Our first long layover for our dream trip to Machu Picchu landed us in Heathrow, London, the most famous capital in the world with its illustrious history as an ex-colonial master of the world. Though the officer asked plenty of questions as compared to the other countries we’ve been to, the immigration process was rather smooth and systematic. Our first mission was to get from Terminal 5 to Terminal 2 where we will have access to London’s public transport system.
Getting from the airport to Victoria City Centre was very convenient by using public bus (which was extremely expensive). We were greeted with a very warm welcome from our long-time friend, Morena, whom we were well-acquainted with back during our honeymoon adventure in India 4 years ago. It somehow puzzles us how she still looks the same even after all these years. After a quick breakfast treat from her, we were given a crash course on how London works.
We took a nice stroll by Hyde Park to get to Buckingham Palace to watch the Royal Guards, an icon of London by itself.
After watching the Changing Guards Ceremony which was crowded with tourists controlled by traffic policemen on horses, we headed off to the next icons of London, The London Eye and The Big Ben. Bear in mind that all of these are within walking distance.
And let us not forget about another ‘ancient’ icon, the red telephone box!
Back in September 2016 when we were here, the Pokemon Go app was just released and Pokemon was a sensational craze globally. So here is our fair share of glory.
After experiencing the touristy side of London, we decided to visit Linda’s long time friend, Khai, to have a taste on what it’s like to be a local.
The journey took us on a 1hr 38mins bus ride which costs about SGD25 which again we find was exorbitant given the condition of the bus. Finally, we reached St. Albans.
The Beautiful Medieval Town Of St. Albans
The first word that pops into our minds when we were in St. Albans, is ‘Medieval’. St. Albans is a beautiful Cathedral City decorated with medieval architecture. We had only 2 hours to spend in St. Albans before our flight back to Singapore. But we’ll take that given the fact that Linda misses her old friend, Khai Khalid. The next 2 hours in St. Albans was like a crazy episode from Amazing Race.
Getting to St. Albans (on a budget)
St. Albans is also just a 50 minute drive North from London Heathrow, the largest/busiest airport in the United Kingdom, with Internal, European and International flights leaving every day.
From Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 5 you have to navigate yourself to catch the free bus or Heathrow Connect train (Heathrow Express) to the Heathrow Central bus station. We would recommend just taking the Heathrow Express.
Bus number 724 (Greenline) buses depart at 9:15am, 10:15am or 11:15am from Heathrow Central bus station. It took us 1hr 38mins to get from Victoria Coach Station to St. Albans. Since this is our first time in London, we assumed that we could use the Oyster Card to board the bus at Victoria Coach Station. But turns out that Oyster Card can only be used within nearby London area and St. Albans is at the outskirts of it. So, we had to buy the bus ticket inside the main square of the bus station. (You’ll have to ask around for this part because it was a mad rush for us. We were running everywhere to ensure we caught the bus in-time. We didn’t have time to take any photos.
You might want to check out the Greenline website to know more on the bus schedules and fares.
1 Hour And 38 Mins Later…
Where’s Khai Khalid?! Despite being briefed by Khai on which stop to alight, us being us, we alighted at the wrong stop. We were walking hastily around this BEAUTIFUL town of St. Albans to find Khai. This town is really gorgeous and we wished that we could spend a longer time here.
From the mad rush in St. Albans to find Khai, we chanced upon really quaint-looking shops, famous landmarks, and the weekend market. That weekend market. Oh that weekend market was splendid! All sorts of fruits, breads…FOOD! We need FOOD!
And finally we found Khai Khalid! She was like our Pit Stop in Amazing Race. What a relief!
We were glad that we got the chance to see her neighbourhood and be her guests. But most importantly, we were delighted when we smell that Nasi Ayam (Chicken Rice) which she has prepared for us. FOOD!
And this is our first time, meeting Khai’s husband, Pagi Asmara and baby Andika Putra. A pure carbon copy of his dad, I must say.
Khai’s house is really comfy. I remember wanting to just skip that flight back to Singapore and stay one more night. If only.
Shah’s tan line on his face. I just can’t.
And that concludes our adventure in London and St. Albans. An absolute crazy 11 hours of fun.