【Last Sight in Downtown Hostel】

2010.8.23

Say Goodbye to Iceland.

At four o'clock, the dark is the only one dark night I see in Reykjavik.

The tourists who are also ready for the flight like me wait the transfer bus picking us up to the BSI at the corner near the hostel.

We take the flybus to Keflavik Airport. Fifty minutes later, we arrived.

Remembering the first time I arrived at the airport, I was hurry to going to Reykjavik and didn't look around the airport in detail.

Today I could spend some time looking around for the last time.

I check in the flight via the self-service machine, stick the tag on the grip of my luggage, and then send it on the conveyor belt. It's very efficient and easy to finish all the check-in process, and you don't have to wait in the long line.

Before buying the breakfast, I walk outside the airport and take some photos.

Passing through the security check point, I look for the Tax Refund and get the money back for about 5000 ISK.

If you buy shoes, clothes or souvenirs in the Tax-Free stores for over 4000 ISK, the assistant will give you a refund form.

After that, I buy a new headset to replace the broken one. This new headset is better than the old. The sound effect is good, and you could listen very clearly with lower volume.

I listen to my MP3 and wait for the flight.

My next destination is London.

I have another two and half days as the transition before I go back for the new semester in school.

And I'm not ready for the hot weather in Taiwan.

It takes about two hours flying to London.

I have a seat on the window side luckily.

It's nice to see the sky outside and the scenes before landing in London.

Close to the noon, I arrived at Heathrow airport.

This is the second time I enter London.

Filling the landing form, the officer only asks some simple questions, maybe it's because I finished the journey from Iceland.

I carry my luggages to the entrance of the Tube.

In London, they call the subway "Tube". Just like the Easycard for Taipei Metro, you could buy the Oyster Card for London Tube from the auto-selling machine. The price is £5, includes £3 for the card.

Because £2 is not enough for one trip to zone 1, you have to top up your card via the ticket machine.

I top up my card for £20 that should be enough for the transportation in 3 days.

The process to topping up is very easy.

First, put your card on the area with a card sign on it. That's the card sensor. As the ticket machine sense your card, it will display the top-up options for £5, £10, £20 and etc.

Then, you choose the money you want to top up, and put your money into the machine.

Finally, put your card on the sensor again, and the top-up process is finished.

If you don't understand the top-up process, the assistant will help you.

Besides, you could also buy the TravelCard (1 day, 3 days or 7 days) or London Pass with Travel which includes the admissions for attractions in London.

The TravelCard is similar to OysterCard, but the price is different depending on the zones (zone 1-2 or zone 1-6) and the duration (peak or off-peak).

For example, the price for 1 day off-peak TravelCard within zone 1 to zone 2 is £7.5. it means that you could only take the tube within zone 2 and the card is valid from 9:30am to 4:30pm. If you want to go to the location outside the zone 2, or you want to take the tube after 4:30pm, you have to buy another ticket or choose the TravelCard for the peak time.

As for the London Pass, it's good for the tourists who will visit lots of London attractions. The 1 day Adult Pass is £40, and £48 for the Pass with Travel.

You may wonder whether Oyster Card is suitable for tourists.

Don't worry. There is a capping for daily fare depending on the zones and duration. For example, the capping fare for the peak time within zone 2 is £7.2, and off-peak price is £5.6. That is cheaper than the 1 day TravelCard, and much flexible.

Therefore, I choose the Oyster Card for I've research these information when planning the travel.

 

P.S:

Taipei Metro: http://english.trtc.com.tw/MP_122032.html

London Tube: http://www.tfl.gov.uk/modalpages/2625.aspx

TravelCard: http://www.londontravelpass.com/prices.asp

London Pass: http://www.londonpass.com/prices.asp

 

This machine sells the Oyster card.

And you have to top up in the ticket machine.

London Tube was first build from 1863. Compared with the London Tube, Taipei Metro or Kaohsiung Metro is like the newborn baby.

I'm surprised with the detailed network of the Tube at the first sight.

Though the network is complex, you won't get lost for the indication is clear.

(See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_Underground)

Looking at the Tube mp above, the Tube lines are distinguished by their color.

The lines I will take are:

1. Picadilly line (Blue): to and from Heathrow Airport in zone 6, British Museum in zone 1.

2. Circle line (Yellow) and District Line (Green): Circling around the London center (zone 1), most attractions are near to the stations on these lines.

3. Northern line (Black): to my accommodation in London. It has branches.

If you travel within zone 1, except for Circle Line and District Line, the lines you may also takes are:

4. Central line (Red): the horizontal line that connects to other lines.

5. Bakerloo line (Brown), Victoria Line (Cyan) and Jubilee Line (Grey)

The stations are the white circles or blues circles with the shape of wheelchair (it means this station supports for handicap).

Sometimes, the big station has more than two lines. Thus, you may see two or three circles connected together, and this kind of station may have different names depending on the lines. For example, the Northern Line will stop at Bank station, and Bank station is connected to Monument station on Circle and District Lines.

You could get detailed Tube information here: http://www.tfl.gov.uk/modalpages/2625.aspx

Is it necessary to print the Tube map? No, you could find the map in all the stations.

I take the Picadilly line from Heathrow airport to King Cross St. Pancras station which is famous for 9 3/4 platform in the film "Harry Potter", and is also the train station.

Then, I change the Northern line to Tufnell Park station which is quite close to the guest-house I stay.

Most sections of the Tube is underground, and the tunnel looks like a big tube.

I think that's why they used to call the Underground as the Tube.

From the viewpoint in Architecture, the Arch could sustain more pressure than the Square.

It means that it's much safe.

Even the walkway is also a big tube.

One and half an hour later, I finally arrived at Lupton, a guest-house managed by Taiwan emigrants.

The house is a traditional Victoria-style architecture from 19th century.

Why do I choose this place?

Actually, I don't have any travel books for UK or London, and I didn't bring my computer. Thus, when I need some information, I could easily get the information from the hosts. They are familiar with the attractions in London. So, I could enjoy my short stay in London only with a London map.

Besides, I need a quiet private room, and they could provide what I want. The price is only a little higher than the youth hostel, but you could enjoy the English breakfast in the kitchen.

This is my single room on the top floor.

Though the space is not big, it's enough for me.

I like a private room for its security, and you don't have to put all your things into the luggages whenever you leave the room.

After a shower, I change my T-shirt instead of the winter clothes for Iceland, and then start my first trip in London.

The temperature in London is about 17 to 19 degree.

Compared to Iceland, it's a little hot, but cooler than Taiwan.

Therefore, it's comfortable for walking around the streets.

Sometimes the wind is cool, and you may bring a thin coat with you.

My first stop in London is Tower Bridge and London Tower near the Tower Hill station.

Before entering the station, I see the red London bus on the street.

But I didn't have any idea about how to travel by buses so I will not try the buses this time.

By the way, the old buildings are very common in London. That' impressive.

 

※ Tube Route: Tufnell Park → Bank (Monument) → Tower Hill

London Tower in my original imagination should be a tall building, a tall Tower.

But when I leave the Tower Hill station, I only find a normal castle.

Maybe as time passed, the imagination of the tower also changed.

London Tower, or Tower of London, was first build as the fortress, and then was transformed as palace, royal prison in different stages.

Now, it is the tourist attraction in London.

Walking around here, I think my words for London is "Lots of Tourists".

There is always lots of tourists gathering around the attraction.

(See: http://www.hrp.org.uk/TowerOfLondon/stories.aspx)

As for the Tower Bridge, the location is close to the London Tower.

The admission for visiting the interior is £7.

They also sell London maps at the desk.

The map marks the famous attractions in London, and is much convenient than the heavy travel book.

The interior is divided into four sections that introduce about the history, architecture, and related bridge information.

In zone 1, you could watch the movie telling about the history of Tower Bridge.

In zone 2, they introduce the famous bridges in the world.

Zone 2 is composed with two parallel gateways (east and west) that connect the two towers on each side of the river.

In zone 3, the movie introduce the building process of the bridge.

Zone 4 is a separated area outside the tower where is the engine room.

You could see the power facilities that is required to lift the bridge.

If you want to watch the bridge lift, you could check the times here: http://www.towerbridge.org.uk/TBE/EN/BridgeLiftTimes/

After the visiting, in order to take the whole view of the Tower Bridge, I walk around the streets and find a good location for photographing.

As I walk around here, I find the car that sells ice cream.

It seems to be common in London.

And there is a oyster bar near the London Tower.

Because I spent most of the time on visiting the Tower Bridge and photographing, London Tower is closed as I notice the time.

It's over five o'clock, and the last admission is 17:00.

In addition, the admission for London Tower is £18.7 for an adult.

That's expensive and I would rather take photos outside.

I buy a fish & chips at the square as my dinner. There are many pigeons looking for the foods.

Therefore, if you throw some crumbs, maybe breads or chips, you will see the pigeons flying for picking crumbs.

It's interesting!

Except for the old building, the taxi is also very impressive.

When I walk to the tube station, I see the black antique-style taxi.

If the fare is cheap, I would like to take the taxi for at least one time.

About six o'clock, it's time to visit another attraction, I take the tube to the Embankment station.

Someone said, if you walk on the Jubilee Bridge, you can get a nice view of the London Eye.

Besides, Big Ben and House of Parliament is also near here.

I walk along the bridge towards the London Eye, and take many photos of London Eye, Big Ben and House of Parliament.

 

If you look at London Eye in the short distance, the feeling for London Eye is different.

The carriage looks like a big egg or a medicine capsule.

No doubt, many tourists are waiting in the line for having a trip to the London Eye.

The price for London Eye is different by the ticket types.

The standard flight is £17.95, and the fast track is £27.95.

Except for these two common tickets, they also provide river cruise, combination tickets  and other special packages.

You may get the detailed information here: http://www.londoneye.com/TicketsAndPrices/

Because I don't want to wait in the line for a long time and I don't want to pay for the expensive ticket, I give up for the trip to the London Eye.

I just could not realize why there is always lots of tourists around the attractions in London.

Maybe the cost in Iceland is quite expensive, but most of the scenes are free.

£18 may be the half-day cost for the gas in Iceland, but you could only take a trip to the London Eye in less than one hour, not includes the waiting.

Most important of all, you won't feel the pressure from the crowds in Iceland.

Actually, I can afford the admissions, but I just don't like the crowds.

Too many people around will make me have a feel of pressure that should not exists during the vacation.

At this moment, I suddenly think of the good time in Iceland.

Fortunately, I only stay in London for two and half days.

If I come to UK next time, I think I will avoid staying too long in the big cities or the places crowded with people.

I need a peaceful place.

Walking along the square in front of the London Eye, I see the street performs pretending the bronze statues.

Sometimes, when other tourists walk close to them,  they will do some actions. That's funny.

But I really wonder whether they could make the money or not.

Near the "bronze statues", there is another performer keeping still.

Do you know what role does he plays? American Guitarist?

And the square is crowded with tourists.

When crossing through the crowds along the river side, I have approach the Big Ben and House of Parliament.

According to the Wiki, Big Ben is the largest four-faced chiming clock and third-tallest free-standing clock tower in the world. It has ticked for over 150 years.

As for the Houses of Parliament, it was called Westminster Palace in the past. The first palace was built in 11 th century and got a fire in 1512. Now, it's the home for the parliament since 13th century.

I have to say that the classical buildings in London are worth lots of photographs.

It's good that the people now have the digital camera, or it will costs a lot for the films.

(See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Ben, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palace_of_Westminster)

On the front side of the House of Parliament, Westminster Abby is opposite to it, but the open hours is over.

Even you could not visit the interior of the House of Parliament or the Westminster Abby, the classic looking of these buildings could also satisfies you.

Though there are modern buildings in London as well, the old buildings are maintained well with great importance.

After all, the most valuable thing for London and the tourists is these classical buildings for sure.

About eight o'clock, the sky gets dark (you may see the time on the Big Ben below).

I'm already tired for I've walked for a long distance.

Therefore, I take the Tube returning to the guest-house for resting.

By the way, since I traveled in Iceland, it's the first time I see the dark so "Early".

 

Attachment:London Tube Map

 

Cyan circle:Heathrow Airport, located at zone 6.

Red circle:King Cross Train Station, located at zone 1.

Purple circle:Tufnell Park, the area of my accommodation, located at zone 2.

Green circle:The area I visit in 3 days, located within zone 1. (The main tubes includes Circle line <yellow>, District line <green> and Pacadilly line <blue>)

Pink circle:The area recommended by others, located at zone 3. (Greenwich, go by DLR light rail)

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