Our last day in London was spectacular weather and involved a lot more walking – Lauren (travel buddy for the duration) and I had a £10 lunch in a park on South Bank under London eye before heading off to meet some friends of mine from my Vietnam Contiki. We met them in Hyde Park before strolling around the more fancy parts of town – Mayfair (all I could think of was Monopoly!), Regent street, around the SoHo area and towards Convent Garden. I would definitely suggest Covent Garden to any London visitor. The two friends we were with are from England – not specifically London, but closer than we are to it – so they were able to show us the areas we probably wouldn’t have gone to on our own, including Covent Garden (which isn’t actually a garden). There were lots of cool markets, both food and clothing, with street performers and lots of people just milling about. After having a good look around there we went to meet oh with another friend from Contiki for dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant called Cay Tre – very yummy and reasonable prices! Whilst we knew the address of the place, it did take us a few trips up and down Shaftesbury avenue to find the right side street – not that I minded as Shaftesbury avenue is mentioned in Harry Potter….
But now we have officially started our Busabout section of our tour! We arrived to Paris at about 7pm after a roughly 8 hour bus ride from London (in which the older man sitting across the aisle from us did not stop staring at us – creepy! (But also solid effort for maintaining this for 8 hours)). The bus is a good option if you’re on a tight budget (which we are!). Whilst it’s longer than the train or plane, it is a couple of hundred dollars cheaper! Apparently there is a bit of a heat wave happening in Western Europe at the moment because it was 35 degrees that evening in Paris, and yet again, no air con! Next morning was a 5 hr bus ride to Bruges, in which we watched the move ‘In Bruges’ (it was weird,..). We arrived in the afternoon and immediately fell in love! Lauren described it as quaint, and she was spot on in my opinion! The cobblestone streets, the winding canals and the gothic architecture all combines to make a beautiful town. Not to mention that Belgium is famous for its chocolate, beer, waffles and apparently French fries dipped in mayonnaise – you can be sure we will sample all of these local delicacies. Call it cultural eating. In fact within half an hour of arriving we had already picked up a waffle from the street vendors – apparently these are the best (and cheapest!) places to get them – for only 3€! Bargain! And yes, it was delicious. This particular waffle came from a man in a van opposite the City Hall (Burg).
Our first full day involved a bike tour around the outer borders of Bruges. The company we went with was called QuasiMundo, and they run multiple bike tours and normal tours around Bruges – I would highly recommend it! Our tour guides were Jana and Joss (pronounced yana and yoss) and they were hilarious. It was a beautiful day with beautiful scenery – but it is also the best way to get around. I’m not the most competent bike rider, but the wide streets make it easier to avoid running into things, as I am very likely to do. Although Bruges is beautiful, we booked one too many nights here – I think an ideal amount is two or three nights! However, I would definitely suggest our hostel – it’s called The Bauhaus, and it’s got good rooms and a great atmosphere!
My final quick tip for today that I would suggest for the frequent traveller is to invest in a good set of earphones before you jet off. I would doubly suggest noise cancelling ones , because when you’re on that noisy bus or noisy hostel room, it’s nice to have the option to not hear some things! The ones I’m using at the moment are Marley – they’re super comfortable, cancel out any noise around me and as an added bonus (and my good deed for the day) are Eco-friendly!
Next stop is Amsterdam so – until then!