Famous for its expensive living cost, London definitely not my dream destination to travel with the family. But life is full of surprise.
This time we travel not solely for leisure. The first reason because my husband joined a summer school class at LSE for three weeks in the heart of London. As for me, I planned to attend several events that I found on Eventbrite, but I can only manage to attend a one-day public panel for sustainable fashion. While he’s taking a class, often stayed on the campus from 9 am to 5 pm, I spend my day by roaming around from one museum to another and met him at 5 pm somewhere. Fortunately, it’s summer so we can enjoy a long day even after the sunset at 8.30 pm.
Every traveler needs to see London’s museums. Incredibly AWESOME! they are world class museums that can entertain all your senses (did I sound exaggerating?). I would back to London again just to see their museums. I found that they really considerate to engage with little visitors; Kids can do fun activities, and I can spot some interactive installations or games in every section of the exhibition, seriously cool! I feel envy looking at those kids and how their early experience with museum turns to be super fun. Oh, and the best part of it? IT’S FREE!
Lets support the museum by giving a donation so we can help them to make it free forever (^o^) *Fyi, to enter Rijsk Museum in Amsterdam, you need to pay at least 17.5 euros (2016).
During my seven days trip in London, I managed to visit (1) The British Museum, (2) Victoria and Albert Museum, (3) Science Museum, (4) The Natural History Museum, and (5) The Design Museum. There are still dozens of museums that worth a visit, also with great reviews from the family traveler. Hmm… Should I plan another London trip with Najwa? Insya Allah. (^3^)
I noted that most of the museums in London closed at 5.30 pm or 6 pm. So in my situation, what else can we see in London after 5 pm?
Fall in love with London’s Museum
If you came at 5 pm, it means you can only visit them in less than one hour, but it’s better than never right? If that’s the case, then choose a relatively “smaller” museum, you can check on google maps to see how many time most visitors spend there. From 1st to 4th museums that I mentioned above, definitely, one hour would not enough. I will recommend The Design Museum, British Library, or Getty Images Gallery. There are a lot of museums in London, so make sure you make your priorities list first and choose museums that fit your interest. When you visit them, make sure you check their shops and buy some exclusive stuff there (exclusive means they have the museum’s brand on it).
The British Museum extend its opening hour from 10 am to 8.30 pm on Friday.
We also went to British Library in a hope that we can read a book, soak up the atmosphere of 45 years library and hoping we could love books more (really?). Unfortunately, visitors can not directly check their isle of book collections because you need to check them online in advance. However, you still can enjoy their cool exhibitions. British Library’s shop is my favorite among others! the size of the room is average but I love their merchandise collections.
London’s iconic landmarks
From London Tower to Big Ben, how about taking a walk on the side of Thames river? If you are fancy a city run, this route also perfect for your jogging time and enjoy beautiful sight in sweats. London is cramped by tourist, so expect crowds on every landmark during weekdays and weekends. However early morning (before 8 am) is the best time if you want to have better photos with iconic London’s landmarks as backgrounds.
After days among concrete buildings, we start missed greenies, nature ambiance to treat our eyes and lungs. So we head to Hyde Park, this park is huge with a lake in the center, where you can see lots of goose and ducks (mind your shoes tho). There’s Princess Diana’s memorial fountain, and playground, a perfect place to spend a day with your little ones.
On my first day at London, we eagerly travel to Zone 3 just to dine at Antepliler. We stayed at Hashtag Shoreditch Hotel in Zone 1, so it takes an hour to get there by bus. What’s special about that restaurant? We are a big fan of Turkish foods and sweets, we crave for authentic Turkish Durum Kebab, Lahmajun, and Baklava. The first bite of Baklava makes me shivering, ooooh it’s so sweet, yummy, crunchy, what a blast! In a week we went there three times, yes… and we even took some to Indonesia.
It is not hard to find halal food, and we also brought Tole’s Rendang, Dendeng Balado (yummy spicy Indonesian food made from meat) that packed in a vacuum sealer, special packaging for traveling abroad. There were enough stocks for one meal per day in our last week, which really help us to save money for the meal (It can start from 5 GBP per meal and the portion is too big for me). Thanks for that, we can alter our meals budget to Coffee.
Buy a tumbler, and take it everywhere, bring it to a coffee shop and you can get a discount (0.25 GBP) when purchasing their coffee.
Not so mainstream activities
No, we don’t buy LONDON PASS. If you
googling duckduckgo-ing “trip to London”, most likely you will find London Pass ad everywhere and start to think that it is a mandatory pass if you want to get the best of London’s trip experience.
Thankfully I don’t buy it in advance, neither the Heathrow Express ticket. After took a walk in the city we felt that we don’t need London Pass because most of the Museums are free anyway, all landmarks too, except maybe if you want to get to inside the London Tower. Their Pass includes access to Hop On Hop Off Bus but you can use London’s iconic red bus instead, of course with the help of CityMapper App and an Oyster Card.
Others recommend taking a cruise along Thames River, catching a show at the West End theatre district or going to London’s Pub. But we’re more interest to visit as many museums as we can, attend events that we found at Eventbrite, and go shopping.
On our last day, we manage to visit The Beatles iconic road crossing at Abbey Road. My dad loves The Beatles, I grew up with their music; inside the house, on the car and I end up enjoying them too. It is funny to see how’s tourist went there to just crossing the road, I bet lots of drivers annoyed by this.
Oooh, there is something that we regret: not able to see a FREE special performance in open space theater next to the London Tower and Thames River, my Indonesian friend gave a good review because the acting skill from all actors was great and the stage is well executed too. Their show time is 5.30 pm and 7.30 pm on Saturday and Sunday. Don’t forget to bring a jacket, albeit you can see some girls wear sleeveless shirts and shorts, but for Indonesian probably it will be too windy.
I heard there was heatwave last year in the UK, luckily it didn’t happen during my trip. I expected the temperature around 20′ Celcius as told by my husband one day before my flight from Jakarta. So, I’m quite shocked when the flight attendees report that London’s temperature was 9’Celcius by the time we land. In summer? Really?
Despite the weather anomaly (from the perspective of Indonesian), traveling in summer has its own advantage. We can enjoy the day until 10 pm, or ’till drop. We took our shopping time at the end of the day since most of the stores closed at 10 pm. Londoners said the best time to shop is during Boxing Day, every 26 December, where every store offers a dramatic price reduction. Then, the second best sales time would be Summer Sales. We found a lot of great deals and wish we have a lot of GBP too (^o^).