Biggsy Travels

unique travel experiences

Month: June 2016

Visit the top of Big Ben!

You’ve seen “Big Ben” hundreds of times but did you know you can visit the top of the tower and see the real “Big Ben” for yourself? Big Ben being the largest of the 5 bells of course and not the actual tower itself  (The Elizabeth Tower) … we all know that. A chance to see the famous bells being struck, that have been heard, but not seen, by millions of people around the world.

13.5 ton Big Ben

13.5 ton Big Ben. Source: DS Pugh

There is a catch though! It’s not a tourist attraction like the ‘The London Eye’ or ‘Tower of London’ so you can’t simply rock up and buy a ticket. No, no – you can climb the 334 steps to see “Big Ben” and walk behind the opal inlayed clock faces but only  a), if you are a UK resident, and b), if you’ve contacted your local MP, or been invited by a member of the House of Lords first … if you know a friendly Lord that is. The tour is free of charge at least. I for one like the fact it isn’t a mainstream tourist attraction, with a process and privilege to being “invited” up. Unfortunately it’s not available to overseas visitors though.

Another “catch” is that the tour is generally fully booked up 6 months in advance so you better be quick as “Big Ben” is going to be closed for 3 years for vital maintenance with the last tour being at some point in December 2016. If you don’t get in before then you’ll be waiting until at least 2020 before you get another opportunity. Continue reading

Buy experiences or material possessions?

I’ve just celebrated my 40th birthday with friends and family in my local pub and it’s made me consider the old “experiences versus material possessions” debate. The theory that you should spend your money on experiences and travelling rather than “things” –  We’ve all seen the studies, those that suggest new “things” are exciting to us at first, but then we adapt to them, whereas a holiday or experience supposedly stays with us forever.

Reaching Everest base Camp with G Adventures - 2012

Reaching Everest base Camp with G Adventures – 2012

Well in an attempt to back the “experiences” camp, this weekend’s birthday celebrations made me realise that the expensive Tag watch I wanted to treat myself with would have been a lovely (but slightly grandiose) 40th birthday keepsake, but the cheap Casio digital watch a group of my best friends bought me last weekend feels more special, tells the time just as well, saves me £££s in the process … and only cost them £14.99 too. And the experience of opening it in front of everyone …was well …priceless. Continue reading

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