London in a Day...

Being the self elected South African representative at the Royal Wedding left me with a few days to myself. And what did I get up to I hear you ask?? Well, I decided to explore some of the sights of good old London town! With temperatures peaking in the high twenties, it was a lovely sunny Saturday here in the UK.

Meeting up with a good varsity friend led to a very late night of catching up on the latest scandal, as well as getting the 411 on each others plans and dreams for the future. As you may well be aware, late nights are not conducive to early mornings and these 2 sleepy Saffa's (nickname given to South Africans living/traveling abroad) managed to crawl out of bed and hit the high streets of London before it got too chaotic.

Here are some great places to see if you only have a few days to spare and want to get the most out of your trip:

1. Portobello Market
antiques, food stalls and other odds and ends

Directions: By tube: Notinghill Gate, then follow signs for the market. 
By Bus: 7, 12, 23, 27, 28, 31, 52, 70 & 328, the driver should let you know the right stop to take.
Opening Times: 
Mon-Wed & Fri: 8:00am- 6.30pm
Thu is a half day closing at 1.00pm
Sat 8:00am- 6:30pm 

2. Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace has served as the official London residence of Britain's sovereigns since 1837 and today is the administrative headquarters of the Monarch.
Just for just's you have to check this place out (you might even be lucky enough to see the 'changing of the guards')

By Tube: Green Park Station is to the North, Victoria & St James Park are to the South and Hyde Park Corner is to the West. You can get to the palace from wither of these stations.\
Buses:  2B, 3, 9, 14, 16, 19,, 22, 25, 30, 36, 38, 52, 73, 74, 82, 137, 509, 510
Changing of the Guard: 11:30 May through August. September to April, the frequency changes to every other day.

3. St James Park
St James's Park is the oldest Royal Park and is surrounded by St James's Palace, Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament.
The park is one of the prettiest in London with spectacular flower beds, a lake with two islands and fountains. 

By Tube: 
St James's Park - 

The Park is also easily accessible from Charing Cross Station, Westminster, Green Park, & Victoria
By Bus: 3, 11, 12, 24, 29, 53, 77A, 88, 91, 148, 159, 211, 453

5. Big Ben & the  London Eye 

After walking through St James Park, just follow the crowds and soon you'll find yourself staring up at Big Ben :)

By Tube: Westminster

Once you've seen Big Ben, it will be hard to miss the London Eye. It's  located within easy walking distance from several London Underground stations: Waterloo, Embankment, Charing Cross and Westminster. 

Waterloo is the closest tube station to the London Eye and  is about five minutes walking distance. Exit the station following signs for the South Bank.

Embankment and Charing Cross stations are close together on the north side of the River Thames. Both tube stations are a ten-fifteen minute walk to reach the London Eye. From the station, cross over Hungerford Bridge.
Westminster tube station is the closest station to Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. From Westminster tube station, take exit one and follow signs for Westminster pier.

Tickets: Standard ticket prices for the London Eye are about 17GBP 

Opening Times: 
  • January - March: daily 10.00am - 8.30pm
  • April to June: daily 10.00am - 9.00pm
  • July and August: daily 10.00am - 9.30pm
  • September to December: daily 10.00am - 8.30pm

So there you go! Just a short review of some great touristy places to see while you're in London. But remember, its a *HuGe* place, so make sure you get yourself an underground map, and do lots of research on other places you want to check out.

P.S. A few other places are Hamley's (the biggest toy shop in the world-Regent Street, Piccadilly Circus & Oxford Circus Tube Stations) and Oxford Street for all of its big brand stores (Oxford Circus Tube Station).