Cairo-London at the new Terminal, or the old terminal, or the old new terminal?
Five hours is the time taken to fly from Cairo to London; the first stop in any journey you plan to make in the British islands. To get to your destination you have the choice between Egyptair and British Airways; the latter’s food is better, the people are more efficient and the movie list is much more updated. On the down side, extra luggage rates are rather pricey and the abundance of alcohol in-flight makes it for a bit of a stuffy ride for those of us whose olfactory senses aren’t used to the pungent smell. My opinion: go for the cheaper; I’d rather eat stringy meat if it means I would afford a trip to Stonehenge (Yes, a bunch of rocks, but it’s the journey not the destination).
Heathrow Express anyone?
Once you hit Heathrow airport and claim your luggage, you have the option between riding the underground to your destination, which takes a bit of a long time and is always crowded, or springing for a ticket aboard the Heathrow express, which is more expensive, but much more roomy and takes 20 minutes to reach the heart of London, AKA Paddington. It really depends on where you are staying, which brings us to where you’re staying, I would recommend you stay somewhere near Paddington; this ensures that you’re right in the center of everything. Another suggestion is Earls court, which is a bit far from the center, but it is cheaper and safe. As for transportation, you have to buy the Oyster Card for zones 1 &2 (as a tourist you won’t need any more zones) and you can use it for buses (double-deckers are the norm; sit on top and be amazed), trains and the underground. Remember: Taxis are for rich people and emergencies only.
The Joy of riding a double-decker bus on a cloudy day :)
Pots, Pans and Pretty Paths:
Markets are integral to any visit to London. There are many markets to choose from; Covent Garden market, which is very posh and near the movie theaters, or Charing Cross road which is known for its selection of bookstores and second hand bookshops, or if you’re a treasure hunter you might consider Brick Lane market, which is known for its little treasures. However, if you’re pressed for time, I would recommend Portobello Market on a Saturday morning. The market is near Notting Hill (the place not the movie), and it’s located on *surprise* Portobello road; it has everything from patterned china to rare books (a hand illustrated Arabian Nights for 90 GBP) to mouth-watering food (fresh plump raspberries, deep fried shrimp and fresh fish and chips worthy of a queen). The market is a haven for souvenir-hunting and while you scour the loitering shops, you get to be entertained by London’s anonymous artists (just pop a coin or two into their opened guitar cases).
The seeing of the sights:
Anybody who’s been to London will tell you that one trip is not enough, and they’re right. However, enjoying London is all about prioritizing. There are things that you have to do such as taking a walk riverside, crossing the tower bridge of London on foot, witnessing the changing of the guard at Buckingham palace and pausing with George Clooney at Madame Tussauds.
Panoramic Shot of the Tower Bridge(You have to walk on it)
The Cycling Group
Princess Diana's dresses @ Kensington Palace
If you have kids, then take them to the Science museum, where they get to see life-size models of cars, rockets and so much more. You can also reserve tickets at the Science Museum’s IMAX 3D Cinema, it’s a whole other experience and bonus for you mothers, the kids will be completely dizzy and sleepy afterwards.
For the art lovers out there, make sure you catch a play or a Broadway musical at one of the many theaters scattered all over Victoria Street, and for all that’s sacred and beautiful, take a stroll through Victoria train station; it’s another country all on its own.
Of course, you mustn’t by any means miss out on the British Museum, where you get to see our very own Rosetta stone, which happens to be on loan from the Louvre!!
The British Museum entrance
For all of you superhero wannabees, make sure you take the train to Greenwich, where you get to be in two time zones at once (so, that’s where GMT comes from), and you can even print a certificate to that effect.
To satisfy the Thumbelina in you, pay a visit to Tate modern and go to Robert Therrien’s display called “Table and four chairs”, you will feel tiny.
For all the sports fans, visit Wembley Stadium -where we played against England last March- and Emirates Stadium, (book the tours in advance) and imagine you’re Beckham scoring the winning goal *and the crowds go wild*.
Panoramic shot of Wimbley stadium
London is a city that invites you to walk and the resulting thrill is the best memory you can take back home.
Cute Squirrel with a bushy tail :)
Make sure you go to Trafalgar Square at night because the lighting is amazing and they usually set up different art exhibitions that you can roam for free.
Got the time?? Well, all you need is to walk by Big Ben, and take some photos beside the world’s most famous clock. Near Big Ben, you will find the famous houses of parliaments, which are architecturally magnificent. Just walk, London will take care of the rest.
At the end, you will feel like Charlie visiting the chocolate factory; it’s surprising, encompassing and greatly satisfying.