Friday, April 14, 2006

Holiday pics: Sojourn in London

We were supposed to take a direct flight from Rome to Prague in the Czech Republic via Czech Air. Unfortunately, because the ringgit was sooooo small in value compared to the Euro, we didn't want to spend € 350.00 (RM 1550!!!!) for a mere two hour flight. So we decided to take the no-frills option: EasyJet. The only thing is that we have to fly to Gatwick in London first and then catch another flight to Prague 6 hours later. On the upside the whole thing only cost us £50.00 (RM350) per person. No kidding!

So, we woke up bright and early, took a final italian breakfast of toasted bread and cappuccino and caught the metro to the main bus station to Ciampino Airport. Even though the information desk at the Termini stated that the trip would take one hour, it didn't take into account the infamous Roman traffic jam. So what was supposed tbe an idyllic, relaxing one hour bus journey turned into a harrowing two and a half hour excursion into Italian hell as we feared we would actually miss our flight!

Luckily, we arrived at the airport by the skin of our teeth. Two hours later, we arrived in Merry Old England! Home of our former colonial masters. Land of the almighty Pound Sterling (£1 = RM6.50) etc. Anyway, when we arrived at the Customs checkpoint in Gatwick Airport, the lady officer was very interested to hear about our trek across Europe and suggested that since we had about 6 hours to kill before our next flight to Prague, we could hopto London for a quick tour.

So we enquired about the train service to the city centre and found two options. Gatwick Express which takes 20 minutes non-stop to reach Victoria Station; and Southern Express whnich takes 40 minutes and makes a few stops along the way. The other difference is Gatwick Express costs £23 return, while Southern costs £9.30. So guess which one we took. Quite frankly i don't know who in their right mind would take Gatwick Express???

The train ride was smooth, quiet and best of all, not crowded at all. It afforded us a chance to see London's suburbs which was rather dreary and dull. Well, compared to Italy, eberything else is dreary and drab. Anyway, exactly 40 minutes later, we arrived at Victoria Station in the heart of London.

And this is the scene that greeted us. My first impression of Victoria Station was one of 'orderly chaos'. A bit like Puduraya but brighter, cleaner and cooler. Oh, and it cost 30p (RM2) to use the toilet. BLoodsuckers! Anyway, after getting some bruchures and directions from the tourist information counter, Chris and I headed out into the streets to see where we could go to within the limited time that we had.

We decided to grab a bit to eat and went into a small 'inexpensive' looking deli and ordered a ham on rye sandwich and cappiccino each. It cost £7.50 (RM50). WAH LAU EH! I hate you, Goerge Soros!.... Well, I have to stop doing these mental conversions in my head, or else I will never be able to enjoy this trip.

We decided to walk to Buckingham Palace and kacau the beefeaters. Unfortunately by the time we got there, it was already closed for the day so this (left) was as close as we could get to the famed palace guards. There were quite a lot of tourists in Queen Victoria Memorial, the park outside the palace grounds that day - mostly Japanese and Taiwanese. We would've taken more pictures there but as people kept popping in and out of my field of view, it was rather frustrating to compose a proper picture on my camera's viewfinder.

Lots of big statues and monuments , of which I had no idea who or what they were. This one (right) is my favourite as there was a golden statue of an angel standing proud at the top of the monument.

Later, we crossed the road to Green Park which was true to its name, despite it being winter. In the middle of it was this funny looking 'fountain' which resembled the sharp ends of a pair of scissors. Chris was tempted to piss into it for the heck of it.......

A short walk further up the road, we came to another park, the famed St. James Park. Thnis is the city's oldest Royal park covering 23 hectares and is surrounded by three palaces, Westminster, St. James and Buckingham. In the centre of the park is a beautiful lake where ducks, geese and pelicans come to rest and feed.

These two ducks must have gotten used to the presence of humans as they actually waddled up close to us and even posed for pictures. Too bad we didn't bring any breadcrumbs to feed them for their effort. So cute! I shall never eat another pecking duck again.... until I get back to Malaysia. :-)

We took a nice walk around the lake and then it was time to get back to Gatwick Airport to catch the plane to Prague. All in all, a day very well spent. I know I shall visit London to do a proper visit soon.

1 comment:

sbanboy said...

Great pictures ..... I cant wait for go there someday ...