As I don’t plan to travel anytime soon (not that I don’t want to, just don’t have any money) I will be adding some posts from my previous travels. And it will be retrospectively so the most recent trip as first and trips I took some time ago as lasts.
My last trip was to London where I spent New Year’s Eve. But how did I get to this trip in a first place?
How did it begin
My friend, let’s call her Grace (I already mentioned that I won’t be using real names as they are really not so important), asked me if I want to join her. She found this trip on Czech version of Groupon and it should cost just 2,999 CZK. So I thought why not.
I knew it will be terrible going there by bus (after all it’s about 20 hours) but it won’t be the first time I’ll go there by bus so I agreed. But then I found out that in that price isn’t included 790 CZK fee for a shuttle (ship or train) you need to take to get there through canal La Manche. Also, they wanted from us in the bus to give them 3£ as a tax for staying overnight. I mean shouldn’t that be included in the price for the trip? Yeah, as you can guess I wasn’t satisfied with this travel company at all.
After we got to the UK we stopped at Greenwich to take a quick tour there and then we supposed to continue to boat ride on Thames river. But would it be an adventure if everything would go as planned? Of course not. So because of a fog boats couldn’t go. Over the fog, you couldn’t see more than few meters. But luckily for us, the fog started to melt slowly so about an hour later we could get on that damn boat. It took us from Greenwich to Tower and it should continue to Westminster to Parliament but again, because of the fog, we had to switch boats at the Tower as our first boat was getting back to Greenwich.
When we got to Westminster I and Grace left our group with our guide and went to Oxford Street looking for Primark. I’m not a huge fan of this store but Grace loves it so we went to find it. And of course, we took the wrong direction once on Oxford Street so we had to walk whole street down to find it. For those who don’t know, Oxford Street is 1,9 km (1.2 miles) long and it has two Primark stores, each at the end. And we chose the one which was further from us what we didn’t know that time. But I won’t lie, I found some nice stuff there too. In fact, I left there little over 50£.
After few hours in Primark, we needed coffee so we camped in nearby Starbucks. (God, thanks for Starbucks.) We got our coffees and also some of the energy back. And then was time to get slowly back to our group. We were supposed to meet them under the London Eye around 5 pm. So we walked through the city full of people, so nicely looking restaurants and pubs and stores with winter decorations behind windows. Even though we were walking really fast it was a nice walk. We also stopped at Trafalgar Square to take some pictures. The time we got to London Eye we realized we are there early so we went to nearby McDonalds. Mainly because free toilets 😉
And when was time, we went looking for our group in the park under the London Eye. We found just a couple of our people there so we waited with them and when our guide arrived, she told us she got just call from our bus drivers that they are stuck in traffic. So we got another hour dismiss. At the end of the park was a Christmas Village. They had a carousel there and some stands with hot drinks and food. Grace went for a carousel ride and I got hot plum cider. I must say it was sweet but better than I expected.
When we finally got to the hotel, which by the way was about an hour and a half from London, we were dead from exhaustion. The hotel didn’t look any fancy but they had a really nice lobby. But the room we got??? OMG. Anthony, from Hotel Impossible show, would get really upset. Small room – OK. Cleaning services (clean bathroom and bed, not so much carpet) – OK. Wallpaper and wood paneling which was both peeling? – SO NOT OK. And those curtains? They must have been there since English Civil War. I’m serious. And that rotting corner on the ceiling? But most important is that we survived that one night.
And suddenly morning is here
The other day, after breakfast at the hotel (classic buffet table – not so bad but nothing special either) we went back to the city. We started by visiting Madame Tussaud museum where we had to wait 1,5 hour for tickets. It was so many people in there… I don’t mind people but I’m not a fan of crowds in small spaces. But we managed to take pictures with some of those figurines and we also saw 4D Avengers movie (unfortunately cartoons). But I was sad that they removed one part of the exhibition I saw last time I was there (which was in 2009?). It was something like a horror tunnel. I saw there torturing machines and some creepy figurines and also people in masks and they were scaring you. But they had to cancel that 🙁
Mood booster after rough morning
After the museum, we had free time again until 10 pm. So we went to Primark again (this time I left there only 4£). Then we went to rest to McDonald’s from which we moved to Starbucks where we sit for hours.
We got to our meeting spot an hour early. Instead of 10 pm, we were there at 9 pm. But at least we got a really nice spot to watch New Year’s Eve firework. We were at Black Frier Bridge. So we waited there for our group. Again. At 10:15 I called our guide and she told me they are late and that they will be there in 30 minutes. But they didn’t show up. But someone else did.
Right behind us appeared an old woman with her husband. They were right on our backs. So we stepped back a little so we could protect our spots at the guardrail but still get enough space. After while the woman squeezed between my and Grace to take a picture so we let her. Then she crammed between me and a guy standing next to me so she could sit on the ground and lean with her back on the guardrail.
I didn’t want to move so she was leaning on my leg also. For over an hour. Then she stood up but stayed at the guardrail. Because of her proportions, she couldn’t fit so she asked me if I could move a little. Hell Yeah. I told her NO. If she would come earlier she could have a nice spot as we did. But she obviously couldn’t speak English very well so it was pointless to try to explain it to her.
But even though we enjoyed our view of fireworks. And to be honest, it wasn’t the best firework I saw. It was really nice but I saw better. 😉
Run for the bus
When the firework stopped we hurried to our next meeting point which was subway station Southwark. But unfortunately our guide had wrong information and this station was closed till 2 a.m. We waited there for our group and then we all run to next station which, as police told us, should be open the whole evening. We had to run for almost 20 minutes to London Bridge station when we got on Jubilee line which took us to North Greenwich station. Our bus was waiting in a parking lot at O2 Arena. But as nothing can be simple and without complications, we had to wait for people who were late.
I’m not a very patient person and I hate waiting. Also, I hate when something can be done simple but people don’t see a simple way so I decided that we won’t be waiting. I and Grace went to find the right tram and went alone. How difficult is it to go by subway, right?
We found the right tram right away and we were lucky enough to fit into the tram which was about to leave. We knew on which stop we need to get out and we did so. In the lobby of that subway station, I found a guy wearing a yellow vest (stuff) and I asked him if he knows where our bus could be. He wasn’t sure but he pointed us to one direction which showed as the right one. It was the right choice to go before the rest of our group. This way we had enough time to change to something more comfortable for such a long ride and we got ourselves seated before rest of them came.
The ride home wasn’t so easy as I thought it would be. First of all, we had to wait for a train to take us through La Manche tunnel. We had to wait for two hours there because someone was too lazy to pick up a phone and call if they could fit us in. But then it wasn’t so bad. Some people, who wanted to go to Prague instead of to Brno, switched buses so we had more free seats so Grace left me and sat few rows in front of me. I had two seats for myself so I could sit with my legs up and I got also a little of sleep. But the ride was even though so long. We left London around 2:30 – 3:00 a.m. and we got to Brno at 11:30 p.m.
I’m never going to London by bus again. This was my third visit there by bus and I hope my last one. Next time only by plane.
Here are some pictures: FLICKR