A Quick Trip to Edindurgh, Scotland (2016)

When I visited my boyfriend in London – I knew in my mind it would be a long time since I’ll be coming back again and I just had to make the most of my visit. I told my boyfriend I wanted to go to Edinburgh since it’s part of the UK and we didn’t have to apply for any other visas – and he said yes. We have booked through Easyjet and paid GBP 190 for our roundtrip ticket (already for the two of us) from Gatwick to Edinburgh. We stayed at Novotel Edinburgh Park Hotel and paid only GBP 110 for two nights (It was really cheap!!!) and the train was literally just outside the hotel and it was very easy to go to the city centre – this was the same train we took from the Airport going to the hotel.

When we arrived Edinburgh, it was raining again. And since it was winter when we visited Scotland, the weather was really really cold (a lot colder than London, actually).

IMG_1091

We arrived past 12 noon, so we checked in at the hotel first and had some rest then decided to go to the centre to explore the city a bit (just a really quick trip – as the rain just won’t stop pouring).

The next day, we went to Scotch Whiskey Experience (which my boyfriend totally enjoyed) – the tour costs GBP 15 per person. There wasn’t much queue buying the ticket so you don’t really have to purchase the tickets online.

We also availed the Edinburgh Bus Tour and paid GBP 22 per person for a 48 hour hop on – hop off. We basically just went around the city and decide which place we would like to visit and explore more.
We hopped off  at the Edinburgh castle but opted not to go inside anymore as there were a lot of people – also, the view from the outside was already good enough for us – we just enjoyed the scenery.

The trip was really short but I honestly think three days was enough – it was definitely one for the books. If I’ll have the opportunity to come back, I’ll definitely visit Loch Ness and the highlands!

 

 

Advertisements

Stonehenge, Bath and Salisbury (2016)

We have booked the tour through Golden Tours and paid GBP 54 per person, which was inclusive of a trip to Stonehenge, Bath and Salisbury. We woke up super early as we had to be at the pick up point / meeting place by 8AM (Golden Tours Victoria Visitor Centre).

I was quite worried with the weather as it was raining really hard during the day – but there’s nothing else we can do and I don’t think it’s still possible to rebook the tickets.

We first went to Stonehenge. It was packed with people (literally), and we couldn’t take decent pictures because of the heavy rain. The stones were also surrounded with barriers so no one can really come close to them – which I totally understand.

IMG_0704IMG_2289

Can you see from the pictures how wet we were? It was raining really hard and it so cold. But that’s okay, at least we were lucky to have some pictures without anyone on the background!

We were only there for two hours as the bus needed to get going to the next destination which was the Salisbury Cathedral.

Our last destination was the Bath – we chose not to go inside as according to the boyfriend there was nothing really much to see inside. So we just roamed around the place and took a lot of pictures.

The tour ended at 5 PM and we got back in London City at around 7-8 pm. It was a very tiring trip but I surely had fun!

Harry Potter – Warner Bros Studio Tour (2015)

Harry Potter will always remind me of my childhood, I was only 10 years old when it released its first movie: The Sorcerer’s Stone – and almost all of my classmates got addicted to it (some even memorised the movie lines)! I may not have read all of its books, I actually don’t remember finishing even one book  – but I never missed a Harry Potter movie in cinemas, so yes, I consider myself a fan and I told myself I just have to visit this when I was in London.

We booked our tickets through Golden Tours for GBP 66 per person (this also includes round trip transportation going to the studio from Baker Street).

IMG_2158

I got giddy and excited as soon as we arrived. We didn’t waste any time and started our tour as soon as possible. I even saw a lot of kids wearing cloaks – and it was just the most adorable thing ever.

IMG_1796IMG_1822IMG_1906Processed with VSCOcam with m5 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with m3 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with m5 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

IMG_2143

We spent a little more than 4 hours to tour the place, it was a little bit tiring but it just felt so magical to be here.

 

UK Visa for Filipinos

This is not a step by step procedure on how to apply (as I think everything you need to know is already available in the website: VFS global, on the other hand, guidance on the documents to provide can be found in the UK’s website: UK gov), rather, this post is more about my own experience and some tips I think will be helpful for those who plan to apply for the Standard Visitor Visa.

The first time I applied for the UK Visa was already one and a half years ago, but the process really didn’t change much since then (I am currently helping my friend who will visit me next month to get her UK Visa as well – yes, I can confirm that applying for Visa is still basically the same).

I applied for the UK Visa because I wanted to visit my then boyfriend (now my husband) while he was on an assignment in London (he is also a Filipino and had a Tier 2 ICT Visa).

  • I planned on visiting him from December 19, 2015 to January 9, 2016. You have to keep in mind that the earliest time you can apply for UK Visa three months before your the travel dates (therefore, if I am traveling on December 19, I can’t apply earlier than Sept 19). You should also take into consideration the Visa processing time – according to them, it can take up to 15 working days before you could get your visa back.
  • I wanted to make sure that I had all the necessary documents before I apply and fill out the application form, as early as third week of August, I already started gathering all the documents (it actually took me almost one month before I got all the required documents from the bank and my company).
  • On September 18, I finally decided it was the right time to register online. It took me four days to fill out the form and submit my application. I was very OC, so I ensured all the information I provided were correct. I submitted my application on the 22nd and had my appointment on the 29th.
  • On my appointment date, I came 2 hours earlier. However, you can only enter the building 15 minutes before the schedule. I came early and just stayed at the nearest restaurant where I can double check the documents I will be providing.
  • It took me an hour to submit the documents and had my biometrics taken. I also availed of their text message services for 100 pesos (but I think I only got 2 texts from them, which didn’t really help much as I also received notifications via email which is free of charge)
  • On October 7, 2015, I have received a text message and email notifying me that a decision has already been made about my application and that I can get my passport on the next day (total processing time for my application was 7 working days – but it usually differs depending on the volume of the applicants, when we applied in October 2016, we got our Tier 2 Visa after 12 working days).
  • On October 8, 2015, I went to VFS Global at 2 PM. It took me 30 minutes before I could get my passport back. I was seriously shaking while opening the sealed bag where they placed my passport!
  • I got my UK Visa which had multiple entries valid from October 7, 2015 to April 7, 2016.

Documents Submitted:

  1. Application Form
  2. Current and Old Passports
  3. Certificate of Employment (which includes my start date, position, salary, and that my leaves were approved)
  4. Bank Certificate
  5. Payslips for 6 months
  6. My Boyfriend’s Letter of Invite
  7. A photocopy of my Boyfriend’s UK Visa and Passport
  8. My Boyfriend’s Bank Certificate
  9. My Boyfriend’s Proof of Accommodation
  10. My Boyfriend’s Certificate of Employment
  11. My Mom’s Sponsorship Letter
  12. My Mom’s Certificate of Employment
  13. My Mom’s Bank Certificate

I also made sure I had two sets of the documents (original and copies), however, when I submitted the documents, they only asked for the originals (but just to avoid any hassles, I suggest you bring another set, just in case they ask for it).

I honestly think that getting a Visa was not that difficult and stressful! The most gruelling part for me was when I had to wait at most 15 working days before I got the result – but the preparation part could be a little bit exciting.

Just be honest with your application and make sure that the reason of visiting UK is consistent with the documents you provided – you also have to show that you are coming back to the Philippines (a good evidence is if you are currently working or if you have a business. But if you don’t have either, do not worry, as long as you can prove other evidence there’s still a chance of getting a visa), they are very sensible. I also think its plus points if you’ve travelled to different countries in the past (part of the form asks you which countries you’ve visited in the past).

Also, my friend who just recently applied for the UK Visa told me TLS in now accepting walk in applicants for an additional fee of PHP 2,000. So just in case you’re really in a hurry – you have another option.

Good luck!

IMG_0315