Euro Trip 2016: London Video

London

My wife gave me a Feiyu Tech G4 gimbal as a gift for our trip. I love taking videos on our trips but the footage is shaky at times. Hopefully the gimbal fixes some of those issues. I used a GoPro Hero 3 for this trip but I may pick up a Hero 4. This was a personal video of our trip but I wanted to share it with everyone. I will also be making a video for the other cities we visited. If you have any questions, leave a comment at the bottom!
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Euro Trip 2016: London

London 2016

When I was discussing our European honeymoon my wife and I picked out four cities. My first choice was London. I wanted to visit London after watching BBC shows like Sherlock, Dr. Who and Luther. One of my favorite holiday films is Love Actually, set in London.

Cell Phones

We were able to purchase Lebara SIM cards at Heathrow airport for £25. They also had other options in a vending machine but a Lebara representative gave us a good deal. We were able to get 5gb of data and 500 minutes of talk time.

Transportation

We got into the city on a train from Heathrow to Paddington station. It was about £10 each person. From Paddington we purchased an oyster card to use on the Underground/Tube. We didn’t buy the all day passes and instead opted for a pay as you go. The train and bus system was easy to navigate, especially using the City Mapper app. We would also take Uber rides if we stayed out too late or had to go to a place that was out of the way. 

London was the most expensive place for travel. The daily cap for fares were £9.40 but I’m sure I paid more than that in fares based on credit card statements. London is the worst in public transport cost if you’re staying under seven days. 

Accommodations 

We stayed in North Peckham in the Southwark borough. London has great public transportation and we were able to get to any area of the city fairly quickly using the bus system.

The Fun Stuff

 
We started off this trip with a classic English breakfast and it was delicious. This was the first time I’ve eaten beans at breakfast and it wasn’t bad. The bacon is thick and not as crispy but the hash browns were awesome.
 

During the planning of the trip, we picked places we had to visit: Buckingham Palace, Tower of London, Big Ben, Westminster Abby and the London Eye. We also strolled through neighborhoods like Soho, Covent Garden and Notting Hill. There were a lot more places but it would be boring to list them.

The Tower of London has a lot of history. The former fortress holds the crown jewels of the monarchy. Crowns of past kings and queens are also on display as well other royal regalia.

 
Trafalgar Square is a place I’ve wanted to visit since I watched Jump London. I remember the huge lion sculptures and large obelisk. I was an avid free runner until I started getting injured. I stopped completely but I still watch our footage once in awhile. I’m still amazed at what we used to do. We also visited the National Gallery which is next to Trafalgar Square. The gallery had a great selection of art from artists from around the world. This was the first time I visited a large art gallery and it made an impression on me. It made me want to paint miniatures again.
 
 
In front of the National Gallery you will find a lot of street artists and performers. They range from chalk artists, poets, still performers and break dancers. 
 
 
 
 
Big Ben was not as “big” as we though. I imagined that it would be as as tall as a sky scraper. It’s actually a lot wider than it looks. I read an article that Big Ben is tilting, thankfully it’s not a danger to the public. We walked by the houses of parliament and toured the inside of Westminster Abbey. We used a free audio guide that was narrated by Jeremy Irons. I was surprised to see the tombs of great scientists such as Charles Darwin and Isaac Newton. I wanted to take a picture but the officials made it clear no photography allowed. 
 

 

We were able to get tickets to the play “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” at Palace Theater. It was my first large theater production and it was a great experience. I’m a fan of the Harry Potter series but I didn’t want to read the screenplay for the Cursed Child. I was hoping they would make it into a movie or I would watch it live. Thankfully, the theater had tickets for sale. We didn’t realize how fortunate we were until we talked to people at the Harry Potter store in Kings Cross Station.

 

Before heading to London I researched some stores I wanted to visit. Orc’s Nest is a famous game store in London that has a large selection of table top games and accessories. They had a small wargaming section but no Warmachine or Guild Ball models. I wish we had a game store like this back home.

 

 
My wife and I love visiting CrossFit gyms in different countries. Most of gyms we visited are welcoming and helpful. We didn’t get to workout since we were on a tight schedule but we did buy a shirt. 
 

Final Thoughts on London

London is an amazing city full of interesting people, great food and rich history. We didn’t get to visit every place we wanted to but we will save them for our return trip. It was five days well spent and the experience was something we will remember forever. After London we headed to Paris for the second leg of our honeymoon.
 
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Europe 2016: Honeymoon Edition

Europe 2016: Honeymoon Edition

September has been a great month. I got married and went on an awesome honeymoon to Europe. We visited four cities: London, Paris, Rome and Amsterdam. I brought my GoPro with me and took a few shots using my new Feiyu Tech G4S Stabilizer. It worked really well and I hope the video comes out great. I posted a lot more pictures on my Instagram (@ENPalomo) if you want to see some stills.
After reading a lot of posts about pick pocketing in Europe, my wife bought a Pacsafe Venturesafe 150 GII cross body pack. I used this instead of a body wallet that people usually recommend. This worked great on the subways and buses throughout Europe. It has a lot of anti theft features which makes it a great alternative to a body wallet. I might do a review on this after all the cities.

Cell Phones 

We purchased SIM cards in London, Paris and Rome. We did not purchase SIM cards in Amsterdam, instead we used our previous SIM cards and roamed. This lasted about three days into our trip to Amsterdam which was enough.

Airfare and Transportation

 

I booked my tickets using Kayak and my train ticket using Eurostar. Each city has a different system for public transportation which we picked up after landing. We also used Uber for a few rides in London and Paris. This was the first time using Uber and it took a few rides to get used to using it and the etiquette when using it. The app didn’t update numbers when switching SIM cards which I found out the hard way. Overall, I had a great experience with Uber and the drivers I interacted with.If you plan on using taxis to get to your accommodation, use a legitimate one. Their will be people asking you if you need a taxi in the airport terminals and some of them are not legitimate. Make sure they have a meter and a taxi sign or licence. They prey on tourists and will overcharge you.

Another great app to download would be City Mapper. This app was a lifesaver on the trip. It requires an internet connection but you can use it offline if you save routes. You pick a starting point or use your GPS location and pick a destination. The app then calculates the quickest route to your destination including all forms of public transportation. It also calculates driving, walking and rider sharing apps like Uber. This made navigating the city that much easier. It doesn’t have all major cities so check the website to see if the one you’re visiting is on there.

Accommodations

 
Trying to find hotels that fit within our budget and proximity to the city center was extremely difficult. We opted to go with AirBnB. This was my first experience using AirBnB and it was great. It was also more affordable and located in great areas within the cities. At first I was hesitant to use this site but after talking to multiple friends we decided to give it a try. Each place we stayed in had an excellent guest ratings and had a minimum 50 reviews. I also read all the negative reviews if any. We had a great time in each place which I’ll discuss in each city review.
Attractions and Restaurants
We primarily used the website Trip Advisor to look up attractions and restaurants. I’ve used this website to plan past trips to Tokyo and Seoul. They have a great forum if you need to ask questions about places you’re going to visit. I would also save locations using Google maps. I will talk about the few we visited on our trip.
Money Exchange
We took some cash with us with the intent to change it at a currency exchange. In retrospect, it wasn’t the best way to obtain foreign currency. We should have brought half the amount of cash and pulled the rest out of ATM’s. When I added up the fees from the ATM transaction, it was lower than the fees from currency exchange. Most European bank ATM’s do not charge fees, with most of our fees coming from our local bank. Our bank fee was about $2. Try to avoid independent ATM’s and stick with bank ATM’s.

Some currency exchanges have commissions and the trading rate was higher than the bank rate. Make sure you inform your bank before traveling. Most banks will lock your account since withdrawals from a foreign country looks suspicious.

Credit Cards

My wife and I have a travel friendly credit card. We do not get charge foreign transaction fees and we get the best dollar to euro/pound conversion rate as opposed to cash. The rates are made by Visa which is close to the bank currency exchange rate.

I will be writing about the cities in the order I visited them, London, Paris, Rome and Amsterdam. I’ll try to finish one each week.
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