The UK is 8th on my list of countries visited outside my country. Apart from my own country, the other countries I have traveled to outside the world are India, Malaysia, China, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. I aim to travel to at least two/three new countries a year. After my education, I could travel to 7 countries from 2017 until the covid 19 restrictions in various countries. I applied for the UK first in 2022 when multiple countries started to relax travel restrictions after a long period of travel bans around the world due to covid 19. Applying for the UK is a simple and online process. You can process your files yourself if you want. For this, notarized the documents you wish to submit, and if the documents are in a language other than English, they must be translated into English and notarized. The application form must be filled out, and biometric data must be provided through an official visa agent such as VFS Global. After providing the biometric data, your documents must be scanned and uploaded, and your visa application process will be completed. I applied for a visa with my family. After 36 days of providing biometric data, I received my passport with a visa.
Although the UK is a winter country, there is no guarantee of 3-W. These three W’s are wife, work, and weather. London is sometimes rainy and a bit cold too, so having an umbrella and winter clothing with you is a must. After we got the visa, we booked the return ticket to Etihad Air. Although there are direct flights to London from neighboring countries, distant countries do not operate flights other than transit. So select the airlines by looking at the transit time while booking the ticket. Otherwise, your trip could be more annoying than enjoyable. Generally, a transit time of 4 to 5 hours is acceptable. If it is less than this, it is a short transit; if it is a long transit, take a transit visa – your time will pass quickly when you leave the airport.
If you don’t want to go to a relative’s house, confirm a hotel, apartment, or house rent according to your budget. You can book a hotel or apartment using your credit card through Agoda or booking.com website. If your budget is low, you can find homestays through homestay.com. Homestays usually cost between £20 and £25 per person per night. However, homestay.com charges £73 and requires you to book for three days. On the other hand, hotel or apartment rental in London is quite expensive.
Pack your luggage according to the baggage capacity mentioned in the ticket. Excess weight has to be paid, which is expensive. Arrive at the airport at least 3 hours before the scheduled time on the scheduled date, as time is required for security check-up, immigration, and boarding. Collect the priority pass from the bank if you are a credit card user. Most banks issue priority passes for use instead of your credit card. After immigration or before boarding, and during the transit time, you can use the airport lounge using Priority Pass. In the case of Transit Air, complete boarding of Transit Air at your own risk.
We boarded the Etihad Air Lines flight from Dhaka Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport at 6 pm. At 21:30, we landed at Abu Dhabi International Airport. We had a four-and-a-half-hour transit there. Then at 10:00 pm, Etihad Air’s airbus bound for Heathrow Airport left Abu Dhabi International Airport. Oh, not to mention that I had my wife and one-and-a-half-year-old daughter as traveling companions. It was almost 7 am when we landed at Heathrow Airport. After getting off the airbus, we walked to the immigration. When I arrived in front of the immigration officer after waiting in a long line, the officer asked only one question – “Are you here for a trip?” I said yes and also showed my apartment booking and return air ticket. The officer took fingerprints and stamped the passport without asking any further questions. After clearing immigration, we proceeded to Belt Area to collect luggage. After collecting the bags, I left the airport and taxied to the apartment.
London is very diverse from one place to another. So a long time is required to see the Oligil of the city of London well. But our tour plan was only 14 days, and the first two days were to overcome our fatigue from the long journey. So we planned to visit at least ten places of interest in London.
Buckingham Palace is one of the largest palaces in the world. Our apartment was located in the Mill Hill East area. There are numerous means of getting to the city of London, including public transport. However, London’s black taxi cabs are expensive, and the most economical way to travel is by subway or tram. It is more cost-effective if you buy the Waster card in a weekly or monthly package. I took the tram to Victoria Station from Mill Hill East, next to our apartment. However, I had to change the tram once and catch the Victoria line tram. Buckingham Palace is just a short walk away from Victoria Station and through Green Park. This huge Prasad had to be seen from outside the front door. Guards wearing big black hats on royal horses also attract this prasad. The white stone sculptures located in the Prasad Gardens are also fascinating. All in all, Buckingham Palace impressed us.
Hyde Park can be seen coming out of Buckingham Palace. Nazarkara This park has enormous rows of trees and seating areas. My daughter had some biscuits and chocolates for lunch, and we fed the squirrels and pigeons in the park. Squirrels in our country run away in fear as people see them, but the squirrels here are different. Will walk next to you, smell the food you have, and take food from your hand. However, you will notice notices posted at various places in the park saying do not feed pigeons or squirrels.
I went to the London Eye to see what the city of London looks like from a bird’s eye view. After standing in line for a long time, I got a chance to get a ride. When the capsule is positioned at the apex of the disc, it feels like a bird’s eye view of the city of London. The disc consists of 32 capsules, and each capsule can accommodate 25 passengers. The capsules are air-conditioned and have benches for passengers to sit on.
UK Parliament Buildings
The UK Parliament Buildings are just a short walk from the London Eye. Suppose we could not enter the parliament session. At other times the House of Commons can be entered, and parts of the Parliament Buildings can be entered with permission. A large number of sculptures are scattered around the interior.
Big Ben / Clock Tower
The Elizabeth Tower on the north side of the UK Parliament building houses a square clock known as Big Ben. It is better known as the Cloak Tower rather than the Elizabeth Tower. It was initially known as the Cloak Tower, renamed Elizabeth Tower in 2012. Big Ben has been closed since 2017, restarting last November 2022. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to hear the signature chime of Big Ben.
The River Thames surrounds the entire city of London, a famous river. If you fancy a river cruise, you can take a 40-minute river cruise for just £14. Boarding of cruise ships is done through ports adjacent to the London Eye. For 14 pounds, you can travel on a 40-minute non-stop cruise ship.
The British Museum is a collection of over 13 million artifacts. This museum’s cultural artifacts of people of the whole world are preserved. That said, not all artifacts were collected lawfully. However, the British Museum can be entered at certain times of the day, and there is no entrance fee. However, if you want to enter the special exhibition, you must pay the prescribed fee.
Oxford Street is an ideal place for shopping. From clothing to food shops, what is there? After dusk, Oxford Street transforms into a different world. After work, people hang out in bars here till midnight. Nowhere else in London can you see so much variety.
The specialty of Tower Bridge is the two gigantic towers on it, and over time it has become a symbol of London. Tower Bridge can be visited from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm. An entrance ticket for the visit costs around £11.40. However, no ticket is required for children below five years.
A little further from Warwick station, you can see big boats decorated in the lake. These well-equipped boats are eateries or restaurants. The apple orchard by the lake will enchant you.
Our return air ticket cost about £700 per person, and the apartment rent was £1000. £110 for a Wester card and £200 for entrance fees to attractions. Added to this will be additional food costs and taxi fares.
Finally, if you’re from an Asian and Southern country, the long days in London will impress you.