London – Contiki 2011 – Day 1

By rosannau / On

I jetsetted to Europe with my best friends – Crystle & Klarice. We wanted a taste of everything but couldn’t commit to a longer trip so we settled to doing the European Horizon tour with Contiki Tours. At the time, my friend Klarice was working for a company that is in affiliations with Contiki tours thus giving us 50% off the tour which made it more enticing and so we extended a few days in Paris with the money saved. 7 cities/countries in 10 days (London, Amsterdam, Munich, Austria, Venice, Switzerland, Paris)  We flew with Airtransit.


We got on the plane around 10PM and arrived around 955AM. The time difference is only 5 hours so sleeping wasn’t too bad.

Arriving in Gatwick, London, we transferred to the trains heading to Victoria. The platforms gets really crowded and once a train gets cancelled it’s like herding cattle onto an escalator to get to the next platform. Our first attempt to get on the train failed as people acted like highschool kids who don’t know how to move onto the bus to fit more people. If the door closes, unlike the TTC subways in Toronto, there is a button you can press to open the doors. We eventually got on the express bus that goes directly to Victoria (30 mins). One thing I noticed which is poor on their part is the lack of garbage bins but then again if there is no garbage cans, it’s less likely people should be littering there. I asked one of the ticket takers where I could find a garbage can and she told me to stick it in her co-workers pocket jokingly. What’s cool is that once you get on the train, they come onto the speakers and say their welcome message in multiple languages such as Italian, Spanish, French etc. The train ride was a nice time to snooze for a bit. The layout of the train is simple but works as there are racks for luggage.

Arriving at Victoria Station, we had to stand in line for the taxi queue. The taxis are so cute here. No one sits in the front of the taxi as there is no trunk so luggage can go up front. The seating area can sit 3 on the regular seats with 2 seats that fold out. We zipped through the streets and passed by the London Eye, Buckingham Palace and other beautiful buildings. Luckily our taxi drove past these areas as we had very limited time here. We stayed at the Royal National London Hotel on 38-51 Bedford Way courtesy of Contiki in a triple bed room. Contiki has their office in the basement where we signed in and got our free sleeping bags and free wifi. After signing in, our mission was to shop since we only had 1 day in london. As we walked, you can see the leaves changing colour and even already on the ground. Would’ve loved to be in London for summer. We journeyed all the way to Oxford St and stopped at staple stores such as Topshop, Pull & Bear and Primark. Primark was just overwhelmly packed and clothes everywhere but I bought my first pair of skinny jeans for 9 euros! The sun setting was so intense as we wore our sunglasses and we still couldn’t see much of what was in front of us. We rushed back to the hotel for our group meeting for 7PM. After the meeting, we went to eat at a local restaurant called the Diner at Bloomsbury for some good ol fish and chips. Tesco is a big convenience store over here. We stopped by to pick-up some last minute items and off to bed we went.

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