London May 2016, Day 1: Sightseeing as a Tourist

Buckingham Palace 6

Hyde Park 4

We made a self-planned family trip to the UK in May earlier this year. The first 6 days in London was tourist-centric (with a day trip to Paris in between so technically I can say that I’ve been to Europe!), with a more relaxing 2nd half spent in Edinburgh.

We landed in London Heathrow on a Sunday morning and bought our Oyster travel cards at the convenience store just outside the airport Tube gates. Buying an Oyster card makes travelling easier and works out cheaper if you’re going to be using the Tube often. We took the tube to Russell Square, and walked 7 mins to the Tavistock Hotel. Just a note that when you’re booking accommodation in Europe, check if they have air-conditioning (especially in summer!). The first 2 days we spent there were fairly warm and our room was stifling, even with the window open.

After dropping off our bags, we went back on the tube to Marble Arch Station, to see… the Marble Arch.

Marble Arch

Next to the Marble Arch is the Still Water sculpture, which is essential a bronze horse’s head. It’s a bizarre piece if you don’t know that it’s actually meant to represent a horse at water.

Still Water

Hyde Park was right next door, so we went in to explore the huge grounds. It was a lovely Sunday morning, so there were families out having ice cream and couples out on the river in paddle boats.

Hyde Park 1

Hyde Park 2

Hyde Park 3

The Italian Garden was very pretty with great photo opportunities. Unfortunately the fountains decided to switch off when we started snapping pictures.

Hyde Park 8Hyde Park 9Hyde Park 10Hyde Park 11

Just North of the park is the suburb of Bayswater – an area dotted with Asian restaurants. Amongst them is Four Seasons, which is renowned for its roast duck. There was already a queue when we arrived about 10 mins before opening, but we managed to get a table.

Four Season 1

The roast duck was pretty good, with crackly skin and juicy meat, as was the crispy-skinned roast pork. The barbeque pork suffered from dryness. The service was brisk and we were kind of forgotten as there was a large party dining around us. Otherwise, the duck is worth making the trip if you’re in the area.

Four Season 3Four Season 2

Charring Cross was our next stop, to collect our London Passes. Is the London Pass worth getting? It certainly makes entry easier in some places, but whether it saves you money really depends on your itinerary. The collection process was pretty painless, except for the winding and extremely narrow steps you have to climb down to get to the counter.

Afterwards, we walked back up to Trafalgar square, which was packed with people sitting and chatting away in the sun.

Trafalgar Square 1

Trafalgar Square 2

We went back to the hotel to check in and freshen up a little before heading out to the aptly named Green park.

Green Park

At the South exit of the park was the unmissable gates of Buckingham Palace.

Buckingham Palace 1Buckingham Palace 3

Buckingham Palace 7

We walked through the scenic St James’ Park.

St James Park 1

St James Park 2

St James Park 3

St James Park 4

St James Park 5

Parliament Square 1

Parliament Square 2

About 15-20 mins walk away was Parliament Square, with a view of the Big Ben.

Big Ben 1

Big Ben 2

Big Ben 3

Getting hungry, we took the tube back to hotel. The hotel booking had come with a complimentary 3 course dinner at one of the nearby restaurants . We chose to dine at Jacques Wine Bar, which was right next door to the hotel. The food was hit (the salmon and the creamy broccoli soup) and miss (the chicken, which was dry), but the service was friendly.

And that concluded our first day in London.

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