Britain London, England 2000.05.31 - 06.01

Wandering London Part 1

London is a fabulous place to wander about. Famous places abound at every turn. People are friendly and helpful. Backpackers are everywhere.

London bustles with art, plays, cathedrals, and street markets. Everything is immediately within reach, but prices are high high high. Expect to pay 50% more compared to the US.

We discovered some useful backpacker conveniences on our first day.

If you are coming to Central London by train, purchase your ticket after 09:30 and pay a few pence more for a Travel Card. The Travel Card option gives you unlimited access on the "tube" (subway system) and buses all day. The savings and convenience is tremendous. A few price comparisons: 1) a Single (one-way) train ticket from Gatwick Airport to Central London Park is £9.70, and a Single plus Travel Card is £10.00. 2) A Single from Reading to London is £10.00 and a Return (round-trip) plus Travel Card is £13.10. In additional to giving you the flexibility to hop on and off any tube and bus, Travel Card holders don't need to wait in lengthy lines to purchase tickets!

The free "Central London bus guide" has everything you need on a map of Central London. It lists bus routes, tube stops, places of interest, and all major roads. There's no need to purchase a map of the city.

For £4.00, you can leave a piece of luggage at Left Luggage located in Charing Cross, Victoria, or King's Cross train stations. Left Luggage is a business that is open from 07:00 - 23:00 daily. How nice it is to walk the city without a heavy backpack!

The main Tourist Information is in Victoria Train Station. Most information is free. They sell a map of Britain for £2.00, but it's not detailed enough to be useful. Instead, buy your maps at a bookstore.

Red, white, and black London Taxis at Gatwick Airport. Quaint? Yes. Comfortable? Hmmm...
The Covent Garden market is filled with local artisans selling their work. Oh how we wish to have one of the water color painting of London sites!
"Big Ben", the clock tower at the Houses of Parliament, is adorned with gold and other colors. Go see it in person. Photographs don't do it justice.
The tower on the south side of the Houses of Parliament has gold tips. This photo is taken from Wes and Masami's afternoon nap spot in the middle of The Victoria Tower Gardens.
The Rosetta Stone, located at the British Museum, enabled scholars to decipher Egyptian hieroglyphs in the late 1700s. A religious decree is written on the stone in three ancient languages, one being hieroglyphs, giving scholars a comparative analysis of the script.
In London, we were happy to see Wes' high school friend Steve. He happened to be on business in London for the week. After seeing the musical Chicago together, we stopped by an English pub for a pint (make that a 1/2 pint for Wes and Masami to share).

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