had fun looking around nonetheless. :) For example, Le Pont de la Tour

le pont de la tour.

Stopped at a sandwich shop for a late lunch (Shades Piazza Sandwich Bar, 4 Shad Thames), and I got a nice chicken/cheese/bacon wrap with a hot chocolate, which definitely warmed up my fingers.

food, glorious food!

Then it was time to cross the Thames, and the Tower Bridge! Didn’t go into the exhibition though…

tower bridge.

OMGOSH! on the bridge!

view from the bridge, via bad stitching job. (click for bigger, messier image!)

I will not mention how a creepy old guy tried to invite me into a hotel to chat, after I took these pictures…

butlers wharf, part of shad thames area.

girl with a dolphin; david wynne (1973).

I then ran away to St Katharine Docks.

st katharine docks.

And then it was on to the Tower of London. Which I did not go in either… It was getting dark already! I think it’s pretty awesome, though, that they set up the ice skating right infront of it!

tower of london, (mostly) from the wharf side.

ice skating in the moat of the tower.

unesco world heritage site.

from the north side.

Made my way to Tower Hill station, and then change and change to get home.

Followed M+C to their friend’s place for a lovely dinner. :)

And then came home to try and sleep early, to wake earlier this morning.


Relevant British news: Abbey Road was yesterday given Grade 2 listing, recognising it as a piece of heritage that is “nationally important and of special interest”. I kind of feel sorry for cars that drive through there though… You’d think they would try and avoid it….?

the one where everything that could have gone wrong, did.

And so ends my exchange… :(

I was supposed to leave Copenhagen on Monday at 18.20, but just as I was finishing up the final touches to my packing, I received an SMS and checked online and found out that my flight was cancelled. I had to rebook, and so I did so for Tuesday, same time.

Later that night, at about 22.30, I received another SMS about a ‘rescue’ flight to London-Stansted at 9am in the morning, but after L’s wonderful 31 hour experience on Saturday… I was not keen to go via Stansted. So I stuck with my 18.20 on Tuesday.

Come Tuesday, of course, everything was fine, until about 14.00. It was just the beginning of everything that could go wrong, actually going wrong, when I discovered that the flight was going to be delayed an hour. But ok, fine, it would still work out quite ok, get to London at 20.30, plus travel time to get to M+C’s… but it would be ok.

So, I was a little slow getting to the station, because I overestimated my skill at juggling all of my luggage. Thank you to all the Danes who looked on as the tiny Asian girl struggled.

The train was delayed, but only by a little, so in fact it was actually quite good, because it meant I could take a little bit of a breather.

The train was packed like sardines and I almost didn’t get on but for the girl who pretty much pulled me and all my stuff on to the train. I had to stand off balance for most of the time, but fair enough.

The trusty Tan family ‘blue bag’ presented a slight tear upon arrival at the station. But that was not the main problem. It seemed that I had misplaced the lock and keys for the suitcases. But check in was required first. So I checked in, and then proceeded to attempt mending of the blue bag. Luckily I had a number of safety pins and a stapler on hand. And then I found the keys. Then I checked in, things were fine, then went through security. No problems again.

No gate had been allocated for the flight. So I just sat around waiting for some sign of a gate to appear. Finally, at 18.30, a gate number appeared. So I headed over there. Got to the gate, waited a little while, and then we were let in. Of course, we could only just sit there, waiting for some sign…

gate d101...

An announcement finally comes at 19.30… informing us of another hour delay. Not happy Jan. What I did find slightly amusing was that Norwegian decided to send me another SMS informing me, as if I wouldn’t have been at the gate yet… So it was time to sit some more. Finally, at about 20.00, we started boarding. No problems, no nothing. 20.30 and boarding was complete, but we weren’t moving.

Of course, an announcement from the pilot, something about the congestion etc etc… And then finally, we started taxi-ing. We had to get the wings de-iced, but ok, I will allow time without complaint for that, because I cannot imagine that iced wings make for very good flying…

de-ice-ing. (de-icing just makes me think of icing on a cake...)

But of course, just as we were in place for take off, another announcement from the cockpit. Due to the high traffic into London-Gatwick, we were not allowed to take off for another 10 minutes. And true enough, 10 minutes later, WE HAD LIFT TAKE OFF! No problems with the flight. I pretty much just slept because I was still feeling a little bit sickly.

leaving = sadfish.

farvel københavn. :(

Landed in Gatwick with no further delays. Then went through immigration, and no problems.

:O in london?! no wai!

Then went to collect luggage. Waiting and waiting for the carousel number to appear on the board…

Until an announcement was made that said that, since the flight had arrived out of time, there were not enough ground staff to unload all the luggage from our flight, and also another flight from Billund. After waiting for over an hour, finally we were directed to carousel 3. And there was our luggage! It was already 23.20, and I was really worried that I wouldn’t make the tube after the train. Spoke to M and then went to buy my ticket.

I got stuck in the queue for the tickets for 20 minutes. It was a little bit ridiculous that there was only one counter open at that time… And I was racing for time to catch the 23.51.

Of course, at about 23.47, I noticed that the 23.51 had been cancelled because “No driver could not be found”. I have no idea what that means… but then I was set for the 00.21. Ok, no problem. So I went down to Platform 4 to wait for the train.

At about 00.10, an announcement is made that says that the platform has been changed to Platform 2. So there I go, with all my luggage… up the stairs. Yay. :(

FINALLY, the train arrives.

finally on the train! (sleepy smile)

And I get to London Bridge Station. Thanks to M+C for picking me up from there, seeing as by 1.10, the tube wasn’t running anymore…

LOOK RIGHT! (london bridge station, 1.08am.)

And then finally I got back to their place. And finally got to rest a little bit.

And that is my epic, Getting to London story. I think this beats the St Petersburg day…!

I will post about my first few days in London soon. I don’t want things to pile up too much. :) But it is fantastic. :)


the number eleven bus.

the number eleven bus (from: maryvrobinson.blogspot)

So I was just discussing with Mum the potential options that I have in regards to my travel once I finish classes and exams at KU… whenever that is going to be…

Once she pointed out the seeming impossibility (lack of $$) and practical-ness (time, places that I want to go/don’t want to go to vs places the tour goes), we discussed the possibility of going by train/flying to the places that I want to go to and just leaving it at that.

Then she said something really funny:

Don’t forget, there’s always the number eleven bus!

I looked at her strangely, and received a “What?! You’ve never heard of that before?” in return.
Uh… no?

HAVE YOU HEARD OF THIS BEFORE?! It’s not just me, right?

Other updates…

  • Scholarship
    Say hello to (less than?) half of my funding to Russia. :)
  • Study tour to Russia
    I think I have kind of decided that, yes, I do want to go, and yes, I will probably have no money after that…
  • Accommodation
    I’ve been looking at the places available to stay for the first night that I get there… and it’s looking like I’ll be staying at one of the youth hostels there. So I think I’ll end up getting the YHA/ISIC card, not that I know what discounts I get on ISIC yet, because the site is ridiculous to navigate. T_T
  • Aforementioned travel
    Yeaaaah, I’m just going to think about this more once I finish exams… But I think I’ll just go to London, then train to Paris, then on to visit Beck in Lyon, with a side trip to Barcelona hopefully, depending on schedules and timing and Beck’s parents being there and… what not… Then I’ll head back to London…? Hopefully do Munich and Berlin before I start classes, and then at some point venture into Netherlands, Sweden and maybe even Norway…?! And I think that will be about it for my travel. I’ve decided that I won’t be going to Italy…
  • Pre-sem class
    I got the ‘official’ acceptance for this the other day…
  • Danish?!
    Yeah, lol, this is not going so well. I did borrow all the stuff, but one is veeeery difficult to learn on your own, because it goes in terms of grammar lessons, which I guess is good if you want to actually LEARN learn the language, but I kind of just want to have a basic understanding, so it’s kind of confusing me so far. Needless to say, this has kind of been shoved to the side while I cram for exams…

I think that’s about it actually…


P.S. If you, like me, think my mum is weird, and you’ve never heard of the number eleven bus before, and you don’t get it from the picture, it just means walking…

P.P.S A Google search of “number eleven bus” informed me that the Number 11 bus is actually a good bus to catch in London to see some of the more famous sites. Fancy that.
(Note to self: this could prove to be useful in future. :) Although upon examination, Number 11 doesn’t seem to cover that much…?)