*Warning, very long post.*
I was mid way through compiling pictures I wanted to use for the blog, when I realized that my picture list had hit FIFTY files before I was even half way through the trip.
So here I am trying my best to reduce the number of pictures involved as to not cause your computers to hang as you open the link to my blog…
Yes. I’m being considerate, not lazy.
So on the 11th May 2012, Piggy and I boarded a Singapore Airlines A380 aircraft. It was a 13 hour flight, direct to London. Comfortable. We even had an empty seat next to us!
On arrival, we took the London tube to Kings Cross, and then got on a train to Stevenage. It was about 10pm UK time and about 6am Singapore time. I was a little tired and somehow got on the train without knowing what train it was! I just knew it was going to stop at Stevenage at some point. How long how far I had no clue. Thankfully the passenger in front of me was nice enough to tell me when we got to Stevenage.
Stevenage Day 1&2: Arrived, and headed straight to a pub while waiting for some friends to arrive. I stayed at Adam’s place where his sister was nice enough to let me use her room while she’s away. It was Adam’s birthday, so we had a number of things planned. Paintball the next day from 9-4pm, then BBQ for dinner, some drinks and card games, before we headed out to the one and only Club (and place that’s OPEN) in Stevenage on a Saturday night- Chicagos.
Stevenage Day 3: Started late the next morning, and left Adam’s to head to my cousin Marcus’ place a little south of London, a small area called Kingson upon Thames.
Journey goes from Train to Kings Cross–> Tube to Wimbledon –> Train to Kingston –> Bus to Marcus’s home
London Day 1: As soon as I arrived, I dropped off my stuff and headed to Chinatown for the famous Four Seasons roast duck for dinner.
London was everything I expected it to be. Red phone booths, black taxis, cold and rainy… Old historical buildings nestled amongst new modern/office buildings.
I headed out the next morning by 8:30am. [And I FORGOT PIGGY!!! So, sorry Piggy missed out on Day 1 London... ]
Bought a ticket for the open top tourist sightseeing bus. The best way to see London if you don’t have much time. It came with free walking tours, so I followed the tour to see the one thing you Must see when you get to London: The changing of guards. Our tour guide was Rebecca. A very tall, loud, English woman. But she was great. I guess as a guide they’re all pretty good (I didn’t come across any lousy guides throughout the holiday). She brought us to areas where we’d be able to see the guards up close, without squishing amongst the other tourists. Pointed out what we needed to know, and even when to prepare our cameras to take pictures
So after that i had the rest of the day to myself. I went back on the bus, saw the rest of London city, went to M&Ms world (wheeee!), Oxford street to check out the shopping scene, walked through Soho, and then treated myself to a musical- Les Miserables at Queens Theatre. The 3 hours in the theatre just flew by. It was so good. I arrived home at almost midnight that day.
Day 2 London: While still nursing bruises and aching muscles from the Paintball games, I attempted to see some markets, but found Borough Market just after they’d closed (they end at 9am!?). Went to Spitalfields market, but that wasn’t fully opened and what they had wasn’t that great anyway (Asian run clothes stall with stuff you can find all over Singapore). Tuesday just isn’t a market day I guess. Failed research… So instead (not regretfully) I spent a long time in Shakespeare’s Globe. Decided to buy a ticket for the tour and exhibition, as the show for the afternoon was going to be in Mexican Spanish! (Olympics special thing… hm.)
I checked out Tate’s Modern, then walked across the Millennium Bridge (the one that fell apart when the death eaters invaded London in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince), and made my way to Greenwich to see the meridian line.
Back in the city, I went to Harrod’s where I found the men from the Royal Family having tea in a window display…
The next morning I left Marcus’ place at 5+ so I could catch my 7:50am Eurostar to Paris!
Paris Day 1: Montmartre. I stayed in that area. I couldn’t find my hostel when I arrived there. There’s Boulevard de Rochechuart, and then there’s RUE the Rochecuart… Somehow I mixed them up and ended up walking the wrong way… a very long way! Anyway, once I sorted out where i was living, I spent day one exploring Montmartre itself. It’s my favourite place on the entire holiday. I keep on thinking to myself: “My sis would like this” or “Oh my Mum would like this”… haha. It was a little artsy fartsy area… with graffiti on the walls (there’s a free walking tour for street art… i just couldn’t figure out where and when it is), and lots of little boutiques, and shops selling cheese, and fresh fruit, bakeries, and cured meat.
It’s also the place where you’ll find the famous Sacre Coeur on top of the hill, and the Moulin Rouge at the bottom.
Paris Day 2: It was THE day for touristy sightseeing. I went into Paris city at 9am in the moring. I went to the Pantheon and the Jardins du Luxembourg… then took a 3.5hr walking tour which talked about important sights like the Notre dame, la seine, the Rue des Champs Elysees, the Louvre, all the history about napoleon and other important people (obviously not a very attentive history student here…).
Then chilled at a little cafe to have Rose wine and some escargots with a couple of new friends I met on the tour, before I said bye went on my own way again.
I walked down the Champs Elysees, went up the L’arc du Triomphe where the lift had broken down so I climbed 284 steps up the spirally stairs… but the view from up there is absolutely amazing.
As soon as the sun started to set, I headed towards the Tour Eiffel, and Finally got to see the famous tower up close. It’s just as grand and majestic as people make it out to be. Just… A little overcrowded by tourists.
Arrived home after midnight!
Paris Day 3: Shopping Day!!! Headed straight to Les Galleries La Fayette to buy Longchamps bags… 45 mins in queue to get what I needed. >< I bought some nail polish, got a speedy manicure , did tax returns stuff, then treated myself to a typical French style lunch, sitting facing the road to ‘watch the people walk by’.
Then it was off to the train station to head back to UK. So it was Eurostar –> Tube to Paddington –> Train to Oxford –> Bus to Sheila’s home.
Oxford Day 1: Sheila and the boyfriend WS were my official tour Guides. Thanks to WS who had student pass, we had access to places that not everyone could go. WS gave me a personal tour of his research lab which was pretty cool! Went to see all the different colleges… Colleges where Sheila used to go to, where Emma Watson is currently at, where they filmed the Harry Potter movies… or where the inspiration came from at least. And then we came home to have a very nice home cooked meal by my dear hosts.
Oxford Day 2: Shopping day!!! Hahah. I finally made a trip to Primark. The place where my colleagues were raving about how I HAVE to go there to shop… and found out for myself what the fuss was all about. Cheap. Cheap is the word. I did end up buying things I didn’t plan to, but hey, I found use for them.
From there, I caught a coach back to London Heathrow airport to head home to Singapore.
And that is it. Our 10 day whirlwind holiday to Stevenage, London, Paris and finally, Oxford.
If time and money allows it, I wouldn’t mind another trip back to Paris to spend more time soaking in the sights and sounds and most of all, the lifestyle in that city. I wish I had more time to do things like chillout at a french cafe having coffee and croissants, or have a picnic out on one of the beautiful gardens, or go to the flea markets which open only on weekends…
Maybe one day I will.
Just before I end, wanted to add in a big THANK YOU to Adam, Marcus, Sheila and WS who so kindly let me into their homes for a couple of nights.