I arrived in London in the afternoon of Saturday 3rd September – after getting through security at Heathrow, I bought my Oyster card and jumped on the tube – the Piccadilly line to Russell Square, the closest tube station to my hotel (the Royal National Hotel). The Royal National is a huge hotel but very basic – I had a single room which is pretty small but big enough for me. After checking in to the hotel, I grabbed some food and a sim card from Three then went straight to bed.
Sunday 4th September
I woke up pretty early for my first full day in London. I had breakfast included with my booking at the hotel – it was a full buffet with eggs, hash browns, sausage, bacon, toast, pastries, cereal. A good start to the day! After breakfast, I met up with my friend Jason who had flown over from New Zealand with me (he was spending time in London with his sister). We had originally planned to go to the British Museum today but after looking at the weather forecast, it showed that rain was due for Monday so we decided to switch up our plans and go on our Big Bus hop on hop off tour today and do the London Eye that we had pre-booked.
One of the stops for the Big Bus was right outside my hotel, so we jumped on this – we saw King’s Cross station, the legal and financial districts and St Paul’s Cathedral. We drove over the famous Tower Bridge and around the Tower of London before jumping off the bus and switching to our included Thames River cruise. The cruise was pretty good – we had great views of Tower Bridge, as well as many buildings along the river. We also had great views of the London Eye and the houses of Parliament, including Big Ben. The cruise ended near Big Ben – we took a few touristy pictures before heading over to the London Eye.
We had fast-track tickets which meant we went in a “faster” line (we waited about 15 minutes before we got on), although the regular line didn’t seem that long anyway. The whole journey on the eye is about 30 minutes – you get great views across the city and across the Thames. In all honesty, I think tickets are probably over-priced for what it actually is. It’s one of those tourist trap things that you kind of have to do at least once. I’m glad I did it but I wouldn’t pay to do it again.
After we had finished on the eye, we jumped back on the Big Bus. Turns out we got on the bus going the wrong direction so we repeated the first half of the tour we had done in the morning – the commentary was different though, so it was okay. This time we stayed on for the duration of the tour before getting off at the end and walking to the famous shopping street – Oxford Street. Being a weekend, it was so busy! By this point in the day, we were both so tired so we said goodbye and I caught the tube back to my hotel for an early night.