IT WAS a childhood dream for me to visit Europe. It doesn’t matter which cities or countries at first but when I started planning for my trip back in early 2018, I had to focus on landmarks familiar to me from elementary school lessons. The textbook memories served as a framework for places to visit.
Arrived around 8:00pm on October 20, 2018 at the London Gatwick Airport. Since I flew Emirates business (thanks to Qantas Frequent Flyer points), I was dropped off to the hotel via chauffeur services included in the booking. Lancaster Court Hotel’s location is a short 5-min walk to Paddington station (with express services to Heathrow airport, which is perfect for the proceeding journey).
Tip: Make sure you check lift availability when booking your accommodation. I was assigned with a room on level 5 and there’s no lift. I asked for a lower level room but there’s none available (as I’ve been told).
Battling jet-lag, I opted for the 2-day hop-on hop-off tour through Big Bus which started on the next day. It was quite difficult especially for me as I had a few nosebleed incidents (that’s how my body manifests stress).
Big Ben was a disappointment as it was covered and under renovation. All the others attractions/landmarks were great: London Eye, Buckingham Palace, London Bridge, Tower Bridge, and of course Platform 9 3/4 (you’d be familiar if you’re a Potterhead). I was also able to snap a red telephone booth which is one of London’s popular trademarks.
I also tried Padella’s fresh pasta. I came in 20 minutes before opening and I was second in the queue. After a few minutes, I didn’t realise the line was already so long. It was well worth the wait (I didn’t really have to wait that long, but if I was in the back of the queue, it would have been really worth it anyway).
The city has a rich and interesting, albeit dark history. Streets are amazingly clean and although the weather was raining at times, I pushed booked a bike tour from Fat Tire Bikes. I felt special because everyone clapped when they found out I came all the way from the land down under. Not sure why, but probably they gave me an A for my effort to travel solo that far!
The Berlin Wall Memorial has a very solemn atmosphere. It was quiet even there were several big groups of guided tours, probably to respect the memorial of this old representation of a divided nation.
View this post on Instagram
The Berlin Wall Memorial (Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer) is the central memorial site of German division. It contains the last piece of Berlin Wall with the preserved grounds behind it and is thus able to convey an impression of how the border fortifications developed until the end of the 1980s. https://www.berliner-mauer-gedenkstaette.de/en/index.php/berlin-wall-memorial-12.html
Bike tours are highly recommended. The streets are bike-friendly and motorists would usually stop to give way to cyclists. The guide mentioned that this is largely attributed to their culture.
Airport travel is through buses that travel to and from the city.
Tip: Get the Berlin Welcome Pass for unlimited travel on public transport. This is really useful when wandering and finding your way around. The train network is pretty simple and easy to understand.