Long London Layover

London Travel Blog

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Big Ben tower

I arrived in London from Chicago after a surprisingly pleasant trip on American Airlines at 7am.  After spending a hour and a half in line for the passport check, I finally boarded the famed London Underground.  I bought a day pass (about £7, and worth it for the transfers I was doing), because it was still cheaper than taking the slightly faster Heathrow Express.  My first destination was Victoria Station where I planned to deposit my luggage for the day.  This cost me £6.50 per bag, so I opted to check only my largest suitcase and keep my carry-on.  So after a quick cup of coffee and scone, I was finally off to the British Museum.  I won’t go into much detail here as I have already written a review of the Museum, but I would say it is well worth the visit.

Westminster Palace
 I had a hard time deciding what I wanted to do with my one day in London, and had sought the advice of many people before deciding to forgo the traditional London sights and opt for the Museum.  I think I made the right choice.  However, because I never actually looked for a street map and relied on the assumption that there would be signs on the street to direct me to the Museum, I did spend about 40 min getting from the Underground stop to the Museum (which should have been about 5-10 min walking).  Turns out, there are some signs, but they are sporadic and somewhat hard to follow from one to the next.  But, all in all, it was a great way to spend my afternoon.

Next, with only about an hour left, I decided to hop the Tube to Westminster, to see some of the landmarks.

Westminster Palace
 It was a breezy and cool afternoon, and I loved just sitting on the lawn by Westminster Abbey watching the people go by.  

One little remark about the Underground system…..it is considered the greatest in the world for good reason.  There was a bit of construction and closures while I was there, but things still seemed to be running efficiently.  And if you are planning on a trip to London and using the Underground, I recommend reading Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman before you go.  One of my favorite parts of that day was just riding through the stations and remembering parts from the book.

I then left for Gatwick on the train from Victoria Station (a little bit expensive…wish the Tube went there).

 I arrived at the British Airways desk to find that the ticket I booked through American Airlines had never been issued and therefore I didn’t have a seat on the flight.  Luckily, the extremely pleasant BA agent offered me the last spot on the plane for a discount:  business class for £60.  I took it since there was no other flight until the next evening.  While annoyed that I knew I would have to fight with American to refund the flight that I had paid for but apparently was never booked, the first class lounge helped alleviate the stress.  Ah.  This was my first time in a lounge, and I must say, I understand the hype now.  I enjoyed a bit of complimentary wine and snacks while surfing the net.  I even cleaned up a bit in the well stocked restrooms.  And then came the flight:  Great food, great service, and really comfy seats.  I am sure I will never be able to afford it again, but I can honestly understand why people choose to pay so much for business class.  The highlight of the flight was flying through the most amazing lightning storm.  It was possibly one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen.

minerva3333 says:
BTW...never got refunded for the American Airlines flight. 6 months of fighting with them and I gave up.
Posted on: Jan 12, 2009
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Big Ben tower
Big Ben tower
Westminster Palace
Westminster Palace
Westminster Palace
Westminster Palace
London Eye and River Thames
London Eye and River Thames
Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey
London Sights & Attractions review
Amazing collection of world artifacts
The British Museum is an exceptional collection of artifacts from throughout the world. While controversy over the museum’s possession of Lord Elgi… read entire review
London
photo by: ulysses