It’s been a dream of mine to head to the motherland since I was a little girl. This year, I got to realise that dream by travelling to London, Scotland (and Paris) and I am SO happy I waited until I was in my mid-twenties to go. Why? Maturity. A finer sense of sacrifice and, thus, a higher appreciation for what I was experiencing. I was in London from 5-9 May.

Tower Bridge from afar

Tower Bridge

As I’m sure you’re well aware, the trip from Australia to the UK is not a short one. They’v only just introduced direct flights, but even they are 20+ hours. Being on the poorer side, Ross and I got a discount flight with Singapore Airlines and reached Heathrow after a solid two days of transit.

The first thing we did was get a coffee at the airport and I had a mild panic attack that left me frozen on the spot – I’ve been drinking my coffees with almond milk because milk tends to give me the runs and what if they don’t have almond milk?! (Look, I was operating on little sleep, it was now apparently 6am, and I had flight fatigue.)

Our first step was to get from Heathrow to our Airbnb place in Leytonstone. To do that, it is SO much cheaper to get the tube rather than the express train to Paddington so we got onto buying Oyster cards straight away. This was a recommendation from our Airbnb hosts, who I absolutely cannot recommend enough.

Travel tip for London: Oyster cards are fantastic! You can preload them with money. I’d recommend to budget for about £30 for 4 days in London. It caps out at less than £10 per day depending on what zones you travel in.

Houses of parliament at Westminster

Look, everyone says the tube is difficult to work out and that you will get lost. I’ve got no idea what’s wrong with those people because that was my absolute easiest train experience EVER. There are different lines and they all have different colours. They either go east/west or north/south. If you can work out what line you’re meant to be on and whether you need to go up/down/left/right, you’ll be fine. The interchange stations are all marked clearly on maps on the train itself.

Anyway, once we’d gotten there and were showered and settled, we went out into London to explore from about 11am-ish.

What did we see/do?

  1. The Tower of London (we saw the outside but didn’t want to spend the £27 to get in)
  2. Tower Bridge
  3. Laneways alongside the Thames – I highly recommend if you want the whole ‘cobblestone experience’ (wear supportive shoes)
  4. Wandered along the Thames and then spent about half an hour looking for a toilet that I didn’t have to pay for – Travel tip for London: just duck into a pub or a train station as the train station toilets are pretty well maintained and you’ll save yourself 50p (worth it with the exchange rate!)
  5. Explored the Tate Modern and I nearly lost it because they had a Mondrian. A MONDRIAN!
  6. Headed to Trafalgar Square and found a statue of an oddly large thumb – why?
  7. 10 Downing Street (what you could see from the fenced off area)
  8. Houses of Parliament and Elizabeth Tower (commonly referred to as Big Ben, but I now know that Big Ben is the name of the bell)
  9. Stratford Westfield (because dinner), dodging 8 million football supporters on a game night

Street art

We then crashed at about 8pm and slept for 10 hours straight. I did over 30,000 steps according to my fitbit, which made me scared for my body because I normally average around 8,000. #fitness

What we spent? No idea, but we only bought a couple of coffees, our Oyster cards, lunch, and dinner.

Check out Airbnb: it’s a great resource for cheap accommodation and 5-star places for a reasonable price.

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Mate, who am i?

(I ask myself the same thing)

Travelling can be really hard when you never feel like you're prepared. But, the more I do it the more I realise that being unprepared is the best way to travel. I’m Rowena. I live with depression and an anxiety disorder, which inspires a lot of my writing. My first reaction is to over-pack, over-worry, freak out, and give myself a headache. I’m consciously rebelling against that.

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Copyright Rowena Grant 2018