Tag: london

Europe 2019: A Journey through History & Culture

In October 2019, I embarked on my first ever trip to Europe. Over the 17-day journey, I visited museums and historic landmarks, caught up with friends, and sampled some amazing cuisine.

To join me on my epic journey through London, Berlin, Warsaw and Krakow, click the links below!

DAY 1 to DAY 3

DAY 4 to DAY 5

DAY 6 to DAY 7

DAY 8 to DAY 9

DAY 10 to DAY 13

DAY 14 to DAY 15

DAY 16 to DAY 17

London 2019 (Day 4-5)

Day 4

My friend Alex and I spent the day touring the Imperial War Museum and the districts with Big Ben, Parliament and Buckingham Palace.

What I saw

Began the day with a trip to the Imperial War Museum
Obligatory shot with the naval guns in front.
Large displays included the V2 rocket and the Harrier jet.
Lawrence of Arabia’s Arab headdress accessory (agal).
The British flag carried by the British party when they went to surrender to the Japanese at the Old Ford Factory in Feb 1942. It was then hidden by POWs at Changi. The flag was again raised in Singapore after the Japanese surrendered to Lord Mountbatten on 12 Sep 1945.
A Nazi eagle emblem recovered from the Reich Chancellery in Berlin after the German surrender.
The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben from Westminster Bridge.
The Elizabeth Tower and Big Ben (the bell inside) were undergoing refurbishment.
Buckingham Palace. The Queen wasn’t at home though.
A happy guy who just happened to wander into my shot.
The British flag was flying above Buckingham Palace. If the Queen was present, the Royal Standard would be flying instead.
Climate Change protesters outside the British Library. It was surreal to see street demonstrations.
The strikingly beautiful St Pancras station at night. Strong Gothic vibes.

What I ate

Had breakfast in this delightful little coffee house at Tavistock Place.
Had the full English Breakfast which was extremely filling so we skipped lunch.
Dinner was this lamb souvlaki. It was too chewy though.
This warm chocolate brownie topped with vanilla ice cream was superb.

Day 5

On Day 5, Alex and I hung out at the Victoria & Albert Museum and Harrod’s before we bid farewell to each other. I then ended my last day in London with a play at the Duchess Theatre.

What I saw

The ornate entrance to the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A).
An extremely detailed lacquer table from the Ming dynasty.
A Japanese lacquer chest inlaid with gold, silver and mother of pearl. It was exported to Europe by the Dutch East India Company in 1640-43.
A gallery full of Victorian era reproductions of classical artefacts.
Among the casts include one of Michaelangelo’s Statue of David. The original is in Florence.
The Tippu Sultan’s famous tiger automaton, depicting a tiger mauling a British soldier. It was looted from India after the Sultan’s defeat.
Ended the day by watching “The Play That Goes Wrong”, a comedy that features a play within a play.
It’s a small but cosy theatre and the murder mystery plot was very entertaining. Well worth the 22 pound ticket.

What I ate

Had delicious butternut squash pancakes with egg and maple syrup for breakfast.
The hot chocolate was a great way to warm the body on that cold day.
Decided to pop by Five Guys for my first taste after the play. The shake was so thick.
The Five Guys was just a stone’s throw from King’s Cross.

Click HERE for Day Six and Day Seven

London 2019 (Day 1-3)

Day 1

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.

Day 2

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.

Day 3

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