One of the parts of going on exchange I was looking forward to was being so close to many places on my bucket list. By using Glasgow as a departure point trips to cities like Paris, London, and Brussels are much easier. With this in mind my friends and I decided to knock one of the places off our very extensive list. And so our London trip planning began.
The four of us are all on student budgets and didn’t want to blow it all on our first trip. And so the idea of #londoninahundred was born. Our goal was to do all our travel, accommodation, and in under a hundred pounds. The only thing to go over that was food and drinks but we were trying to make those cost as little as possible as well. Opting for dinner in our airbnb and bringing breakfast the first day.
With this as our goal we looked at transportation and the only option that would keep us under a hundred was to take a bus. The journey from Glasgow to London is about eight hours long when done by bus. In the interest of not losing a whole day in London we opted for the overnight bus. This is how we ended up boarding a bus at 10:15 on Friday night. After eight really long hours of hairpin turns, sudden stops, and jolty movement we arrived in London at 7am Saturday morning exhausted but excited.
Now arriving anywhere at 7am always has both ups and downs. On the bright side there’s no one around and the city is yours to explore. On the flip side very little is open so exploration is slightly limited. So we decided to do a couple of the traditional touristy sites that were outdoors and therefore not effected by opening hours.
Our first stop was Buckingham palace and the Victoria memorial. Built in 1703 Buckingham Palace spent its first few years as a townhouse for the Duke of Buckingham. It was acquired by King George III in 1761 and became the royal residence in 1837 when Queen Victoria was crowned. In front of the public gates to the palace is a fountain memorial to Queen Victoria. Unveiled in 1911 the monument used 2,300 tonnes of white Carrara marble. We hung around the monument, snapping a couple pics in front of the palace and the fountain. After that we took the short walk through St James Park to Westminster Abbey. Although we weren’t able to go into the church this time round we walked around it, admiring it’s art and architecture.
The next stop on our whirlwind day was to walk to the London Eye. Walking beside the Parliament buildings and Big Ben to get there. Unfortunately Big Ben is currently under renovation until 2021 so all we got to see was a bunch of scaffolding. After the short walk we ended up in front of the London Eye, we had decided against going on the ride but had wanted to see it up close. The iconic London Eye was added to the London skyline in 2000 and has over 10,000 visitors a day. By climbing into one of it’s 32 pods you get a gorgeous view of the city of London, one I was lucky enough to see when I came to London with my high school.
As the city had begun to wake up we quickly dropped our overnight bags at my friends place and carried on to Camden market for some poking around and lunch. Camden market is one of the places that I was lucky enough to have already visited and it holds a very special place in my heart. It is my favourite memory from earlier trip to London with my high school. The return trip I was able to go to the tea shop I had remembered for years and pick up some tea.
My friends and I all grabbed different things for lunch and brought them with us on the bus as we moved to our last touristy thing of the day – The British museum. Established in 1753 the British Museum is one of the worlds top museums and had been top of my list for places to see. It houses some of the worlds most visited treasures including the Rosetta Stone and the Elgin Marbles frieze.
We wrapped our first day in London by returning to our Airbnb for some snacks and rest. We then left to meet up with one of my friends currently on exchange in London. After a couple drinks and a whole lot of dancing we returned home to get some much needed sleep before day 2.
First up on the agenda was to go to the Tower of London. A British castle used commonly as a prison, with prisoners including many of Henry VIII’s wives. Probably my favourite place we went to the Tower features both indoor and out exhibits. It offers visitors to walk almost the entire fortress’ battlements, giving a great view of London. This is also where the crown jewels are held. The entire time walking through the exhibit my friends and I were pointing at various crowns and bejewelled items picking which ones we would like. Of which there were a lot.
Right beside the Tower of London is Tower Bridge. We decided, or rather our grumbling stomachs decided, not to go all the way up the bridge. Instead we opted to admire it from below as well as get some killer photos. After our impromptu photo shoot we grabbed sandwiches at Pret a Manger and jumped on the tube to get to our last location.
The last stop on our grand tour of London was the British Museum of Natural History. This building is absolutely gorgeous. With a stunning vaulted ceiling and giant dinosaur skeleton hanging from it, even the main hall makes a statement. We allowed ourselves to just wander through the building and ended up seeing a bunch of parts. The gemstone area was absolutely stunning as well as the newly redone dinosaur exhibit. Being a Sunday the museum closed early so we didn’t get to see everything but what we did see was worth it.
After the museum we were all exhausted and opted to just go back to the bus station and eat at a place near there. Half-asleep we scarfed down burgers, milkshakes, and fries. Ready to be back in our own beds we got onto our red-eye bus back to Glasgow. Which although it definitely gave us maximum time in London, made for some very sleepy students in Monday classes.