In London, I rode the buses, the trains and the tube to get around
One great idea is to get the Heathrow Express to Paddington Station and from there, you can literally get anywhere in London. The journey takes 15 minutes so well worth the extra. To get to my accommodation I booked a prepaid Heathrow Express online, but this is not really necessary as there are kiosks for buying tickets. The journey took 15 minutes and it was in air-conditioned cabins.
Again Viatorwas most useful for tours. Here are the current deals for London. One tour I took was visiting the Eye. I took this one so that I get a Birdseye view of London. One recommendation is not to visit in the late afternoon and the position of the sun made it challenging to get any decent photos. And get the fast track ticket. The normal queue was a 3 hour wait.
I visited family in Essex and took the National Rail line to get to them. The Train line, and City Planner and National Rail are great apps to download. It is probably a good idea to zoom out on google and identify the area you choose for accommodation. Most have a local rail link that easily connects to the main tube systems.
For dinner, I recommend finding La Fiama a little Italian restaurant that makes the most amazing and reasonable authentic Italian food. I got to meet Fanco Manco the pizza Chef.
My accommodations included the Crown Plaza and the Best Western to be close to the Chinese visa application. Both I got through last minute deals. If you use any website for cheap accommodation do pop onto Trip Advisor and see what the latest feedback is.
The Crown Plaza was most luxurious but they were going through renovations. Fortunately I was waking really early so construction sounds did not bother me from 8.00am. The Best Western, was great and suited me fine and I think that it is time for New Zealand to consider selling single rooms in stead of just doubles. After returning from Essex I stayed at the Hyde Park Boutique. They put me in a basement room. Again I was happy with the accommodation.
To get around I used the fantastic Oyster Card system. For ENG 2.50 you can hop on a tube and for Eng 1.50 you can get around on the busses. This was a tip that I received from a coupe of friends who had recently been through London.
So in all using the buses are a cheaper way to getting around the centre, but the tube is definitely faster. Without the oyster card, the trips would be double in price. . There were times too that I used the black cab, but that was usually if I was a little lost. The cabs are constructed in a way that there is heaps of space near seating for luggage. They were always clean and again I felt really safe. The drivers were generally helpful and polite. I only had one cabbie offer to help me with my bags.
Both hotels had free wifi, but both sucked and I was lucky to have purchased a simm card at Paddington station with 2 GB of data. I used 1.5 KB of data during my total time so was able to see that I need about 2 KB per week.
In total I spent six days in London. Having access to the WiFi allowed me to move around easily and flexibly. Two of those e days included visiting Essex and Twickenham. It was a pain sorting out my Chinese visa but yet at the same time the challenge all added up to the adventure.
Being conscious of weight, I off loaded a few clothes and put all the extra books in my back bag. At the airport I came in at 22 Kg and they let me through.
London was fascinating. I loved the massive mix of cultures and languages. There were lots of free stuff to do and by riding the transport system you can get around many places easily.
I sometimes tipped for services or if I was helped with my bag. London highlights included the day tour that visited Kensington Palace, Stonehenge, and Bath. I really wished I could have had extra time, as I was also keen on getting to Dover. I loved people watching, riding the transport systems and eating amazing Fish and Chips at the local pub.
I was fortunate to meet a Finnish girt and her mother and we had an interesting discussion about her schooling. She was 12 years old and fluent in 3x languages. I watched them get online and access all the information they needed in Finnish so again, the children we teach must be digitally literate. She helped her mum navigate the tourist information and the transport system in Finnish.
It was good to have all my food served on normal plates and to eat with a real knife and fork. I felt safe wherever I went. Maybe next time, I would come back for a longer time and get out of London faster.