A Visit to Stone Henge…

I guess if you get a chance to travel to England, a visit to Stone Henge should be part of your itinerary. I’m just a normal tourist with a bucket list. A very happy one when this world heritage site was crossed off from the list. However, I was quite surprised that the stones aren’t quite gigantic as I imagined. It’s funny because I’ve always thought it was left by aliens that visited Earth. Blame it on watching too many movies and reading too many books! πŸ˜›

Stone Henge on a FIne Day

I’m lucky I have friends in England and they took us to this place. It did not rain at the time of our visit and it was a very lovely day because the sun was out for about two hours! πŸ˜€ Yes, the weather in England is really erratic and I guess not only during winter. So, savor whatever sun you’ll get and hurry with the picture taking before the clouds go dark and rain starts falling. Ha!ha!ha!

Stone Henge with Heavy Clouds

If you do plan to visit this place, be prepared to shell out some money for the entrance fee which is about Β£14.90 (Adult). They have a newly built Visitor Center and from there you’ll take a short bus ride to the site. You can walk if you preferred as it’s not really that far but I recommend taking the bus especially if the weather isn’t too great. Visit their website for more at: http://www.stonehenge.co.uk/

xoxo,

the traveling KANGaroo

London Escapade…

Traveling is always awesome. But, when you get to travel to a place that was always in your dreams – day and night, you just can’t help but think that you’re lucky. I’m thankful that my day dreaming of visiting London paid off. πŸ™‚

My London escapade was a rainy and chilly one. I arrived in the middle of winter. It’s dreary and miserable. For some that is, but not me! You don’t wish upon a star and when your wishes are granted, you complain. πŸ™‚ As they say in England, “Keep Calm and Carry On”. Thus, I decided to enjoy my short stay and explored as much as I can.

*Some of the Places of Interest that I was able to explore in London:
1. Buckingham Palace the Queen is unfortunately on her annual leave. Leaving behind her guards only. It was raining cats and dogs but we did manage to take some photos as well as selfies! Unfortunately for us, there was no changing of the guards event at that time. So afterwards, we browsed for little trinkets in the gift shop “The Queen’s Gallery” located at the side of the palace while waiting for the hop on hop off bus’ arrival. Well, times are hard and upkeep of the palace is expensive so even the Royals are into selling souvenir items! πŸ˜›

2. Trafalgar Square – one of the must visit place for tourists and sad to say it was a rainy day. We weren’t even able to go inside The National Gallery due to time constraints. 😦 During winter, night time tend to come early and we have to make the most of our time exploring while there’s still light. A museum visit will have to be done on the next trip as entering one must be at a leisurely pace. Hopefully, next trip we can stay a little longer so we can visit all the museums in London with free admission! πŸ˜›

3. Tower Bridge of London – was happy that the hop on hop off bus tours included a free River Thames cruise. It was truly amazing to gaze at something that you only read in the books or dreamed about seeing someday.

Tower Bridge

4. Tower of Londonall I can say is I will be back and next time I have to go inside this historic castle. I want to see the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom! However, we were told that we had to allocate at least half-day to tour this place. Unfortunately for us, we don’t have the luxury of time! 😦 To know more and buy tickets, visit their site at: http://www.hrp.org.uk/TowerOfLondon/

5. Westminster Cathedral – the place where we attended Sunday mass near Victoria Station. Not to be confused with Westminster Abbey which is located a few blocks away. This is the mother church of the Catholic Church in England and Wales. As a Catholic, I was very happy to visit this beautiful church. The excitement was at par for when I dream of visiting The Vatican someday. However, it needed funds for the upkeep of the church. It is huge and not heated enough in the dead of winter. To know more and to donate, check out: http://www.westminstercathedral.org.uk/

Westminster Cathedral

6. Westminster Abbey – very popular as Royal Coronations and Weddings are held here. Too bad, there was an on-going service and therefore tourists or people that aren’t a member of the Church of England are not allowed inside. I did not bother to wait until the service ended to go inside and take a peek so a photo outside the massive structure was enough. πŸ™‚

Westminster Abbey

7. Parliament Square – one of London’s popular tourist destination. Statues of notable figures like Winston Churchill and even Nelson Mandela can be found here. Of course a lot of picture taking happened in this area. πŸ™‚ Good thing also that the weather improved when we were there. By the way, Big Ben (Great Bell) in the Elizabeth Tower resides in this place. I was more impressed with the facade of the Parliament buildings than the Buckingham Palace. Ha!ha!ha!

8. The London Eye – just across the bridge from Parliament Square is the famous London Eye. Situated in the south bank of the River Thames. This is also the area where we boarded the ferry for the River Thames Cruise. We did not bother to ride the Eye because the queue was so long! For me, it’s enough that I was able to see this huge structure. Check out their website if you want to book your tickets online: http://www.londoneye.com/

London Eye

9. Leicester Square / Regent StreetWe went to this place in search of Hamley’s which is the oldest toy store in the world. We can’t go home without something for the kids and toys always makes them happy. Ha!ha! While in the vicinity, we dropped by Nando’s for some peri-peri chicken and yummy cheesecake. Really, it’s one of my favorite. Wish they will open a store in the far east.

10. Knightsbridge – when in London, never forget to include this area in the list. This is where the famous Harrods store is located. Rich people be it local or tourist are abundant in this area. You can see exotic cars parked outside or cruising on the streets. Don’t be shy and go inside the Harrods store! Check out all the floors and maybe you’ll be lucky to hear a live Opera singer sing like I did.Ha!ha! You can also buy food, souvenirs and presents here, if you have the budget. πŸ™‚

What about what I’ve missed because I didn’t stay longer? Definitely a lot! So when I go back to London, I’ll make sure I’ll go to the following places: Kensington Palace, Notting Hill, Covent Garden, Camden Market, Borough Market, Abbey Road, Portobello Market, St. Paul’s Cathedral, British Museum etc.

Now, I wonder when will I be able to go back? A trip to London does not come cheap! Oh well, only Heaven knows when but definitely I’ll be back.

xoxo,

the traveling KANGaroo

London Calling…

It has always been a dream of mine to travel to London since I was a teenager. Probably because of the many books that I’ve read with England as the setting. Whenever someone asked me where I’ve been and even if it’s only at the back of the house, the answer was always: “I’ve been to London to visit the Queen”. Such childish retort that now I can say came true. πŸ™‚

London did not disappoint. Even in the middle of winter time, it was a magical place to be in. World weary travelers may not agree as it’s a densely populated place after all and the weather is not so great. But it has it’s beauty which is solely it’s own. I even enjoyed walking in the rain. I loved that the transportation is great in this city. Our preferred mode of transportation was the bus and we made good use of the Oyster card given to us by friends. For more information, check out: http://www.tfl.gov.uk/

Parliament

Because we stayed for such a short time and it was our first time, we tried the Hop On Hop Off London bus to tour the city. We took the Original London Tour bus because it was recommended by the hotel http://www.theoriginaltour.com but found out that the other one which was the Big Bus Tours had a better schedule http://www.bigbustours.com and more buses. The tour offers a free cruise on the River Thames too which is nice. Check out their individual websites to know more and for discounts or deals.

Hop On Hop Off Bus

We were able to experience Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park which was practically a ‘carnival’ with rides, food booths and stalls selling souvenirs. I enjoyed the place even if I was freezing! πŸ™‚ There I saw the ethnicity of the city. So many people from different countries converging in that corner of Hyde Park. Locals, immigrants, visitors enjoying the place together. To check their future schedule and entrance fee go to http://www.hydeparkwinterwonderland.com/

Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, London

Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, London

Oh yeah, I was able to ride the tube too! Sad to say, I never found platform 9 3/4 where Harry Potter boarded his train towards Hogwarts. Maybe, on my next visit I’ll find it. πŸ˜›

P.S. Pardon the photos, weather wasn’t so great to take a lot of awesome pics!

xoxo,

the traveling KANGaroo

Stay Connected…

Nowadays people cannot live without the internet. For some it’s a necessity. Some can’t live without their social networking sites. Ha!ha! But, when traveling you don’t really want to incur a lot of charges using your data plan because roaming charges will be so high. Unless you’re mega-rich and money is not a problem. πŸ™‚

In our country, most of our malls and restaurants have free wi-fi. But when traveling in Japan or London you’ll find out that getting free wi-fi is not so easy! How can you use google maps if you don’t have internet? How can you share pictures in Instagram or Facebook immediately? How can you do your FourSquare check-ins? Good thing, there’s now pocket wi-fi for rent. I hope it will be available in all major cities around the world.

During our firstΒ Japan trip, we found out that we can only get an internet when we’re in the hotel. Thus, on the second visit we decided to rent a pocket wi-fi. We got one from PuPuRu because the other sites that offer a lower rental fee was already out of stock. The rental fee of PuPuRu is a bit high compared to others but no regrets because all our devices were connected to the internet and the speed was very fast. Everyone was happy. And the important thing was that we were able to use google maps to explore Tokyo. It’s so easy to rent one. I suggest you do it before you arrive in Japan. Usually, you can pick it up at the airport or have it delivered to your hotel.

Here’s some of the sites where you can rent a pocket wifi:

http://www.pupuru.com/en/

http://japan-wireless.com/Rent_Wifi.html

http://www.globaladvancedcomm.com/pocketwifi.html

http://www.econnectjapan.com/

http://www.rentafonejapan.com/Mobile-Internet.html

Our rental in Tokyo was very easy to get. We just picked it up at the arrival area and returned it via post when we left. The airport post office is located in the departure area. There you can drop off the package. πŸ™‚

When we went to London, we did the same thing. We picked it up at Heathrow airport upon arrival and dropped if off in the mailbox near the check in counters before we went to the pre-departure area. We rented our pocket wi-fi at http://www.tepwireless.com/

xoxo,

the traveling KANGaroo