Thursday, August 25, 2011

Our London Story - Part 3

After three days of exploring London and the Oxford Street, we decided to get out of London. Let Kakak experience England's beautiful countryside and smaller towns like Huddersfield where Ibu used to stay. So, on saturday morning, we took the underground to get to the Coach Station at Fountain Square at the Bukingham Palace Road to go to Bicester Village in Oxfordshire. When we got there, the tickets were sold out! Bicester Village was in our itinerary but Ibu did not buy the tickets on-line thinking that the tickets will be available at the counter, not knowing that they only provide one coach in the morning and one in the afternoon. So, the next option is to take the train.

Off we went to Paddington and took the First Great Western train to Oxford. The journey was approximately an hour and Dini got to see the breathtaking countryside along the way. When we reached Oxford, we were contemplating how we should go to Bicester Village, either by bus, train or taxi and we decided to take the cab since it was the easiest and fastest but of course the most expensive! We were lucky that the cab driver was a muslim guy and he agreed not to just send us to Bicester Village but to fetch us back and along the way, take us to the mosque so we could pray. Alhamdulillah, we were worried thinking where we could perform our prayers that day.

We were surprised to see so many cars and people at Bicester Village, people coming from all over UK to shop for the off season branded stuff. The place was considered quite isolated and quite a distance from Oxford. Ibu bought something for herself and for the family and we decided to leave the place around 3pm after having lunch at one of the Thai restaurant. We called the cab and he dropped us at the Central Oxford Mosque which was at that time under construction. It was a beautiful mosque and we were glad to be given the opportunity to perform our prayer there.

Since it was still early, we decided to go on the city tour which took about an hour. Dini wanted to see one of the best university in the world, the Oxford University. It is like the hop on hop off bus in London where you just pay the driver or sales staff and your ticket is valid all day and you can get on and off at any of the 19 stops on the tour. It was a quick way to discover Oxford if you don't have time. We managed to see the famous Magdalen College, the University Science Area, the City Walls, Sheldonian Theatre, Ashmolean Museum, Martyr's Memorial, Christ Church College, River Cherwell, Carfax Tower, Alice's Shop, Radcliffe Infirmary, Bodleian Library, The High, Broad Street and the University Parks. The tour was worth it!

On our way back to London, we were not so lucky. The train was full and we have no choice but to stand all the way. When we reached London, we straight went to Selfridges to look for Faiz's Supra Shoes but we couldn't find what he wanted, the choice was very limited and did not meet his spec! On our way back to the hotel, we stopped at St Paul's Cathedral for a brief visit. The only landmark that we have yet to explore eventhough it was just two stops away from our hotel via the underground. A place where the wedding of the century took place between Prince Charles and Lady Diana.

The next morning we started early so we don't have to que to get entry into Madame Tussauds. Eventhough we were there at least an hour before it opens, the que was already 1km long. Should have bought the tickets on-line! We spent about two hours taking pictures with the celebrity wax figures!! Ibu took a pix with MJ so she could compare with the pix she took 20 years back! MJ doesn't change a bit although he was practically transformed in real life but Ibu definitely changed a lot!!! They were just too many figures and the que to snap the pix with them was just too long. Who knows one day, somebody from Malaysia will be there...the Bollywood artists are already there, the whole collection of them!

We still have to look for Faiz's Supra and we asked him to googled and he told us of a shop around Covent Garden. So off we went to look for Slam City Skates and we were delighted to see a whole range of Supra shoes there! Faiz must be jumping with joy that we finally found what he wanted. We went around Covent Garden which is similar to our Central Market to pick up last minute souvenirs before we left to Oxford St to the Adidas store to look for Adik's LFC third kit. How unfortunate that the jersey will only be launched within the next two weeks. Pity Adik...

We then went back to the hotel, packed our stuff and while waiting for the airport transfer, walked to Ibu's office to snap some pictures. Then off to Heathrow and say goodbye to London. The whole trip was fun and at the same time tiring, we spent wonderful time together and probably understand each other better. Wish we could stay, when is our next trip Kakak???

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Our London Story - Part 2

For many first timers, the best to experience London would be to go on the hop on hop off bus. There are two major bus companies offering the service, the Original London Sightseeing Tour and the Big Bus Tour. It is the same as our hop on hop off here in KL. So, on friday morning, after getting clerance from Ibu's boss that she could skip the meeting that morning, we started to explore London after having our usual breakfast.

Friday morning was very wet and rainy but we went ahead with our plan. We took the underground to London Bridge station and walked towards the Tower Bridge passing by the London Dungeon. Dini wanted to go on the rides inside but it was still too early in the morning and we did not have that in our plan. Ibu prepared a comprehensive itinerary for our trip to London to make sure we can cover as much as possible. That's Ibu, she will do a thorough research on the place and plan for all the family trips! We actually bought an umbrella to keep us dry. After taking some shots at the Tower Bridge area and the Towers Castle, we took the Original London Sightseeing Tour bus and made our way to the Buckingham Palace. We were lucky that the Changing of Guards were on schedule despite the rain since we were told that it could be cancelled during heavy rain. Weather was getting better when we arrived but the area surrounding Buckingham Palace was so crowded with visitors and tourists waiting to witness the parade.

We squeezed ourselves among the crowds and managed to get a place close to the main gate where the soldiers would make their way. Ibu managed to capture wonderful photos of the whole ceremony and it was Ibu's first time watching the parade despite having been there many2 times.

Next, we took the bus and stopped at Trafalgar Square. We were there the night before and was excited to see a Malaysian restaurant, Jom Makan but was disappointed because they were about to close. So we decided that we must come back the next day to have lunch there and we did! We ordered nasi lemak, nasi goreng and daging masak merah. Kakak was happy since she has been starving for rice and spicy food for 3 days! We then went around Trafalgar Square and walked towards the Big Ben passing 10 Downing St and St James Palace just to snap some photos with the Horse Guard. We walked to the Big Ben, House of Parliament, Westminster Abbey and finally took the cruise back to Tower Bridge.

By then, we were already very tired of walking. We took the underground back to the hotel. We rest, prayed and had a quick bite before we resume our tour. Next we took the bus and went to Albert Hall passing the Kesington Garden. By then, it was almost dark and we decided to take the black taxi to the London Central Mosque at the Park Road. Abah reminded us that we should include in our itinerary visit to mosques and islamic centres just to see the Islamic Community in other part of the world. We performed our prayer there and look around the area. We then, took a bus back to the central and stopped at the Oxford Street. From there, we took this pedicab rickshaw just to experience the ride along the Oxford Street and stopped at the underground where we took the underground back to the hotel.

That was how we spent the whole day exploring London and we were quite satisfied to be able to cover so much in a day. Of course we wanted to go on the London Eye but time was not on our side. We shall save that for our next visit!

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