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Day 13: Take a Trip to the Mall

Today’s post is going to count for Monday’s post and today’s post, Out and About: London, will continue next week

So, we didn’t go to a mall or to our local high street for the challenge we decided to take an expedition out into a bustling Monday London. We got ourselves up and out for 11 and didn’t get back till 12:23pm, so yeah, it was a pretty long day! Needless to say we fell into bed the moment we walked through our front door.

Our day started off from the local train station to get us into London, It’s a really short journey and there’s some great things to see as you enter into the city. We came in from the south so we saw the Gherkin and Tower Bridge from the train.

Once we reached London Bridge station we grabbed the tube (Jubilee Line) to take us to Westminster, this wasn’t our original plan (we were meant to get the tube straight to Leicester Square to pick up cinema tickets) but I’m glad we decided to take the walk down Whitehall, I got some great pictures of the architecture and got to see a part of London that I don’t go to very often.

We wandered past the War memorials,  Downing Street and then through Horse Guards Parade out into this huge area with big square buildings all around, It reminded me somewhat of a palace that should be in a movie somewhere, thinking about it it probably was…

We saw a CID Police car (Criminal Investigation Department) sitting on the road just watching all the people walking past, It was the first time I’d ever seen them, we usually just have our normal police cars on the street but this one was red and stuck out like a sore thumb, we also saw some SWAT police near Downing Street, so that was two new experiences in under 10 minutes :P

We then crossed the road and ended up in St.James Park, It’s really beautiful and strangely calming even though it was so crowded. They had so many different trees and wildlife,Theriver was full of fish all swarming together, the swans were all cleaning themselves there were about 3 white swans the rest were all young adults, still very pretty, There’s no such thing as an ugly duckling!

After coming out of St.James with our delicious 99p flakes, which were not by any stretch of the imagination 99p! We walked past Buckingham palace, The union jack was flying over the palace so the queen wasn’t there (If the Union flag is up the Queen is not in residence and at times of national mourning or royal family deaths it flies half mast).

Next up was green park, past the model who was having her photos taken in some really beautiful dresses.. and shoes! Past a huge dig site which really killed the beauty of the park and onto the main road and The Ritz, we walked round the back streets, past a really pretty pub and that’s something that really struck me today, I’d never really noticed it before but the pubs we walked past were really pretty, they all seemed to have flowers blooming on the outside them.

We walked through the Piccadilly arcade, It had some cute boutique shops, some really expensive boutique shops at that. Once that really caught my eye was a jewellery shop, it had a letter from Dame Helen Mirren in the window! The Jewellery was all simple, and all very shiny :P

We walked past the Royal Academy of Arts, It’s an amazing building, I’d love to go to school there! Wandering around all these grand buildings made me really appreciate living in London.

Piccadilly Circus was just as busy as it usually is, People everywhere, bumping into about 30 separate people on your way through it, Piccadilly Circus is a bit like New York’s, Times Square, New York’s is on a larger scale but London manages to squeeze a ton of advertising in there.

We finally got to Leicester Square and bought our tickets at the Odeon to see Inception at 20:30pm. We decided this would be better than the 17:00 showing, how wrong were we? Very wrong..

Jim needed a fix of Burger King so we sat and ate for a little while in what has to be the most disgusting burger king ever, I won’t be going back there for a while, the food was tasty as Burger King generally is but it looks terrible, don’t even get me started on the bathrooms…

Covent Garden was our next stop, as usual they had the Street entertainers working the crowd, I recognise two of them from a few years back who must be there pretty regularly. I managed to snap some cool pictures of them and then we were on our way. We took a tiny detour into to The Royal Opera House, which has apparently changed completely from when mum used to go there when she was younger.

We made our way to The British museum on foot, One tip for anyone travelling to London: don’t go when the schools have all broken up for summer holidays! The amount of people around yesterday was crazy, The British Museum was great though, we didn’t see too much of it because we all wanted to sit down and chill for a bit but what we did see was really cool, we went into 4 rooms (Living and Dying, American History, Aztec’s and The Kings Library). The British Museum doesn’t change its main exhibits regularly, I’ve seen the Aztec exhibit about 4 or 5 times, but its great each and every one of them :)

We came out of the Museum at about 17:30, we sat down at a cafe to have a little drink and then we were on our way again, We stopped at Forbidden Planet for ages (Forbidden Planet is a cool shop filled with geeky things, Books, Comics, Mini statues, Cards, you name it..) We spent a while browsing in there, picking up some signed books on the way. We slowly made our way back to Leicester Square for a bite to eat although none of use were hungry.

At 20:00 we went to the Odeon to see Inception, It took about half an hour for me to get into the film, I felt it started off a little bit slow but it did pick up eventually, the animation was really amazing, definatly go see it if you haven’t already..

So, what did we learn for Day 13?

Not to much, although we did see a lot of marketing schemes, such as the huge advertising boards in Piccadilly, the human advertisements around shops. We probably didn’t do as much work as we should have done but hey, kudos to pro-blogger for dragging us away from our screens for the day! :D

I took tons more pictures, If you’re interested check out my Flickr

The Friday Review: Long Way Round

Some of you may or may not have seen this DVD, released in 2004. For wannabe travellers and travel enthusiasts  it’s a must see.

The idea for the show is Ewan Mcgregor and Charley Boorman travelling around the world from London to New York using their motorbikes. All in all they travelled 18,887 miles (30,396 km) visiting twelve contries , They started in April 2004 and ended their journey in July of the same year.Ewan and Charley on their bikes.

I had a great time watching the programme, you feel as though you are with them on the journey and it will give you the want to go travelling for sure!

The show also gives great insight into the different issues you come across when travelling, whilst filming Charley and Claudio von Planta (The cameraman who rode alongside Charley and Ewan) were both subject to thieves, which is a huge problem, it just goes to show even if your famous with cameras around you, you can still be targeted.

The 3 men had tons of trouble when crossing the swollen rivers in some of the remotest parts of Siberia and Mongolia and when they came to the Road of Bones they found a severe lack of bridges causing them to have some heart clenching moments whilst getting over the swift moving water on the huge trucks of some fellow travellers.

They used the trip to bring attention to the charity UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund), during their trip they took time out to visit some of their work including an orphanage for children affected by the Chernobyl Disaster.

The men had training before they left too help them if they came into contact with any hostile environments and they also took first aid training (but brought a doctor along with them anyway). The whole journey they were trailed by their producers in off road vehicles along with an extra cameraman and the doctor.

Seeing as the trio sustained quite a few injuries along the way I’m sure they were very glad they had doctor help on the trip, For example Ewan somehow managed to get petrol sprayed into his eyes on two separate occasions causing him extreme pain.

The show ended well however, they made it to NYC with all body parts attached!

After the first show there have been a few follow ups including: Long Way Down (Scotland to Cape Town, again with the motorbikes), Race to Dakar where Charley participated in the Dakar Rally and he has also done solo trips as another TV series named By Any Means.

If you’ve never travelled to Europe before this is a great way to learn a little about it and maybe even get those wheels turning for your next holiday.

If you’d like to buy the DVD/Books then check it out over on Amazon where you can buy it for quite a cheap price.

If you’d like to find out more about UNICEF and the work they are doing all over the globe take a look at these websites.

http://www.unicefusa.org/ (US Website)

http://www.unicef.org.uk/ (UK Website)

Out and About: London Underground

Travelling to a new country can be a daunting prospect, there’s new things to see and hear, new things to taste and experience and along side all that there’s new forms of transport with huge networks that you need to try and navigate.

London is a city that boasts 11 different underground tube lines (not including the overground ones which also go into London)  with over 250 stations, So I understand when holidaymakers get confused trying to work out where they are now or where they are going. Even I still get lost sometimes and I live here!

Hopefully this post will help you understand the system a little better and take away some of those pre holiday worries!

First of all you’re going to need to work out where you are staying, the closer to the centre of London the more expensive hotels will become and the further out the cheaper they will be. If you want to stay in a cheaper hotel but still holiday in London don’t worry, there are many train lines that connect to London. Most of the time it will take you about 15-20 mins to get to the tubes if your coming in from the outskirts.

London Underground Lines.

  • Bakerloo Line (Brown Line)

The Bakerloo Line starts off in Harrow (Northwest London) and ends in Elephant and Castle (Southeast London), This line used to be called Baker street & Waterloo Railway hence the name Bakerloo.

  • Central Line (Red Line)

The Central Line runs East to West across London from Epping to West Ruislip (Pronounced Rye-Slip). The central line is the second busiest due to it running through the middle of some very important places including Oxford Circus, Tottenham Court Road, Bank and Liverpool Street. If you are a tourist in London you will probably end up using the central line.

  • Circle (Yellow Line) and District (Green Line) Lines

The circle line is a loop on the North side of the Thames, It has stops in some major areas of London including Kings Cross and Victoria. For part of the line the District Line runs parallel to the bottom edge of the circle Line. The rest of the district line runs East to West, it’s the third busiest tube in our underground so rush hour on this line isn’t pretty..

  • Hammersmith and City Line (Pink Line)

The Hammersmith and City Line connects East to West, Hammersmith on the West end and Barking to the East.

  • Jubilee Line (Grey Line)

The Jubilee Line will take you all over London, From Stanmore in the Northeast, down into the Financial Centre (Canary Wharf) and then up into the East side of London through West Ham and finally ends at Stratford.

  • Metropolitan Line (Purple Line)

This is the oldest Undergroun Line in the world, The Metro Line begins in the middle of London at Aldgate and finishes at either Chesham, Amersham or Watford depending on where the train terminates.

  • Northern Line (Black Line)

Just as the name suggests the Northern Line stars off in the south at Morden and finishes up in the north at High Barnet, like a few of our other lines the Northern Line branches, there are three different places the Northern Line will end up, If your going South from Barnet you’ll either get on the Charing Cross train or the London Bridge one, the line will split once you get to Camden Town and it’s crucially important that you get yourself on the correct train otherwise you’ll need to double back.

HINT: Listen to the announcements, the London Underground tends to be a place people rush through, make sure that you don’t get caught up in it and miss an announcement.

  • Piccadilly Line (Dark Blue Line)

The Piccadilly Line goes from Cockfosters in North London, and then branches out to either Uxbridge in the NW or it will take you to Heathrow Airport to the SW. If you’re travelling into the centre of London after you land in Heathrow you’ll probably end up getting on the Piccadilly line.

  • Victoria Line (Light Blue)

The Victoria Line departs from Brixton in the South and ends in Walthamstow Central in the East. Cool thing about this line is that all their stations are humpbacked, meaning that their trains gather energy as it slows down into a station and then releases it as they leave, This saves 5% of the energy used and makes the trains 9% faster.

  • Waterloo and City Line (Turquoise Line)

This line is our shortest line on the underground, In fact it only covers two stations. Those being Waterloo and Bank. Waterloo is a very grand station that has trains that will take you all over England, Bank has connections to a few other lines and is in the heart of the City of London

So we’ve talked about all the major Underground lines, hopefully you’ll be able to take something from this, whether it be remembering the lines by colour or using it to find out how to get to the Centrer of London.

For some more information about the Lines take a look at a Tube Map

More on travelling and holidaying in London in a later post :)

The Universal Packing List

After a very restful weekend I’m back in the blogosphere with a ton to do for the SITS Challenge, so here goes :P

I came across this website whilst playing with my new Stumbleupon toolbar..

The Universal Packing List:

For those of you who like lists like me you’ll love this website.

First put in all the details of your holiday, including things like your gender, the temperature is in the country you will be visiting (if you don’t know don’t fret! There’s a handy little link that will help you out) and tons of others to make sure your list is perfect for your holiday.

Once your done click the button at the button at the bottom and you’ll have your list!

Like me some people may have an aversion to this type of application, Writing lists for yourself is always fun right?

If I were to use this app for me I’d probably use it as backup, there’s always something you forget before you leave so why not have an extra mind jolt.

The list categorizes different points for your packing, here were the headers for mine..

  • To do for most trips, this includes things you need to do before leaving your home for example, unplug electrical appliances and buy maps.
  • To do for longer trips, same as above but for if you are going for a long span of time, things like turn down temperature on your water heater and empty your fridge are included.
  • Core Vaccinations, you may or may not need vaccinations for your trip but having a look over this part can’t hurt, its important that you keep things like tetanus vaccinations up to date!
  • Destination specific Vaccinations, If your going to a high risk area it’s likely that you will already know the vaccinations you need, however this is good just in case

Now to the actual packing..

  • Clothes, Pretty self explanatory eh, this list includes Unisex Clothes/Clothes for Women/Shoes/Optional Clothes and Clothes for cold weather.
  • Basic Documents, Thing like passport, Id and Health Insurance cards are here.
  • Optional Documents, includes photocopies of your passport and other documents and Addresses/Phone numbers of embassies.
  • For Money and Documents, basically things to carry those all important things!
  • Tickets
  • Maps,  So you won’t get lost and know how to get to areas that you need to be in.
  • Books, Just books that you may want to take including novels and guidebooks.

The list will then include things for Hygiene, Health (From your Insect repellent to Tablets/Medicines) and finally Electrical Equipment.

So as you can see the list covers everything that you could possibly think of, if you and your family are off on an adventure any time soon then I recommend using this app. Why not even print it off and stick it up somewhere whilst ticking off the stuff you have already packed :)

Reasons to Write a Travel Blog.

There’s so many reasons to write a travel blog,  Here I’m going to highlight just a few of them…

To make memories.

There’s so many things that we see on a day to day basis that we’d love to write down somewhere to keep a memory of it, and what better time to start then when your off on holiday seeing amazing things! Think of it like your personal diary but instead of all your secrets you write everything that you’ve seen and done. In my opinion it’s probably one of the easiest things to write so why not give it a go? It’s also great to keep after you’ve traveled to show the people you know or may come to know.

To keep up with people while you’re away.

Its a fantastic way to keep in touch with people back at home and telling them all about your travels, all they have to log on to the computer and BAM! There’s your latest post ready for friends and family to have a flick through.

Informing people.

Blogs are a great way to get a point across, or even teach someone. On your travels you might come across something that you think is worth fighting for, perhaps its human rights or maybe you want to do some work for a charity organization that you met. The blog is the perfect way to tell people about your ideas or even bring in some money.

Way to meet new people.

It’s a great way to meet new people, if you correctly optimize services like social networking websites, you will find yourself meeting people like you, people who are writing travel blogs, it might even be a great way to connect to fellow travelers when you are out and about.

The best reason.. For you.

It’s important for you to get a load off of your brain, so write some of it down. Traveling can be tough, sometimes you need another outlet so blogging your thoughts/memories/worries can work very well.

This post can go for anything, whether your blogging about you trek halfway across the world or even just about what goes on in your backyard, I’d recommend writing a blog to anyone.

The Travel Itinerary.

We have worked out an itinerary that we will use to get to Finland, At first we were going via Brussels and Cologne as this is said to be the fastest route, after some deliberation we decided that we should travel to Finland and stop off in a few of the countries we cross on the way, so here we go, this is our final travel itinerary.

London – Amsterdam by Eurostar

Stay in Amsterdam for three nights.

Amsterdam – Copenhagen by City Night Train

Stay in Copenhagen for two nights

Copenhagen – Stockholm by X2000

Stay in Stockholm for two nights

Stockholm – Helsinki by Tallink Sijia

Stay in Helsinki for two nights.

Helsinki – Rovaniemi by Sleeper Train.

We haven’t yet decided on where to stay once we get to Lapland, we will be staying for 1 – 2 weeks so I’ll update at some point when we have officially decided where we are going.

On our journey we will take breaks in-between traveling to see the sights in a the Scandinavian city’s. We have never been to any of the cities that we will be staying in so this will be a whole new adventure for us, also none of us speak the language so we will have to brush up on our Danish/Swedish and Finnish!

This is our plan for the moment, It may change between now and Summer next year but for now I’ll be writing about these countries and the transport we’ll be using.

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