My friend Melanie, recently visited the exciting city of London, England. In this post she shares about her adventures, along with her favorite sites in the city. Enjoy!
1| When you arrived in London, where did you visit first? On my first visit to London I went to Kensington Palace where Queen Victoria was born and raised. Kensington Palace was the original residence of the British royal family and was Princess Diana’s residence until her death.
2| Where did you stay and would you recommend it? I stayed at the Hilton Olympia Hotel in Kensington. It’s nice hotel and I would stay there again.
3| You visited both Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace, which was your favorite? Buckingham Palace is amazing it’s like a museum because you’re walking through Grand hallways the Grand Ballroom which is the part that’s open to the public. It is basically a museum because there’s so much history there. The palace is open for visitation during the month of August and I believe September while the queen is away on the holiday. It’s definitely worth a visit. Cost is £21.
4| What was it like going up in the London Eye? I believe the London Eye is the biggest Ferris wheel. Many cities including Seattle, Atlanta, Las Vegas, even Paris have one seasonally but the London Eye is the original Ferris wheel and it’s the best one for me. From there you can view the Thames River, Westminster, Big Ben, Parliament and it’s a great view of the city of London. They take your picture before you get on the London Eye as a souvenir if you choose to buy the picture after the ride.
5| Where you more excited to see the iconic Big Ben or Tower Bridge? I was equally excited to see Big Ben and the Tower Bridge. I took so many Tower Bridge pictures and I want to put them all on my wall and frame them. If you are a photographer, you cannot take enough pictures of Big Ben. I took endless pictures of Big Ben and the Tower Bridge. Every time you see a picture of London you see Big Ben it’s on every postcard it’s in every movie and commercial. It’s like the Statue of Liberty to New York or the Empire State Building to New York. When you take a picture of this monument you’re saying, “I’m officially in London because I have a picture of Big Ben!”
6| What restaurants/cafes did you eat at? Did you have a favorite? I ate at this restaurant and Kensington called the Balan Soho Society. The plate that I ate was delicious and although I don’t know what it was called, I took a picture for you.
7| How is the London Underground in comparison with the Paris Metro or NYC Subway systems? The London Underground is easy to navigate. You must purchase an oyster card or should I say it’s recommended that you purchase an oyster card unless you’re just going to buy a one-way ticket somewhere. An oyster card is similar to a MetroCard in New York you put money on it as much as you like it as much as you need and swipe away. London has zones and it costs more to cross over into another zone or district i.e. from one area to another. The London Underground is very clean compared to New York Subway. LOL It doesn’t smell foul and it’s just clean. I remember Paris being clean sometimes but London Underground is the cleanest Metro System I have used thus far.
8| What was the most amazing part about your first trip to London? Gosh, I would say my visit to Buckingham Palace and the Westminster neighborhood where there’s Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. Just walking the streets of London is so amazing. I still felt like a foreigner in the UK even though I clearly speak English but as an American I still feel like a foreigner because the culture is different. I love how the British have manners. They are so polite and cheerful you don’t really see them get upset of course they do get upset but they are very helpful if you ever need to stop and ask for directions. I have covered most landmarks I went to Piccadilly Square on my last visit and I toured Buckingham Palace.
9| What are some places you’d like to visit on your next trip? Next time I would like to tour the inside of the Tower of London to see the crown jewels and I would like to go to visit White Chapel (the infamous Jack the Ripper murders) and Portobello Road. Oh and just to add on a side note I went to Harrods the famous department store. I didn’t get to visit every floor, but I did pick up some souvenirs from here (tote bags and a coffee mug that said Harrods.) I can’t compare Harrods to any department store in the United States. I would say it’s a combination of Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale’s put together but on a much pricier level. If you have less than $1,000 to spend, I probably shouldn’t shop at Harrods. If you have a black card then Harrods department store is for you???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ????????
Note: All photos in this post were taken by Melanie Ostrove.