3 months later, I’ve finally complete my 2012 European travelogue. This is the last installment. Wohooo!
This is one of the morning where we went out for breakfast. Seriously if you want to save $$ for food due to high Pound and Euro, buy those sandwiches or bread or salad from grocery shop rather than eating out which will cost 2x to 3x higher. We had breakfast at The Breakfast Club, a place which the peeps at our hostel recommended. It was good.
Then we took tube to Tower Hill. We’re going to visit Tower of London, a UNESCO World Heritage site. It was once a castle and also a prison.
First thing first, we followed the Yeoman Warder or also known as The Beefeaters’ tour. The tour lasted for an hour and is free (already included in the ticket admission). Yeoman Warder is the Royal Bodyguard of the British monarch. The lady in the red and black uniform is a Yeoman Warder.
During the tour, she brought us to this really charming old chapel (Chapel Royal Of St Peter ad Vincula) which is said to be haunted. I kept wishing nothing queer will happen when we’re inside the chapel. Haha Oh me scaredy cat.
Oh yes the crown jewels is located in this building called the Waterloo Barracks. It was an eye-opening place. Must visit yo. The most exciting thing I experienced there is not getting to see the crowns or orbs, etc but to watch a video of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Goose bumps man. She’s someone I really respect.
Although I think the Tower of London is quite boring and not worth the $$, surprisingly we spent a good 3 hours there. We left the tower at 2pm. Really no idea why. Kekeke Had ice-cream there as well… cost £2.20 per cone. If I convert… ohhh heartache. Haha
Let me tell you a funny story. I found the water bottle sold at Starbucks beside Tower Bridge cheaper than the one sold by a vendor parked outside Starbucks. WTF? Kekekeke At this point we were looking for toilet hence the visit to Starbucks (also coz of the water) but due to long queue we decide to just leave. I think I didn’t went to the loo until nearly 4pm when we had our lunch. Bladder must be drying up due to the hot weather. Haha
While waiting for our boat at Tower Millennium Pier, we had the chance to watch the lifting of the Tower Bridge’s bascules (movable bridge) to give way for the yacht (is that a yacht or a boat?). *scratch head
I’m sure you’ve seen this picture on TV if you watched the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebration not long ago. This very huge picture of the Queen and her family is seen by the riverbank near Blackfriars Pier.
Our 3.45pm lunch is at The Old Bank of England (another round of pub food). We were so crazily hungry! Great place for food and the interior is really beautiful.
Then we can’t decide whether to walk back (which is quite far), take tube or other means of transportation since it’s near to rush hour. In the end we took a double decker bus back to Oxford Circus. This time the double decker bus is a modern one. Nice ride!
We stopped by at several souvenir shops at Oxford Street before going back to hostel and rest. An hour later, around 6.40pm we went to M&S to grab some sandwiches for dinner later. Then we walked to Shaftesbury Avenue for Les Misérables!!! That’s my… my… my… ultimate dream musical. And our 2nd London musical in 14 days. Yee haa! If you remember me talking about going to Shaftesbury Avenue on day 1 of our London trip to collect ticket for a musical… this is the one!
Learning from our lesson from our 1st London musical experience; Phantom of the Opera where we were so late and barely make it into the theatre, we arrived half and hour early this time. And because we’re early we are able to take some photos before the musical start. Les Misérables is held at the Queen’s Theatre. Again I did not take my camera with me so the rest below and our last day in London are all taken with my sis’ cam (TZ-7).
Our Les Misérables tickets and souvenir. The ticket cost £64.00 + £1.00 (theatre restoration levy) + £2.00 (booking fee) for stall seating per person which we bought online when we’re still in Malaysia. My souvenir which is an over-sized tee cost £10.00. Over-sized coz I bought the wrong size. M is too big for me. So well I’m gonna make it into a nighties tee then. Haha
This is how the stage looks like before the performance start. I like it! Our seats are E17 and E18 which is even nearer to the stage compared to Phantom’s ones. My sis E18 seat is excellent but mine were blocked in the mid by a large head. Haha. So throughout the performance I have to either shift my body to the left or right. Aiseh! The performance runs for 2 hours 50 minutes with a break about 1.5 to 2 hours later.
Jean Valjean was my hero in the Les Mis movie (1998) and again he is my hero in this musical version. French author, Victor Hugo who wrote this novel is a genius. Oh btw we have planned to visit Maison de Victor Hugo (museum) in Paris earlier but couldn’t make it because we’re out of time. Too bad. Another next time!
So is the musical Les Misérables good? It was more than that. Superbly wonderful. It’s heart-wrenching with humour here and there performance and David Shannon who played Jean Valjean did a brilliant brilliant job. So ‘kam tung’. They choose the right guy to portray Valjean. His presence on stage is really huge and his singing is so beautiful. Les Mis even make me shed some tears towards the end which I never thought would happen when one watch a musical. And when it ended, I wanted more. We all wanted more. All of us gave a helluva of long applause and standing ovation to the cast and ensemble. I even have goose bumps! No wonder so many come back again and again to watch this wonderful play. I enjoyed Les Misérables more than Phantom of the Opera though I must admit Phantom’s plus is in the music category.
Then we walked back to hostel, had a late dinner and sleep. That’s how I spent my 2nd last night in London.
The next day (last day!), we had our last London breakfast at Cotton Cafe, another nearby place at 8am.
After breakfast we went back to YHA and check out. Left our luggage at the locker in the basement for £3. The locker is really big. It can fit a medium sized and one small luggage and 2 bags. Then we went searching for post office. Our last day itinerary is actually to visit Portobello Market at Notting Hill but then decided shopping is more important! Kekeke. So we shop along Oxford Street the whole morning and afternoon. So can you imagine how long is Oxford Street?
Since our plane is at 10pm AND we wanted to escape the ‘great’ rush hour, we began our walk to Oxford Circus tube at 4pm. Yes that’s 6 hours early. Hahaha We returned our Oyster Card at the last tube stop in Paddington. We could actually hold on to the card but I thought it would be better to return it as we might forget about it later. And when we took Heathrow Connect from Paddington to Heathrow Airport it was rush hour time. The train is full to the brim because the train is not only for tourists as it stops at a few stations for Londoners as well.
When we reached Terminal 4, we first went to the VAT office because my sis has to claim VAT refund for her LV wallet which she purchased in Paris.
Had dinner at Garfunkel’s before shopping for souvenirs like chocolates, Queen’s Diamond Jubilee memorabilia and Harrods.
Time passed really fast when you’re saying goodbye and before we knew it we’re boarding the plane home. Another surprise I had for taking MAS is the complementary newspaper and magazines (London ones leh) offered before boarding the plane. I’m a ‘katak di bawah tempurung’ lady so yes this is new to me! Hahaha Reached Malaysia at 5pm and never been so happy to see my dad. 🙂
That’s all… the end!
Thank you for taking the time to read my European travelogue. Hope it will help you in planning your future visits to these places.
This is the first time I’ve traveled longer than 10 days to a foreign country. And because of my Australia experience of changing so many accommodation, I’m well-prepared for this European trip (a total of 7 accommodation including a night stay in Thello train). In this trip I’ve rode on trains and tube/metro the most besides walking. It was fun and challenging especially during our Italy and France rendezvous. I’m glad I only choose 3 countries to travel to in my first Europe trip. Even with that I’ve missed a couple of places I wanted to visit. Paris is the city that I miss a lot of attractions. There are so much more I wanna do there. If I’ve known earlier, I would have visited lesser cities and spent more days in each of the city that I’ve choosen. And because of this I can never understand how one can visit say 4-6 countries in say 15 days. You’ll never be able to absorb the essence of each places fully. Well that’s my opinion.
Also throughout this trip, I’ve met a lot of very friendly people and encountered some racist one. All in all I feel more comfortable communicating with them especially the English compared to Aussie. Maybe because Aussie’s slang is different from England’s English which I’m (we Malaysians are) so familiar with. And I’ve got to say in this trip we’ve been so lucky to have not encounter any problems whatsoever especially safety issue.
I’m not sure when I will have the chance to visit England, France and Italy again. But when I do I’m sure to share my experiences with you all. Right now I so so wanna visit Hong Kong and South Korea again. LOL I don’t have any future travel plan yet. Most likely if I do, it will be towards the end of 2013. Really pokai now!!! If you wanna know how much I spent on this trip (everything included; airfares, food, accommodation, transport, attractions, shopping) it’s about RM11k. My target was actually to spend less than RM10k. Anyway it’s worth it. 🙂
My complete 2012 16D/15N European travelogue spanning a few cities: London-Rome-Vatican City-Pisa-Venice-Paris:
London Day 1: Flying With MAS, Heathrow Connect & Piccadilly Circus
London Day 2: Covent Garden, British Museum, British Library & Phantom Of The Opera Musical
London + Rome Day 3: YHA Oxford Street, Gatwick Airport, easyJet & Tiring Rome
Rome Day 4: Six Beds, Colosseum, Roman Forum & Palatine Hill (Part 1)
Vatican City + Rome Day 4: Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica & St. Peter’s Square (Part 2)
Rome + Pisa Day 5: Santa Maria Maggiore Church, Pensione Rinascente & Leaning Tower Of Pisa
Pisa + Venice Day 6: Piazza Garibaldi, St. Mark’s Basilica & The Grand Canal
Venice Day 7: Foresteria Valdese, Libreria Acqua Alta & Thello Train
Paris Day 8: Hotel Andrea Rivoli, Palais Garnier & Raining
Paris Day 9: Paris Panoramic Views, Notre Dame Cathedral & Eiffel Tower
Paris + Versailles Day 10: Château de Versailles & Musée du Louvre
Paris Day 11: Roland Garros, Shopping & Seine River Sunset
Paris + London Day 12: Eurostar, Primark & Marble Arch
London Day 13: Borough Market, Tate Modern, House Of Parliament & National Gallery
London Day 14: Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park & Harrods
London Day 15 & 16: Tower Of London, Tower Bridge, Les Misérables & Goodbye