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London Travelogue – (Part 5): Stevenage and Emirates Stadium

We were greeted with light rain on our final day in London. The sky was cloudy but we were determined to end the day fruitfully.

With most of the main attractions covered, we took it easy today and googled for nearby places to explore.

The rain started to pelt and we took shelter at a train station.

Hopping onto the train with our Oyster cards, we had no idea where to go. Since we were not driving, taking a train ride to see the surroundings might be a good idea.

Thanks to the rain, the weather were freezingly cold and we were loving it!

The train took us into the countryside and we passed by hills, seen cattle grazing and lovely houses.

We were kind of lost and didn’t know where to alight. The train captain was surprised we had no destination in mind and recommended that we visit a little town by the name of Stevenage. Stevenage is a town and borough in Hertfordshire, England, 28 miles north of London.

Alas, oyster card is not valid here and we had to pay a fine of about $50. The staff was friendly and chatted with us while he prepared tickets for us to exit.

A lovely little town to explore. Maybe not that fantastic for sightseeing but it was an ideal place to buy cheap loots.

Stevenage was pretty much like Bedok neighbourhood where you could find rows of shophouses.

Delicious germany sausages..nice to try in such a cold weather.

Yes, everything’s $1!

A haven for shopping.

The Iceland store. Wait till we see how cheap the items were.

How we wished we were living over here. It’s near impossible to find such prices over in Singapore. These items were not junk qualities either.

At the other end of the town, there were restaurants and a large Cineplex.

Had our dinner here. The chicken looked kind of dry.

We headed back to our Airbnb but before that we suddenly realised our place was near to Emirates Stadium! And so we alighted from the train and followed the signs to Arsenal.

It took about 15 mins to walk from the train stadium. Along the way, we came across houses and they were so beautifully lighted and decorated with Christmas props.

The residents living in these houses were probably the most blessed of all. Just 20m in front of the Emirates Stadium, they could attend EPL match at their convenience every week!

They might not appreciate soccer but it was a worthwhile visit to the famous soccer club.

This capped off our London trip and we booked a Blackberry Car to the airport at 1am. No hidden cost and the driver was professional. The next time we visit London, we will definitely book with them again. Next up, we will travel over 3500 miles or 8 hours of flight time to New York City!

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London Travelogue – (Part 4): Camden Market, Stables Market, Oxford Street, Hamleys and Harrods

When searching for quality markets to visit in London, the name of Camden Market will inevitably appear in the most recommended places to explore. We heard there were few hundred stores here and thought it would be a nice place to have our breakfast in the morning.

We walked about 15 mins from the London Tube to reach Camden Market.

Anything that is colourful and bright will capture the kids’ attention. Camden High Street is lined with shoe stores, leather shops and vintage clothing and vintage vinyl.

Being a tourist attraction, do not expect to find cheap stuff here.

Finally reached the market!

The labyrinth of shops led us to various food vendors.

Craving for Asian food, Thai delicacies were just so yummy.

It didn’t take long before these furry friends were in front of us yearning for little treats. Bad idea to toss some crumbs, only to invite more of them to come.

Next to Camden Market lies the Stables Market. Over here, there were many boutiques and pop up shops.

Venturing into the narrow alleys was fun in itself as we browse through the apparels and home goods.

An interesting spot for photo-taking. We had a hard time waiting for the right moment to take pictures 🙂

The popular Pret A Manger sandwich chain that are scattered all over London. This time trying it and we ended up dining there for at least three times during our stay.

We found ourselves at Oxford Street, a major road in the City of Westminster in the West End of London, running from Tottenham Court Road to Marble Arch via Oxford Circus. It is the Ochard Road of Singapore and jam-packed with people everywhere we went.

Where you can find the sleek lines of Apple’s products here.

Hamleys is the oldest and largest toy shop in the world and one of the world’s best-known retailers of toys. With Christmas round the corner, they were showcasing all performance to bring in the crowds.

The streets were awashed with buskers singing or playing musical instruments.

Finally we had the opportunity to take a photo here at the main Oxford street.

As night fell, we were treated to a magnificent Christmas lights extravaganza with a dazzling array of fairy lights and decorations. Everyone was soaked in the joyous mood, holiday spirit of London.

London underground station Marble ArchBond Street & Oxford Circus, Central Line, Zone 1
At Oxford Circus station you can also use Bakerloo Line and Victoria Line.

Next, we explored the Harrods. This is a department store located on Brompton Road in Knightsbridge, London. It is owned by the state of Qatar and no wonder everything here was so, so expensive!

Our favourite section was the food halls on the ground floor which were the most popular departments at Harrods. This is where you can find a wide range of fine delicacies is offered in 4 huge halls.

Although items were way too expensive, the effects of Brexit weren’t felt at all. The mall was filled with so many shoppers that one would not see any spirit of recession.

To get here, look out for London underground station Knightsbridge, Piccadilly Line, Zone 1.

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London Travelogue – (Part 3): Big Ben, Westminter Abbey, London Eye, St James Park, Buckingham Palace and Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

A visit to London is never complete without sighting the Big Ben. Well, we knew that London’s Big Ben has stop chiming as it is undergoing major renovations from now till 2021. But still, it is a mandatory stop for every tourist.

 A brief walk down appears the Westminster Abbey, London church that is the site of coronations and other ceremonies of national significance. It stands just west of the Houses of Parliament in the Greater London borough of Westminster.

We did not enter though as sunset was nearing and we had a fair bit of itinerary to cover for the day.

Caught the view of London Eye from the other side of the river. London is fairly concentrated and there are many visitors at these major attractions. When taking pictures or pausing by, it is best to find a ‘safer’ spot as you never know when pickpockets will appear.

It was an never ending stroll to Hyde Park to immerse ourselves in the christmas market and amusement park. Stopping by along the way of interesting sights.

St James’s Park includes The Mall and Horse Guards Parade, and is surrounded by landmarks such as Buckingham Palace, Clarence House and Whitehall.. It is a beautiful place to take a breather and for kids to get up close and personal with nature and creatures.

Big and Small M are growing up and akin to their peers, they are thrilled to achieve the insta-worthy shots.

The animals were so tamed, making the experience so surreal. When did we see birds and squrriels coming up to you for treats in Singapore?

The key takeaway for us about Buckingham Palace is that it is recognised around the world as the focus of national and royal celebrations as well as the backdrop to the regular Changing the Guard ceremony.

The Buckingham Palace flower beds, also known as the Memorial Gardens, were created in 1901 as part of Sir Aston Webb’s overall design for a memorial to Queen Victoria after her death that year.

Situated in London’s Hyde Park, which spreads over 630 acres in the centre of the capital, entry to the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland is free. It is located in close proximity to London underground tube stations including Hyde Park Corner, Marble Arch and Green Park.

We did a lot of walking just to reach here and did not go away disappointed. This place was really, really huge and it would be wise to remember prominent spots in case you get lost.

The weather wasn’t that cold but the firepit did add to the christmas atmosphere.

The kids were just like “WOW” everywhere we went and they did had their share of fun in riding the roller-coaster. On a fair note, while the park was huge many of the entertainment and rides were actually replicates.

Visiting this free-to-enter event in winter, you will have lots of fun and you can do many activities there, including ice skating, ice bar, circus shows, an observation wheel and a traditional German Christmas market. Check out this place when you drop by London during winter.

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London Travelogue – (Part 1): Gatwick Airport, Covent Garden, Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus, Chinatown Gate and Trafalgar Square

This is our first trip to London and we were told that it is an extremely expensive city for vacation. All this while, we thought it wouldn’t be possible until we discover some London hacks that made our trip a reality.

For once, we realised apart from travelling with the usual prominent airlines there are actually options to travel with budget airline to London for an affordable price of $1.1K in total for 2 adults / 2 childs (one way) – Norwegian airline.

Journey to London

Norwegian airline offers a direct flight from Singapore to London without any stopovers. To ensure further comfort, inflight entertainment are available. Ear phones were not provided.

The inflight meals were simple and nothing fanciful.

As we booked the flight early, we managed to get the best seats which gave us more room.

The 14-hour flight was surprising smooth without any turbulence and we arrived at London Gatwick airport by 5:40am.

If you are travelling to London Zone 1 or 2, we would recommend you not to take the express train which cost about $20 per adult. Our travel from Gatwick to Islington/Highbury was horrid as we needed to change platforms during the morning peak hours.

Towing 4 big luggages with us up and down the subway stairs without elevators and waiting for multiple trains before squeezing in was no joke. The weather was about 10 degrees but we were already perspiring. We would recommend booking the airport transfer (Blackberry cars) instead as the price was almost the same with no hidden charges.

The train ride brought us to the Victoria station where we would need to buy Oyster cards to travel in the London Underground, or the “Tube”. In simple terms, this is a version of our MRT. London is segmented by 9 zones with the touristy areas being in Zone 1 and 2.

Image result for london map zones
Photo Credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_fare_zones

The morning crowd at Victoria station were beginning to build up.

We had our breakfast here before continuing our journey to the Airbnb.

This was already the third train ride. We were tired.

Finally arrived at Highbury & Islington station.

But not before taking a 5 min bus ride and another 2 min walk to our Airbnb apartment. For all the hassle, it would be wiser to take Blackberry cars next time.

Covent Gardens

Covent Gardens is one of the ultimate Instagram spots in London. An iconic area with thriving street arts, we heard that it is usually crowded with tourists. However, it was not that bad.

The streets were easy to explore and it was not uncommon to take a pause every now and then to soak ourselves in the historic architectures. Covent Garden is a popular tourist spot such that Din Tai Fung has recently established an outlet here.

Something similar we have seen back home.

The locals love coffee so much and very often cafes would be packed with people. The scent of fresh coffee permeated the cafe and we couldn’t help but to order a cup.

Address: 13 Floral St, London WC2E 9DH, UK

Leicester Square / Piccadilly Circus

As Covent Garden is located centrally, it is near to Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus. Google maps may not be reliable. Having these street directories made it easier for us to find our way around.

We were in for a treat during winter as Leicester Square Christmas Markets was up and running.

Not a fan of shopping but food tasting was our theme during this trip. Unlike the States, Christmas markets are common throughout Europe and UK.

Didn’t stay too long in the Christmas markets as some strangers kept looking at our belongings. We decided to leave and go into M&Ms World for safety reasons.

Address: 1 Leicester Square, London WC2H 7DE, UK

Have you been to M&M’s World? It is situated directly opposite Leicester Square Christmas Markets.

The bright, colorful storefront would inevitably draw anyone in. The staff were friendly and helpful, even if you are not buying anything.

Abbreviation familiar to a tween.

Address: Leicester Square, 1 Swiss Ct, London W1D 6AP, United Kingdom

London Chinatown is close to Leicester Square. The nearest underground stations to Chinatown are Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus. Bus available are 14 / 24 / 27 / 29 / 134 / 168 / C2.

Eat all you can for $10.50.

We dined here over the next 2 days as the price was cheaper compared to other restaurants. Some restaurants open till 3am.

Address: 10 Wardour St, London W1D 6BZ, UK

Our jet-leg started to kick in. One final stop at Trafalgar Square before we ended the day. The attraction here is surrounded by museums, galleries, cultural spaces and historic buildings.

Trafalgar Square is a public square in the City of Westminster, Central London, built around the area formerly known as Charing Cross. Its name commemorates the Battle of Trafalgar, a British naval victory in the Napoleonic Wars with France and Spain that took place on 21 October 1805 off the coast of Cape Trafalgar.

Address: Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN, UK

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Fly LegsUp Flight Hammock for Kids

With travelling up to a total of 48 hours on economy seats, seeking comfort during these long haul flights is a priority. The Fly LegsUp Flight Hammock provides the answer as the ultimate travel companion for adults and children.

Fly LegsUp Kids
Photo Credit: Fly LegsUp

The hammock enables Small M to elevate her feet and legs into different positions, supported by comfortable inflatable pillows. Experimenting it for the first time, it greatly made her flight more comfortable.

Fly LegsUp Flight Hammock is washable, folds compact, and weighs less than 500g. Its versatile design accommodates for the differences in kids and airline seats. This is a travel essential to be ticked in your itinerary.

Our Fly LegsUp for Kids pack, includes:

– Our patented Fly LegsUp Flight Hammock

– 1 small pillow and 2 large pillows

– Travel bag

– Kids instruction sheet with suggested positions

Fly LegsUp for Kids

Website /  Booking: https://www.flylegsupsingapore.com/

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/flylegsupsingapore/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=g4pJhAjQDjg

Phone : Yvonne +65 8661 1226 

Email : yvonne@flylegsupsingapore.com

Retailers

Lilliewoods Social
I12 Katong Mall
112 East Coast Road
#01-24
Singapore 428802

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Recommendation – Why You Should Rent Traveler WiFi Router for Overseas Travel

Our overseas trips have been much dependent on buying SIM cards at airport terminals or tapping into free wifi connection at hotels or cafes. In our recent travel to UK and the States, we decided to rent a portable WiFi router from Traveler Wifi to give it a try for the first time and after trying it out, we are very impressed and will definitely tick it as a travel essential in the future.

These are the top 5 reasons why you should be using Traveler Wifi:

#1 – Hassle Free with Worldwide Connection

Traveling across different continents require us to purchase multiple SIM cards which can be a hassle as it could only be tagged to a mobile device. With Traveler Wifi, it offers secured global coverage which support 4G networks. We are looking for hassle free and plug-and-play connection. All we need to do is to switch on the wifi router and it can automatically be detected in the network after keying in the password provided.

#2 – Long Battery Duration

We were told that Travel Wifi router offers up to 15 hours of connectivity. Based on our experience during the trip, it could easily last 13 hours without a single charge (with 3 mobile devices connected) before we returned to the hotel which we will change to hotel’s wifi. The pocket router could also be charged from a powerbank when we are on the go.

#3 – Cost Savings

The wifi router can connect up to 5 smart devices at the same time! It offers unlimited data with fair-use policy. If daily data usage exceeds 500 MB, router speed will slow down but can still connect and use. Data usage count is reset on daily basis. This provides cost savings when comparing to purchasing a SIM card which can only connect to 1 smart device and not forgeting you may need to figure out how to activate the SIM card.

#4 – Multiple Service Counters to Collect

To make collection easier, Traveler Wifi has different service counters conveniently located at the following locations:

Service Counters Islandwide: 

(NO reservation required; customers can rent Wifi Routers directly at any of the retail service counters)

  • Orchard Road
    • Lucky Plaza, 304 Orchard Road #B1-108 (Perfumes & Cosmetics Gallery: 11:30am-9pm daily; Friday 12.30pm -2pm – Closed)
  • Chinatown
    • People’s Park Centre, 101 Upper Cross Street #08-19 (Incredible Odyssey: 11am-6pm; Sat & Sun – Closed, Public Holiday – Closed).
      [you may message 91065688 before coming to Chinatown service counter]
  • Lavender
    • 322 Lavender Street (Gap Year Hostel: Daily 8am-8pm)
      [Please note only for Singapore WiFi routers rental/return at Lavender service counter]

#5 – Happy Memories

Big & Small M were probably the biggest beneficiaries of this trip. With Traveler Wifi router, they were allowed to use our mobile phones during the long road trips to keep themselves occupied.

We drove from San Francisco – Silicon Valley – Big Sur – Solvang – Santa Monica – Las Vegas – Los Angeles which we will blog about the journeys later so stay tune. These would not be possible without the wifi router which was certainly a life saver as it provided us with google map directions during the long, long and long drive.

And we went places before hitting the books after the holidays.

From London Bridge and Tower Bridge.

To New York – Statue of Liberty.

To San Francisco – Golden Gate Bridge.

To Silicon Valley – Googleplex.

To Las Vegas – Bonnie Springs Ranch.

And Los Angeles – Hollywood Boulevard.

Enough said. First time using wifi router and we were convinced of it’s convenience. Planning your upcoming trip soon and need a wifi router? Do not forget to check out Traveler Wifi!

 

Traveler Wifi

Website /  Bookinghttp://traveler-wifi.com/cms

Instagramhttps://www.instagram.com/travelerwifi/

Service Locations: http://traveler-wifi.com/cms/service-locations

Call for Enquiries) –

(65) 94877330 (General Enquiry) – [Mon-Fri : 9am – 6pm]

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Ways To Truly Relax On Your Next Family Holiday

A family vacation is a perfect opportunity for busy parents to get away from the stresses of everyday life and truly relax for the first time in what may seem like forever. Unfortunately, these trips can also be incredibly tiring, especially if your kids are feeling homesick and cranky or your days are jam-packed full of things to do for them. These vacations can leave you even more exhausted than you were when you set off, but it doesn’t always have to be that way. It is possible to have a relaxing family holiday, and, hopefully, with the useful tips below, you can too.

Choose The Right Trip

Being a parent shouldn’t stop you from doing anything that you want to do, but there’s no escaping the fact that some trips simply aren’t made for young children. Almost anyone can go on a cruise or head to the beach for a couple of weeks, but, if you wanted to visit fancy restaurants and art galleries, then it’s probably best that you leave these experiences until your children can appreciate them fully. If you don’t, you might all end up having a disappointing time.  

Get The Kids Excited

Surprising your kids with a holiday might seem like a fun idea, but it can actually cause them a lot of stress, which will naturally make the entire trip less enjoyable for everyone. With that in mind, it’s often a much better idea to let your children in on your plans early and spend this extra time getting them excited. You can let them help plan the itinerary, create a countdown calendar, teach them about the destination, and much more. This will help to prevent homesickness later.

Don’t Pack Last Minute

Traveling with children means a lot more packing, so it’s important that you give yourself plenty of time to do all of this properly. If you leave this task until the night or morning before your trip, you’ll leave the house incredibly stressed, and may even forget something vital, which will only make matters worse. Aim to start packing two or three days before you head off to ensure that you’re organized and have enough time to pick up any last minute essentials you may need.

Find The Best Accommodation

Staying together in a single hotel room might be cheap, but it’s far from ideal, often resulting in loss of sleep, lack of privacy, and stress. To prevent this, you should spring for a suite or even rent out a holiday home or apartment. If you’re heading somewhere you visit often, you could even buy a property there, whether it be on Old Klang Road, Malaysia or Clerkenwell Road, London. This gives you all a little extra breathing space, so you’re not under each other’s toes.

Bring Some Help Along

When you’re constantly taking care of your children, it’s going to be difficult to find time to unwind and really enjoy your break. This is why it’s such a good idea to bring someone along with you, like your own parents, a sibling, or even a friend. With this help at hand, you’ll be able to have some time to yourself, knowing that your kids are well looked after in your absence. If this isn’t an option, you could look into childcare at your accommodation or choose one that has a kids club.

Make Yourself At Home

It can be tempting to jump straight into the fun when you arrive at your destination, but you should hold off for just a little while and take the time to unpack first. This way, you’ll know where everything is when you need it and won’t have to dig through several suitcases before you can go out. Unpacking also helps everyone to feel more at home and fully settling into the accommodation, reducing stress and making a case of homesickness a lot less likely.

Stick To Normal Schedules

Most people see a holiday as a chance to break away from the routines that rule everyday life. While this can be freeing for some people, more often than not, changing up your day completely will only ever cause stress, particularly to young children. This is especially true when these changes affect sleep and meal times. With that in mind, you should make sure that you choose travel times that don’t affect your kids’ sleep and that your daily plans consider their schedule.

Share The Work Out

Nobody should have to work when they’re on vacation, but there are a few chores you often can’t escape, especially when staying in accommodation other than a hotel. These tasks typically include shopping, cooking, washing, taking out the trash, and more. Instead of taking all of these jobs on yourself, you should divide them up with your partner and children. This teamwork means that the chores will get done a whole lot quicker and everyone will be happier overall.

Image Credit – https://pixabay.com/en/luggage-suitcases-baggage-bags-933487/

Cut Down Your Itinerary

We all want to make the most out of our time away as we possibly can. However, that doesn’t mean that you should be on the go the entire vacation. In fact, trying to do this will only ever lead to exhaustion and stress, both for you and your kids, negatively impacting the break for everyone. Instead of planning every waking moment of your holiday, you should leave large gaps in your plans. This way, you have to option to unwind or do something fun depending on how you feel.

Add An Extra Day

Instead of arriving home the night before you all need to return to work and school, you should plan to come home a day earlier, giving everyone an extra day to unwind before getting back to normality. The softens the transition between your vacation and everyday life, making the return a much less stressful one. It also gives you the opportunity to handle any chores that you might need to deal with when you get home.

Family holidays are supposed to be relaxing for everyone, so make sure that yours is too by following the advice above.

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