There is no better way seeing London than going on the Hop On Hop Off Open Top Double Decker Bus. There are two companies running such tour but I've chosen Big Bus Tour after getting advise from Travel Reviews. It costs us GBP50.00 a family (2 Adults + 2 Child). You can get on and get off the bus anytime within 24 hours, anywhere at the designated stops.
The pick up point nearest to Malaysia Hall (after breakfast) is at the Shell Station along Bayswater Road. Just be there on time (0906 am) and show your ticket to the Big Bus Tours staff waiting at the point together with the credit card you use to make the purchase (if you purchased it online). He then will provide you with a map (very useful).
You will not always get lucky to get a sit at the top deck, but if you do.. get your camera ready..
London town is very scenic, looking from on top of the bus will make your jaw drops, adoring the picturesque views. This one is Paddington Town.
You will be provided with an earphone to be plugged to a radio port available at every seats to hear an informative tour guides throughout the tour.
Our first stop was the Trafalgar Square. At the background is the National Gallery.
Arif get extremely excited once we arrived at the square which was laid out in 1829 to 1840 to commemorate Admiral Lord Nelson's victory at the naval Battle of Trafalgar against the Napoleon (French) in 1805. Arif was seen to climb the Nelson's 185 feet column (not sure why).
At present time, the square is used for political demonstration and community gatherings such as the celebration of New Year's Eve.
London is preparing to host the Olympic 2012, you can see the countdown here..
Admiralty Arch (at the back) forms as the gateway from Trafalgar Square to The Mall, the processional road running along St. James Park and linking Buckingham Palace to Horse Guards Parade. ANNO DECIMO EDWARDI SEPTIMI REGIS... (blah blah..) means In The Tenth Year Of The Reign Of King Edwards VII, To Queen Victoria From A Grateful Nation, 1910.
Horse Guards barracks and the parade ground behind me were built in the 1750s. At that time this was the only entrance to Buckingham Palace and St James' Palace. It is still considered to be the official entrance to Buckingham Palace, hence the presence of the Queen's Life Guards.
If you happened to be here around 1000am -1100am, you will stand a chance to witness the Changing of Guards from the Household Cavalry.
Two mounted Life Guards from the Household Cavalry keep mounted sentry duty during the day. Through the night just one dismounted sentry stands guard. The guardsmen are not allowed to speak or move but make a great photo opportunity!
Then we headed to the Tower Bridge. The bridge that often mistaken for London Bridge, the next bridge upstream. The 244m in length bridge was opened in 1894 as a solution to the river crossing problem.
This Tower is seriously huge! it is called the Tower of London. Founded in 1066 was once used as a prison. Behind me is the 'Traitor's Gate', the name has been used since 17th century, prisoners were brought by barge along the Thames river, passing under London Bridge, where the heads of recently executed prisoners were displayed on pikes... ergghhh.
As a complementary to our Big Bus Tour ticket, we get to enjoy the River Cruise for free. In the background is the Shard (London Bridge Tower) which in December 2011 became the tallest building in European Union. One interesting fact is that the construction of the tower is funded by Qatari investors via Islamic Finance.. hmm..
Historically, this bridge had 'fallen down' a numerous time. By rebels, by the Norwegian prince (inspired the nursery rhyme 'London Bridge is Falling Down), by a storm (London Tornado 1091), by fire in 1136, by an Act of Parliament 1756, and the last one was sold to an American entrepreneur named Robert P. McCulloch who believed mistakenly thought he was buying the more impressive Tower Bridge in 1968 and later was reconstructed at Lake Havasu City, Arizona. The above pic is the new one opened in 1973 and nothing to do with the famous rhyme.
This is a boat crew who voluntarily act as a guide because he thought it will be silly if he left us unguided. He is such a funny guy, we love the way he tells stories about the buildings and its histories. He is hilarious.
Look at the line of Red Buses on the Waterloo Bridge. Those are the new buses to be deployed during the Olympic. Impressive...
The underground station near Westminster Pier where we took a lift and heading to the nearest bus stop.
The famous landmark of London. People call it the Big Ben, but actually the whole building is called The Clock Tower. Big Ben is actually the great bell of the clock (not the entire building, not even the clock - the Great Clock of Westminster) which named after the inventor, Sir Benjamin Hall. We were lucky enough to be there at 3.00pm when the great bell tolls three times at its loudest of the day.
Among the impressive buildings, this one catches Arif's eyes! He never saw this showroom in KL. It's the PAGANI. According to him, this is the fastest car in the world. I wouldn't know cause I don't play IPad games as much as him.
This was our final destination of the day. The Harrods. I don't know why exactly I went here for. Maybe because of the reputation it carries that makes it the must-visit place. Other than that I think it was a complete waste of time. For your information, the whole building has no escalator or lift, there are all stairs for the 4 or 5 floors of exclusive shopping mall. In short, it is no place for a working-class mother with strollers (like mua). I should've been somewhere more convenience and fun than this.
The Big Bus stopped its operation at 5.00pm. It was 7.00pm, so we have to take up the bus to go back to Bayswater. Luckily we still have balance in our Oyster card (kids ride for free, though).
Do you think I logged to much on London stuff? Allow me for another post then I'll give London a rest, okey?