I checked into the YHA Hostel at St Pancras, which was conveniently located across the road from King’s Cross Tube station. The rooms were comfortable. As it was already late afternoon, I rested a bit before heading to Leicester Square to meet my friend Zane, who was studying in London, for dinner and some sightseeing.
Great Views of the British Library (left) and St Pancras International station.
What I saw
Obligatory photo at Piccadilly Circus
Is it even Chinatown if there are no lanterns?
Big Ben was under renovation but the LEGO version at Leicester Square was lovely too!
The West End Sondheim Theatre in Westminster.
Thanks Zane for showing me around!
What I ate
Finally got to try Burger and Lobster’s roll for 28 pounds.
On the first full day in London, I decided to dive straight into history with visits to the Churchill War Rooms and the (in)famous British Museum.
What I saw
First stop of the day was the Churchill War Rooms, an extensive bunker from which he directed the British war effort.
A conference room in the bunker.
Room where junior staff worked. Conditions were rudimentary.
Churchill’s office in the bunker.
A map of the Malay Peninsula and Singapore in the bunker. There were dozens of maps on walls in key rooms.
The famed German Enigma code machine, whose system was eventually broken by the Allies.
The Government Offices Great George Street building above the bunker. It houses several departments including the Treasury.
The entrance to Downing Street where the British Prime Minister lives.
The massive Horse Guards Parade square where various state and military ceremonies such as Trooping the Colour are held.
Extinction Rebellion protests at Trafalgar Square. The first protest I came across in Europe.
The Cross Keys, a heritage-listed pub in Covent Garden.
In the afternoon, it was time to explore the massive British Museum, filled with millions of often-looted items.
The iconic central atrium of the British Museum.
A colossal 7 tonne statue of Pharaoh Ramesses II.
Winged Assyrian human-headed lions from ancient Nimrud.
Part of the Elgin Marbles that Greece has demanded for decades to be returned.
There were plenty of mummies on display, including some unusually sized and coloured ones.
Hoa Hakananai’a, a four tonne Easter Island statue taken in 1868. The island’s inhabitants have been calling for it to be returned.
What I ate:
As there were no queues at Covent Garden’s Shake Shack unlike Jewel Changi, I decided to try their mushroom burger, which was excellent.
Enjoyed a crispy duck confit, duck egg and waffle with mustard maple syrup at Duck & Waffle Local in St James.
On my second full day in London, I explored the historic Tower of London, met up with my friend Alex who had come down from Scotland, browsed the wares at Camden Market and ended the day with a fantastic tapas dinner.
What I saw
The Tower of London is an immensely popular historic attraction that dates back to the 11th century.
I joined a fascinating guided tour by the Tower’s famous Yeomen Warders, also known as Beefeaters. They are retired Warrant Officers with at least 22 years of service. This guy was very entertaining with his stories.
The Jewel House, a vault where the British Crown Jewels are kept. I got a glimpse of the Koh-i-Noor diamond which India has demanded to be returned. Photography wasn’t allowed inside.
One of the Tower’s Ravens (there are at least six). A superstition holds that “if the Tower of London ravens are lost or fly away, the Crown will fall and Britain with it.”
The White Tower, which contains a large collection of armour and weaponry.
Part of the medieval armour collection, for both soldiers and horses.
Obligatory shot with the Tower Bridge of London, which is near the Tower of London. It is often mistakenly called “London Bridge”, which is actually another bridge.
Reunited with my Scottish friend Alex! We had met in Melbourne in 2015 while he was on exchange there.
Camden Lock which was right next to Camden Market.
Fabulous and free view of London’s cityscape from Primrose Hill.
Chalk Farm tube station with the iconic Leslie Green exterior tiling.
I bought Harry Potter souvenirs (like Dumbledore’s Elder Wand) from the shop at King’s Cross station.
What I ate
Mac & Cheese with chorizo and harissa from Camden Market.
Superb dinner at Leicester Square Kitchen, a place with a DJ & cool vibes. The Mexican & Peruvian inspired dishes were bursting with flavour.
Click HERE for Day Four and Day Five