The Queen would have you booted from her country if she found out that you intend to spend only one glorious day in London. The very thought of touring one of the world’s favourite cities in a day seems preposterous, but, that’s what I am here for. As travel goes, visiting London will definitely be one of those places you won’t soon forget, even if you have only one day. We have the city in our hands for 24 hours, so shall we begin our still through London? Bring your umbrella.
I won’t lie, the food in London can be quite expensive, so steel yourself. But breakfast is one of London’s favourite meal times, so sitting down and scarfing up will be well worth it. If you can, grab yourself a Full English Breakfast of eggs, beans, bacon (get it streaky!), toast and pudding if you’re lucky. Have this with a drop of English Breakfast Tea and get ready for the day.
Westminster: Trafalgar Square, Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace
If I had to make a very loose comparison, Westminster would be the equivalent of London’s Manila. The queen and most of London’s iconic images are found in the area of Westminster. Despite the small amount of time, walking through Westminster offers some of the best sights in the city, especially if the sun is shining–a rarity in the city.
Start off by taking the Tube to Charing Cross station and emerging on Trafalgar Square. The square is featured in a scene during Series One of Sherlock, but is also known as one of London’s most iconic spots. Say hi to the Blue Rooster and head into the National Gallery (free entrance!) for a quick glance at Van Gogh’s Sunflowers (on view until April 2014) before walking down the road towards Big Ben. Although officially named as Elizabeth Tower, seeing Big Ben is something you can’t miss. Turning your head to the left gives you the perfect glance of the EDF Energy London Eye (the thing that inspired MOA Eye) too. On the right side of the House of Parliament is Westminster Abbey, most famous for being the church where Will and Kate married. There’s an entrance fee, but the exteriors are well worth stopping by for.
Walking to the right from the Westminster tube station will lead you through St. James’ Park and right into the heart of the British nation–Buckingham Palace. If you’re lucky, you can get a spot to see the changing of the guard ceremony that starts at about 1130. It’s a whole spectacle that draws a large crowd, but no need to linger. From here, it must be about lunch time, so you can get to choose–would you like to visit a palace or make a fan’s pilgrimage?
Lunch time! If you’re feeling a bit peckish, duck into any pub of good repute that you can find in practically any London street. For some reason, all the pubs we came in served the same food from just one supplier. So go ahead and have yourself a well deserved plate of fish and chips (share if you can!) and take a breath.
If you’ve seen the Young Victoria, Kensington Palace is the place where the Queen Victoria lived before she became Queen. This is also where she met Prince Albert for the first time. The palace looks deceptively simple from the outside, but the inside is a maze of rooms consisting of four different exhibitions–Fashion Rules, which shows dresses worn by Queen Elizabeth and her sister Princess Margaret, the Queen’s Apartment that tells the story of Queen Anne and her eighteen pregnancies, the King’s Apartment, showing off the extravagance of King George III and Victoria Revealed, perhaps the most romantic exhibit on the life of Victoria and Albert. If you weren’t a fan of the royal family before, you will be after visiting the palace. It displays a lot about how much England loves their royals and it can’t be missed.
Just behind Kensington Palace (still within the compound), is a greenhouse constructed by Queen Anne during her reign. Since then, it’s now been recreated into a simple, elegant cafe that serves Afternoon Tea. It doesn’t get fancier than that. If you have a few pounds sterling to spare, here is where you spend it.
Kensington High Street
Rumour has it that Kate Middleton shops for her high fashion looks outside the Palace, right on Kensington High Street. This area is full of London’s best stores. Here’s where you shop for pasalubong. Enter Topshop to buy makeup that they only sell in London stores. Marks and Spencer in London is the equivalent of SM, so you can get undies here at a good price. Then there are the usual stops, like H&M (hit it up while they’re not in Manila yet!) and Zara (we saw shirts selling at 4 pounds = Php320).
Getting There: Take the tube to Kensington High Street Station. The Palace is towards the right.