Saturday, February 24, 2018


Windsor, England

Sun, 11 Feb 2018

This was  Partner In Crime's first trip to England, so he wanted to see some castles. I searched for castles nearby London, and Windsor Castle was one of the recommended ones within an hour from London central.

Since we were staying at Hammersmith, we took the Greenline bus no. 702 from Hammersmith Bridge bus stop, which is a 5 minute walk from our Hotel Seraphine Best Western. You could also go to Windsor Legoland via this bus. We took the 8.25am bus to Windsor, which arrived on time. About 10 minutes in the journey, our bus engine overheated so we were stranded by the M4 motorway waiting for assistance. We were then transferred to the next bus at 9.30am, and made our way to Windsor, alighting at Windsor Theatre Royal, arriving at 10.30am. We bought the return bus ticket for GBP15 per person from the bus driver by cash.

stranded on the M4 motorway

Then entrance fee to Windsor castle is GBP 21.20 which includes a headset with descriptions of the halls and exhibitions on display in the castle within the castle ground. Photography is not allowed inside the castle, only outside. The halls are indeed grand and opulent, with chandeliers, paintings, furniture, royal gifts, weaponry (including a keris or dagger from Negeri Sembilan) and so much more. Unfortunately, no photography was allowed to capture all the grandeur.

According to the Windsor castle website, it has been home to the royalty for over 900 years. It includes the State Apartments, Queen Mary's dolls' house, grand reception room, semi state rooms and St George's chapel. As it was a Sunday, the chapel is closed for Sunday service and only opened for worshipers.

Windsor castle outside walls

Windsor castle

St George's chapel

After finishing the self guided tour with the headset, we dropped by at the Windsor castle souvenir shop and bought a tube of double chocolate biscuit with a Queen Elizabeth Longest Reigning Monarch tin decoration.
double chocolate biscuit tin decor

We then strolled along the River Thames, just by the Windsor castle, enjoying the cool weather and watching the ducks and swan happily swimming. You can also take a boat ride on the river for 40 minutes for GBP 8.50 during winter.

ducks and swan

River Thames

Windsor town

We caught the 702 bus back to Hammersmith at 2.36pm, using the return ticket we bought earlier.


Wednesday, February 21, 2018

London 2018

London Central 
12 Feb 2018

It was a short trip to London, a 3 night stopover before we proceeded to Iceland in our mission to catch the ever elusive aurora borealis. Since this was Partner In Crime's first time in London, a visit to the places of interest in London is necessary.

We started our 1 day itinerary of London from St Paul's cathedral, taking the tube from Hammersmith to Mansion House via the District line. We paid for our fare using our credit cards with the pay wave logo (a contactless option) by tapping on the Oyster card reader. You will be charged the same as an Oyster card, but overseas charge apply if your credit card is issued outside the UK.

St Paul's cathedral

From St Paul's cathedral, we walked across the street to Millenium Bridg, a pedestrian only bridge and took some pictures there. The River Thames flows here, in the cool February weather. The art museum Tate Modern is located at the other end of the bridge, entry is free of charge. We had limited time today, so we didn't visit the museum. I've visited it before in 2007, but I guess it was catered more to those with an acquired taste, who could appreciate the arts on display better.

Millenium bridge

River Thames view from Millenium Bridge

Next we walked from Millenium Bridge to the Bank of England as I had to exchange some GBP notes from my last visit in 2007 as they are no longer legal tender. We just had to walk in and mention our purpose, then the guard guided us to the counter. We needed to scan our bags first. No photography is allowed. There is also a museum at the Bank of England for the public, but we didn't go here this time.

Bank of England

Done with exchanging notes, we walked towards the Tower of London, not too far from the Bank of England. It is a Unesco Heritage Site, which served as a royal residence and a fort, sometimes as a prison, treasury and office too. Read more here.

Tower of London

We didn't enter the Towers, just taking pictures. Next to the Tower of London is the Tower Bridge which crosses across the River Thames. The Tower Bridge was built between 1886 - 1894 and still serves as a means to connect vehicles across the River Thames in modern times. The often confused London Bridge is not too far away from Tower Bridge. The original stone bridge (of London Bridge ) was built more than 600 years ago by its Roman founders. More on Tower Bridge here and London Bridge here.

Tower bridge

River Thames. That's Tower Bridge behind

Tower of London and Tower Bridge by the Thames river

The next destination was Westminster Abbey, which is also a Unesco Heritage site. We took the tube from Monument to Westminster station. Big Ben was covered by scaffoldings as it is currently undergoing refurbishment works. We took pictures at Westminster Abbey, a church where coronation, wedding or funeral ceremonies for the British monarchs took place. It was first founded circa 960 to 970. More on Westminster Abbey here

Eye of London captured from Westminster station

Big Ben being covered

North facade of Westminster abbey

We then walked further towards Buckingham Palace through the very pleasant St James' park (not to be confused to Newcastle's stadium) where wild animals such as ducks, swans, birds and squirrels roam and swim freely. We especially adored the chubby and bushy squirrels trying to collect nuts and bury them in the ground for safekeeping / later consumption.

St James park

Buckingham Palace

From Buckingham Palace, we walked back towards the park and headed to Trafalgar Square for a quick photo session. On the way, we passed by Winston Churchill's war room. Having just watched the film The Darkest Hour, it would have been great to pay a visit to the war room, but we were short for time. We also passed by Downing Street, where we captured the last few minutes of the changing of the horse guards.

entrance to Winston Churchill's war room

changing of horse guard at Downing Street

Trafalgar square

We then made our way to the London Central mosque by taking the tube from Charing Cross to Baker Street station. It took us about 10 min walking from the station to reach the mosque.

London Central mosque near Baker Street station

inside the mosque

From the mosque, we walked back to Baker Street station, searching for halal food, not before stopping for a photo at the Sherlock Holmes museum. We then found a halal burger joint, Burgista and ordered a beef and beef with cheese burger each. It was okay, I think Fuel Shack burgers back home have a bigger portion and juicer beef.

Sherlock Holmes museum

Burgista halal burger near Baker Street station

Burgista's burger

After refuelling, we bought some souvenirs at a shop next to Baker Street station, then made our way back to Hammersmith, stopping by at Marks & Spencer to buy some yummy sultana cakes and shortbread cookies.

Since we had an early morning flight to catch the next day, we stayed at Premier Inn Heathrow for tonight, which is connected to Terminal 4 of London Heathrow airport via a covered walkway. (RM 252 or GBP 46 per room per night via We took the tube from Hammersmith after collecting our backpacks to Heathrow Terminal 4 station.

Premier Inn hotel Heathrow T4

We had a whirlwind itinerary today, trying to squeeze as much of London as possible on a short daylight winter day (dusk at 5pm). We had to forego Hyde Park which was in our original plan as it was already dark, and after all, we already had an enjoyable stroll along St James park today.



Hammersmith, London, England

Sun, 11 Feb 2018 - Mon, 12 Feb 2018

We stayed at Hammersmith for our short 3 day trip to London in transit to Iceland. We chose Hammersmith as it is located in Zone 2 of London, which is not too far from the points of interest, and we did not have to change lines from Heathrow airport, nor to the heart of London as there are 5 lines serving Hammersmith underground station, i.e. Piccadilly (direct line from Heathrow airport), District, Circle, Hammersmith & City and Bakerloo. We used our credit card which has the pay wave logo and tap on the Oyster card reader to pay for the tube fare. It is charged the same as an Oyster card, but with an overseas charge as our credit cards are issued from outside the UK. But it is still cheaper than buying a day pass ticket.

See the London underground map here.

Our hotel was Best Western Seraphine Hammersmith, which we booked through (RM 325 per night) and includes breakfast. It is about a 5 minute walk from the tube station.

our room at Best Western Seraphine Hammersmith

On the first night, we had a vege with cheese sandwich from Pret a Manger, a sandwich shop chain which is ubiquitous in London. It is just a short walk from our hotel. You could liken it to the London Sandwich Co in KL.

For the second day dinner, we went to Bailey's fish and chips in Fulham. We took the 211 bus from Hammersmith bus stop (which is in the same building as the tube, just follow the signage). For the bus fare, we again used our credit card which has the pay wave logo and tap on the Oyster card reader to pay.

Bailey's fish and chips facade

Bailey's cod fish and chips

they have halal sausages also

We had the lunchtime special cod & chips for GBP 6.50 The fish and chips portion is so huge, we struggled to finish it. We ordered one each, which a person could just share a dish, considering its massive portion. We then did some shopping of shortbread and sultana cakes from the nearby M&S. They are really tasty and cheap, costing less than GBP 5.

For our groceries, we bought them at Iceland store, just across our hotel Best Western Seraphine Hammersmith. The 2 litre mineral water cost only 35 pence and a pack of cherry costs GBP 2 only! We also found the Warburton bread which is halal certified here.
Iceland grocery store