The Need for Another Adventure: Searching for a New Destination
After booking a trip to Berlin, we all felt a strange vibe between us. Would one trip be enough? Hell no! So, on the 5th of February, we began to search for another cheap destination. Since we had already taken a trip in January, we planned for another in February, and a new trip had to be planned for March.
I gathered information on cheap flights for March (again, thank you Ryanair for your low fares – it makes things simple!). Unfortunately, there were only two options – London and Prague. Since we were worried about being broke after so many trips and adventures, we decided to add three beautiful cities that we could reach by car from Vilnius – Riga, Tallinn, and Warsaw. We couldn’t easily decide where to go next, so we wrote the names of each destination on five little sheets of paper.
The sheet reveals the destiny
We decided that Donatas would be the one to take the sheet and choose our destination since he doesn’t make many decisions when we’re together. You know, two boss girls are the bosses 😀 Sooooooooo he took the sheet, and… it is a trip to LONDON!! We checked to see which weekend would be the cheapest to fly to London, and we found that the trip would start on March 16th, with the return date on March 20th.
It was funny because Donatas’ friend had been living in London for almost two years, and they hadn’t seen each other since he left Lithuania. Some kind of magic must have been in the air because Donatas picked London without hesitation! And yes, he didn’t see what was written on those little sheets – it’s something to do with this situation 😀
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As we predicted, we were really broke after coming back from Berlin. But we knew we had an upcoming trip and had to start looking for a place to stay. The clock was ticking, and we didn’t want to spend the nights in tube stations 😀 We searched Rabbit, Airbnb, and Booking. As always, Booking provided us with the best option. We couldn’t believe that we would find such a great place almost at the last minute. Does booking 10 days before the trip count as last minute? Well, I think so. The longer you wait, the fewer options you have…
Finding Affordable Accommodation in London
So Fausta and I started searching for a place to stay that wasn’t in Luton, and of course, it had to be affordable for broke people. Fausta sent me options, and I checked them while we discussed them together. Donatas likes to be a participant, not the one looking for everything, so he’s always in the mood of not caring about these things. He’s not selfish though – just kidding! At least he doesn’t say he’s going to invite more friends and leave us alone at the end 😀
Eventually, we found a good hotel – the Palace Court Hotel in Bayswater, London. The hotel rating isn’t the best – 5.3, as described by Booking – but the price for 4 nights is €434 or £383, so it’s relatively cheap.
Cheaper option? Yes! Oh no, NO! We need a taxi!
There’s another funny story about booking this hotel. Since I was searching for hotels using my PC, I found the price of €434. Fausta and I agreed that the price was reasonable, and I booked the hotel. Then, I was informed that a free trip from the airport to the hotel had been added as a gift from Booking – OMG, ISN’T THAT COOL?! We started imagining how we would be picked up like stars. You know, you don’t usually take taxis from the airport because it’s really expensive 😀
But then I grabbed my phone, went to Booking, and saw that the mobile price for the hotel was only €390! No way were we going to pay more when we could get it cheaper! So I immediately cancelled the booking (as I could do so because free cancellation until the 12th of March was included) and agreed to the cancellation, which also included the taxi.
The Strike and the Importance of Trusting Your First Decision
I was pretty sure that booking the hotel and a taxi would be a cheaper option, and I was confident that we would save money by taking the train to the London center, so I didn’t hesitate to cancel the original booking and opted for the cheaper one. Can you feel the mistake vibe coming in? Well, yes, it was definitely a mistake number 1.
After looking for train options from the airport and selecting a date, I received a message:
‘No trains are running on this date due to a strike.‘
Well, shit happens. I then cancelled the mobile booking and went back to book the first option that includes a hotel and a taxi. We’ll need a taxi since there’s a strike. Always trust the first decision you make – it’s usually a good one, so don’t overthink it. I even received a message from the hotel warning me that if I continued to make duplicate bookings, I would be double charged, so that was a big red flag!
Trip to London starts here!
Our flight was scheduled for 17:50 GMT+2. We had a whole day to prepare, but both Donatas and I were working. I left the preparation for the last day, so there was a big drama when I had to decide what to wear. I hate this part! But, my mental problems are not going to be discussed here 😀
We took a wonderful 3G bus to the airport, got some beers, saw a Lithuanian celebrity, talked a bit, and then the plane (which was late) took off for London.
How to Handle Rude Taxi Service Providers
After Brexit, everything became more complicated than it was before in the UK. When we landed, we were worried that the driver had left us at the airport. We started running to get out of the airport faster and waited for the driver with a sign that read HELLO DOMANTĖ, but he was not there. It was clear that he had either left or was not present.
We called the driver, and he informed us that he was on his way to the airport but was delayed due to heavy traffic. As we waited, we tried to locate zone B at the Stansted airport as the driver had instructed us to go there, but we could not find the zone. So we just waited where everyone else was waiting. As I could not completely understand what the driver was saying, I asked Donatas to call him. He tried to understand the driver as well, but we eventually told him to come to zone D.
The driver arrived and oh my god… First of all, it was supposed to be a Toyota car, but he arrived in a Mercedes. I would say that’s a nice upgrade, but how are we supposed to easily find the driver if we don’t even know what car he’s driving? The driver told us that he had sent us a message via WhatsApp. I explained that I didn’t have this app, but he started shouting, “How can you not have it? It says right here that you have it! It’s not my problem that you don’t have this app!!”
I was surprised by how he treated clients and really shocked. I’m not used to this type of behavior. I work in customer support and I see a lot of frustrated people, but we would never shout at a customer. It was very rude behavior from the driver. So, I apologized a few times and tried to forget about the situation… What a way to start a trip 😀
Please Read Carefully to Avoid Unexpected Surprises
So we reached our hotel, and the trip took approximately an hour. Imagine the situation – you get out of a really nice car, the driver leaves and you just see a hotel that looks like trash. A scene from a movie 😀
We went into the hotel, took the key out of the deposit box, and started hiking to the 3rd (or 4th) floor. I literally say hiking because OH JESUS the stairs were so steep and it was so hard to climb there… Jesus Christ…
So now, after reaching the hotel, we instantly noticed the mistakes that we made. First of all, my friends, always check if the WiFi will be available in the rooms. We thought that it is just common to have WiFi everywhere, especially in hotels, but hello hello, it was written that the WiFi would only be available in the lobby! How dumb could we be not to check these kinds of things?!
- Mistake number 2 – no hairdryer. It won’t be a problem for people with thin hair as they dry faster, but if you have thick hair, oh boy, choose a hotel that provides one 😀
- Mistake number 3 – the hotel was just, well, I will try to put it in more sophisticated words – horribly horrible 😀 but more about that later.
When we reached the hotel, I realized that I should have ordered an eSim that I had checked out before the trip. However, I had thought that I wouldn’t need it immediately after landing since the driver would be waiting for us. So, I suggest thinking about it before the trip. The eSim I am referring to is the Maya mobile. I paid around 6.60 euros for 3GB/week in the UK, which is a relatively good price, in my opinion.
After checking in, we made a quick trip to Sainsbury’s to get some food and beer, and started to plan for the evening. As it was already 10:30 PM (or 0:30 AM Friday for us), we decided that getting some good sleep was the most important thing. Without proper rest, we wouldn’t be able to explore and wander around London effectively.
These are the stairs of the hotel 🙂
Overcoming Travel Obstacles: When Plans Go Awry
We woke up, ate some sandwiches, yoghurt with granola that we bought yesterday, got ready, and headed out, but it was only me and Fausta. Maybe you’re wondering why? If you are, I’ll tell you; if not, no worries, life is life 🙂 We didn’t take any adapters from home! We’re from the EU, so the struggle is real; we really need to charge our phones and smoking devices.
So we went to the nearest TKmaxx, bought the adapters, got back home, and voila! IT WAS AN ADAPTER FROM THE UK TO THE EU, NOT THE EU TO THE UK! How could we fail so many times? How could we be so blind and not see that it wouldn’t fit? It was straight in the image 😀 We used the socket for shavers, charged the phones for a bit, and then the whole gang left room 306 for the adventure that awaited us!
Your 3-day London tour package starts here
Friday – Harry Potter, Camden Town, and a Mouse?!
During our trip to London, we visited many amazing places. Some of our favorites included:
- King Cross St. Pancras Station
- Camden Town
- British Museum
- Neil’s Yard
- One New Change rooftop
- London Bridge
- Stratford shopping
Exploring Camden Town’s Multicultural Vibes with Station Hopping and Souvenir Shopping
So the day of adventure started at King’s Cross St. Pancras Station. It is a huge station that has many interesting things like Harry Potter’s platform and shop, a booking office, and more, but we only visited those two places. The shop and the platform are a must for Harry Potter fans, so Fausta was very happy with the visit here. She is a huge fan! The booking office is also a very cozy place to wait for your train. We just walked around it and left since a long day was ahead of us!
Later, we went to Camden Town. This area has many souvenir shops, so be sure to get some there for a reasonable price! We got coffee at Costa, got some souvenirs, wandered around a bit, and felt the vibe of this multicultural area. It is definitely worth a visit!
Discovering Ancient Artifacts, Vibrant Escapes, and Breathtaking Views of London Bridge with a Side of McDonald’s Munchies
Then, one of the best things in London is the British Museum, which has literally everything – all of the history of humans in one place. How can it not be interesting?! We took the time to check out the exhibits there, so my advice would be to do the same!
Later, we went to Neal’s Yard. It’s not far from the British Museum, so be sure to plan your trip so you won’t have to go to the same spot twice. I always saw beautiful and colorful pictures of the yard on Instagram, so it was about time to visit. Actually, it looks better in pictures and videos, but it’s still colorful and cute – definitely worth the visit!
After that, the wanderers went to the One New Change rooftop, which was also on our list from Instagram. It’s a cool place, although you can’t see a lot there, it’s free (the question is for how long :D)!
Afterwards, we walked around St. Paul’s Cathedral, which I would love to visit sometime. Keep in mind that the ticket is £20.50, so our wallets asked us not to go there. Maybe next time… And then – food!!! Don’t think that I will tell you something interesting here – McDonald’s it is 😀 We went through the London Bridge, walked around the Shard, got some food, and then…
Boys’ Reunions, Girls’ Shopping, and Nighttime Wanders
Donatas met his friend! Finally, after two years! I like how boys just say “hi, how are you” like they see each other every day. For me, it would be a disaster to be left outside alone without my best friend, so Fausta and I went shopping in Stratford and left them alone for a bit.
Do you feel something is coming up? Because it is – wandering in the streets at night! When the four of us got back together, we decided to walk around London as shadows. Although scary, the city is more interesting at night. Check out some pictures in the gallery!
After coming back from the night trip, we found a mouse in our hotel room at the 2-star hotel. It looked like it was living in one of the beds, which was horrible, but we decided to stay there anyway. I have to admit that the hotel staff was not very helpful, and after we reported the mouse, we were only given a 15% refund on our booking. Unfortunately, they were not able to locate the mouse, but at least we got some compensation. Sadly, we couldn’t capture the mouse on camera, but 15% is better than nothing!
Saturday Adventures in during our trip to London: Going Strong Despite 0% Battery
Places that we visited:
- Hyde Park
- National History Museum
- Trafalgar Square
- London Eye
- Cable Cars
- Camden Town at night
- Elephant and Castle
Saturday was hard as we did not get a lot of sleep, but we still managed to visit some places 😀
The (A)typical Tourists Visiting London’s Most Touristy Places
As we were living near Hyde Park, we decided to take a walk through it to the National History Museum. The museum is definitely worth a visit as it has a lot of interesting things there. I won’t say too much about it, as everything is in the gallery.
After the museum, we took the tube to Trafalgar Square. I love this square because of the movie Garfield 2, my favorite movie. Unfortunately, we couldn’t stay there long because there was a protest happening, and we didn’t want to get involved. But we saw the lions and a lot of people. Then we went to see the London Eye during the day, walked around a bit, and got some food at… McDonald’s.
For us, the most important thing when traveling is to maximize our time, which is why we often choose to eat at fast food restaurants. It’s fast and convenient, and it doesn’t take a lot of time away from our adventures.
Then it was time to take the cable cars. We took the tube to the Canning Town station on the Jubilee line. There was a line to get there, but it wasn’t too long, so we decided to wait and enjoy the nice views of London. Take a peek at the gallery!
Taking a Night Off
Then, the adventure people took off to the hotel to change our clothes, get some rest, and then we went to check out Camden Town at night. It had a totally different vibe, with people going out and about, but it was not so comfortable to be there.
We actually had tickets to a rave in Corsica Studios, but Donatas’ friend was not so interested in going raving, so we decided to stay with him until the last second. Unfortunately, our money for the rave was just wasted, but things happen! The place was in Elephant and Castle, so we walked around in this neighborhood a bit, which looked nice and clean. And then, the bed was already calling us to join the kingdom of sleep.
Sunday – The Last Breath of London
Places that we have visited:
- Oxford street
- Picadilly Circus
- Canary Wharf
So here it is, our last day in of our trip to London. Donatas’ friend couldn’t stay with us any longer, so the three musketeers got out of bed to take in the last breaths of not-so-clean London air. With not a lot of energy left in the tank, Fausta and I visited the famous Oxford Street, but then decided to head back to our hotel to rest.
As night fell, we hopped on a bus to Piccadilly Circus, which of course looks better at night. From there, we made our way to Chinatown and sampled various Asian snacks – what a gastronomic trip! Then, we paid a visit to Soho and came up with the idea of trying our luck at a casino to get some of our money back.
We visited the Hippodrome Casino near Piccadilly Circus, each armed with £3. Guess what happened? We lost £10! It was still a fun experience, though, watching people staring at those colourful screens and trying to win some money. I’ve never been lucky in casinos, so I was just surprised at how much money some people can make there – lucky bastards!
The last place we wanted to visit since Thursday was Canary Wharf, so we took the tube there and walked among the modern, high-rise buildings that make you feel small and inspire you to reach for the top!
A Comedy of Errors: The Perils of Public Transportation
Our plane to Lithuania was scheduled for Monday, early in the morning at 8:40 AM, which was definitely early for us. After taking a power nap, we headed to the bus station since the tube service doesn’t start until around 5:30 AM. We opted for a bus to the airport as it was cheaper than the train and had bought tickets for a bus leaving from Liverpool station at 6 AM.
But guess what! When we reached the station, we found out that our bus was going to be 7 minutes late. It meant that we either had to run to catch the bus or we were screwed. Moreover, we had to change to another bus to reach the station.
As the first bus took longer than expected, we realized that we had no chance of catching our bus on time. Finally, we reached the station where we had to change to another bus, and as we arrived, we only saw the bus that we needed leaving, as it had come one minute earlier.
Thinking quickly, we decided to book an Uber to get to Liverpool station faster. We wanted to catch that bus to the airport as I had bought non-refundable tickets, and we couldn’t afford to miss it. We booked the Uber, and the screen showed that the driver would arrive in 2 minutes. But then, it became 9 minutes. I realized that we needed to cancel it, pay £5, and change our tickets to the later bus. It was the best option to avoid stress and reach the National Express bus station on time.
Finally, we made it to the bus station without any stress, but it cost us an extra £5.
Here’s the Travel Plan, My Friends
I have, of course, done my homework and gathered a list of places that are worth visiting. Many of them are from Instagram, and some are recommendations from friends. As it was Donatas’ first time in London (mine – 4th, Fausta’s – 3rd, and she lived in London in 2019 as she had a summer job here), the trip was mostly about showing Donatas the mainstream places, and it became a nostalgic trip for me and Fausta, with new places for Donatas and, for all of us, alcoholics in London 😀
I will share the list of places here, but I will not include the places that we visited in this list. They will be mentioned in my review/story/tale. The places that we haven’t visited look like they are worth visiting, but unfortunately, I cannot say much about them.
- Little Venice
- Greenwich foot tunnel
- Holland park (Kyoto garden)
- Park Royal for cheap Turkish brunch
- Sky garden (we wanted to go there, but unfortunately, it was fully booked, so book your place in advance! Beautiful view, worth visiting (I and Fausta visited the garden in 2019)
- Victoria & Albert Museum
- The grand staircase, King Cross St. Pacras hotel
- Reflection garden
- The hill garden and pergola
- The thin house
- The Garden at 120
- The Queen’s house
- Coal Drops Yard
- The Royal Exchange
- The Wallace Collection
- Saatchi Gallery
- Goodwin’s Court
- Old Spitalfields market on Saturdays
- Leadenhall market
- Camden’s passage in Angel
- Floral street
- The longest street in London – Rotherhithe street
- Tate Modern
- St. Dunstan in the East
- Middle Temple
- Cecil Court
- Holly Village
Colourful streets in London, to bring more colours to life!
- Lancaster Road (Notting Hill)
- Kelly Street (Kentish Town)
- Wingate Road (Hammersmith)
- Colville Terrace (Notting Hill)
- Leverton Street (Kentish Town)
- Hartland Road (Kentish Town)
- Lansdowne Road (Notting Hill)
A Walking Tour of London’s Iconic Sites
We actually almost did the tour as we lived nearby the Queensway station, so we were wandering a lot there and around other known places that are mentioned in this tour’s list:
Queensway tube station -> Kensington palace -> Royal Albert Memorial -> Royal Albert Hall -> Exhibition Road -> Natural History museum -> Harrod’s -> Hyde Park -> Consitution Hill -> Buckingham palace -> Trafalgar Square -> National Gallery -> Cavalry Museum -> Downing Street -> Big Ben -> Southbank -> Millenium Bridge -> London Bridge -> Tower Bridge
Interesting Numbers, Random Facts, and Helpful Tips
- Use Google Maps for the planning – it really shows all the needed information, how to go to a station for example, if the train is delayed etc.
- 100951 steps from my phone, which is 62 km! Impressive, isn’t it? 😀
- How much does a trip to London cost? The total amount spent by the three of us was around 1150 euros, which includes flights, hotel, food, and drinks, but excludes transportation expenses in London.
- The cost of transportation was 43 euros, which included the cable car. We used Apple Pay and our cards, and did not purchase an Oyster or a week card. It was a bit expensive, especially since we didn’t travel much outside of the first zone.
- Never withdraw cash from random ATMs! It can be very costly. It’s better to find an ATM at a bank so that you won’t be charged high fees.
- Lesson learned – don’t buy tickets for an event when you are going to meet with friends
- It’s best to stick with chain shops like Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and other well-known stores. Avoid going to random, unknown shops to ensure you get the best value and quality.
- Don’t opt for the cheapest hotel. Instead, go through your options and book in advance to avoid unpleasant surprises.
- Consider getting an eSim for your phone so that you can have access to the internet while traveling.
- Consider purchasing flexible tickets for National Express (and other transportation services), even if they are more expensive.
- Was it the cheapest trip to London? Not that cheap, but we managed to survive!
So this is a story about our trip to London! Is there anything else that should be added? Did you feel that we provided enough information, or maybe too much? Please leave a comment so that we can continue to improve. Here’s to the next adventure!