England: London, to Baker Street and back

In London, Travel Guides
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(For all you lads with little time on your hands, i’ve left a summary of my article right at the end for your convenience.)

I’ve been a student in Ireland for the past five years now, so it is perhaps only expected to have found myself in London once again. This may just be my… fourth visit? And still i feel as though i have yet to have truly experienced the city for all that it has to offer. I love London very much, and i’m glad to have been able to return to it one last time before flying back to the other face of the globe for good (even if it may have been for the sake of attending a job interview that went rather badly *sobs*)

Anyway, about England, London,

Getting to the city…

the Stansted Express train

For the past few visits to London, my friends and i had arrived in Stansted Airport and then taken the Stansted Express train to the city. It is connected to the London Underground at Tottenham Hale (along the Victoria line) so that made it quite handy for us to get to our hostel from there. It is, as the website so claims, the fastest way to get to central London (less than an hour), and a train leaves the platform every 15 minutes.  The downside is, dragging a big luggage through the Underground tunnels can be quite exhausting, especially the stairs. You can book your ticket online here for 30-40 pounds. Or you can consider taking…

the Coach

I took the Airport Bus Express to Baker Street, which cost me 18 pounds. I was thinking about what a genius i was for getting a cheaper ticket until i got carsick on the bus. Other than that, the journey went smoothly, so not complaints there. Of course, there are other coach services available, such as National Express Coaches, which makes more stops. Offers do come up occasionally so just check their websites. Click here for the Airport Bus Express, and here for National Express Coaches. The coaches don’t reach as quickly as the trains do (more than an hour) and they (obviously) will take longer depending on the traffic. Just make sure that you factor that possibility in so that you won’t miss your flight.

(Of course, renting a car would probably be the most convenient option, although being a student, i don’t have that kind of money, or a driver’s licence for that matter, on my hands to do so.)

Now on to the highlight of my short trip to London.

the Sherlock Museum

221b Baker Street AKA the Sherlock Museum is indeed found along Baker Street, although the address that it bears is not the original one; the museum had to request from the authorities to get their address changed to 221b. The museum was made to feel like Sherlock and John’s apartment on the first three floors. So one would be able to enter Sherlock, John, and Mrs. Hudson’s rooms to poke around a bit. There’s even the living room, where Sherlock and John would sit in their chairs and speak to their clients.

Sherlock's table: lamp, whiskey(?), book opened to a page on bee's organs

Sherlock’s table: lamp, whiskey(??), book opened to a page on bee’s organs

John's table: Medical Journals, taxidermy bird, dissecting tools in cupboard

John’s table: Medical Journals, taxidermy bird, dissecting tools in cupboard

At the topmost floor, there are rooms with wax figures on display featuring the various cases that Sherlock and John had solved. Of course Moriarty was there, and Augustus Magnussen. I didn’t take any pictures of the wax figures (being easily spooked i didn’t want to have any photos of them on my phone) but i did snap a lousy shot of the hound of the Baskervilles, which was my favourite case, thus it merited some bravery on my part.

the Hound of the Baskervilles

the Hound of the Baskervilles

As you may have already guessed, I am quite a big fan of Sherlock Holmes. However, I would not grant myself the honour of being a hard-core Sherlock fan just yet, seeing as how i have only been following this Sherlock:

the modern day Sherlock Holmes

the modern day Sherlock Holmes (BBC’s)

And only ever skimmed over a bit of this one:

Sherlock Holmes, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Sherlock Holmes, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

I’m mentioning this because after having been to the Sherlock Museum, I could not help but feel that the museum catered more to the original Sherlock followers, and by that i mean the ones who have read the series by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and fallen in love with the old but gold Mr. Holmes. In other words, if you’ve only started following BBC’s Sherlock Holmes, you may find the experience in the museum a tad bit disappointing. The rooms were small, i suppose it was for the purpose of mimicking what their rooms were really like, but the combination of small rooms with too many tourists made it an unpleasant experience. Getting good pictures to remember your visit by would also be difficult just because there are so many tourists there, so if you ever do go when there are only a few people count yourself fortunate.

Other than that, i must praise the museum makers for the effort that they put in to setting up the displays. They were detailed right down to the handwriting on bits of paper. The staff were very kind too, considering the large number of tourists that they had to deal with, they did a great job holding on to their manners hahaha! The souvenirs were pretty cool too, and cater to the BBC sherlock fans as well.

On hindsight, i think a “Sherlock trail” (whereby i go around the various places where scenes in the movie were actually filmed) may have been more satisfying for me. Mind you, spots like Speedy’s cafe aren’t on Baker Street so if you do want to go on such a trail you’ll have to figure out where they are. This website could be useful. Even so, at least i had the cheap thrill of telling my friends and parents,

I’m going to 221b Baker Street.

Ahhh that felt so cool.

Kensington Gardens

I visited the Kensington Gardens as well during this trip just because it was near to my hostel… Or rather, i chose a hostel that was near to one of London’s parks on purpose heheh. I love London, but i still live for wide open fields and blue skies, so visiting one or two parks for me each time is a must. And besides, only in London do you get le random grand memorials within their parks.

Albert Memorial

Albert Memorial

The large amount of land dedicated to flowers and trees and ponds somehow makes me forget that i’m even in a city at all, which is kind of oxymoronic, really, to go to a city to get out of a city… Still, definitely visit at least one of the royal parks; it’s one side of London that you don’t want to miss because it proves that a city doesn’t have to be all about grey buildings and bustling crowds.

Queen Elizabeth

Queen Elizabeth

In Summary

Fastest mode of transport to central London

  • Stansted Express Train

List of must-dos that i’ve done in London

  • Visit a museum (from your fandom of choice)
  1. the Sherlock Museum (potentially disappointing, maybe try doing a Sherlock trail instead?)
  2. the Making of Harry Potter: Warner Bro’s Studio Tour (i visited this last year and it was perfect!!)
  • Visit a park
  1. Kensington Park
  2. Hyde Park
  • Watch a musical
  1. Wicked (is at the top of my list. You absolutely have to watch this musical or you would have missed out on so much!!)
  2. The Lion King
  3. Four Seasons

And last but not least, take a leisurely walk through the streets just to soak up the sheer classiness that London has to offer. Take in the atmosphere, the architecture, and people-watch for a bit. One of the main up-sides of being a tourist is not having to be caught up in the rush of life that the residents of that city have to obey. So take it slow instead of running from one attraction to the next. You can do all that rushing when you go back to your home to work.

Stay safe, and have fun.

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