One of the first thing that definitely comes to my mind would be WHY ARE LONDON TRANSPORTATION SO EXPENSIVE!!! Really, you would simply feels the hole in your pocket getting larger and larger each and every time you tap the oyster card. Especially for Singaporeans, since the pound is double the price of the Singapore dollar. For those who are unsure, the oyster card system is a combined transportation ticketing system for use in London, with an oyster card you can travel on ferries, bus, DLR, OverGround and the well known Tube. It can be loaded with credits at many places, including newsstands and convenience stores. Although not as comprehensive as the Hong Kong octopus card, it is kind of alike to the ezlink system we have in Singapore, perhaps only double the price. My heart really hurts man, throughout my 5 days stay in London, I spend close to 40 Singapore dollars on the tube alone! Oh god, that is like a Burger & Lobster meal man! Every ride on the tube within the same zone is around 2.30 Pounds, even one station would be the same price, with a daily limit of 6 pounds. Being a tourists the min rides that you will usually take is about 2 per day, so that is already close to 10 SGD. I would say to budget this for your stay in London. One advantages of the oyster card that I really like that it is practically free, just buy a card and load it up, you can refund all the credits inside at any tube station. I mean like it is really a official matter, they will refund all of it, down to the cents and you have to sign on the receipt. This is better than the Singapore ezlink, where you have to pay 5 dollars for the card.
London is a huge city and I really don’t think that it is possible to be able to walk from major attractions even though most of it is in the centre. The iconic and famous London cabs re a great way to travel around, the drivers are professional, it is comfortable and huge. But you will probably need to have lots of cash and also get stuck in the traffic. The cabs are nice but definitely not kind on your wallet, throughout my stay I took a cab once, a ride around 10 mins about 2 streets away, but costing me 12 pounds! I will only recommend walking for the serious ones and perhaps if only you are young and not carrying anything. The longest distance that I walked in London would be from the Tower of London to St Paul Cathedral, mine was the brisk and taking photo kind. I took close to 40 mins and my legs were really tired. For Singaporean to understand, the distance would be around orchard road to city hall in many turns and twist, but one the good side, the weather is cool, making it nice to walk. Even for the serious shoppers, I would say that it is a accomplishment for one to shop from one end of oxford street to the other end. Btw, there are 3 tube stations on oxford street!
Lastly, I would believe that the last introduction of transportation you guys would be interested in would be the Heathrow Express, which connects Paddington Station in central London to Heathrow Airport in 15 mins. This is the fastest way to reach the airport and the schedule can be found online. Tickets are pricy though, costing around 20 pounds one way and 35 for return. Buying at the counter would be cheaper than buying onboard. The other option is the Heathrow Connect which is significantly cheaper but takes longer as it stops on the way. However the connect train runs on a more infrequent schedule, usually 30 mins per train. I would definitely suggest to check the schedule online, if not you could be like me, who almost miss the flight!
Food, finally I guess that this the part that everyone is looking forward to! Frankly, to say, London isn’t a cuisine destination and British Cuisine isn’t famed worldwide like the Italians or the French whom has made it so famous overseas. But actually British cuisine are really good and perhaps we should give them some credits, maybe for Gordon Ramsey. Some of the classics are really nice like the pies and the ale. The most represented food item would be Fish and Chips, it is just an English classic, used to be wrapped in newspaper in the past and eaten on the go. I mean really, you got to try it, if not you will be missing out on an holistic experience. There are 2 places in London that are a must visit for food lovers, one of them is SoHo while the other will be Borough Market! Although I didn’t managed to visit Borough Market, I did went to Soho. I shall leave the lure of Borough Market for the next time! Soho is a great place, full of restaurants, bars, pubs and clubs. There is actually nothing that you can’t find in Soho from Asian food to my favourite, Burger & Lobster! Soho could also be found in New York and Hong Kong. Up till today, I am still unsure whether the origin came from the states or London. Oh, I might have unexpectedly walked passed a strip club too! Watch out for your eyes! So sorry that I can’t write anything on Borough Market, I shall leave it for the next time.
Here are the meals from one of the Italian restaurant that I went to on the fringe of Soho. Pricy for Singapore standards but definitely super duper delicious!
Unexpectedly, a good place for getting some quick meals will be the food section of Marks and Spencer, they sell all kinds of stuff, from ready to eat meals to fruits and also freshly baked breads. This is also the place where I get the cross buns for my day tour. Prices are kind over here and you could definitely buy stuff with coins! A general tip is that the prices gets lower and less touristy when you travel out of West End and Westminster! Just check out this gorgeous Primarks!
For those who are interested, here is the menus of the MacDonald’s in London, I always find it kind of interesting to visit MacDonald’s overseas, oh look at the price too!
On a last note, I would like to share this noodle bar in Heathrow Terminal 5 call Wagamama, which is technically my last meal in London, the prices are fair also given that it is in the Airport. I would say that it is a fusion noodle restaurant of Chinese, Japanese and Western. The noodles are extremely delicious and serve without much wait which is key. Or maybe I kind of miss Asian food already! I especially love the stir friend noodles with teriyaki noodles. One thing that I have to point out would be the calibre of their service staff, which really goes out of the expected. As I was kind of in a rush, given my flight, I put on a slight note hoping that the food would arrive faster and my gate number isn’t out too. In Heathrow, the gate is only released last min and for some gates you might need to transfer to another satellite building. The service staff was impeccable, they asked for my flight number and went out of the restaurants to check the details on the monitors since there isn’t any in the restaurants! Not only once but also periodically throughout my meal. I really find that western countries service staff are so much better than the ones we have, I find that they are really genuinely interested in their jobs and have the heart to do it well.
I would also like to point out the It is also worth noting to allow more free time when in Heathrow as the crowd here is crazy, same goes for planes and people. The terminal is pretty nice but way packed. Given the amount sheer size of Heathrow, it is still so overstretch, it surely lives up to its name of being the busiest airport in Europe. Hope you guys enjoy these few reports of my adventures in London! Do refer to my other post on some of the special and celebrity restaurants that I went to! Next up I will be continuing my journey to Madrid, my land of football!