London, UK

I'm a Irish woman in London

London, London, London..what a city! I loved it! I must belong to the few people who haven't been to London. That's one of the reasons I decided to go there on "an autumn get away from everyday life" trip. And it was definitely worth it! I also thought it would be a great place to go to with my boyfriend since he doesn't speak e.g. Italian like me. In England, we could feel equal.

We left on Monday around twelve o'clock with the air company Blue1. I must say that we had terrible luck at the airport, checking in at terminal 1 and then departing from terminal 3. That meant walking through the entire Helsinki airport. I don't know who planned that, but it was awful and caused some unnecessary stress for us. After all, we all know England doesn't belong to the Schengen zone, so we knew the flight would depart for sure from the terminal 3. Sigh. Anyway, we made it on time and we were off!

We arrived in London at around one o'clock since they're two hours behind us and the flight took three hours. I tried to research as good as I could about the city before going but I wasn't sure what way would have been the best to reach our hotel from the Heathrow airport, so I relied on the receptionist at our hotel. That turned out to be a mistake since she only mentioned on the phone the most expensive way to reach the hotel from the airport, the Heathrow Express train that is. We decided to take the Heathrow Connect train and arrived at Paddington station in 20 minutes. From there it was easy to change to the underground. We bought the weekly ticket for about 27 pounds.

Our hotel was not exactly what I expected, but it was fine for its purpose - a place to sleep in. We had our own room and toilet and a view to the garden and next street, that was fine. But the doors were paper, the lift didn't work and we found somebody else's boxers underneath the bed. The receptionists weren't the greatest either. The included breakfast consisted of toast and corn flakes. We managed, but I wouldn't return there. The neighborhood of Baywaters was nice though. We had a lot of restaurants and pubs nearby. Besides that, we were located close to the Notting Hill area which I very much was looking forward to see and explore.

The first afternoon in London we spent at the free and awesome British Museum. I knew that they had a lot of Egyptian treasures there, but I came to see that the collection was even far greater than I thought! I felt I had never been that close to history before, never been to Egypt. The museum was beautiful and well kept and organized. 10+!

We passed by the King's Cross station on the way back to our neighborhood to see the Harry Potter trolley put into the platform 9 3/4 at the station in honor of the movies. It wasn't that easy to find, but it was worth the search.

We had dinner at a cozy Italian restaurant that turned out to belong to an English chain of Italian restaurants called Bella Italia. Great Italian food, really Italian standard. The dinner costed us each about 15 pounds with drinks included. Before returning to our hotel, we stepped into a real authentic British bar called the King's Head. The atmosphere was wonderful. I felt like I stepped into Emmerdale, hehe. I found it a little bit tricky to find something to order since I don't drink beer. Luckily they serve Corona, the only beer I accept. My boyfriend was in heaven with so many different beer types to choose from!

The next day we got up early and headed for Notting Hill directly after breakfast. Notting Hill is an enchanting area with colorful houses and boutiques. So idyllic. An immediate love story. I even found the Travel book shop where the Notting Hill movie was shot, what an honor. I actually felt the atmosphere of the movie.

I had heard about the change of guards. Since we went to London quite late in the year, the summer season was considered to be over and, therefore, the change of guards only happened every second day, on even dates. So I knew that Tuesday would be our only chance to see it. We hurried to Buckingham palace and managed to see a glimpse of the proud guards.

After that, we thought it would be a good idea to go to the Madame Tussaud's wax figure museum. I'd heard that there were long queues to get in so therefore it was a good idea to go there early. Before going in the queue, we stepped into a local pub again for lunch. This time I had some delicious meat pie and chips with peas and ale gravy. Yummy! My boyfriend had a grilled steak and he loved it as well. By now, I realized that Coke was a rarity in England and it belonged to the Pepsi kingdom. What a pity!

Madame Tussaud's was a fun experience. We entered after 45 minutes of queuing, not that bad in my opinion. I was surprised about the little amount of wax figures. Somehow I had imagined more of them for 25 pounds. But I got to see Brad Pitt and Dalai Lama so I was happy. I would have been even happier with Audrey Hepburn, but you can't have it all. The most original part of the museum was the scary part where they had live actors inside that yelled at you and blowed air at you. I was so scared that I had to hold on to my boyfriend all the time and scream, hehe.

We saw that there was a discount if you bought the Madame Tussaud ticket together with the London Eye ticket and therefore we decided to combine these on Tuesday. This also offered us the possibility to watch a 4-minutes-long clip about the London Eye before going on the ride. The 4D clip was nice since I've never experienced any 4D before. During the clip, there was a scene with soap bubbles and at the same time I could actually feel some coming at me. They had released some bubbles in the room. Incredible sensation! There was a similar situation when it snowed during the clip and they dropped snowflakes into the showing room.

One of my friends had recommended Oxford street to me as the greatest shopping street and oh was she right! I bet you can find anything you want on that street. Me and my boyfriend fell in love with a shop called Primark.

That evening we had dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe London. We managed somehow to get into the restaurant the back way so we came into an empty restaurant. That was really scary. We continued walking until we came to some stairs and came to understand that the actual restaurant was on the second floor. There was a really nice hostess at the restaurant. She was great at her work! She reminded me of the hostesses I've seen on the TV show "Sex and the city". On the show Carrie has always made it clear that the laws of a major city are clear: you need to get along with the hostess or you've lost the game. If you get a hostess angry, you'll never get into the restaurant you want. This hostess was exactly the same. She was calm and equally kind towards everybody. She actually apologized to me because we came in the back way and let us pass another couple and so we only needed to wait about 20 minutes to get in. I'm sure that if one would live in London that would be a contact you wouldn't like to miss.

We got a surprise trying to get back to the hotel. It was raining so the underground stopped working. That's why we had to try something I'd actually looked forward on trying-catching an English taxi. It turned out to go smoothly. The tricky part was to understand where to get them. The taxi driver was very polite and the way home went well.

The next morning we spent going to the Tower of London and taking a Thames cruise. The cruise was nice even though it was difficult to hear all the explanations on it. It was nice to see another part of London and especially some of the sights nearby, e.g. Shakespear's Globe Theater, Tate Modern..we went into Chinatown for lunch. On the way, we got a surprise at Piccadilly Circus. Some of the PETA people had arranged a demonstration against fur on the square so there was some half naked women sprayed with body paint trying to get attention. And they sure did get some, hehe.

Chinatown turned out to be a little bit of a disappointment. The Chinese people tried to sell cheap English stuff, such as umbrellas and so on. That kind of took the whole glow away from it. We still had a delicious three course meal at the London Dragon restaurant for 17 pounds each. I was full for the rest of the day.

We passed by the West End area on the way back to the underground. It would have been so nice to manage to see a musical, but you can't squeeze everything into just four days. Not even four full days! There must always be left something for the next time and I'm sure I'll visit London again. I liked the city so much! We spent the evening at Oxford street for some final shopping and headed back to our hotel.

Thursday morning before departing for Helsinki, we went through the Harrods department store. What a beautiful store! It felt like walking into an American candy shop! Seeing as I'm against all luxourios things, I didn't like all of it, but I like the part with tea, chocolates, candy and food. Yummy!

It was funny because the clerk at the tilly ask me if I had the Harrods card when I wanted to purchased some candy. I told him that it was my first time in England, that I wasn't from around here. Then he replied "So from what part of Ireland are?" I thought that was the cherry on the cake. The top of the top. What a great compliment!

On the whole, London left me with such a great impression. London is a open minded city where everybody is accepted. It doesn't take long to get used to moving around in London and the people are super friendly and great. Never before have I been spoken to as "madame" and "darling". I really felt bad for leaving. I left a part of me in London. I'll see you soon again, London, my darling.

What's your opinion?