Notice: Dear reader, please note that most of the photos in my blog are currently not available. They are currently held hostage by Photobucket (which requires me to pay $399USD/year). I am in the process of re-uploading the images on a different host and this will take some time. If you have any burning questions about my post, feel free to leave a comment. Sorry for the inconveniences caused!
Greetings from London!
(but the truth is I’m on the train ride to Versailles right now)
By the way, i don’t really have much photos for London as it was so gloomy that i just didn’t feel like taking out my camera at all >_<
After the 4 hours train ride from Edinburgh, we arrived in London slightly after 14:45pm. Train arrived early and that was a good thing as timeliness is something they emphasis a lot as the opposite always happens.
Arrived at kings cross station (yes the Harry potter one) via platform 9 3/4 (just kidding) and dragged our luggage to the YHA St Pancras hostel which was a short 5 mins walk away, opposite the british public library which we didn’t set foot in at all. Checked into the hostel, which was a 4-bed female dorm with attached toilet. Looks pretty decent i guess. we stayed for 3 nights and the people in the hostel changed every night.
Unpack and pack up and went off to leceister square.Roamed around and there was actually the movie premier for the snow white show! It stars the girl from twilight I think? There were a lot of people and they were building the stage with a lot of media staff present as it got later.
Piccadilly Circus. the fountain scene where harry potter suddenly appeared in London.
We were thinking of watching a musical since we had a long train ride. Shortlisted Lion King and Les Mis and decided on Les Mis since Lion King doesn’t run on a Monday. Went around to source for the cheapest and reasonable tickets and we finally settled for a t les Miserables restricted view tickets for $26.50. We kind of missed 5~10 mins of the show as we couldn’t see the whole stage. We didn’t exactly get half price tickets too since the face value was only 35 pounds! But it was reasonable.
Went for dinner at four seasons (roasted pork, char siew and chicken) with beef hor fan and soup dumplings and gosh we were so bloated = it wasnt too expensive actually!
After dinner, we wondered around and digested the food till our musical.
The theatre was really grand, though small it was a lot smaller than esplanade but it means that we were really close to the stage. Anyway, we got stalls seats which means that we were on the lowest ground of the theatre but it was the 3rd last row and we missed the performances which had really high props.
To be honest, I did not really under Les Miserables as I did 0 research beforehand so it was a little hard to grasp the story line. Their voices are really awesome and for the fact that they do not use any microphones at all. Nevertheless, there were some accents or some phrases I couldn’t catch so I couldn’t really hear some parts properly.
Anyways, the picture of the girl actually represents Cosette, the lead girl in the whole musical.
To summarize the story (I had to watch a 52-episode anime to fully grasp the whole idea), Les Miserables, a book written in 1862, is a story about poverty, monarchy, unrequited love, love, trust, betrayal, hope, charity, faith, …
It starts of with this prisoner, 24601, Jean Val-Jean (pronounced as John), who was in prison because he stole bread for his starving family members. And his jail term was supposed to be two years but it extended to 19 years after his numerous attempts at escaping. Then he finally got released out of jail after 19 years, (probably 30-40+) where he continued to steal/rob or whatever just to stay alive. Prisoners were given yellow identification card (different from others) and that they will forever be marked with the label of “criminal”. So one fine day, Bishop Myriel took him in and fed him with food and instead of repenting, he decided to steal the silverware and escape! Betraying the trust the bishop had in him, he escaped in the night and got caught by the police for stealing the silverware! However, Bishop Myriel came and told the police that the silveware were presents and that he forgot to bring the silver candlesticks too. Before he left, Bishop told him that he hope that he would use the silver to make an honest man of himself. Just when he decided to turn over a new leaf, he accidentally got accused of stealing a coin from a young boy and he was forced into hiding from the police. He eventually survived using an alias of Monsieur Madeleine.
Separate from the first part, there as this young mother, Fantine with her daughter Cosette. It was very hard to find a job since she had a daughter so she eventually left her daughter with a corrupted and evil inn keeper while she went to another town to look for a job in the factory. She offered to pay the innkeeper money to take care of her daughter. However, after she left, her daughter Cosette was ill-treated and used as a maid/slave for the family, without Fantine’s knowledge and years went by..
Fantine got a job in Monsieur Madeleine factory. By then Madeleine was a really rich man who opened a black glass button factory? He is very generous and he helps the poor in any and every way possible. Unlucky Fantine lied that she did not have a daughter hoping that it was a higher chance of obtaining a job and eventually when the other factory workers found out, they made a big fuss out of it and eventually she got fired from the factory. Then she roamed the streets, did odd jobs until one day she got bullied by two man and got caught by the police and Madeleine’s assistant saved her. By then, Fantine was already suffering from a terminally ill disease and her last wish was to see her daughter, Cosette.
After a series of complications, Madeleine failed to bring Cosette to Fantine before she dies but she promised her to take care of her daughter. Madeleine’s true identity was suspected by Javert (this policeman who believes that criminals can never turn over a new leaf), and he was on the run again. Nevertheless, he managed to find Cosette, saved her from her torture back at the innkeeper and they started a new life in Paris.
Under Javert’s constant search, Val Jean had to seek refuge in a convent as a gardener while Cosette could attend school. Many years past and they decided to live outside (assuming the Javert has given up on his search). Val Jean still had his piles of money and they led a moderately good life. Cosette and Marius fell in love with each other at Luxembourg Park. *gheez* Anyway, the innkeeper and their family happened to went broke and they went to Paris and live on by begging and cheating and robbing. By then, their eldest daughter, Eponine, fell in love with Marius too. and they happened to be neighbours because Marius fell out with his rich grandfather and was self-supporting himself.
At that time, Paris was in a pathetic situation because of corruption and the poor and the rich divide is very big. Val Jean continued with his charitable acts and constantly fear the Javert (who seems to be everywhere near him). So the students were planning a revolution to go against the government. Initially they wanted to seek for a less violent approach but this general which was their “bridge” died and the situation was getting really bad so they planned a revolution on the day after his funeral.
The revolution was a failure because almost everyone is inexperienced and obviously lost out when the french army had the big cannons and more artillery. So, very sadly, everyone died with the exception of Val Jean and Marius. One very touching part was the Eponine sacrificed her life for Marius despite knowing that Marius only has his eyes for Cosette. (unrequited love). Also, Val Jean went to take part in the revolution because he wanted to protect Marius as he believed that Marius could be the one taking after Cosette in future. So because of his promise to Fantine, he risked his life and saved Marius. Then he was caught by Javert but he eventually spared Val Jean because Val Jean spared his life previously during the revolution.
It was really sad to see everyone die in the revolution (the anime played really sad music). Most of the participants are intellectual students who hope to fight for a good cause but they died feeling that they sacrificed their lives for the greater future. Anyway, that revolution was a failure because they did not gain the support of the masses, like seriously everyone, to support them. Probably due to a lack of proper planning and it was done quite hastily. They would have needed the support of the army too.
Anyway, it was a happy ending eventually and Cosette and Marius got married. Val Jean died years later from a terminal disease.
Apologies for my long summary >_< i just had to get all these out of my head since i watched the anime two days ago. It was really a good story which left me thinking for a long time.
(At this moment (on my way to Versailles) there’s some really interesting busking in the train. I hear trumpet sounds and everyone in the train seems really excited)
(and omg, the sounds were from the blow piano thing and a saxophone. I really fail at recognizing music; ha)
Went back to hostel after the musical and I was praying really hard that there will be no one else in the room; which means that we will get a “private room”. However, to our disappointment, there was someone else in the room. But things didn’t turned out too bad either!
We met this really nice Japanese girl who stopped working to come to Britain to work on an organic farm. (and she was from the financial sector) we hit off quite well and we even exchanged emails and had breakfast together the next day! So far, she’s the only one I have added on Facebook after meeting randomly at the hostel. Hmm.
The toilet was okay but shower was weird because the spray was going everywhere. Oh wells. The bed was comfortable and we slept soundly.
Went for breakfast together with our new friend at the metro station!
Breakfast was belgian waffles with greek yogurt! i think it was 5 pounds D:
Oh! And we took photo with the 9 3/4 platform (which was FAKE because they didn’t want people to disrupt their usual operations). It was just a memorable photo. Oh wells. Land of Harry potter!!
Very pretty king cross station.
After that, we headed straight to the buckingham palace and managed to catch the changing guards parade at 1130am. However, there were so much construction around there because they were building the stage for the diamond jubilee concert and we couldn’t really get a good view of the palace and fountain together.
When the flag is up, it means that the Queen is in the palace!
Took a long walk to Hyde park (the largest park) and took photos along the lake.
It was really super windy and cold despite the (short) sunshine.
Then we proceeded to harrods (I think it started drizzling) and we had to run an errand where my friend’s mum requested for a burberry bag and it was a whole mess before we managed to get the bag.
Bought take out at a sushi place because dine in was 20% more expensive!!! I bought those fan tuan thingy and salmon sashimi. Not bad and price was expensive but it was okay.
And suddenly, it started raining like cats and dogs like non stop and omg it was terrifying.
Then we went to the national portrait gallery and saw many interesting paintings! Including one of the four sunflowers of Van Gogh! We left went the museum close at 6.
You see the gloomy sky~
Walked back to the shopping area and stepped into prime mart!! Gosh it was extremely crowded and I stepped our with shorts.
(Okay reached the Versailles train station)
(now im like queuing for Versailles tickets; been standing for 15 mins and seems like another 15-20 more mins to go)
Left shortly before prime mart closed at 10 and went to pret and mangle to get a soup and it was dinner so late! Argh starving but the hot soup saved the day.
We ended up bathing at the shared toilet outside our room as the shower was much better.
The person in the room was kind of irritated because she was asleep when we came back at 10. Well we tried to keep our voices and noise low but she still tossed and turned whenever we open the door. She probably hated us.
Left early next day for Harry potter tour!
PLEASE TAKE NOTE THAT YOU WILL HAVE TO PRE BOOK YOUR TICKETS ONLINE.
Walked to euston station and bought metro tickets for their overground train to wartford station. Reaching there, turn left on the exit and that should be a queue or someone in a yellow vest with the words Harry potter studio tours. You will have to prepare 2 pounds and pay the driver when you enter for a return ticket. The bus that you will be riding is Harry potter themed on the outside so it should be quite recognizable.
The bus ride is about 15 mins. It’s such a sunny day but we were going indoors >_<
Upon arriving, you will have to exchange your email voucher for the physical ticket. It’s 28 pounds. no joke.
Then you enter in the hall. By the way, I didn’t get the audio guide cause it was more expensive but I feel it should be a good buy because listening is always better than reading and I’m sure they will tell you some interesting details u never knew! Also, do remember to grab a “passport” which can be stamped at several stations throughout the exhibition. also, you can try the snitch hunt. There’s apparently 88 snitches hidden throughout the whole exhibition. I didn’t pay much attention to it but I manage to see 2.
While queuing up, you can see the bedroom under the stairs which harry potter stayed in.
Entering a room, we were greeted and they shortly move us to a small theatre where we watched snippets from the film introduced by the 3 lead characters and the final part was just “wow” it ended with the image of them entering the grand hall and then the screens were lifted up and what we see was the door to to grand hall itself!! Kind of impressive.
The guide was quite funny and he gave a short introduction about the grand hall and the clothes, furnishing blah blah. From that point onwards, you were on your own.
*Showing Selective Photos if not this entry will be extremely long*
I took this for Cedric Diggory.
The Great Hall
Dubledore’s Office – It is actually made of 3 circles and this architecture can be observed in the Hogwarts Castle later on.
How they filmed Quidditch
Well, you actually get to experience sitting on a broomstick! You kind of have to queue up for it and they will take your photograph at the end and sell it to you at ridiculous prices but you can just don’t buy.
I used sneaky camera app and took a picture of a random stranger doing it. Hopefully its alright =/
You pay 2.95 pounds for butter cream and root beer. and someone actually asked if it was alcoholic. right. 3 pounds for a cup of beer. right.
I feel that the tour is really worth it if u have watched all films of Harry potter. I’m not exactly a fan like totally in love with it but I still enjoyed myself thoroughly. Spent like almost 20 pounds at the gift shop. Bought the Hogwarts badge, Harry potter Spects and the chocolate frog which is probably flattened in my luggage by now.
(currently waiting for my easyjet plane from Paris to Milan)
I think the tour was worth the full 28 pounds. You still have to add like almost 10 pounds for the transportation too. If u are a Harry potter fan, you can never give this a miss. However, if you are not, u would enjoy it too I think. That’s only if you have watched the movie.
(currently in the train from Milan to Venice; waiting for the train to move)
After Harry potter, we took the train back to euston station and took a bus to buckingham palace. We wanted to take a better photo of the palace but it wasn’t anything awesome anyway. In fact, it was worse as there was more construction going on for the Jubilee concert T_T
you know the chairs are actually for rental!
Horse Guards Parade (The horses are gone since it was quite late)
random scenery along the way
and the famous #10 @ downing street and this was all we could take.
Do you think that the Big Ben is a little slanted? I call it the leaning tower of London.
After taking the photos, we proceeded towards regency cafe – where my friend had breakfast there the previous time she was in London. I guess it could be the closest you can ever get to see what the locals really eat since this place was super un-touristy. we took a really long walk to get to this place.
She had a full English breakfast with super fantastic hashbrown! while I had a not so awesome steak and fries. Then again, the garlic chili I brought was so good. I think it was a quiet cafe along regency street, not regency road. I remember drinking Fanta Lemon and fell in love with it =p
Walked towards the big Ben and house of parliament to take photos. Apparently we forgot about the Westminster abbey chapel. Saw the London eye from across the bridge. We were around that area for quite some time and even though it was like 9 but it wasn’t dark.
evidence #2. THE BIG BEN IS SLANTED!!
Dropped by a convenience store to grab a drink and realized that sparkling water meant carbonated water. I chose peach flavor assuming that it was a light taste but it ended up as a carbonated sweet drink. (when I wanted plain water *fail*)
Took the bus back and when we entered the hostel room we were kind of shocked because there was this lady with white hair sleeping = we were shocked because we thought that YHA was a youth hostel with age limit but seems like it wasn’t. Then later into the night, another lady (about the same age as the previous one – probably 50-60+) came in. Apparently both of them were stick thin and cyclists. They were riding up to dunno where = what a challenging retiree past time.
And we decided we needed that boost again. Bulmers (made in UK) and organic beer =p i’m drinking it to support the GREEN cause.
Woke up and started packing our luggage since we were checking out today. We managed to squeeze both our luggage into the largest locker available – 3 pounds for 24 hours.
By recommendation of the reception, we took a supposedly 20 mins walk to Camden market (3-4 metro stops away) which was supposed to be very big and have a lot of things.
Sighs, we were kind of disappointed when we reached because the things were like night market style and the things they were selling are things that you can probably buy in Bangkok.. It was kind of disappointing. Oh wells.
Well, on the other hand, we found this food place where there was like a mini international festival which sells international food. From Kebab to sushi to south african to mexican to indian to australian to vietnamese to thai food. we were spoilt for choices! I bought this absolutely sour orange or lemonade for 2 pounds! i wanted to get an orangeade but he didn’t understand me. And we got pad Thai for 5? But it was not bad!
Then we took a bus to National Museum to see the mummies collection and oh gosh it was so freaking crowded with school children =/
Then we walked to the shopping area along Oxford street. Bought a jersey from sports direct for my friend and shopped along the streets and I bought a top shop wallet! My first big buy. Bought a knited cardigan from DP which was on offer.
I also managed to buy my beloved paddignton bear. I’ve been eyeing it since I was a kid but.. I couldn’t really bring myself to buy the bigger size since there was the luggage issue and the price issue. I settled for a tiny weeny one.
A very bad picture of the display window:
Went for high-tea at this atas place where everyone just stopped and took photos of the outside. gosh it was ridiculously expensive but omg the african nectar tea was so nice that i’ve been searching for it and im still searching. Anyway there was the awkward moment when 2 of us only ordered 1 cake and 1 tea. However, they were kind enough to give us 2 cups.
Went over to fortum & mason the most prestigious grocery shopping in London (I think). Had dinner at Ed’s rocker, aka Eddie rocket from USA with very awesome milkshake, burgers and cheese fries! The food was so awesome and sinful but oh wells it had to last us through the night.
Went back to the hostel to get our luggage, took the bus to Victoria station for our Gatwick express train to Gatwick airport. Oh gosh, the train is freaking expensive. It was like 18 pounds for a 50 mins train ride.
After that, had to dash to the metro station to get our refund for our metro card. Initially, the person did not let me into the queue because they were closing but I was like desperately saying that I’m leaving London tonight and that I won’t be back in a really long time and finally he passed and I got in the queue.
After the refund, dashed back to the platform and chiong to the train bounded for the airport. It was a 50 mins ride if I did not remember wrongly but we were like catching 40 winks throughout the whole journey.
We reached the station at about 1am plus and the airport was almost empty. Had to take the sky train to the other terminal. Upon reaching, it was rather isolated but there seemed to be people everywhere on the seats. Decide to go to marks and spencer to get some snacks and lastly ended up in a cafe. Was struggling to stay awake through the graveyard shift.
Soon it was 4-5 plus and we went to the check in counter. We were taking British airways!
Soon it was bye bye london (: and hello Amsterdam