27 December 2014 – 2 January 2015
London – Edinburgh – Newcastle
This is a short note from my backpacking holiday with a friend. We stayed in London at a couchsurfer‘s house and in Newcastle in my cousin’s house. Sometimes we went out separately as we had different things we wanted to see. I wrote about transportation, ideal duration to explore (subjective), and landmarks.
Tube: subway. Sometimes you will find strangers giving you their one day ticket because they don’t need it anymore but you can still use it. It will be nice if you do the same to other fellow travelers 🙂
What sucks about London in winter holiday? Too many tube stations are closed that you need to find alternative ways to get to your destination.
Best duration to explore: 3 days.
Buckingham Palace. There was changing guardian procession when I was there. I didn’t know the exact time, but you can check the website. You can also book the ticket if you’d like to see inside. I didn’t because it was too late and too expensive for a backpacker.
London Eye. Take pictures both daytime and night time.
London Bridge. Better take pictures night time.
Thames River. Souvenir shopping, relax and picnic with friends.
Big Ben. Take pictures both daytime and night time.
Westminster Abbey. I dreamed of getting married here when I was 9. This time I came for a Sunday mass. It’s still a privilege 🙂 I remember the sermon! “… and Mary ponders it in her heart.” The young virgin Mary was very humble and obedient when she received the message from angel Gabriel. May we also receive God’s message in our lives with that attitude. I was so mesmerized that I didn’t take any pictures inside.
St. Paul’s Cathedral. I heard it has beautiful architecture and interior, but when we got there it was closed for public.
Museums. There are a lot of museums you can visit for free here. Victoria and Albert is one of the most famous one. My favorite was Science Museum. I spent so much time observing everything one by one.
Trafalgar Square. Take picture with the lion, the fountain, and the pigeons. Go the The National Gallery just behind it.
If you have time and budget, check on the schedule for musicals and watch!
Tram. It’s easy to get to downtown by tram. Once I had a 3 years old boy sitting next to me and couldn’t stop singing, “Stop the bus I need a wee wee…” (wee wee: a slang for pee)
I stayed in Ibis Budget hotel. It has good location and value. Nearby a supermarket and tram station.
Best duration to explore: 2-3 days.
Edinburgh Castle. It’s HUGE. You might spend the whole day here. The ticket cost 16 GBP. I didn’t get in, it was too late.
German Market. Every Christmas they will have this kind of market. They have goods, food and beverage, also mini amusement park and ice rink.
Scott Monument. It’s really cool monument if you look at it from above. I rode this flying thing with my friends and almost thought we’re going to die.
Museum on the Mound. It’s money museum where you can see a million Scottish pounds! I got a really cool souvenir as well: a keychain with shredded pounds inside. Free entrance.
Writer’s Museum. It’s museum of 3 famous Scottish writers: Robert Burns, Walter Scott, and Robert Louis Stevenson (the writer of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde). The museum is so small, but if you’re a book worm, better come by and see around. Free entrance.
National Museum of Scotland. This is one of the most amazing museums I’ve ever visit. They have 7 levels that I almost spent literally half day there.
A bar in the UK is a place you drink with friends but also have meals with family. We wanted to have dinner at a famous bar, but it was full, so we moved to a bar next to it. Lucky! That was Deacon Broody Tavern, the inspiration for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The food was brilliant too. If you don’t want to pay so much for your drink, just order tap water with lemon and ice (everywhere in the UK, I suppose).
There are more museums and art galleries I skipped because I didn’t have enough time. I was very interested in going for The Real Mary King’s Close tour, but I had to miss it. You can visit the Edinburgh Dungeon too if you’re a fan of mystery tours.
NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE
Subway will be the easiest transportation. Well, basically I stopped somewhere and walked around.
I found the accent here is quite difficult to understand, but the people are really friendly.
Hancock Museum / Museum of The Great North. Free entrance. Quite entertaining. I met my first real mummy here.
Had an afternoon cream tea at Jesmond Dene House. Better book it online first. It was quite pricey, but the service was really good.
There’s a surprisingly nice Asian market here. I forgot the name, sorry, but it’s quite easy to find since just around city center. You can find almost all familiar Chinese stuff like plum candies, bubble tea pearls, herbs, and seasonings.
We watched a music show and a parade at Grey’s Monument, then we walked down to the Millennium Bridge (Tyne river) to watch the new year fireworks show. I helped an Indian girl who looked so lost in the crowd, but she wasn’t that thankful and suddenly left me without saying a word after she saw her cousin coming. Anyways, I do what I expect others to do if I’m in that kind of situation. Sow and harvest someday.
I heard that there are times that they open the Millenium Bridge, but when I was there, it seemed not in operation anymore. There’s Baltic Mill Art Gallery at the same spot too if you’re into art.
If you want to go a bit further, you can meet Angel of The North statue, the landmark of Gateshead.
I ended my journey on the bed with heater on for 2 consecutive days at my cousin’s house. What a busy holiday…