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Trip Report London in 9 days

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I'm sharing my trip to help others in their planning. We were in London for 9 days but our homebase is really Maidenhead, a residential area 40 minutes by train to London Paddington as we stayed with a friend. It usually took us 2 hrs to get to a monument.

Day 1 Arrival, took a cab to Maidenhead as Heathrow Terminal is just 25 min away. Fast and easy. Took an hr to clear immigration and grab our luggages, it was 7am by the time we reach Maidenhead. Rested and chatted a bit and left for Windsor Castle; arrived around 930. Ate breakfeast at Costa and entry into Windsor at about 1030. Good audioguide, wandered on our own, visiting the staterooms, dollhouse, gallery and chapel. We left around 3pm and walked to Eton. The boys ate still on vacation so nothing really going on at Eton college. Ate fish and chips in front of the pier where you feed the swans and do boat trips. Again not much feeding or activity ongoing. At 5 we left and went back as jetlag was starting to hit. Napped a bit and went out for dinner with friends. Slept at around midnight.

Day 2, Tower of London, an incident occured to our train and instead of arriving about noon in Paddington, we arrived around 100. Too excited, rushed on the tubes and got on the wrong train. Another 30 mins spent transferring and somehow the circle line was constantly losing power so we werent moving for another 15 mins. This has got to be our worst day. We were hungry by the time we reached Tower of London at 2pm. Had to eat lunch; saw something familiar (KFC) and went for it. It was close to 330 when we entered the Tower. Was able to use the 2for1 deql as we had rail travelcards. Skip the beefeater tour which is a real shame and went steaight to the crown jewels.A bit of a crowd but not a long line. Was able to ride the conveyor belt twive to see the fronyy and the back of the crowns. Visited the White Tower next, and lastly another tower which talked about murder and left by 5pm. We thought it was spring and did not wear sufficient layera of clothing so we were too cold to walk towards the bridge to take pictures promising ourselves we'll visit again which we didnt get a chance to. Plus it started to rain so waking was not really something we wanted to do. Took the tibe to Oxford Circus in search for gloves and bonnet. DH was able to purchase. Took a bus for a change in scenery.and almost got lost looking for the paddingtom rail station entrance as the obvious entrance was closed due to easter repairs. It was 830 by the time we reached Paddington rail station. Ate at Yo sushi! A japanese resto chain which I felt was too expensive for the taste of the food. Too generic, too bland. Wouldnt recommend this resto. Headed back and once we finish chatting it was close to midnight. Slept at about 1 am.

Day 3 Oxford, slept in a bit and left for Oxford almost noon. My friend kindly drove us and it took an hour to reach Oxford. It was snowing with a bit of rain. First stop Eagle and Child Pub as recommended by my friend. Good food and ambiance. Very preppy. Most of the writers like Lewis hanged out here. Students were mostly having their meals here. It was 3 pm by the time we finish lunch. Had a bit of difficuly looking for parking near the colleges. Finally parked near Keble College, orange and white building. Nice facade. We walked randomly without any college in mind. Will research and post again so I get the names right.

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    Switsmyle, thanks for posting. I never tire of hearing about the experiences of others visiting London. Sorry about your confusion of the Tube.

    I find public transportation confusing in Europe (although others would disagree) probably because we use it so seldom where I live near Boston. :)

    Hope you continue to enjoy your trip…

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    My friend lost our pictures in Oxford due to defective memory card. Should have copied the pictures immediately after the trip but didn't thought this would happen. That day has to be the coldest day in spring. It must have been minus 2 or 3. We were freezing so we didn't really visit many sites. Just walked quickly as most sites closed at 5 pm due to the weather. My friend quickly drove us to Bicester for some shopping and we get to closed Prada as we were the last customers for the day. In their rush to send us out the door, I noticed to my dismay when I got home that the security tag was not removed! If I passed it thru airport security they might think I stole the bag. Spent the next morning calling the ourlet and prada stores t

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    And finally someone said to just bring it to any Prada store and they'll remove it. Just bring the receipt/proof of purchase. What a relief. We aye lunch at about 1pm. DAY 4 was spent in London Mayfair. Went to Prada to have the tag remove. Wandered a bit inside LV and after an hour, a new Neverfull went home with me. DH was not pleased at all without having consulted him. VISA did is havoc. It was really enjoyable wandering the streets of London on a Sunday as the streets were empty and it was surprisingly quiet. We walked across Green Park to visit the Queen in Buckingham Palace. It was closed to 5 when we get there and of course it was closed. All we were able to see were the gates and the monument across. A slow day for site seeing today. Ate lunch in one of the pubs and wer called it a day.

    DAY 5 Westminster Abbey and Churchill Museum
    Reached London around 11 am as usual with the comute taking about 2 hrs. We visited Westminster Abbey and walked around the area taking photos of Big Ben and the London Eye as our background. Unfortunately there was a line to to enter the Abbey and again it was freezing cold. It took us an hour to get in. Another 2 hours to finish walking inside following the headset tour. We were hungry by the time we finish and the cafe inside was priced expensive and didn't have many selection so we opted to go out to look for a pub. Luckily we found one near the area, Red Lion Pub, the usual fish and chips and I had beef pie - traditional pub meals and we were satisfied with the price. Took a short walk to Churchill museum only to find out there's another line. Another 30 min of waiting and it was almost 430 when we got in. Last admission is 5 and closing at 6. The museum is highly recommended. I wish we had more time. Another hour would suffice. Sadly we didn't get to enjoy all the displays as we had to rush as the museum was closing. At 6 we were shown to the doors. 2 for 1 tickets was accepted. We really did enjoy great savings by being mindful to use them. Took a bus to Trafalgar square and took some photos then it was off to Apollo Victoria Theater for Wicked. Tickets were so worth thanks to theatermonkeys.com We spent a fraction and enjoyed the same experience. My seat had an obstructed view but DH had good seats. Great way to end the night. Bought some sandwiches before boarding the train back home. Another 2 hours and it was midnight by the time we got home.

    DAY 6 St Pauls and Brirish Museum
    Took the bus to St Paul's Cathedral. No line this time maybe because it was about 1 when we got in. 2 for 1 tickets accepted. However stairs to the top most part of the Cathedral were undergoing repair and won't be open for a few more days. I recommend the Cathedral over the Westminster Abbey if you had to choose just 1 site to visit. The dome is impressive. We climb a steep stairs to reach a sitting area near the dome where you can marvel the grandeur of it. Must have spent 15 min just looking at the paintings of the dome. Too crowded so want able to test the whispering technique where you stand on the other side, whisper and the person on the other side can hear it. No photos allowed both in the Cathedral and the Abbey. Took the bus again to the British Museum and again the site was close to closing. We only had about an hour to visit this place. Priorities were in order. We visited the Elgin marbles, if we read up we would have probably appreciated the marbles more. Visited the Rosetta Stone. Again I know they are of cultural importance but really it is a stone. So we spent more time fighting the crowds to get a closer look than actually looking at it. Visited the mummies ( didn't see Cleopatra's) and time was up. Will return someday for the other treasures we weren't able to see. Went to the London Eye with the hopes of riding a capsule. No luck. Lines are super long. Meet a friend and just had dinner near the area. Tom the train home and it was almost midnight when we got back.

    DAY 7 BATH
    For once, walked up earlier as we had to catch a train. We booked train tickets to bath before we left for London. We were in Barh by1030 and was able to check in at Brocks Guesthouse by 11ish. We bought the hop on hop off bus tickets due to DH insistence. He got tired of us getting lost in London. We used the hop on hop off bus as a lift to our hotel as it stops ar Royal Crescent which is about 2 min walk downhill to the hotel. Good decision as it was about 15 min walk from the Abbey Church. We sat on the bus and completed the 2 routes and concluded Bath is a small town with all the sites near the Abbey. At 2 pm we joined the Mayor of Bath honorary guide tour and our tour guide Judy was such a wealth of knowledge. It was again a freezing day and it was snowing a bit but the tour was worth because is free and you get to learn the history of Bath and Jane Austen. We finish the type around 4pm. Decided against going to Thermae Spa and had dinner instead at Cafe Rouge. So so food spent about GBP25 which is about right. Pub meals cost about GBP10 per person without drinks. Decided to end the day early as it was to cold for us to walk outside.

    DAY 8 Stonehenge Tour
    We joined the MadMax tour and we had to walked to the Abbey to the meeting place as the hop on hop off was still not operational at 8 am. Had some misunderstanding with the Guesthouse about breakfast but it was all sorted out. My 1st time to try full English breakfast. They offer cereals, yogurts and bread as well. We arrived in time for the tour and we headed off to Stonehenge when the crowds were still thin, visited Aveburry, had lunch and visited Lacock and Castle Combe where period films are shot. I guess its either you find the stones mysterious and was glad i visited it. Some Harry Potter scene were shot in Lavovk and Cqstle Combe but I was not really a fan. We finish the tour around 430pm and were back in Bath. I feel money and time well spent by joining this tour. Otherwise on our own it would have been a nightmare getting to these places by public transportation. Made some last minute shopping at Watrose for gifts to bring back home and we were back on the train heading back home. It was a long weekend ahead so the train was full of peiple with overnight bags. We met our friend for dinner and went back to pack. Our friend was leaving for Monaco and we were packing as tomorrow is our flight back to our home country.

    DAY 9
    We could have made some last minute site seeing if we were in the city but since it was 2 hours to London we didn't want to stressed ourselves even if flight is not until 640pm. We woke up late, just had late lunch and was off to the airport vowing we will surely return as we missed a lot of sites.

    Realization:
    1) We saved on hotel expenses but in return we had less time to visit sites due to travel time
    2) We could have visited 2 to 3 sites at most based on our itinerary as we had lots of down time such as Sunday, we just visited Buckingham Palace and that took 30 min at most and LV is about an hour (a girl has to shop). We probably could have squeeze in the Victoria and Albert Museum or went to Hampton Court Palace (but weather was not nice) or Harrods if we had an early start.

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