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Trip Report Just returned from UK

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I just got back home and want to thank the members of this forum for all their helpful advice. For any other first timers to the UK, here are a few of the things I REALLY found helpful:
- You cannot see "everything". Have a plan for the most important things for YOU. If you don't know what is important for you, go back and do some research or take a coach tour for an overview.
- Don't try to pack too much into a trip. We stayed in London, Edinburgh and Conwy for several days each and that was great. I had one big thing every day, then filled in with smaller things. For example: British Museum- spent 5 hours there, also that day, 2 hours at the British Library. I know some people would do more stuff, but this suited me. It was the days driving through Scotland and trying to get to Wales that were the problem because...
- Everything is much farther away than you think! As posters here say over and over, don't pay attention the the times on Rick Steves' map or even the AA. It will take twice as long as you think to get places, and we never got stuck behind a slow lorry!
- Speaking of the AA Route Planner, it was a life saver several times!
- You can't pull over to take pictures in most of the places where you would really like to do so.
- Get to your chosen attraction when it opens in the morning. This is absolutely the best way to see things. We were about the only folks at the Tower of London for the first 30 minutes, but when we were leaving there were huge lines to get in the various buildings.
- Get the verger tour of Westminster Abbey! I think we may have lucked out, but we were in the first group to enter and got on the first tour with no reservations. It was incredibly full of information.
- Buy the guide book rather than using the audio tour. This may just be me, but the audio tour seemed a very passive method of learning about a museum/castle/stone circle/church. If you have some background (read up on what you are going to see) then you can read the guide book and figure out most of the details. We had a great deal of fun trying to recreate Conwy Castle with the guide book and signs. Again, this is a more time consuming method, but I felt I understood how everything worked.
- Some of the sights are interpreted better than others. Conwy was better than Caernarfon, for example. Old Sarum was very difficult to "read". Stonehenge had interpreters standing around. We learned about the latest research into the from one of them.
- Use the Oyster pay-as-you-go card in London! The bus and Tube system is easy to negotiate. The only problem was trying to get our deposit back. We were in a long line with only one window open, finally gave up. Never figured out the VAT refund either. We decided these were the main way the UK balances its budget!
-You don't need a converter, you just need an adaptor. It plugs into the three pronged socket and has a universal receptor. (P.S. Don't bring hair dryers, irons, etc. Everyplace will have them.)
- Free, fast wi-fi was the rule in B &Bs all over.In fact, only the overpriced Heathrow Hilton charged for it!!!
- The Tourist Information spots worked great in Scotland, not so hot in England. Again, maybe this was just me. Because of this forum, we were careful to stop somewhere before 4:30. In Scotland, they offered to make reservations anywhere in the country, but we never knew where we would be the next day.
- The Museum of Scotland was terrific for ancient history, but is laid out in a strange way. Very helpful docents!
- They speak Welsh in Caernarfon,but not Conwy. I did get my Grand Slam Welsh Rugby shirt- Diolch!
- The BBC's History of the World in 100 Objects podcast was wonderful background for the British Museum as well as history in general.

Just a couple of other observations: We loved Speyside and all of North Wales. (To Indy Dad- Portmeirion was terrific for this Prisoner fan!) Loved the Clava Cairn, Avebury and Stonehenge. Drove all over looking for the Tomnaverie stone circle and never found it. We did stumble on the Culsh Souterrain and the Pictish stones at Inveravon. These were highlights for me! Next time, I will go to Kilmartin Glen.

Again, thanks to all the "regulars" here!

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