London in a day with mothballs in your wallet; a solo guide

Hello everyone and welcome to a London special! This is a four parter, where i shall regale you with stories from my recent trip to London, one part a day. All the photos were taken from my go pro, travelling light! Enjoy!

This morning it was freezing cold and the light was barely peeking through the window as I woke up half an hour late. As I was catching a train to London, this was not ideal, and running out the door 15 minutes later with a thrown together assortment of clothes and bag, I hoped the rest of the day would not follow in this vein. I remembered the important parts; I had my purse and my go pro. Anything else was superfluous (well except my train ticket reference number, but I had that too hooray). Of course if you are staying in London, you don’t need to worry about these things until you leave. One sentence: enjoy the delights of English train infrastructure. You’re welcome.

I managed to get on the train with time to spare for a hot chocolate and a croissant, both extremely necessary at this point. My luck further continued when I managed to grab one of the hallowed “table seats” so that I could look important tapping away on my laptop when in fact I was more likely to be looking at very non-serious youtube videos and blogs. Occasionally the news, just for appearances sake.

Two hours later I stepped out into the London breeze bundled into my jumpers plural and wondering where on earth to start. London is a vibrant and expansive metropolis of activity and sights, choosing just a few is a difficulty. For this trip however, I was aiming for the free ones; London for those with mothballs in their wallets. It is not like i would be able to do a guide to London for the fabulously wealthy, unless my trip started in a balaclava at the Bank of England and ended in the tower of London.

First stop, a day travel card. No hassle, all day travel access for the discerning tube traveller. My oyster card was one of my late wake up casualties, but i do have the advantage of owning a 16-25year railcard, which reduces the price of a travel card dramatically. Hooray for being relatively young.

As my train came into Waterloo station however, my first stop was right on the doorstep, so i walked down to South Bank and beheld the London Eye. If you want truly magnificent views of the centre of London, then look no further. However, seeing as i have mothballs in my wallet, i settled for gazing out across the Thames from the ground; i could just about reach the edge through the truly stupendous queues for the Eye. From here, i walked east along the Thames, taking in the diversity of entertainment on offer; the book market under Waterloo bridge, the skatepark riddled with so much graffiti it has become a work of art, the german market, the theatres and film institutes, the views. This walk continued down until i encountered the millennium bridge, where on the south bank rests the Tate modern and Shakespeare’s Globe, and on the north bank is St Paul’s Cathedral. While the last two places you generally need to pay to enter, the outside is almost as good as the inside, and there are usually events with cheaper prices.

If art and dead poets are not particularly your thing, the walk along the south bank is still a pleasant experience, at some points you can get down onto the ‘beach’ (if you can call it that) and get some really nice photographs, and by the London Eye you can get some striking photos of the Houses of Parliament. If photography is not your style, there are also plenty of restaurants and pubs. I guarantee the footie will be on.

Tomorrow i shall regale you with excerpts from St ‘Paul’s to Buckingham Palace, complete with a predictable moan at the crumbling tube station. The poor district line never gets a break. Until then, i hope the first day of this year has been kind to you!

Emily Jemma

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