If you had read My footprints in… USA (Part I), you would have seen that I had mentioned that the trip to the States was likely to be the final time I could travel under SQ for free. However, that proved to be untrue, as I was able to fly under my dad’s umbrella for one final time, as long as my return was before I start working full-time or the day of my convocation (whichever is earlier). As such, I was able to fly Singapore Airlines for my grad trip – a journey which will see me cover 5 countries in 24 days. Here’s Part I of My footprints in… Europe! and I hope you’ll enjoy the read!
Day 1 – 6 Jun – Bon Voyage!
As my departure was on a Saturday, the family was able to come send me off at the airport. This trip will be the first time that I’ll be travelling alone for an extended period, hence the mix of excitement and fear that was going through my mind as I waited to be checked-in by one of the SATS passenger services staff at T3. As the seconds ticked towards the scheduled time of departure, I bid my family farewell as I headed to the gate where the plane was parked. It has been quite awhile since I flew on a B777, with the last couple of long haul flights that I’ve been on being serviced by the A380 or the A330, and so was pretty hyped to be back on one of the most popular long-range jet airliners ever produced.
Flying to Manchester on Singapore Airlines
The flight time would take approximately 16 hours, with a layover at Munich. The first leg of the flight was pretty full, with many travellers using Munich as a hub to connect to other parts of Europe. The second leg, however, was quite empty, and I was able to have the entire row of seats to myself, giving me the opportunity to get some shut eye before I start my day in Manchester when my flight arrives in the morning.
Transit in Munich
Day 2 – 7 Jun – Tracing Back My Footsteps
I’ve been to Manchester once before, back in 2008 with my aunt, where we toured parts of the United Kingdom and Paris. With the U.K. and France both on my agenda again this time around, I was ready to retrace my footsteps, seeing the changes and/or simply reminisce on the wonderful memories of yesteryear.
Slice Of The Past – Manchester circa. 2008
Back in 2008, the metro system was not extended to Manchester Airport. Today, Manchester’s Metrolink has services that ply between the city centre and the airport, providing much convenience for the journey to my accommodation for the night. Alighting at Old Trafford Metrolink Station, it took me about 10 minutes to walk to Hotel Football where I will be staying. While there are many cheaper alternatives around the city centre, I had intentionally choose to stay at Hotel Football, given the rave reviews of its overlooking views of Old Trafford and superb service. Furthermore, the hotel is owned by the members of The Class of ’92, and I was crossing my fingers that I might bump into one of them during my short stay there.
Hotel Football – The Brainchild of The Class of ’92
As I arrived way before the time for check-in, I left my bags at the baggage room and headed off to the city centre in search for food and to explore the sights. My first stop was at Red’s True Barbeque, a BBQ restaurant at the recommendation by a friend of mine. Located at 22 Lloyd Street, Red’s True Barbeque is famous for its signature Donut Burger. Consisting of two flame grilled beef patties, melted cheese, smoked bacon and onions set between two glazed donuts, it is an unique take on both the donuts and burgers. While the first couple of mouths were good, I soon found the course to be quite jelak, though I do have to declare that the accompanying sides (a spicy bacon-wrapped jalapeño and sweet potato fries) and the 5 different dipping sauces are really good. Better than the donut burger itself I’d say.
Red’s True Barbeque’s Signature Donut Burger
5 Superb Dipping Sauces To Go With Your Meal
After brunch, I walked around the city centre, retracing my footsteps from the last trip, popping by places such as Town Hall, Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester Cathedral and Manchester Arndale. I also visited the National Football Museum (free entry), where exhibits featuring both British and international players were on display. The museum is said to hold the world’s greatest football collection, with over 140,000 items currently in their care. One can discover and relive moments such as Pelé lifting the Jules Rimet trophy and Giggs scoring against Arsenal during that FA Cup Semi Final Replay as well as learn about football hooliganism in the United Kingdom.
The National Football Museum, where over 140,000 items are currently in their care – Photo Credits: Wikipedia
Chinatown was my final stop for the day before I made my way back to Hotel Football to finalise my check-in. Although it has only been less than 48 hours since I left Singapore, I was already craving for Asian food, so being at Chinatown was a reprieve and I promptly ordered a roast duck rice box from one of the restaurants for dinner that night.
Slice Of The Past – Manchester Chinatown circa. 2008
Back at Hotel Football, I couldn’t wait to check out the facilities and the views from my room. As a lifelong United fan, I couldn’t ask for anything more than the magnificent sight of the stadium that would greet me in the morning. Other highlights includes the interior decor, with montages of football legends, that cover the walls of the common areas within the building. Also, the rooftop pitch, which is aptly called “Heaven”, is decked out in astroturf barricaded with safety glass, allowing hotel guests to have a kickabout alongside a panoramic view of Old Trafford. Despite not having brought boots, I couldn’t resist in some target practice, where I started my own little crossbar challenge, lofting balls towards the goal post though I’ve to admit I was a little rusty at this!
The view of Old Trafford from my room
Target Practice at Heaven
After sweating it out, I headed back to my room where I cooled off under the rainforest shower, which comes fully equipped with bespoke class of ’92 toiletries, before tucking into my roasted duck rice box dinner and then to bed, looking forward to the next day where I’ll be doing the stadium and museum tour.
Each room came with a set of class of ’92 toiletries
Day 3 – 8 Jun – Panic at Manchester!
I was only due to head down to Edinburgh at midnight, so not wanting the burden of dragging my luggage around, I left my bags with the concierge at the hotel so I could continue the day hands free. The first stop was just a stone’s throw away at Old Trafford where I’ll be doing the stadium and museum tour. With my Maybank Manchester United Card, I was able to purchase the tour tickets at a discount. I had visited the stadium the last time I was here in Manchester, but was unable to do the tour as they were preparing the venue for a Champions League match the next day. This time round, with my visit during the off-season, there was no excuse for not doing the stadium tour. The tour lasted approximately an hour, during which we covered areas such as the dressing room, press room, VIP lounge and the technical area. After the tour, I grabbed lunch at the Red Café, where I had a Ribs & Wings Combo, which was served with chips and onion rings. While the meal was average, the service and restaurant setting was top-notch. Not only were the servers attentive to my needs and requirements, I was also impressed by the dining sets used at the café. I continued with the museum tour and the Megastore after lunch, where I bought myself some souvenirs of my beloved red devils.
Glory Glory Man United!
The dining sets at Red Café features current players as well as red legends – Photo Credits: Manchester United
Slice Of The Past – Stretford End circa. 2008
Following the conclusion of my Old Trafford experience, I took a leisure stroll to the Imperial War Museum North (IWM North), which was about 15 minutes away from Old Trafford by foot. The IWM North is part of the Imperial War Museums, which records all conflicts that the British and Commonwealth forces had taken part in since 1914. One of the highlights of IWM North is their Big Picture Show, whereby moving images and photographs are projected digitally onto the 27-foot high walls of the Main Exhibition Space, accompanied with a state of the art surround system that immerses visitors into the experiences of conflict and warfare.
IWM North’s Big Picture Show
As it was still quite early when I left IWM North, I decided to walk along the Manchester Ship Canal towards Salford Quays where MediaCityUK was located. The 200-acre mixed used property was opened only in 2011, giving the dockyards there a new facelift and more vibrancy. What was supposed to be a leisure stroll around the wharf, quickly became a nerve-wracking ordeal. I had left my phone in flight mode for the day in order to preserve its battery in light of the overnight journey into Edinburgh. Whist at MediaCityUK, I decided to tap into the free Wi-Fi that was available to access my social media platforms and to check my emails. However, I got a shock when I was connected to the hotspot – I was bombarded with numerous missed calls and text messages from my family back home, asking me to check my coach ticket to Edinburgh. I had apparently booked my ticket for May instead of June! Realising my error, I quickly rushed back to the hotel to see if I could arrange for an alternative into Edinburgh without jeopardizing my travel schedule. It was too late for me to head down to National Express’ ticketing office located in the city centre, so my best bet was for the concierge at Hotel Football to help me book the next available coach/train to the capital city of Scotland. Luckily for me, the staff at Hotel Football were very helpful in offering their assistance in helping me arrange the necessary required for me to get into Edinburgh without any other additional delays. Otherwise, I’ll most likely be stranded in Manchester for the night for sure.
View of IWM North from MediaCityUK
My new reservation will see me leave Manchester only at 0110 hours. With a couple of hours to spare, I decided to grab dinner at Cafe Football before heading to the coach station. Dining at Cafe Football is an experience in itself, with a diverse, rounded menu and subtle nods to the beautiful game. The menu is designed by Michelin star chef Michael Wignall, who is also a creative director at the Hotel. Items such as The Wizard (Welsh Lamb Burger) and El Clásico (Pizza topped with Chorizo Sausages) which honours Giggs and the rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona is a fun take on the traditional menu format. I ordered the Nev’s Noodle Pot, which consisted of egg noodles, roasted chicken, mushrooms and bok choi, served with a pot of broth/tea/sauce (which I must say was a little confusing as to how the meal was intended to be consumed) and ending the meal with a cup of hot chocolate finished with a latte art piece featuring the trademark of Cafe Football.
Nev’s Noodle Pot from Cafe Football
I marked the end of my stay in Manchester with a quick farewell to Old Trafford on my way to the coach station at Chorlton Street. Looking at the “Manchester United” neon lights light up in the dusk of the evening light, I know I’ll be back at the Stretford End one day, hopefully fulfilling my dream of watching a match alongside the Old Trafford faithful.
Day 4 – 9 Jun – Missing out on Hadrian’s Wall
I arrived into Edinburgh a little behind schedule because of an incident on the coach which required intervention from security personnel. That said, I still got into Scotland way earlier than the check-in time for The Carlton Hotel where I will be staying. I left my bags with the reception and began planning for the four days that I’ll be spending in Edinburgh. My original plan was to explore the city on Day 1, travel down to the Anglo-Scottish border to see Hadrian’s Wall on Day 2, visit Loch Ness on Day 3, and cover Edinburgh Castle on my final day before heading down South to London.
The Carlton Hotel
However, when I tried to make arrangements for the trip to the border, I was informed by the concierge at the hotel that all tours to Hadrian’s Wall for the week were fully booked. One alternative was to go to St Andrews (the university town where Prince William met the current Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton) or to just split whatever I had on the agenda for Day 1 and 4 into three slower paced days. As I had not much of an interest in visiting Fife, I decided that I’d rather spend more time exploring the sights in the city instead.
St Andrew’s was a possible alternative to Hadrian’s Wall, but I decided to give it a miss
After finalizing the plans for the next couple of days, I headed out to explore the city of Edinburgh on my own. Much of the day was spent at Scott Monument, the Scottish National Gallery, St Mary’s Metropolitan Cathedral, St Andrew Square as well as window shopping along Princes Street. I then proceeded to 10 to 10 Delhi (recommended by Jun Wen who had recently ended his exchange over there) for dinner. Located along Nicolson Street, 10 to 10 Delhi is a laid-back, quaint tea house that serves classic Indian dishes with a twist. It is also very student-friendly, as it offers discounts to diners who can produce a valid student ID. As I couldn’t decide on what to eat, I opted for the Mixed Meat Plate, which comprises of Pakora, Samosas, Chicken and Chana Masala Curry with Couscous and Naan. In addition, I also ordered a glass of their famous Mango Lassi, a cool, smooth and creamy concoction that was perfect for a warm summer day. The whole meal was a satisfying one, and value for money too, with the bill coming to less than £10.
Mixed Meat Platter and Mango Lassi from 10 to 10 Delhi
Day 5 – 10 Jun – 21 Gun Salute and Meeting New People
Missing out on Hadrian’s Wall meant that I was able to shift my visit to Edinburgh Castle forward to today. Keen to avoid the crowd, I left The Carlton early to make my way to the castle via the Royal Mile, where I caught sight of St Giles’ Cathedral en route. Some quick information on Edinburgh Castle – Edinburgh Castle is a historic fortress which sits on Castle Rock (a volcano plug) at the head of Edinburgh’s Old Town. Although the site had been occupied by human civilization since the late Bronze Age, the earliest parts of the current castle was built only in the 12th century. Many battles and sieges were fought over control of the castle over the years, where it also serves as a royal residence to the royal family (although the Queen’s official residence in Scotland is The Palace of Holyroodhouse, and not Edinburgh Castle). Today, Edinburgh Castle is not only one of Scotland’s leading tourist attraction, but also serves as an officer’s mess, preserving a military presence within its walls since the Wars of Scottish Independence.
View of Edinburgh from Edinburgh Castle
With the guards from the Royal Regiment of Scotland
Edinburgh Castle offers free guided tours that departs every half an hour or so. It was during the guided tour that I found out that there will be a 21 Gun Salute at noon to mark the birthday of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. So as opposed to just the One O’clock Gun that is fired daily (except on Sundays, Good Friday and Christmas Day), visitors were treated to a total of 22 cannon fires instead. After covering the rest of the castle, I headed to Oink for lunch. Highly recommended by Jun Wen as well as many online reviewers, Oink specialises in Hog Roast Rolls – carved hog roast served in bread rolls and topped with relish, sauces or haggis. One can choose from three different sizes, The Piglet (£2.95), The Oink (£3.95) or The Grunter (£4.95). I bought a serving of The Oink with chilli relish and haggis. While I wasn’t exactly too overwhelmed by it, it was no doubt a cheap and value for money lunch option for travellers on a budget. Oh, and for those who don’t know what haggis is, it is a traditional Scottish delicacy made from sheep’s pluck (liver, lungs and heart), hence somewhat of an acquired taste. So for those not adventurous enough to have offal in their pulled pork sandwich, I would recommend topping their rolls with sage & onions and Oink’s deliciously addictive apple sauce.
Oink – Specialising in Delicious Scottish Hog Roasts
I made my way to Calton Hill after lunch, where the Nelson and National Monuments were located. Included in the city’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, the views of, and from, the hill are one to behold. It was at the National Monument of Scotland that I met the Drummonds, a family of five on holiday from the United States. It was a chance encounter; I had asked them for help to take a photo, and we began chatting from then on. We ended up exploring the hill together, and even went for a pint (or two) at a local pub. I had a great time with the family, and we exchanged contacts before we went our separate ways. Hopefully we’ll keep in touch with each other, and I’ll be more than willing to play host should they ever come visit Singapore in the future.
The National Monument of Scotland @ Calton Hill
With the Drummonds
Day 6 – 11 Jun – Nessie Spotting and The Highlands of Scotland
I had booked myself on a day tour to Loch Ness & The Highlands of Scotland operated by Gray Line Tours. Picked up by the driver at about 0730, we drove north pass the town of Callander, Stirling before reaching our first stop of the day – Glen Coe. Often considered one of the most spectacular and beautiful places in Scotland, Glen Coe is a glen of volcanic origins, located within the Scottish Highlands. While at Glen Coe, our guide shared with us the story of the famous 1692 MacDonald massacre, which took place simultaneously in three settlements along the glen.
The Highlands of Scotland – Glen Coe
The next stop of the tour brought us to Fort Augustus, located at the south west end of Loch Ness. With a population of less than 1000, the economy of Fort Augustus is highly reliant on the tourism dollar. Lunch was a simple affair of a sandwich takeout from a convenience store as I strolled along the Caledonian Canal watching the sailboats navigate the locks along the loch. I then went on a cruise equipped with a sonar underwater imaging system that provides information on what really lies at the bottom of Loch Ness.
Fort Augustus Canal Locks
After Loch Ness, we returned south towards Edinburgh, taking in the magnificent views of Loch Laggan as we passed through the district of Lochaber. We then stopped for a quick photo call at the Commando Memorial, which offers views of Ben Nevis and Aonach Mòr before reaching the picturesque resort town of Pitlochry, Perth. While at Pitlochry, I had ice-cream with Miki, a Japanese exchange student whom I befriended on the cruise at Loch Ness. She was a little shy at first, but after talking a little bit more, we started easing into longer conversations as we shared about our experiences travelling alone in Europe.
The view seen from The Commando Memorial, Spean Bridge
It wasn’t long before we had to re-board our coach for our drive back to Edinburgh. Arriving back into the city just before 8 at night, I bought a simple takeaway dinner on the way back to the hotel after a long day out Nessie spotting and admiring the beautiful Highlands of Scotland.
Day 7 – 12 Jun – Holyrood Palace and Conquering Arthur’s Seat
After a good night’s rest, I was ready to explore the rest of Edinburgh city before heading to London at night. There were only two things left on my agenda – Holyrood Palace and Arthur’s Seat. As mentioned earlier, the Palace of Holyroodhouse is the official residence of the Queen in Scotland. Located at the bottom of the Royal Mile, it sits directly on the opposite direction of Edinburgh Castle. The Palace, being the official residence of the monarch in Scotland, has hosted a number of foreign visitors, with Pope Benedict XVI the most recent high profile dignitary to visit in 2010. While at the Palace, one can also read about the life of one of the most famous residents of the Palace of Holyroodhouse – Mary, Queen of Scots, who acceded the throne of Scotland at the tender age of only six days old.
The Palace of Holyroodhouse – Photo Credits: Wikipedia
The Gardens of Holyroodhouse
Leaving the Palace of Holyroodhouse, I walked towards Queen’s Drive in order to get to Holyrood Park, where Arthur’s Seat was located. Arthur’s Seat, at over 800ft high, is possibly the highest point in Edinburgh, thereby providing excellent panoramic views of the city. It is a relative easy climb for beginners, with a simple gradual ascent, bar the last couple of feet to the summit, which is a little steep and requires careful navigation. I completed the climb up in a little over an hour and was rewarded with one of the best views of Edinburgh one will ever get. Sitting right at the top, I held a mini picnic of juice and Biscoff cookies, while enjoying the breeze, sunshine and city sights.
Climbing to the peak of Arthur’s Seat
I timed my descent to avoid the dinnertime crowd as I went in search for food before my long journey to London. Craving for Chinese food once again, I checked the Edinburgh visitor map/guide for any offers/discounts that I could make use of. Saigon Saigon Chinese Restaurant, situated in the heart of Edinburgh, offers a 10% discount to their à la carte menu for diners holding an Edinburgh visitor map. Furthermore, with its location not far away from The Carlton, I decided to make Saigon Saigon the place where I’d settle my dinner needs. I had a Seafood Udon fried with XO Sauce, which was served with many succulent prawns and plump and juicy scallops. However, it still lacked a tad bit of wok hei that defines a good Cantonese stir-fry. My verdict for the meal at Saigon Saigon is that while it is good, it is not great enough to be memorable. It certainly can satisfy one’s craving for Chinese food, but having had so many good zi char over the years, it is not quite among the same standards.
Day 8 – 13 Jun – “Seduced” by the Phantom at a Cold, Wet & Gloomy London
After 9 hours on the road, I finally arrived into London’s Victoria Coach Station in the dawn of the morning. Despite it being summer, I was greeted by the most typical of London weather – dark clouds and rain – the type of conditions that would plague my entire trip from here onwards. Nonetheless, I was not gonna let a little rain derail my travel schedule, and so went ahead with my plans for the day. First leaving my bags at the B&B’s (once again too early for check-in), I headed out to the travel information centre at Victoria to book a tour for the next day as well as to purchase an Oyster Card for my travel needs whilst in London. I then proceeded to Westminster, where I saw the Big Ben and Westminster Abbey, before walking along the Thames towards Tower Bridge, as I passed by other landmarks such as The London Eye, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, London Bridge, among many others.
Slice Of The Past – Tower Bridge circa. 2008
Tower Bridge Today
London was part of my itinerary during my last trip to the U.K., so many of the places of interest I’ve visited and done before. However, one new addition to the London’s skyline is The Shard, which was opened only in 2013. Standing at over 1,000ft high, it is one of the tallest buildings in the world. I had originally planned to go to the observation deck (the View from the Shard), but decided against the idea, knowing that the dark skies would limit my experience 70 floors above the ground.
The Shard© – Changing the outlook of London’s skyline
As I had not had a single bite since my meal at Saigon Saigon, I decided to go for an earlier lunch at Rock and Sole Plaice, a Fish and Chips eatery at 47 Endell Street that I had previously visited. I thoroughly enjoyed my meal of Haddock & Chips as well as the London Pride that I ordered. Easily one of the best fish and chips around, I exceptionally liked the simplicity of the place and the wide range of fish choices one can opt from.
Fish & Chips from Rock and Sole Plaice
Leaving Rock and Sole Plaice, I took the tube to Pimlico as I headed back to the B&B to freshen up before the highlight of the day – Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty’s Theatre. Truth be told, I had wanted to catch Miss Saigon at the Prince Edward Theatre instead, but was unable to get the tickets. That said, The Phantom of the Opera remains one of theatre’s most mesmerising and unforgettable productions, with jaw-dropping scenery and breathtaking special effects. Despite being in its 29th year of production, the musical continues to captivate audiences around the world, cementing its status as one of the most beautiful and spectacular productions in history. I was seated up at the balcony, which somewhat restricted my view, but was no doubt still entranced by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s amazing score and the performances by The Phantom, Christine, Raoul and co. Judging from the cheers and applause from the crowd, “The Phantom of the Opera“, “The Music of the Night” and “Masquerade/Why So Silent” are undoubtedly the most popular numbers from the blockbuster production, and I no doubt enjoyed the entire of the approximately two and a half hours long performance. Only qualms I have is not having a date to make the night out in the West End of London a perfect one.
The Phantom and the stunningly beautiful Christine
Day 9 – 14 Jun – Stratford, Oxford and the Cotswolds
The day started early with a pickup at Victoria for a day trip out to the city of Oxford. The tour, by GoldenTours, will first begin at Warwick Castle, where one can be a part of Britain’s greatest Medieval experience. The castle is famous for being the home of one of the world’s largest siege engines. Built in 2005, the trebuchet is an authentic recreation of one of the most deadly military catapults of all time. The attraction is still being fired from time to time and is the highlight of most visitors to the castle every time it launches.
View of the Trebuchet on top of the castle walls
The next stop of the tour is one of my favourites of my entire trip. Leaving Warwick Castle, we headed for Stratford-upon-Avon, which is famous for being the birthplace of William Shakespeare. I visited Shakespeare’s Birthplace at Henley Street, where it is now a museum which offers a tantalising glimpse of Shakespeare’s early world. The adjacent Shakespeare Centre adds some drama to the visit with their own troupe of professional actors, where one can request excerpts from any of Shakespeare’s plays and watch the characters come alive in front of their very own eyes. I caught the brilliant cast do A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Taming of the Shrew, while I requested for King Lear (reliving my JC literature days), as the female lead re-enacted Cordelia’s famous “Unhappy that am I, I cannot heave” soliloquy from Act 1, Scene 1 of the famous tragedy. It amazes me as to how the actors can remember so many lines from so many of Shakespeare’s plays from the many impromptu requests from the audience. The “Bard of Avon” would certainly have been proud of his legacy.
Shakespeare’s Birthplace at Henley Street
With the Amazing Actors from Shakespeare Aloud!
We then drove through the beautiful Cotswolds, enjoying views of the breathtaking countryside as we left the county of Warwickshire for the city of Oxford. There, we embarked on a walking tour of the city, following the footsteps of Oxford’s students, as we strolled through the courtyards and cobbled lanes of the historic university town. GoldenTours and Gray Line has a partnership with Brasenose College to allow visitors free entry to the campus, where one can get to see the college dining halls, library and other facilities used by the college community. We also got to see one of the major locations for the Harry Potter films, as Oxford was used as a filming site for Hogwarts.
Radcliffe Camera – University of Oxford
The tour then ended with a drive back into London Victoria, where I bought roasted chicken wings from Sainsbury’s for dinner. The chicken wings came as a huge surprise with them being really well marinated and absolutely delicious. It was also really cheap (can’t remember the exact price, but couldn’t have been more than £5 for 8 pieces (4 mid-joints + 4 drumlets)), and thus a perfect meal option for budget travellers out there.
Day 10 – 15 Jun – Buckingham Palace and Madame Tussauds
Given the fact that I had another long overnight coach journey to Paris at night, I had originally wanted to sleep in late after the long day out at Oxford the day before. However, with the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace beginning at 1100am, I had to abandon that plan in order to catch one of the must-sees in London. I had missed the ceremony the last time I was here due to adverse weather conditions (unsurprising, given it is London and during winter), so I was hoping I could catch at least a glimpse of the action this time round.
Slice Of The Past – Missing out on the Changing of the Guard back in 2008 due to bad weather
I checked-out from the B&B at about 10 in the morning, thinking that an hour’s head start would leave me in good stead to get into a prime position to see the changing of the Queen’s life guard. However, while walking along Buckingham Palace Road, I could see a throng of people already there surrounding the palace grounds waiting for the Horse and New Guards to arrive. In the end, I could only manage to squeeze myself somewhere along Buckingham Gate, with an obscured view of the procession.
The Victoria Memorial with Buckingham Palace in the background
Though a little disappointed at not being able to catch the entire changing of the Queen’s guard, I kept myself in high spirits knowing that I’ll be heading to Madame Tussauds next. Readers of the series will know that I’m a fan of the attraction, having been to the ones in Amsterdam, Hong Kong, Las Vegas and more. While many of the wax figures are repetitive, they are still dressed differently from season to season, and each Madame Tussauds location has their own unique segments to differentiate itself from the rest of the franchise. Madame Tussauds London for example, has a segment dedicated to the royal family, with the waxworks of HRH Queen Elizabeth II, The Duke of Edinburgh, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge among others of the British Royal Family, as well as the Spirit of London ride, where visitors hop onto one of London’s famous taxicabs and take a journey through the capital’s history. My favourite figures would undoubtedly be those of British film royalty, such as Sir Patrick Stewart and Dames Helen Mirren & Judi Dench, as well as other British personalities like Emma Watson and Jessica Ennis-Hill.
The Royal Family at Madame Tussauds London
After being in the company of stars, it was time to go grab a quick dinner before bidding goodbye to the United Kingdom as I made my way to the coach station for the 9 hour long journey to Paris via coach and ferry.
Last Thoughts – Old Trafford (Manchester), The Highlands of Scotland (Edinburgh) & Tower Bridge (London)
Click here for part II of the series: My footprints in… Europe Part II (Paris – The City of Romance)