My favorite holiday is Halloween and to spend it alone in Spain sounded so depressing. So I thought one of the most haunted cities in the world, London, was the perfect place to catch a fright. And I wasn’t wrong.
Day 1: I arrived at 8 A.M. and walked around the area near my hostel. I ran into a lovely man from Wales. We had a great conversation as we ran into the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace. We walked through Hyde Park then went our separate ways. Hyde Park was a lovely opportunity to take photos. People were feeding swans (which I took no part of because I hate swans). Then I walked all the way to Big Ben, past Westminster Abbey, saw the outside of Parliament and the London Eye from afar. Then I stopped for some food at a bar and talked to a Russian business student. After such a long day of walking, I returned to my hostel to nap, get ready for a ghost tour.
The night before Halloween I went on a Ghost Tour. The tour guide was an amazing story teller. We went to through Hyde Park at night. Supposedly a woman in black will haunt people going for an evening stroll. “The most haunted house in London,” was a stop as well. Supposedly there is a demon living on the top floor. Many stories of previous owners dying or being scared. One woman even killed herself, supposedly because of the demon. We ended the tour at The Tower of London. He told us of the two princes who were murdered by their uncle. The story goes King Edward had died. And his two sons were given to The Duke Gloucester, their uncle. He moved the two boys into the Tower of London. Then they disappeared and he took the crown. Many years later, there were renovations and a trunk with two bodies was found. It is assumed they are the two princes and were given a royal burial. Supposedly, the ghosts of the two boys remain and can be seen only by children at night. Many stories of groundkeeper’s children speaking with the two princes have been reported. Another ghost is an unusual haunting. But The Tower of London had many animals on display at the menagerie. The animals were not treated well due to ignorance, not necessarily malevolence. The polar bear sometimes surprises night guards. It was the perfect place to end the spooky tour.
Day 2 The day of Halloween! I wore my darkest lipstick and put my hair in a Wednesday Addams style. Then I went to The Tower of London. It was a tough choice between the Tower of London and Westminster Abbey but I got the advice from a lovely British couple. They said Tower of London was a much better use of my time and money. They described Westminster Abbey as interesting but packed with people in a stiff rotation. So I went to the Tower of London, it was 20 pounds to enter but I spent a good two hours there. It’s massive!
• Highlights: Ravens are meant to bring luck to the royal family. So as part of tradition, there must always be six ravens on the grounds. While I was there the exhibit was under construction but it was still an interesting fact.
• Then the torture room had lots of interesting contraptions. Reportedly, there were 81 people tortures and 48 held prisoner in the tower.
• There was also the menagerie room that told of how the royal family fed elephants wine and steak for them only to die shortly of kidney failure; training baboons to smoke cigars; making the polar bear swim in the River Thames. There was an exhibit about the two princes.
• One interesting room was a room for a prisoner, Sir Walter Raleigh. He was part of the royal family and sentenced to imprisonment for 13 years after marrying the Queen’s maid of honor in 1603 then he plotted to kill James I. He managed to get a lot of research done while in the tower. It took me a good 2 hours to get through the tower of London.
British Museum was a must and free, so how could I resist? I love a good mummy exhibit and just my luck they had a Day of the Dead exhibit special for the holidays. I spent about 1.5 hours here. There was a lot to see!
After I went to the British Museum. My favorite permanent exhibit was the Egyptian Room. I love a good mummy. Then there was a temporary exhibit on Day of the Dead.
The night of Halloween I went on Sandeman’s New London Halloween Pub Crawl. We met at a bar in Leicester Square which is sort of the Times Square of London. This was a really great tour. The people were amazing. I had so much fun dancing the night away. We had free shots AND drinks at almost every bar. On top of that we bypassed the lines for all the clubs. While people were paying 20 pounds to get into one club and pay for drinks, we paid 30 pounds to go to 3 clubs and a bar with shots and drinks included.
Day 3 I didn’t let me hangover keep down! I woke up pretty early and went to Highgate Cemetery. It was a bit far from the center however it as worth it. And the neighborhood was really cute. The houses are adorable and the university up there has beautiful architecture. It was a lovely walk. Highgate Cemetery is a large cemetery with famous graves such as Karl Marx, Douglas Addams, Bruce Reynolds and Claudi Jones. It was a beautiful cemetery with tall trees and artfully crafted tombstones. I only went to the free part but it had the most famous grave, Karl Marx.
After a lovely lunch, I went to the Hunterian Museum. It is a surgery museum but also has a collection of medical anomalies both human and animal. It was based around John Hunter, who was not a doctor. He was hungry for knowledge and thanks to him, he revolutionized medical thinking. Much of the permanent exhibit are from his personal collection. Entry is free but I got the audio tour for 3.50 pounds. It was worth it.
Hightlights:• The collection of animal anomalies were interesting with two headed animals, a giant sloth tooth, dissected baby crocodile, a wet specimen of a full chimpanzee head and more.
• The famous skeleton of Charles Bryne, the Irish giant is on display in the middle of the museum.
• The death cast of Sir Isaac Newton is on display as well.
• Surgery video room with surgery tools new and old on display.
• An area dedicated to plastic surgery with a fun fact about nurses being encouraged to flirt with disfigured patients. This practice led a lot of nurses to marrying the disabled soldiers.
Lastly, I wanted to see The Globe Theatre so I went to London Bridge, walked around. The area, Westbank, was really cool and modern. There were food trucks, a book fair, a skate park and street art. Then there was the Globe Theater, the lights had just been lit down the streets and there was a lovely fog covering everywhere. I got a cup of coffee and enjoyed an evening stroll in the neighborhood before going back to my hostel and sleeping at the airport for my red eye flight back to Madrid. Though, now I know I should just being my sleeping bag if I insist on sleeping at the airport.
My hostel was okay. There weren’t enough bathrooms or showers. The staff was friendly but the bar/ restaurant was a bigger priority than the hotel guests. The breakfast was okay but they didn’t have a kitchen so I spent a little too much money on food. The code to the doors were a little complicated for me. The bed were comfortable, the lockers were small and there weren’t enough outlets. This hotel was decent but I wouldn’t stay here again. The location was great! It was near Victoria Station and 15 minutes walking to Buckingham Palace. I’d choose somewhere with a kitchen.
The Oyster Card is a five pound deposit and you have pay for every single trip unlike other places where you can just buy a tourist pass. Transportation was very expensive but clean and fast. Also, easy to use. And don’t forget to mind the gap. Unless you get the London Pass and the London Pass covers your Oyster Card, I believe. For getting around, I tried to research and screen shot directions before leaving my hostel because I didn’t have data in London.
London Tube Map was helpful for getting around. I had a physical map from the hostel but having it on my phone was very helpful too. You can never have too many maps especially when you don’t have any data.
London Travel Guide and Offline City Map was a life saver. Even without an England sim card, I could use the GPS to pinpoint my location on the map. It also had great information about sights and how to get there. I would highly recommend this for anyone going to London. Having an offline guide is always helpful because even with a map and a compass I still get lost.
The London Pass app helped a bit. It had some good information about things but I never bought the pass though. You’d have to do a lot to make it worth it. The only I did that was part of the London Pass was Tower of London. If I had gone to Tower of London Experience, Westminister Abbey as well, it would have been worth it but I wasn’t interested. However, I met a couple that did it all and they said it was worth it for them. To each their own, I was more interesting in creepy travel than traditional travel.
London definitely warmed my heart. It’s probably one of my favorite places so far. It has just the right amount of creepy travel sights, culture and fun.