First let me tell you the prologue story to my Europe trip (a very loooooong one). A haunting story that I wish I will never be put in a similar situation ever again. It kills off the vacation mood and put you in a tense and pressure situation. WTH!!!
Beware travelogue itself is cheong hei as usual. You can just skip the writing and look at the photos.
London has always been in my top to-visit-city list from a very young age. Thanks to AirAsia X I was finally able to fulfilled my dream vacation. AND also no thanks to AirAsia X for suspending the London route January this year and put me on a whirlwind headache (Paris, Delhi and Bombay routes were suspended as well). Yup I was one of the many ‘suffering’ victims of the suspended routes. We were given 3 choices by AirAsia X; 1. to cancel reservation and opt for full refund/credit shell; 2. re-route to any other AirAsia X destination without any additional cost; 3. transfer to an alternative airline (MAS) subject to availability without any additional cost.
Initially I thought of going for 1 and then buy my new flight (more expensive) with the refunded moolah but decided to go for the 3rd choice after heavy consideration (why pay more right? It’s not my fault). So we waited and waited and waited for our new flight information. Without clear and confirmed flight itinerary, we have no way of booking our accommodation and trains journey but I decided to just go ahead and make some of the bookings. Die, die la. FYI, you need to make train and flight bookings in Europe as far out as possible for cheaper seats.
Less than 2 months before our departure date, I received a phone call from AirAsia X informing us our new flight details. Well this is not the end of the story. This is just information. We need confirmed itinerary. And we waited and waited and waited again. The waiting was horrendous as the date draws near. We heard confirmed stories about flights date being pushed 1 or 2 days later (we have no idea whose fault is it; AirAsia X or MAS) even after confirmed flights itinerary were being sent to the ‘victims’. We prayed ours is still the original date as we have made all the bookings. As we learned only route to Paris suffer these nuisance. I finally received the confirmed flights itinerary 10 days before our departure date!!! Isn’t this BS??? Still I checked every day in case our flight is bump out. That’s the insecurity ’em has given us.
So that’s my haunting AirAsia story. To think how excited I was when I bought my London airfare a year ago in May 2011… I never thought AirAsia X would give me so much hell. Anyway all is over now and I’m not quite sure I like AirAsia anymore.
My partner to this Europe trip is non other than my dear sister. Yup our 3rd overseas siblings-only vacation. South Korea and Australia were the other 2 trips we’ve made. This ain’t a backpacking trip as we decided to go for luggage instead of backpacks as luggage is safer in terms of security and you can pack more stuffs ma (hehe). Besides we will be staying in somewhat lavish hotels in some of our stops as the cheap ones are either over-booked (no thanks to AirAsia) or look yucky.
We choose to visit only 3 countries in our 16 days & 15 nights trip (16th May to 29th May 2012). They are England, France and Italy. I think any first timers would choose these 3 as well. And I’m thankful that I only choose 3 instead of 4 or 5 because even with these 3 places we’re way out of time. London is a must, Paris too and for Italy we went for Rome, Pisa and Venice.
For 2 ladies to journey to these places, I did not feel fear at all. I felt a sense of accomplishment when I touched down in my home country. Me proud! Can’t believe I achieved this ‘independent’ travelling feat. Wohoooo! And like when I came back from Melbourne, I couldn’t feel Europe. Numb from all the travelling I guess. One thing I’ve learned from this trip is to travel 2/3 lighter than your original plan and not all your plans will work out. You will have to forgo some of the places. Oh well, there will always be next time! 😉
Tsk, you don’t need a visa to visit Europe ~ for Malaysian la! (oh yeah! yeah!)
This was my 2nd time flying with MAS. My 1st time was during a trip to Beijing, China in 2005. Such a long time ago. In fact I actually thought this was my first time with MAS until I check back my trips records.
Flight duration from KLIA to Heathrow is 13hrs 10mins. I thought I was gonna go crazy in the plane but thank God for the entertainment and food pampering. I’ve really forgotten how good full-service airlines are compared to low-cost airlines seeing that it’s been 7 years since Beijing (my last trip in a full-service airline). LOL
Here are the in-flight meals we ate during our KL to London journey:
Lunch-y. Fish with pasta was mediocre. There’s bread, salad, dessert and snacks as well.
Magnum ice-cream after lunch. What a pleasant surprise! It was heavenly. Haha
Snack time 4 hours later.
Snack consist of cheese, peanuts, biscuit, cookies and Hershey chocolate.
Dinner (another 4 hours later). Chicken with potato was good.
Also include the basic bread, salad and dessert.
So it’s basically doing nothing and being fed almost every 4 hours plus juices and wines to quench our thirst. Digestion hasn’t complete yet wei! I even managed to sleep in between meals and watched a Korean movie starring my favorite Uhm Tae Woong. Hahaha
At one point we were flying over Afghanistan! It’s beautiful right?
I’m not joking because the in-flight TV was showing our current location (throughout the journey).
We touched down at Heathrow Airport (Terminal 4) at 4.15pm (London time). Basically there are nothing much to see in this airport. KLIA is so much better!
There are several ways to get to Central London and we choose the cheapest and convenient way: train. There are actually 2 types of train operating from Heathrow to Central London.
Heathrow Express which is faster; only 15 mins with 15 mins frequency, non-stop and cost £18 for a single train journey and Heathrow Connect which is 30 minutes with 6 stops with 30 mins frequency but cost only £9.10 for a single journey.
Both trains stop at London Paddington station which is connected to London Underground and London rail.
We choose Heathrow Connect (good $aving) and bought our return journey for £17.80 with this ticket machine. FYI ticket is valid for 1 month.
Gotta say taking the Heathrow Connect is kinda confusing. You need to travel to Terminal 1 and then at the same platform (or not; there’s 2 platforms) you take the Heathrow Connect. You even use the same platform for Heathrow Express. So becareful when you board the trains!
Once we reached London Paddington, we proceed to Underground and bought our Oyster card at the counter. We bought £30 value plus £5 deposit (refundable). Don’t bother with Travelcard, Oyster card is much more worth it.
Then we have to go through some stairs and escalator (thank God our luggage has wheels!). It was peak time 6pm+ and thankfully a gentleman offer to carry my sister’s suitcase (as her’s is larger) from tube station to the street. So sweet. Haha
We reached our accommodation, YHA Oxford Street at 6.50pm (about 10 minutes walk from Oxford Circus Underground). Reception is on the 3rd floor. By the time we reached there, filling the required forms and all, we were quite spent. Oh yeah if you’re not a YHA member you need to pay additional £3 per person per night. We’re a Hostelling International – Malaysia members so we don’t have to pay extra. 🙂
Taken with TZ-7.
I’m gonna show you the room we stayed at later.
Not sure how we muster our energy but after checking in we walked about 15 minutes to Shaftesbury Avenue (the land of musical theaters) to collect our musical tickets. It’s my ultimate dream musical and I can’t wait to share with you… it’s gonna take place many many days later.
Then we walked to Piccadilly Circus (just down the road from Shaftesbury Avenue) to soak in the atmosphere. And I finally gave a happy exclamation “Finally, I’m here in London. Wohooo!!!”
This is the famous neon advertisements @ Piccadilly Circus. The weather was about cool about 11oC. Great!
This is Shaftesbury Monument Memorial fountain. On the top is the winged nude statue of Anteros, the Greek god of requited love @ Piccadilly Circus.
To Piccadilly Circus Underground/tube. Initially I thought I ain’t gonna like the tube but it’s not bad (thought I’m gonna panic!).
London taxis and London double-decker buses, sights you’ll get used to no doubt.
I’m wondering, if London taxis are expensive how come I see so many of them on the streets?
British flags decorates roads like Regent Street and Oxford Street for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
We walked back to our lodging at nearly 9pm (it’s still not dark) and pick up our ‘poor’s ladies dinner’ on the way.
Tuna mayo sandwich @ £1.25. We bought 2 of it but could only finish half each (still so full!!). So the other half we keep it for tomorrow’s brekkie. Kekeke
We also kept the bread from MAS for tomorrow’s brekkie (why waste wor). Ohh we keep some of the snacks given by MAS too. It came handy during the trip. Here’s another $aving tip: Keep the plastic fork, spoon and knife from your MAS’ meal. It’s gonna be useful during one of your many self-exploration food journey. The utensil were really helpful for us!
That’s it for day 1. Stay tuned for day 2.