I decided to take the train from Colchester to London for the day on a Saturday to see some friends. The entire weekend is usually off peak, so it's much cheaper than travelling on the weekdays. I picked up an anytime off peak return ticket with a Network Railcard for around £18.70 which saved me some money. I make a few journeys around the east of England a year so the £30 railcard cost basically pays itself off after 3 or 4 train journeys.
I purchased my ticket using the Trainline app which I always use to check train times when I travel. They now have a really cool feature where you can download mobile tickets to your app without having to print anything off which is active across most of the Eastern UK trains.
I rode my bike to Colchester Station as I live fairly close by. They have a big bike lockup area on the platform 4/5 side next to the entrance of the station. The train trip from Colchester to London took about 45 minutes. The train itself was a relatively old Greater Anglia train, but it wasn't too busy so I got a seat.
As you leave Colchester you pass the large golf course on the left hand side. About 20 minutes later you'll pull into the city of Chelmsford and pass along the impressive viaduct which offers a great view over the city park on both sides of the train.
You then reach the countryside, where you'll find a great view of the green fields from the left side of the train, whilst passing through Ingatestone and Shenfield along the way. As you reach the suburbs of London, the green fields are replaced with the concrete jungle. Just 10 minutes out from London Liverpool Street as you pull out of Stratford Station, get yourself to the right hand side of the train to see the Olympic Stadium and other famous landmarks in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park site including the Aquatic Centre, ArcellorMittal Orbit viewing platform and the big Westfield shopping centre.
Soon after, I arrived at London Liverpool Street Station. I came into London a bit earlier to do a spot of shopping, so getting to the world famous Oxford Street was incredibly easy by jumping on the London Underground's Central Line (the red one) at Liverpool Street and heading west only a few stops to Oxford Circus Station. I wandered along Oxford Street checking out the hundreds of high street shops and department stores all in one place, then along the luxurious Regent Street, then on to meet my friends at a great bar in Soho where we settled down to eat and drink the day away before heading back to Colchester on the train in the evening.
Michael's top tip:
If you're into watching the countryside go buy or want to see the fountains in the lake at Chelmsford's Central Park, grab a seat on the left towards London. If you want a great view of the Olympic stadium just past Stratford, sit on the right side of the train.