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1 week trip to london, do's & don't bother's

1 week trip to london, do's & don't bother's

Aug 17th, 1998, 08:22 PM
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1 week trip to london, do's & don't bother's

My fiancee & I are going to London for 7 days & 7 nights. With such a limited amount of time (and money) we aren't sure what to see and what would be a waste. We would like some suggestions for lesser known destinations such as Avebury as apposed to Stonehenge. Also what is the easiest, coach or train passes for the week or point to point tickets purchased in London? Your suggestions will be greatly appreciated.
Aug 18th, 1998, 10:19 AM
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Hi Kevin. With only 7 days in London, I think you'll find you'll find it more economical to buy single train tickets and do day trips than a rail pass which I remember as being expensive if you didn't use it a lot. You might want to look into getting a tube (subway) pass if you think you'll be spending most of your time in London. My favorites in London are the Tower of London (yes its very touristy but gives an interesting history of London) and Hampton Court, a palace that is a short distance by train from London. You can also take day trips to Bath, Oxford, Cambridge, Leeds and I'm sure many other places. There's an awful lot to see in London itself-Westminster Abbey, Harrod's, Buckingham Palace etc.
Enjoy your trip!
Aug 18th, 1998, 10:35 AM
Paul Rabe
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I concur with the previous post; get a Four-Day Tube Pass, see as much of London as you think you can handle in four days, then buy "return-fare" tickets for day trips to sites outside the city. BTW, you could EASILY spend a week and never leave London itself!!

My personal favorites:
Museum of London (good place to start)
British Museum (absolute must-see)
Parliment (Tuesday evenings anyone can just walk up and watch the debates in the House of Commons)
Westminster Abbey
Saint Paul's Cathedral
Tower of London
Southwark Cathedral
Museum of Moving Image

Might want to skip: Madame Tussauds (quite good but rather expensive), Harrods
Aug 18th, 1998, 12:44 PM
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Here's a few more. The Queen's Mews at Buckingham Palace. Behind the Palace is where the stables & coaches are. The ones used in the parades (Princess Di's gold one for example). The stables & mews are only open a few hours a week, so check before you go. The Queen's Museum is there too. The Tower of London has a 700 yr old tradition--The Ceremony of the Keys. You must get passes in advance by writing away for them. Do not miss this! It is your one & only chance to be in the Tower, at 9:30 at night, with only about 25 or so other people. They strictly limit admittance and you must be on time. This event is FREE. I also would look into London Theater. Every bit as good as broadway and off broadway. You can get 2 for 1 tickets the day of the performance. Have fun
Aug 19th, 1998, 09:14 PM
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Have just returned from London 3 days ago - similar time, similarly budget minded. With a limited amount of time we decided to restrict ourselves to the south of England. We bought a 4-day South East Britrail Pass (cheaper than regular Britrail Pass) before leaving home (unable to purchase in UK). This proved extremely economical when we checked prices once there. We decided to base ourselves in London so that we didn't have to pack each morning and drag bags around with us. 1 day we traveled to Portsmouth then on to Isle of Wight (train pass covered the Isle also). 2nd day we took train to Bath, and 3rd day to the Cotswolds where we hired bikes for the day. 4th day we went to Brighton. We traveled early, breakfasting on the train to make the most of our days and returned home around 6-7pm each day. We would freshen up on our return and then pop around the corner to the local pub for great country-style dinners and then see a little of the local area on foot before retiring for the night. For sightseeing around London, we used the guided open-top bus tour (buses every 10 mins), hop-on, hop-off system valid for 24 hours. We did 2 loops one afternoon and 2 more loops the following morning. Looking back, what we liked about our trip was that we travelled free and unencumbered (no luggage) each day, our train travel was really cheap, and we got a great weekly rate at the hotel in London.

Hope you enjoy your trip!
Aug 20th, 1998, 11:21 AM
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Stay in London and do day trips. Time saving tip: Tower of London ticket can be bought in the Underground, allowing you to bypass the ticket line and cut at the head of the entrance line.
From the Tower we walked across Tower Bridge - got a sandwich down a side street and then went to the New Globe Theater. That is a must-see for anyone with even the slightest interst in the history of english (i.e. anglo-american) theater and literature. Terrific exhibit, great guides, wondrous theater. And going to a play is a good thing too. Most of the folks who work there are total enthusiasts. We were there when no Shakespeare was scheduled, so we saw Thomas Middleton's It's a Mad World, My Master - the second performance since the 17th century! Bawdy, outrageous and good. 5 UKpounds to be a groundling. Lean against the stage (at your own risk) or against the back rails - or bring pillow or scarf and just sit on the ground.
Another thing no one mentioned was Greenwich. This is a really great trip. Takes about an hour by boat from the Westminster piers. You can just turn right around and come back - the views of London from the river alone are worth the trip - and viewing London from the River is a very old and autentic view. But hike yourself up to the Old Royal Observatory and stand on the Greenwich line of zero-longitude. Also, the historic exhibits, including the Harrison clocks developed to tell longitude and time reliably at sea is wonderful. Greenwich itself, while touristy, is nice. There are two other museums at Greenwich - the Queen's House by Inigo Jones (the first and really only Renaissance architect in England ) which is heavily restored, but intersting, and the Royal Naval College Museum Ithink it is. Missed that.
Finally - besides the British Museum, which is incredible, think of going to the new British Museum Library at Kings Cross. The building is kind of hostile post-modern on the outside, but the exhibits are incredible - documents key to the concept of modern democracy like the Magna Carta. Examples of original hand written scores by major composers across half a dozen centuries (with recorded samples of their work). Magnificent examples of book illumination from throughout the middle ages and early Renaissance. One of the remaining Gutenberg Bibles. Examples of illustrated scrolls, which pre-date the book in its codex form as we know it. It is an amazing and beautiful set of exhibits - and not just for the expert. It's for anyone. No charge. For cyber-nuts, there is a small room with four computers where you can electronically turn the pages of illuminated manuscripts or da Vinci's notebook. A fascinating project that is just beginning.

Side trips: for cathedral watching, consider Salisbury, Canterbury, and new-to-me this trip, Winchester. The latter was intriguing. Salisbury is the jumping off spot for Stonehenge, so be sure not to miss the Cathedral. I think you asked about Avebury - it was on our list, but we ran out of time. Much less developed and crowded than Stonehenge, without a doubt.

Oxford: years ago you could wander around, in and out of the colleges and libraries. No more. Too many people. Everyone charges fees, and some things are closed , period, so that scholars can actually study. We didn't plan for all this, so we only had time for a short tour of the buildings attached to the Bodleian. I would highly recommend the longer historic tours offered by various groups - there was a big sign in front of Trinity College, next to Blackwells bookstore. There was also a limited person tour of the Bodleian which was much more extensive. A couple of these should do the trick. I haven't checked, but there may be good website info. Oxford is quite wonderful. If you are into books, keep a grip on your credit cards as you wander past the bookstores. Also be sure to go to the Ashmolean Museum. It is a historic institution in its own right, and rather intriguing in its mix of collections. Good cafe in the basement.

Aug 20th, 1998, 11:23 AM
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Addendum to the earlier reply. Save a little money. If you have a underground pass (including zones 3 &4), only go one way by boat to Greenwich. Take the Docklands light rail back and connect with the underground to your stop. The lightrail trip through Docklands is kind of intersting, actually. You reach the Docklands stop by walking through a tube under the Thames - the entrance is right by the Greenwich piers.
Aug 20th, 1998, 02:17 PM
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If you wnt to see a great castle with lots to look at and enjoy, take a bus day trip from hotel to Warwick Castle -this tour also included Stratford -upon- Avon ( a very short distance away), and Oxford. There was really not much time to see it all, but I had already been there a few years earlier, so it was fine. I don't know about a train to Warwick; perhaps someone else does...really, it's fun; you should see it...
Aug 20th, 1998, 05:42 PM
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Kevin; You have gotten excellent suggestions and I would only like to add a stop to the British Library. I was pleasantly surprised at the incredible collection of historical documents they have; handwritten notes from Galileo, Isaac Newton, Darwin, Michaelangelo; the original Magna Carta, handwritten original Alice in Wonderland, John Lennon's handwritten lyrics of many Beatle songs, etc, etc, etc....t's a hoot!
Aug 21st, 1998, 03:24 AM
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My daughter and I spent 2 weeks in England in June, with 7 days of it in London. I would agree with the great suggestions already posted. Our highlights were the guided tour of Westminster Abbey (well worth the price and time), an afternoon session in the House of Commons, and the Tower of London. We also spent 7 days on the road, a different town each night. We visited both Stonehenge and Avebury. We had expected to be disappointed with Stonehenge, based on opinions in this forum, but instead were awed at the magnitude of the stones and the mystery of its history. Avebury, on the other hand, was a bunch of much smaller stones with a highway and village built within it. Very disappointing. Warwick was a lot of fun, as was Stratford-upon-Avon. The Royal Shakespeare Theatre was incredible. Enjoy!
Aug 24th, 1998, 04:05 AM
Parrot Mom
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Hi-Warwick Castle wAs the highlight of our trip several years ago. It has recently undergone improvements (?). We think we have a picture of a ghost on our film!! Stratford on Avon, very touristy--Mised Bath, but will go there next time. First take a trip on double decker bus for an oversight--Westminster Abbey and St. Pauls--don't overload--and of course in the evening you must go to theatre--very intimate and fun...Going on a theatre trip in Novembetr again--Enjoy
Aug 24th, 1998, 04:50 AM
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Aug 24th, 1998, 06:26 AM
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For something to do at night, you could try some of Londonwalks Ghost walks. They are actually quite fun, and takes you down alleys and streets which you would probably not find on your own.
Aug 25th, 1998, 05:35 AM
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Whatever you do don't miss the National Gallery or the Tate. The collections are truly incredible and entry, except to any special exhibits, is free!
Aug 25th, 1998, 05:45 PM
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No one mentioned the Churchill War Cabinet Rooms-- one of the highlights of our recent visit to London. These are the actual restored rooms where Churchill planned the War and had a hotline to the White House.
Walk through one of the parks like Kensington Gardens or St. James. Usually there are concerts in the park on Sunday afternoons. Take the boat ride down the Thames for the view and *do* bring your camera. Go see the "Mousetrap" Agatha Christie mystery play. It likes seeing the BBC live. See the art at the National Gallery & the Tate. The Tate is off the beaten path a bit, whereas the National Gallery is on Trafalgar Square. Do pick up a copy of A-Z London map -- a small book that lists all the museum times, and other useful info. BTW, I liked Cambridge better than Oxford. We spent a week in both for study reasons. Cam was smaller, quainter, and the Fitzwilliam Museum is *better* IMO than the Ashmolean in Oxford. Also go punting on the Cam! Have fun!
Aug 26th, 1998, 10:42 AM
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Just returned from 8 night London stay. Did lots, missed more. There's no way to do it all! Most unique experience was seeing a play at the Globe Theatre. We saw It's a mad world my masters (mentioned above) and it was terrific. We splurged for seats and even though they were high up, we could see and hear perfectly. Unlike any other theater experience I've ever had.

I did two walking tours...Jack the Ripper was very well done and took us into areas we never would have found or wanted to go to alone. Took the Sunday am walking tour of Hampstead (we were staying there and I wanted more info on "my" neighborhood) which was also great, but ran 45 min. over the two hour designated time...with my family waiting for me it was not a good thing! The list of walking tours was so impressive that I'd do more on anothere trip.

We went to Harrods and I expected to be less than impressed (reading this forum for too long?) but was delighted instead. The food halls were great, the service was first rate even though we were obviously tourists. We ended up buying foods in the bakery and heading to Hyde park to eat our picnic. My daughter returned the next day to see the floors above the first two and loved it. She even found the pet dept. She was accompanied by a friend who was born and raised in London, but had never been to Harrods! Even he had a good time.

Most fun for one day...we took the Eurostar train to Paris! Booked a cheap one day return ticket, rode over in three hours, spent 8 hours walking from end to end of the city (I'd been there before so knew where to go) and caught the next-to-last train back to London. Home by 10:30pm. We booked the morning before right at Waterloo Station. A real tale of two cities!

Have a great trip and just do what you can...you can't do everything!
Aug 26th, 1998, 12:17 PM
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At which train station in Paris does the Eurostar from London arrive? Thanks. Also do you remember the approximate cost in dollars?

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