Jessie Gretener in London enjoying the dream of a lifetime.
Jessie Gretener in London enjoying the dream of a lifetime.

Checking out London's iconic landmarks for a pound or less

WHEN  you budget for a trip, you never expect you could see all the iconic landmarks for less than a pound, especially in a place like London.

London is home to some of the most tourist top spots in the world and is the most wonderful place to visit.

As soon as the plane touched down in London, I felt at home.

It was such a weird feeling as I hadn't even seen anything yet; only trees.

Once I arrived in the midst of London though, nothing could hide my emotions to how excited I was to be there.

London is such an amazing place, one that I would definitely go back to many times, one that I could imagine living in.

I only had one problem with the city - too little time!

I arrived on Sunday night and left very early Wednesday morning.

On the Monday, the whole day was devoted to the Warner Bros.

Harry Potter Studio and the night had Stomp, the musical on its agenda.

Tuesday, it was off to Brighton, leaving me with the night to do all the sightseeing as I could.

Between the hours of 5pm to 11pm I managed to see all of the top London landmarks and did not spend a pound; who would think that was possible? Definitely not me.

 

Jessica Gretener is living the dream as a young travel writer.
Jessica Gretener is living the dream as a young travel writer.

The night adventure started at Buckingham Palace at around 5pm.

I spent around half an hour there, though could have easily spent a week.

Hidden behind golden tipped fences, guarded by men in furry hats was the Buckingham Palace in all its glory.

After a few minutes of being there everyone was cleared away from the entrance gate and a red carpet was laid.

A car then proceeded out of the palace, through the gates and out into London streets.

Unfortunately there was no hope in telling who was in the car as the windows were fully tinted, although I am going to believe it was the Queen - just popping out to say hello to me.

Why would you need a tour bus when you have perfectly good legs?

The adventure continued from Buckingham Palace on foot.

As we started towards Westminster Abbey, we became distracted by things that a tour bus definitely would not find.

Even though we missed the changing of the guards at the palace, we managed to find a mini changing of the guards.

A bit down the road stood the Palace Stables which was fiercely protected by two guards.

After a few minutes of being there a British police officer arrived followed by two more guards.

After some marching on the spot and yelling, the guards of the stables swapped over.

The new guards did not seem too happy to be there, and I even managed to get a photo of one rolling his eyes as all the tourists (like myself) took photos of them and posed with them; the whole "standing on the hand" photo.

Our walk continued through the architectural wonders of the Parliament buildings.

Each one of the building looking like mini palaces and displaying statues of the previous royals. All throughout them, little gardens bought beauty to the street looking like the seven dwarfs had lived there.

After half an hour of leaving Buckingham Palace we arrived at Big Ben and Westminster Abbey.

As twilight was upon us, both Big Benny and Westminster Abbey reflected a beautiful shade of gold.

The city was bustling at this time of the night; everyone coming home from work or going out to dinner - the atmosphere there was incredible.

  As I looked in front of me there was a red London phone box, a red London double decker bus and the Big Ben - the exact image of the canvas on my wall at home which I spent endless hours day dreaming about, thinking about the day I would finally make it here.

As night time came I walked along the side of the Thames, a light London breeze against my face and the dazzling lights of the city everywhere I looked.

As you looked into the river the glowing blue reflection of the London Eye in the water looked more beautiful than the monument itself.

Above that reflection stood the London Eye, shimmering blue right in the centre of London.

We wandered over bridges, through tunnels, walking slowly and taking in our surroundings. I loved watching all the families, couples and individuals walking along river, all taking advantage of the wonders of London.

All sorts of smells wafted around the river as the restaurants nearby started serving dinner.

Sounds of laughter filled the air as everyone enjoyed the beautiful night. Sounds from busker also filled your ears, mixed to with the laughter and happiness of everyone around me - it was very memorable.

London has definitely the best atmosphere out of all the places I have been to. Along the Thames, little stands stood selling all sorts of thing: books, jewellery, souvenirs - I bought myself a giant Union Jack Hat (Like the one Joey wears in 'Friends' - London Baby!).

15km of walking later we reached out final destination - The Tower Bridge. I believe the words I said whilst sitting at the bottom and staring up at it (and I believe I was very tired at this point), was "If I was homeless I would live here". 

The beauty from the bridge was spectacular, lit up in many magical colours - I could have easily spent the night there.

At this point I had one main thought going through my head "I love London, I love London, I love London, I love London, I love London!!!!!!".

Back in my bed that night at the Youth Hostel, I thought back on my night adventures and how beautiful it really was.

Travel brings you so many new experiences and I believe to truly immerse yourself in the culture of the city, it's not a tour bus you need but a perfectly good pair of shoes.

Six hours of walking and 15km later, I had seen a side of London beyond my dreams.

* Jessie Gretener is a 15-year-old Queensland student who worked hard and saved her money, to fulfill a dream to travel solo. She wants to be a travel writer and is obviously well on her way.



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