First day in London Day 8
London Travel Blog› entry 34 of 40 › view all entries
The overnight train ride from Scotland was pretty good and I finally arrived in London at around 6am in the morning. It was great to get to an early start to the day; however, everything was pretty well closed at Euston Station railway. This did not prove to be in my favour because I didn't really have a good map of London with me and I wasn't really sure of where my hostel was at that point.
I skewered around the train station trying to get an idea where to go, considering the information area was closed, and finally got some help from one of attendants at the ticket booth. Though they didn't know exactly the street as to where my hostel was, one of them did go in the staff room and Google mapped it and printed it out! What service! I was so relieve.
The walk to the hostel, from Euston Station, wasn't too far and quickly found my hostel. The central YHA hostel reception was very inviting and the staff at the check in desk where great. I believe the checking times was sometime in the afternoon; however, with a fee you can store your luggage in a safe area within the hostel. The women at the check in desk also informed me of some of the events that the hostel had, as well as informing me that you can order hot breakfast and diners at the hostel! Fortunately for me, I wasn't that hungry because I had a coffee and a little snack from the train service upon waking up, therefore, I decided to take the opportunity to get rid of my luggage for the day and explore the information pamphlets provided in order to decide where the day will take me.
Getting back to our tour, after quickly walking through the Green Park we made our way to Buckingham Palace for the changing of the guard. I couldn't believe how many people were there to see it! There were so many people that it was almost impossible to get a decent picture. Luckily, being as petite as I am, I managed to get in between people and a little closer to the gate to get a picture.
Near the ending of the "show" we meet up with our tour guide and heading towards Clarence House to see if you could get a glimpse of the Royal family; however as per the flag denoted, or lack there of, they happened to not be there. That didn't bother me at all, but what I did find interesting was seeing the guards in front of the house. Our tour guide had informed us on the walk over that it has been illegal to get near or touch one the guards for almost 2 years now and that they stand at attention because they like to display the fact that they are really paying attention, and not because they have to.
Once we got over the shock of seeing silly guards, we made our way to a photo op of St. James Palace. This Palace is not open to the public but it still used to this day as an office area for the royal family and often used for political functions. In 1698, it actually was the principle residence of the monarchy. Our tour guide also gave us a little history lesson on King Henry VIII, his many wives (6 in total), and the reformation English reformation.
Continuing on our tour, we made our way through up Pall Mall, past a renowned "mans club" and through Trafalgar square. Trafalgar square was fascinating. It had a massive fountain and is home to the National Portrait Gallery. Unfortunately though, this was more of an introductory tour, so there wasn't very much time to visit the attractions within the square. That was fine by me though and I took in all in with the promise that I would return in the coming days. With that promise in mind, we made our way past the Household of Cavalry museum (where they take care of the horses) towards another popular area of Parliament square. Here we had the opportunity to see Westminster Abbey, get a picture of Big Ben. By that point though, I was quite happy that the tour was nearing the end because for a tour that was supposed to be a couple of hours to kill some time before I got get into my room, it ended up being 4 hours long! At the end of the tour, my new found hostel buddy's along with a couple of other people from the tour decided to get a bite to eat with the tour guide.
Overall, I definitely recommend taking a walking tour in any city where it is available; it provides a quick overview of potential areas which you may when to re-visit. It also provides a good opportunity to meet people if you are travelling alone :o)