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London ’10

November 15, 2010

Post Egypt, and within a span of 3 months, I had my second international trip coming up and I was bloody excited!

The trip was planned out early 2010, but only for my parents. After I came back from Egypt, I told my parents how much I enjoyed my time there and narrated all the things I did in great detail. But as soon after a week of returning, I started to feel the post vacation blues and mentioned it to them in a passing statement. Next thing I know, my parents surprised me with a ticket for myself!

I couldn’t believe it at first. It had been 5 years already since my sister had moved over to Croydon, and we always been close as siblings. I did have plans in progress but given my savings, I thought it would be best to wait another summer. I didn’t have to anymore 🙂
To add to my excitement, some of my closest friends were studying in the UK then and that meant I’d have a great time travelling around with them as well. Thus, began my planning for the trip. For most part of it, I intended to take my family around and have them visit the museums, art galleries, heritage sites and the Buckingham Palace.

I reached mid-week and caught up with my friends the next day in London. I must say, it is an amazing city to live and is full of life! The first place we visited was Leicester Square and moved around Convent Gardens. One of the calmest and the most relaxed parts of London. You’ll find a quite a few pubs and bars to hang around and in the evenings, many talented youngsters come around to play music with their friends. This clubbed with ale in our hands, it was one of the best ways for me to start my trip.

After spending Friday & Saturday running around in London and exploring the night life bar hopping, we spent the Sunday visiting Brighton – on the suggestion of my sister. Little did me or my friends know till then, that it was renowned as the gay capital of Britain. We didn’t realize we were being oddly stared at till mid-day when we decided to have lunch and the waiter said “Lovely to see 3 queers walk in together” and I just went WTF. Me and my sister have always been notorious. This just went a notch up :/


Sadly, they were only around for the weekend, but I had a better accomplice to enjoy the London night life for the remainder of my trip with Natasha, my classmate from college and some old friends from Mumbai who had shifted to London a few years back. Natasha was one jolly, ready-to-party woman who made sure we partied at all of the places below while I was around. I’m really glad to have that she’d been around and was an amazing host during my trip to the city.

PUBS: Being a beer enthusiast – I was introduced to Ale for the  first time in London. I instantly fell in love with it (what we get served in Mumbai is Lager). Unfortunately we’d drink so much at the pubs that I never quite remembered the names 🙂


Although the best place me & Natty visited weren’t any of the night clubs above, but at Thorpe Park !* It’s not a huge park, but has enough rides to keep you entertained for the day. I had a great time there, especially when we did Stealth ride – reaching 0-80 mph in 1.8 seconds!! With 4.6 G force, it’s the kind of adrenalin rush that I hadn’t experienced before.
(*Living in India, unfortunately you don’t have many theme/amusement parks, and of those that exist, none are worth visiting :/)

Along with all of the above, we even made trips to some of the theatres to watch the in-famous London Plays. Having high expectations, ‘The Dirty Dancing’ turned out to be a real disappointment (we also didn’t have the best seats). However, Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty’s theatre was simply out-standing! I highly recommend to everyone visiting London, that they watch this play.


Besides the partying with friends, I had a great time with family as well. If you happen to make a family trip to London, you must visit the places that we did:

  • Buckingham Palace – change of guard (Summer only)
  • Science Museum
  • Victoria & Albert Museum
  • Royal Observatory Greenwich (take a ferry clubbed with the bus tour)
  • The London Aquarium
  • The London Zoo
  • British MuseumOptional (on how much you’re fascinated by the following)
  • Kew Gardens (in case your parents or you love botanical gardens)
  • Natural History Museum
  • Tower of London (marvelous creation of it’s time and how it works)
  • Leeds Castle (pale in comparison to BP)
  • Tote Gallery
  • Design Museum

Remember, most of the places are only open from 9-5. Please check up on their respective websites for visiting hours before creating your itinerary.
We even saw a few more places but were disappointed with them. In case you are short on time, I’d say you can skip places like:

  • Madame Tussuad (unless they are playing the Avengers 4d movie, it’s fine if you skip it – unless watching waxed dolls fascinate you),
  • National Gallery (Tote Gallery is much better)
  • War Museum (maybe because I expected more)
  • London Bridge
  • National Maritime Museum (you can do this incase you reach early for the Royal Observatory)

IMHO, museums take up half of your day and should go through their brochures and pick the stuff you really want to see.


If you’ve taken the effort to go all the way to Britain, how can you leave out a trip to the neighbouring Scotland?! To add more excitement to our trip, my dad convinced his sister to fly down from the USA for a short trip to Scotland., for a week. Since it was all impromptu, we hadn’t planned our trip here and took one of the packaged 3 day tours (based out of Glasgow) that included visiting an isle and a whiskey distillery – The Famous Grouse. It is a very beautiful country with vast Highlands.

Our stay was based out of Glasgow because Jagrut (my best friend) was studying his M.Sc at the university of Glasgow. He even cooked me a meal (the first time I ever experienced such a service at his hand, having known him for atleast 15 years!). We spent the nights bar-hopping and whiskey drinking with his friends. Most of the night clubs at Glasgow are underground in basements of buildings but are extremely massive!

Our only disappointment there was the food (mainly for my aged parents) – most of the places we visited offered bland food. All the Indian-named restaurants are actually run by the Pakistani & Bangladeshi’s and have a different cooking style/method to Indian food. So that didn’t do well either. Had to go back to packaged food & Burger King (McDonalds does not serve a veg burger in UK).


Lastly, London has some great places to eat. However, my sister being a really good cook, we didn’t bother too much with stepping out for food. Meals at home meant we spent more time with each other as well. But whenever we did step out, we seemed to enjoy most of the places we went.

My parents loved the variety of food that was available at their command. Dad was nearly loved everything available at the M&S food retail (which we’d carry for breaks during our tours) and dining at Mandalay (Burmese restaurant). My mum and I fell in love with the fast food at ‘Yo Sushi’, along with our favourite Mexican joints – Nandos and Chiquitos. Even the variety of lemonades and beverages available there was quite fascinating. My personal favourite – Ginger Ale (non-alcoholic).

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