Change of Guards at Buckingham Palace

Watching the Change of Guards at Buckingham Palace is probably in the must-do list for every visitor to London.  The ceremony starts at 11am, but we got there early at 10.30am.

Buckingham Palace and Victoria Memorial
Dark clouds looming over the grand Buckingham Palace and the Victoria Memorial.  The ceremony will take place at the forecourt of Buckingham Palace, behind the golden railings.  But, at 10.30am, quite a crowd already gathered outside, leaving no room for the late comers.  Lesson learnt:  Better be early!

Outside Buckingham Palace
While the actual Change of Guards will happen here, the procession, however, will start at Wellington Barracks, which is at the other end of the Mall.  The replacement guards will march along the Mall, towards Buckingham Palace.  If you wanna catch a photo or two while the guards marching, any point along the Mall is a great spot.

Replacement Guards Marching Towards Buckingham Palace
Once the guards march past, the Household Cavalry will ride past…

Westminster and St James Park

19 May, 2017, our second day in London.  Still suffering from jet lag, my friend and I both woke up around 4.30 in the morning.  Sunrise was early here, by 5.30am, it was already bright as mid-day.  We decided to have an early start for the day.
Paddington Metro Station at 6am
By 6am, we arrived at the Paddington Metro station.  It was quiet and few passengers were there.

Circle Line Metro at Paddington Metro Station
The station has a very long history.  Some digging in the online Wikipedia shows that "it was served by London Underground trains in 1863", the world's first underground train.  Wow, that means the station is 154 years old!

There are high red brick walls on all four sides, a fitting reminder of the era of its birth.

Circle Line Train
The metro train for the circle line is modern and comfortable.  The body of the train is as wide as our MRT in Singapore.  In the next days, I will show you a more traditional London Metro train interior.

Big Ben, Westminster Pal…

British Museum and a Strange Experience

With Google Map on hand, we set off for the British Museum.  Somehow I always have a problem with Google Map.  It always gives me some strange way to get to my destination.  In this case, it pointed me to a bus stop that we couldn't find.  We got to the exact spot shown on the map with the GPS, no bus stop in sight.

As we were trying to figure out our next step at the side of a street, a guy offered us help.  He said he was an Italian student in London, and told us that the British Museum was just nearby and he could show us the way there.  Then he took my map and walked into a side alley.  He seemed a bit unusually friendly and enthusiastic, and he walked into a side alley!  Alert! Alert!  I looked around, although it was a side alley, there were still quite a lot of pedestrian traffic.  Many student looking people walking past, as it is near University College London.  I took the plunge and walked into the side alley too.  I asked him to point out where we were and that would b…

Getting to London and the Oyster Card

From Gatwick Airport, we boarded the 8.35am train to Victoria Station.  The train was quite empty when we first boarded.  As it got closer and closer to the city area, more passengers came aboard, and it became a bit crowded.  It is advisable to store luggage at the luggage rack once you get on the train. However, it is better to keep an eye on your luggage.  I have heard of incidents which luggage stored at the luggage rack was stolen.  A little precaution goes a long way when you travel.  
Empty Train when We First Boarded
At 9.35am, we arrived at Victoria Station at downtown London.  It is a major transport hub where metro and normal train converge, so it can get a bit confusing for first timers.  Anyway, look for the ticket office.

Victorial Station

We bought our Oyster card (refundable deposit £5.00) and loaded it with a zone 1-2 any time 7-day pass (£33.00).  The 7-day pass lets you travel on all buses, tram and metro within zone 1 and zone 2 in London.  To give you a sense of th…

Setting Off to London

17 May, 2017, a fine Thursday evening, we boarded Emirates EK355 from Singapore to Dubai, on our way to London.

The aircraft was an Airbus A380-800.  I traveled in an A380 for quite a number of times, other than the lower noise level, I never found anything fancy about it, especially the claimed bigger legroom was never a reality.

The new A380-800, which is a variant of the legendary A380, actually provides bigger legroom. Usually when I sit down, my knees will hit the back of the seat in front.  This time, there is still quite some comfortable room in between.

The personal screen for the in-flight entertainment is as big as those that I saw on Singapore Airline's business class.  The touch-screen response is fast.  Power socket, USB charge point are both available.  I was like WOWWWW..... I want to travel with Emirates, man!

Comparing with the solid hardware, software (in-flight service) definitely has room for improvement. During the night, nobody came around to serve drinks. …