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in Destination UK, England

An equally fun and annoying day tour of London

I took my mother to London on the second week of August. She’s a frail old lady with problematic knees so we couldn’t take the tube. We could take the buses around but I didn’t know where to find the top attractions. Wait! Before you accuse me of negligence to plan the trip, please hear me out first. We were gonna go with my husband who knows London very well. But because we couldn’t find a parking near the bus station he had to take the car back back home and couldn’t make it in time for the bus departure. Thus, me and my mother had to go on our own.

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Without a map and a knowledge of the city, I was starting to panic but I had to show my confidence so my mother wouldn’t worry.  At the Colonnade Walk Shopping Centre, just outside of Victoria Coach Station, I was relieved to find two tour agencies. Without much ado, I purchased two Hop on hop off bus tickets with Golden Bus and thus began our London tour.

Changing of the Guards

changing_of_the_guards

If one stayed on the bus, the total number of hours of one full loop was about 3-4 depending on the traffic. There were two routes for Golden Bus, red and blue. Majority of them overlap with each other but what irritated me was the long waiting time between each bus, let alone for the same route I was following. We missed the main ceremony for the Changing of the Guard because the next bus to arrive took more than half an hour. Luckily, we got back to Buckingham Palace few minutes before the guards marched back to the Guard House. We lost so many times just waiting for the bus and I regret paying for less because it hampered our day tour. In fact, when we arrived at the Marble Arch, I overheard the passenger that hopped on saying that it was the first bus to arrive in an hour!

The entertainer at Green Park and St James Park

squirrel_at_green_parkThis little critter was a resident at the Green Park near Buckingham Palace. We fed him with nuts from our lunch box which he took from our palm. He quite enjoyed his treat and didn’t mind the paparazzi snapping him when people stopped by to watch him. When we left, he followed somewhat cautiously until I told him that the nuts have finished. He then scampered away back up the tree.

A bit of history and top attractions of London

What I like best about these hop on hop off buses is the carefully chosen routes that go to the most important and the interesting places that helped shape the history of London. They stopped at major attractions like Buckingham Palace, Westminster, Tower of London, China Town, Greenwich, House of the Parliament and Big Ben, Trafalgar Square, Marble Arch, Kensington Palace, etc.

There was no live tour guide in this tour but a recorded audio that included helpful information on facts and trivia about the city made the trip worthwhile. I wouldn’t have known the stories behind the buildings and events that took place had it not been for the audio guide. Traveling is really educating.

River Cruise and Guided Walking Tour

The price I paid for the tour bus included a “free river cruise” and one guided walking tour out of three options. But because of the time we lost in between waiting for the next bus, not to mention my mother’s very slow walking, we were sorry to have missed these two events. We just didn’t have enough time.

All in all, the trip was satisfactory but it could have been a lot better.

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