London Calling (The Clash)

Something that has been on my mind the past year finally came into fruition last November 28th. Having Ooyah passed her endurances for 4 and 7 hour flights, we boarded Singapore Airlines for a 13 hour flight to London. Fadelinah wanted to shop her heart out and I wanted to be inside Emirates Stadium watching an actual live match, rather than just make do supporting Arsenal from the couch at home. It was fuss-free booking the essentials a few months in advance and to have them delivered to Singapore, like the London Pass, which proved very useful throughout our stay in London. Be it going into the tourist attractions without having to queue and unlimited travels on the Tube and buses. The actual cost of the London Pass was recovered halfway through our journey and there is absolutely no way for anyone to cover everything, even if it is a 2 week stay.

Ibis London Blackfriars was booked for the initial 2 nights as it was just built in October. Simple clean interior with competent staff and located right in the centre of London, with Halal food available just a street away and the nearby Southwark station made travelling a breeze. On hindsight, we should have just stayed there throughout our stay, if we knew that the second hotel we booked for the next 4 nights, Studio 2 Let at Cartwright Gardens, was utter crap. Never have we stayed in a more deplorable place than that. Just a night was enough for us to foresake the cost of the remaining 3 nights and head straight to Pullman London St. Pancras across the road. A lesson learnt, never stay in a typical building to have the feel of the locals, unless it is run by a reputable hotel chain.

We managed to cover a few tourist attractions during the first few days. H.M.S. Belfast, permanently docked along the River Thames, offered an insight into the living conditions of the crew that went through various wars in it before the ship was turned into a museum in 1971. The Tower Bridge offers a learning experience into the history and mechanics that makes the amazing bridge works, unlike the London Bridge featured in the nursery rhyme that just looks boring, until lit at night. The architectural buffs would definitely appreciate the Millennium Bridge that spans from St. Paul’s Cathedral to Tate Modern. Tower of London is interesting in a medieval and spooky kind of way, but we enjoyed it nonetheless. Basically we stopped by any interesting spots along the River Thames, including Shakespeare’s Globe, and managed to board a Citycruise boat in the evening from Big Ben.

The highlight of the trip, at least for me, was sitting inside Emirates Stadium watching Arsenal’s match against Swansea City. Even having signed up as a Red member months ahead, I couldn’t manage to get extra tickets for Fadelinah and Ooyah, but given the constant swearing and seat-slamming Gooners around me, perhaps it wasn’t a good idea after all to bring them along. Anyway, both of them were busy shopping at Oxford Street while I was watching the match. Arsenal eventually lost through 2 late goals from Michu. Even in defeat, I would gladly do it all over again if given another chance. The 3 of us returned the next morning for a proper tour of Emirates Stadium. Ooyah decked in her Arsenal gear had fun running around the place and posing beside statues of Tony Adams and Thierry Henry.

We visited a few more places like the Portobello Market, Piccadilly Circus and the Household Cavalry before spending the remaining days in London hopping in and out of the London cabs shopping at places like Harrods and Primark. Fadelinah also got her much-awaited English scones at The Tea Room. We love London and we will be back. It is just a matter of when.

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~ by blackcadillac73 on January 25, 2013.

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