My Tiny London City Break – it’s not just palaces and designer shops
London is a great city break destination. Not the cheapest city to visit but if you can afford a day or two it’s quirky and not just palaces and expensive designer shops, although they are there too.
Getting To London
Due to bagging a bargain first class ticket I end up in the Virgin First Class waiting room, lush. I’m a bit of a reverse snob so do feel a little awkward entering the ‘exclusive’ area with its lovely and surprisingly comfy designer chairs.
(Note to self, write and ask Richard Branson for one of the spares, would be ideal for my hallway)
For some reason at Doncaster, luckily sunny Donny as usual, the first class carriage stops miles down the platform, well 100 yards at least, so I trekked off to the distant pillar with the helpful carriage number posted on it and waited for an on time train.
Easy to find my seat, settle in, plug in charger for phone and log on free wifi. The wifi is a bit hit and miss but as it’s free and easy to log in I have no problem with it. Pinterest with its heavy image base didn’t load but I was able to do some emails, catch up with Twitter and start this post in my Scrivener app.
Free refreshments are in with the ticket price, although my train was the early one so the breakfast only menu was on. A little muffin didn’t quite do it, when I had my heart set on the chicken wrap but it’s free so who am I to moan. I daren’t risk the chocolate Danish whilst wearing a white cotton top.
Arrival in London
Numerous teas later, yes you know I love my brews, I arrived in London.
At home on wifi I’d ‘image captured’ the hotel website directions and ‘favourited’ the hotel location in Google maps so they were in my phone.
It’s raining when I leave the station which is a bit of a surprise. I haven’t thought much about it but realise I’ve not been out in rain for a while. I really should carry a hat at all times. I hate umbrellas, those vicious pointy things should be banned in all but remote locations.
Arrive at hotel, auto check in isn’t switched on until 2pm, so I sit in the brilliant deli attached and have the best cheese and ham toastie I’ve had in ages. If the food isn’t organic, it tastes as if it is. Yum, looking forward to breakfast.
If you want to read about the fantastic highly recommended hotel (Hub by Premier Inn) please feel free to check out my TRIP ADVISER REVIEW!
In the evening I toddled off to the family party, a bit of hoi poloi with the folk at the Ivy. Photo with an unexpected celebrity and time with family.
Theatre land in London is fascinating. It’s packed with tourists and locals alike, eateries and pubs abound, something for everyone, if you have money that is.
After a short walk back, through numerous homeless people, arrive safely at the hotel. It’s so sad that cities are so full of those who have a lot and those who have nothing. Victorian England with mobile phones.
Charing Cross Road – Bookshop Heaven
Just around the corner from the hotel is my paradise, it’s the best place in London to find streets full of independent bookshops!
Ironically the famous bookshop at 84 Charing Cross Road is now a McDonalds, with a slightly neglected plaque.
The old hub of written word now replaced by the new centre for free wifi. Hmmm, makes you think eh?
The Guardian has one of the shops ‘Any Amount of Books’ listed as one of the best second hand bookshops in England.
With books from £1 upwards, I daren’t do any more than glance in, I’d be like a gambler in a casino, not able to resist ‘just one more’.
Foyles is another historic bookshop famous for its miles of bookshelves.
Its set out over 5 floors with sections marked out like a library. Well informed and helpful friendly staff, and yes I buy books! A small modern cafe is on the top floor, with a small art gallery attached, if you are wanting shelter on a rainy day it’s ideal.
A few older readers were tucking into Sunday lunches, what a lovely way to get out from your lonely four walls. Here I identify a gap in the market. Reading glasses. Why don’t book shops sell them?
To make the most of the day I decide to walk around instead of using the tube. A clever geeky guy was driving around on something really clever, which I can only call electric wheels, never seen such a thing before. Genius! Rubbish photo but how does he drive that thing?
If you plan your trip to London, you can see lots for free and by the time you’ve walked down into the tube and back up again it’s often quicker and much more scenic to walk to your destination. That way you also come across the unexpected and beautiful locals. I have an Italian meal opposite this amazing quirky brilliantly turned out tailors shop, Thomas Farthing, luckily the staff agreed to pose for me.
How cool are these guys? Genuinely nice chaps!
The British Museum doesn’t disappoint. I could easily spend many more hours looking at details but do a two hour sprint through history instead.
You can trek around the world and back and forth in to history and pre-history via the different rooms and exhibits. Don’t miss the giant Michealangelo sketch and the little ancient space man. No one will convince me that this isn’t an alien, note the alleged snow goggles.
Free entry, voluntary donations boxes, well worth the suggested £5, although if you buy food that is pricey so maybe eat elsewhere.
Finally off to Kings Cross, collect the bags from the ridiculously expensive storage area (often with long queues so don’t arrive too late for your train or you’ll miss it) and one final brew before setting off home. If you want your photo at Harry Potter’s Platform 9 3/4 they’ve moved it into the main arena so it now gets long queues too.
Am I the only one who gets a bit miffed (UK translation – a little bit cross) that no one asks to see my ticket for the whole journey home?
I know it means I look the part, fit the demographic, but it also means that other people who may not have paid hadn’t been asked for their tickets either. This isn’t a ‘first class’ thing, it annoys me on buses and trams too. I know if ever I travelled without a ticket I would get caught first time out and punished severely. Damn my guilty face. The quiet carriage has the loudest man you’ve ever known but he’s handy to stop sleep creeping up on me before I get back home at the end of a packed day ‘in the smoke’.
A Few Tips to Save Money on Your Trip
I do like our capital city however if you are on a budget do lots of research. Shop around to get the best of the travel and shopping bargains. Book your hotels early, and transport in and out to get a bargain. I managed to get first class rail travel with the wonderful Virgin trains by booking a few months in advance. It can be way cheaper to book first class travel early than book the usual carriages on the day. Result!
If you are on a budget book theatre tickets very early. I think some do a late cancellation pick up deal which can save money, check with each theatre.
Buy your food in supermarkets or sandwich shops and go have a picnic in one of Londons large number of parks, both big and small. Fountains Park is one I hadn’t been aware of but it’s a little haven, ideal for families.
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