Here is part III to my personal experiences in London. I had six days and I share my account on how I was able to save money here and there through extensive research and planning. I hope this inspires you to make a visit to the historical city and venture outside the hotel room!
Next morning had arrived and we were excited to finally venture out in London on our own without any assistance from tours. The plan was to visit the historic Hampton Court Palace located in Surrey. To get to Surrey involved two means of either transportation- the 3-hour long ferry ride along the River Thames or a 45-minute train ride. Naturally, we decided to take the train so that we had ample time to explore the royal grounds, get back to the city and enjoy some more time around the city.
On our first day of exploration, my sister mentioned that we had passed what looked like a local restaurant that served authentic British-styled breakfast. Eager to try something different, I gave it a shot and despite the reviews online, the place was decent and the food’s quality was really tasty. The restaurant’s quirky name is called Enough 2 Feed An Elephant and it is located along York Road, just steps away from our hotel.
My breakfast was pretty basic while my sister ordered a full breakfast platter that consisted of scrambled eggs, bacon, ham, baked beans, and hash potatoes. It looked and tasted as awesome as it sounds.
After our enjoyment of a hearty breakfast, we made our way towards the end of York Road to the Waterloo Train Station. I had not purchased my tickets in advance because I would have to pay a rather steep postage price to receive them. So, we made our way to the booth to purchase. Both of our tickets were less than USD $25 at the time (year 2012) so it was a considerable difference (about USD $50 more) than had I opted to purchase in advance. We made our way to the other end of the huge station to get to our platform, our tickets was checked and confirmed as we boarded our train. The train made several stops before it got to our destination, which just so happens to be the last stop.
The picturesque Hampton Court Palace was literally steps away from the station. The path walking into the palace was outstanding. I fell in love with old architecture and the time and effort that put into the design right down to the last detail. We were beyond speechless; in fact that was quite the understatement.
We made our way to the visitors department located right before the grand entrance into the palace. I should mention that I became a member of the UK’s historic royal palaces to save on my visitor passes well in advance. Before I left for my trip, I decided about how many historical sites I wanted to see. After doing the math, I discovered that it would be a more sensible and practical approach.
Walking in, we were greeted by patrons who had formed several queues waiting to purchase tickets. A gentleman greeted us as I mentioned that I was a member of the Historic Royal Palaces, he then escorts my sister and I to a special booth dedicated for established members. After a warm introduction, we were then handed our instructions, pamphlets, lunch discount slip and a free gift.
After our five minutes of royalty fame, we graciously thanked the staff and walked out as we made our way to palace’s entrance. My sister looked at me and said “That was pretty cool.”
Within the Queen's corridor of Hampton Court PalaceDelicately hand-painted murals of heaven-beautifully positioned and works well with the natural sunlight coming in
Outside garden rear view of the Hampton Court PalaceGrand view of the palace from the outskirts of the garden- my sister got in the way, hahaha
Kitchens of King Henry VIIIOne of the many kitchen preparation rooms at Hampton Court Palace
Entrance into Hampton Court Palace
Main Entrance view and path to Hampton Court Palace
We wander around taking in the entire splendor from the all the floor’s exhibits to King Henry VIII’s main and private gardens. This palace was something else and did not disappoint. It is a palace worth visiting again and again due to the enormous grounds one can get lost in. We spent approximately six hours going through every corridor and garden paths. We did enjoy a light lunch in the palace’s outdoor eatery but I did find it to be on the pricey side- like most historical site restaurants. I didn’t mind because our breakfast earlier still held us up. Of course, I couldn’t leave there without obtaining some type of souvenir. So, I purchased a couple of kitchen hand towels and a couple of floral tea cups.
I did wish that I had more time to explore the surrounding city of Surrey. It reminded me of an old English cottage town that is sophisticated in its own unique way. Before deciding to board the train back, we stopped at the local garden themed shop just across the street. I walked in and the domestic garden woman in me shrieked. Floral and pastel colors everywhere! So many trinkets, devices, stationary, garden fixtures were tucked so neatly. I purchased a vintage tea bag plate and a garden fixture in a shape of skeleton key for my mother. I want to go back just thinking about it.
We made our way to the station to get into town. My plan was to go shopping later that day in Covent Gardens but we were so beat after walking so much. We made our way to the hotel to relax for a while before going back out. It was probably close to five in the afternoon at this point.
Needless to say, we never went out. We were so relaxed and I intended to save up as much energy to visit Greenwich and the Tower of London the next day.
Stayed tuned for Part IV of my series of Getting the best out of London in six days!
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