- We had changed our flights to now leave Rome on the 25th July for Bangkok (instead of Mumbai).
- We had seven days to kill in Italy or elsewhere before heading to Bangkok.
We thought about going back to Amalfi for a week of relaxation, but as much as we loved it, had already done that and wanted to go somewhere new. Rather than discussing the whole thing over dinner – we decided to be spontaneous. We walked ourselves down to the closest Internet café and looked for same day flights leaving to Amsterdam, Berlin and London. We decided on London because we had friends there and everyone along the trip had asked us if we had been to the UK? This along with Gus’s dream of booking a same day flight had us on the first Swiss Air flight to London.
We ran out of the Internet café with only a couple of hours to get to the airport. Having done all modes of travel from Fiumincino airport to Rome we though we might give the shuttle bus a go. The shuttle bus for two people to the airport was 16 euro. We collected our bags and headed straight for the airport. Waving our 2nd last goodbye to Rome – we’d be back again before heading to Bangkok. Throwing the coin in Trevi fountain really did work!
Arriving in London – we had no idea where to go. We had our laptop and used the free wifi at the airport to book a hotel. We wanted a place to stay for the one night, before sorting out what we were going to do. We had gotten in touch with our friends or spammed them all more like it and they were all kind enough to offer their pads for us to crash in. However, we had spoken to my friend Reda earlier on that day and he was kind enough to let us use his chic apartment for the time we were there! Massive shout out to Reda! So that’s what we did. The next day we arrived at Reda’s pad, threw our suitcases on the floor and headed out for some exploration time.
Portobello & Camden Markets: We wanted to take in some of the local treats and heard this was the way to do it. Of course, as soon as we stepped out it started raining and after being stuck along the Mediterranean for three months it caught us by surprise – suddenly we wondered why did we come here? But that feeling didn’t last long. The markets were awesome. The Portobello market is obviously on Portobello Street and it’s shops range from everything in apparel to accessories to fresh fruit and food.
The Camden Market was a bit different. You walk out of the tube station and instantly you feel like you’re at a KISS concert. Leather, piercing and tattoo shops everywhere. The market is gigantic and there are lots of unique and intricate things sold here. Each stand offering something quirkier than the last. There was a stand selling old penguin books by some guy that looked like he’d stepped out of the matrix movie. We ended up buying a book on the secrets of Roman Theology for three pound because he started speaking Latin and kept offering us books and more books. It was the only way to escape. The Camden market was fun. Lots of great things to see and the vibe of the whole town is very unique, great to go and visit for the day.
The sights: We took in the touristy sights of London over a few days. We caught the tube to St James Park and walked to Buckingham Palace onto St James park and through to Westminster Abbey, the Big Ben and London eye. We stopped off at the London Eye as we had booked tickets for the 4pm viewing. The rule is that you can only step into the line 30 minutes before hand and even though our viewing was at 4pm we didn’t get on the Eye until 4:30pm. Once on the Eye, it takes about 30 minutes to rotate completely – seeing Westminster Abbey and the Big Ben were the highlights.
Once we were off the Eye we walked through Bond Street, Oxford Street and onto the London Bridge. London Bridge looked like it was in the hub of the business district and we got there right at 5pm on a Friday night – there was a concert and people dancing everywhere – part of the summer festival thrown in London and suddenly we were reminded of home.
The tour: We wanted to see Stonehenge while we were in London and Ineke (our friend) told us there were tours where you could see both Stonehenge and Bath in one day. Time being of the essence, we got online and booked in a full day tour to see Windsor Castle, Bath and Stonehenge. The tour started at Windsor castle and we had an hour to spend exploring here. We ran to the Queens State Apartments and had a quick look through the Doll’s House (kinda creepy, but whatever turns the Queen on) and the rest of the castle. The changing of the guards was at 11am so we made a dash for that and caught the last 20 minutes of it. We then made our way back to the bus.
The next stop was Bath, a small country town an hour or so from London. We loved Bath – such a cute quaint town and we really wish we’d had more time to explore here. However, our stop was at the Roman baths – a haven the Roman soldiers created to escape once had they invaded Bath. The Baths were cool – thermal baths using mineral spring water claimed to be the fountain of youth. You can also drink some of the water from the fountain for a pound. The effects are immediate! Can’t you tell?
Next stop Stonehenge. Earlier on in the day Gus lowered my expectations of Stonehenge, saying it wasn’t as impressive as it seems. Apparently you could only see it from 50 metres away and behind a fence. I didn’t care, I still wanted to go and see it and luckily we did. There was a fence, but if you pay the 7.50 pound entrance fee, you can get beyond the fence. Very mystical the Stonehenge, lots of different theories as to how they got there so you must visit to get your own theory going. This was our last stop and we only stayed for an hour or so.
The show: We wanted to experience a London show while we were in London town and not being major musical fans decided we’d try our luck with a tribute show to the King of pop himself, Michael Jackson. I was so pumped about the show – three hours of listening to Jackson 5 and MJ music – the ultimate dream. Let me just say from one MJ fan to the next – this show was ordinary. They had four people performing the same song. There was a female MJ (who was awesome), a fat MJ, a scary ass thriller looking MJ and a massive giant MJ. None of them dressed up as MJ – they had a dress up MJ (look a-like) to do the dancing. This worked for Smooth Criminal and Billy Jean and that’s about it. So, save your money and just listen to his tunes on your iPhone. If you like him at all.
London was a pleasant surprise for us. We initially didn’t want to go because we thought it would be too much like Melbourne – but in the end it’s what we liked about it the most. We loved the vibe that London has and can see why so many of our friends have decided to live & work there. A special thanks to all our London friends who made our stay so memorable and made sure we experienced the best London had to offer. Will definitely be back!