UK Experience: First Look at London

Upon Arriving in London Heathrow

We lined up in the immigration and submitted our passports and supporting documents as a group. The immigration had a few questions like how many weeks we were staying, which company etc. After the short interrogation, she took all of our passports, stamped on it and said, “Welcome to UK”.

copy-of-escape

I was so happy I could kiss the airport floor! We proceeded to get our bags and since our colleagues’ bags were offloaded and we were informed that it will arrive with the 3PM flight, we decided to contact my friend Vince and had a quick tour around London. 

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You can buy sims as soon as you pass the immigration. “3” was highly recommended. For 30GBP, you’ll get unli-call, text and data!

And because we didn’t want to drag our luggage around while sight-seeing, we agreed on leaving our luggage and paying 6GBP each. Expensive, but worked well.

London Underground

Vince told us not to take the Heathrow Express and instead walk down further and take the tube. The tube, ehem, is their own term for train. Everything was just so exciting for me. I’ve only dreamed of riding the tube and there I was, finally getting to experience one.

When SM's mega fashion hall opened, and they had these London booth to welcome their London-based brands.
This photo was taken two years ago when SM’s Mega Fashion Hall opened and launched their London-based brands. My shirt was a pasalubong from a cousin who just arrived from London. I was that crazy about the place! Who knew it’d come true?! I would always get teary-eyed whenever I’d think of the day when I can finally take a picture like this for real!
The London Underground Single Journey Ticket from Heathrow to Leicester Square, 6GBP

London is divided into six zones – from inner to outer areas. There are currently 11 lines operating in the tube network. From Heathrow to downtown area, Picadilly line will be utilized. In the train stations, you can get an Oyster Card which is a prepaid card that can be used for tube and bus rides around the city.

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Why is it called Oyster Card? If you’ll observe the London map closely, it looks like an oyster which is also why the zones worked nicely.

Leicester Square

We got off at Leicester Square as instructed. This place is located in the west end of London and is the center of entertainment. Major theaters dated back in the 19th century have been converted to cinemas. It holds the most important cinemas in the country which are commonly used for movie premieres – Odeon being the most famous!

We looked for a McDonald store since we needed WIFI connection to chat my friend. McDo’s everywhere! In every corner! You have to be really specific when telling friends to meet at a McDo store!

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Stepped out of the station and the sight of the red bus had me screaming silently!
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Monsieur Eriq blending in so well.
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Still surreal!

Trafalgar Square

From Leicester Square, we walked further to Trafalgar Square. Trafalgar Square! The freaking Trafalgar Square! I just wanted to cry when I saw the famous monument in the center… and the fountain! Can I take a moment to pause and shed a few tears of joy while we’re at it? Truth to be told, Trafalgar Square is like the English version of our public plaza.

When taking the tube, Charing Cross is the nearest station from the square. Trafalgar Square is actually formerly known as Charing Cross until it was renamed to commemorate the Battle of Trafalgar which happened in 1805.

Also, if you’ll take the Harry Potter tour, you’ll drop by Trafalgar Square as Harry Potter Deathly Hallows 2 had a scene in the movie which was shot here.

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The Monument and the Fountain!
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So many people and students on a field trip! It was a good day to be out and walking around the city as it was warm and sunny.

On the way to Big Ben

We walked further to see the Big Ben. It was actually quite far, but with the cool air, sunny weather and overflowing excitement, we didn’t mind at all. London looked like it was taken out straight from a painting! I was at awe with everything especially the buildings!

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Pwede ka nang maghanap-buhay kung may talento ka lang naman kumanta. 🙂

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A monument in the middle of the road, on the way to Big Ben.

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Big Ben

We crossed the street and from afar, I saw the beautiful Big Ben. I was so kilig.  I couldn’t really believe that I was finally seeing it for real. It was so close, so beautiful, so surreal! I could stare at it the whole day!

Nearest tube station: Westminster – take the Circle, Jubilee or District lines depending on where you’re from.

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What a beauty!
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What to see in this area: Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abby, London Eye, Westminster Bridge, Parliament Square

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Westminster Bridge and the London Eye

It’s the bridge between River Thames connecting the north and the south side. From here, you’ll see a great view of the Big Ben and the London Eye on the east.

Tip: Don’t take a photo near the Big Ben. Walk further down to the south and from there take a photo. The catch? No photobombers, and you’ll take a snap of the Big Ben in its glory!

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There are a number of boat tour cruises along the River Thames, but it was quite expensive and the lines were pretty long.

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The London Eye!
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I honestly have no words over this photo. This summed up everything I’ve dreamed of London. That view behind? I’ve only seen that whenever I search images of London in Google. Who would ever think that at 25, I’ll have my dream come true?

We walked at the east side of the bridge, near the London Eye to get the “best” fish and chips in town which was worth 13GBP – a little bit expensive, I must say.

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Fish and fries, I mean chips. Tip: If you aren’t a big eater (like me), don’t order individually. This is pretty big, two people can finish one order. Unless you’re hungry af.
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Amazing people in one snap!

We wrapped up our quick London tour around 3PM and went back to Heathrow to get our luggage. From Heathrow, we got a cab to drive us to Leicester City which cost us 300GBP. Overpriced.In.Every.Way.

Tip: If you know anyone from London, ask a favor and let them call you up a cab with a fixed price. Usually it would only cost 100GBP or so. Or get an Uber!

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