1st U.K. traveler seeks travel tips

Jan 18th, 2000, 07:06 PM
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1st U.K. traveler seeks travel tips

I am looking forward to realizing my life's dream....to travel to England,
Scotland and Ireland! I have never been overseas and would greatly appreciate any advice anyone could supply. I want to plan my trip well, from beginning to end, and need some help planning for those unanticipated "Gotcha's!" (For example, I recently read that I would need to purchase a converter/adapter to connect to my curling iron) What other situations might I encounter overseas which I take for granted here in the states?

Thanks for any help you can give!
Jan 19th, 2000, 04:44 AM
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When are you coming, how long for, have you decided in which order you will visting these countries, and if not, what will instruct your decision; what are you interested in- museum? landscape?; how will you travel? Information will flow thereafter!!
Jan 19th, 2000, 04:48 AM
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Hi Corrie
In addition to wonderful information on the places you want to visit, I think you might also like some of the general travel tips and useful items to take with you that have appeared on this forum, items like converters and plug adapters, umbrellas, etc.
Try doing a Search on this forum on
Travel Tips or Packing and see what you find.

For more travel suggestions, follow Sheila's advice and narrow your interests down a bit, especially how long you will have, when you want to travel, budget considerations, and what interests you.
Jan 19th, 2000, 11:55 AM
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Corrie: First safety tip, be sure to look at the correct direction when crossing streets. Usually there is a printed reminder by the curb saying, Look right or look left. This could save your life. Second, ask, visit, or call the British Tourist Office near your city. Ask them to send you "stuff" and then saturate yourself with info. Do the touristy things first, as they will become memorable. Your request is very broad so you willneed to narrow it down. At any rate, you are in for a grand treat!! And be sure to have secret compartments for your valuables on your body, not so much in your purse. Cheerio
Jan 19th, 2000, 07:59 PM
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Sheila, Elaine & Thomas: Thanks for taking time to reply!

Here's more specific info on my trip:

*Am travelling with a educational tour company (not to mention 12 high school students.) As I understand, we will have a city tour in each city: Dublin, Edinburgh, London, Oxford.
*In Dublin 24 Mar-27 Mar; sights offered (on tour I think) -Christ Church Cathedral
-Custom House
-O'Connell Street
-Trinity College
-Grafton Street
-St. Stephen's Green
>>>Optional>>> Dublin Castle
National Museum

*In Edinburgh 27 Mar-29 Mar
(tour sites)
-Charlotte Square
-Princess Street Gardens
-St. Giles Cathedral
-The Royal Mile
-Huntly House
>>>Optional>>> Edinburgh Castle
Royal Museum
People's Story
Camera Obscurra
Scottish banquet

*In London, 29 Mar-1 Apr
-Big Ben
-Buckingham Palace
-Houses of Parliament
-Westminster Abbey
-Piccadilly Circus
-Tower Bridge
-Hyde Park
-excursion to Oxford
>>>Optional>>> Tower of London
evening theatre

I'm sure this is more than you wanted to know...But YOU asked!
The plan is to take a city tour in each city, then spend additional free time exploring on own.

I am a romantic at heart and LOVE history, so I see myself more interested in the past than the present. This affection will most likely drive my sightseeing.

Again, thanks for your help. I really like this f
Jan 20th, 2000, 03:16 AM
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Hi Corrie, you will need a converteradapter for you curling iron (and any other electrical items you take) as an alternative, my wife bought a little cordles curling iron that uses a small cartridge of butaine (sp) (I think it's butaine) to heat, seems to work well and it's inexpensive $15 or so and you can buy replacement cartridges (should be able to find it at local drug store).

As for your trip, sounds great. When in London you may want to take some of the walking tours offered by London Walks (web site http://london.walks.com/)they have many historical walks and their tour guides are excellent. You may want to go to the Ceremony of the Keys (do a search of this site for details of how to get tickets). I also recommend the Cabinet War Rooms and the Imperial War Museum.

There is a lot to do and see in London and you will get a great deal of help and advise from all the Fodorites.

Hope this helsp and happy travels!!


Jan 20th, 2000, 04:46 AM
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Hi Corrie
My experience, and the experience of many others, is that heat-making
appliances like curling irons and many hairdryers just don't perform well
when the current is passed through a converter. I had one melt on me once!
Check to see if your hotels provide hairdryers. The butane curling iron is a good suggestion, but find out in advance if it should be in your checked or carry on luggage.
Also, there are strict weight limits on carryons on overseas flights, in addition to the size limits. Check in advance with your airline.

If you would like me to send you my London sightseeing notes, email me and I'll be happy to. It includes a little practical info on converters.
Good luck.
Jan 20th, 2000, 04:15 PM
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to the top
Jan 21st, 2000, 02:15 PM
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This has all been here before, but maybe it will help if all in one place.

Edinburgh itself is a mixture of a wonderful late mediaeval city with a planned Georgian New Town. The Castle is a must, but a brisk hike up Arthur's seat (a hill in the centre of the town above Holyrood Palace) will give you magnificent views out over the whole of east central Scotland. The Forth Rail bridge is worth driving past. The estuary of the Forth widens to superb beaches (with wonderful links golf courses behind them ) and in Fife you have St Andrew's, home of golf (the beach where they filmed the opening sequences of Chariots of Fire?). To get there you go past Loch Leven where Mary Queen of Scots was kept imprisoned on one of the islands.

The Royal yacht Britannia is berthed at Leith, Edinburgh's port, and can be visited by the public, and the new Museum of Scotland in the centre of the City is pretty good, for the architecture as well as the exhibits.

It's also a great shopping city.

To the south you are about an hour's drive from the Borders; lovely rolling hills and some lovely stately mansions including Abbotsford which was owned by Sir Walter Scott- whose memorial is in the middle of Edinburgh's main shopping street, and which can be climbed for the view over the gardens and up to the Castle.

Further north there are Perth and Stirling, and the foothills of the big hills (big by British standards, that is)

Mary Kings Close is a street which, in the middle ages, was on ground level but when the great plague came to visit Scotland (and Edinburgh in particular) it hit the place hard. The worst section of the city was right in the heart of the 'old town', where the present City Chambers are nowadays. This street was known as Mary Kings Close (after an advocate’s daughter so the story goes) and the local authorities, the kind beings that they are, decided to seal the both entrances of the street up with everyone still inside. This street was rediscovered many years later and now you can take a tour down there. WARNING - they tell you that because of the many people sealed alive down there that there are ghost aplenty. It may be true - I went down a couple of years ago and it was a very, very chilly experience. Tours can be arranged from the Royal Mile

The two best places in Edinburgh for folk music are 2 pubs (surprise!) One is the Tron and the other is Sandy Bell's. Sandy Bell's also used to produce a news-sheet "Sandy Bell's Broadsheet" and I think they still do, which lists all the folky stuff going on all over Scotland.
As far as Edinburgh is concerned, I can think of another pub which houses traditional/folk music. It's the Ensign Ewart which is situated near the entrance to the Castle - can't miss it.

Arthur's Seat IS a magnificent climb and, unless it is raining, well worth it for the views. It is a great openspace in the city. The approx. 1/2 mile hike provides a commanding view of the city, castle, sea, and sorrounding countryside.
Another possibility is to take your car up to the northwestern suburbs. In Davidson's Mains there is a baronial (i.e., circa 1895 but looking very medieval) house called Lauriston Castle. The tours are great, as this "castle" has secret passageways, a library bookshelf that hides a secret door, etc. From Davidson's Mains it is a very short (7-8 minutes)drive to Cramond, which has a yachtsman's harbor, the mouth of the River Almond, a medieval church (Cramond Kirk) and the remains (in the churchyard!) of Rome's northernmost garrison fort.

Things to see
The New Town
The Royal Mile
The Castle
Valvona and Crolla
Greyfriars Bobby
The Meadows
Dean village
the Scott Monument
Calton Hill
Arthur's Seat
Hollyrood- palace and Park
The New parliament
The Museum of Childhood
Cafe Vittoria
St Giles Cathedral
Parliament House
Make sure you visit the National Museum of Scotland (Chambers St) in Edinburgh. It just opened and is incredible.
As for places to not miss, don't miss the city of Edinburgh. There is so much to see and do. I enjoy the Palace of Holyrood, Edinburgh Castle, Mary Kings Close, Georgian House, Gladstone’s Land, St Giles Cathedral, and the Scott Monument. Plus there are great restaurants, pubs, gardens and parks. My favorite restaurant is The Marque. It is on Causewayside and the food is fantastic. The prices were quite reasonable considering the level of cuisine (about $35.00 per person including dessert). If it's atmosphere you like try The Witchery. The prices are a little steep, but the food is good and it's right beside the castle. (as far as atmosphere, the name says it all)

There is a visitor's gallery at the Scottish parliament and you can get tickets from (would you believe) the ticket office! There is no dress code.

We had dinner at Breck's Pub on Rose Street and I believe Princes St. Best meal we had in the UK our whole trip. Breck's is easy to find it has mounds of flowers all over the building.

For a truly memorable dining experience, go to the George. It is a wonderful room and the food is exquisite. Don't miss it!

We happened upon a wonderful restaurant called Stac Poly. The staff was wonderful and lots of fun and made my daughter's birthday very special. Highly recommend you have dinner there one night.

If there's anything in particular you would like to know about, please let me know.

Jan 21st, 2000, 07:55 PM
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Sheila: WOW!! That's SOME fabulous reply. I appreciate all of the great info. I'll be sure to print it out and use it as a guide....if, that is, we actually get to go to Edinburgh. As of today, our trip coordinator is trying to change our itinerary, dropping Edinburgh and adding Paris. I AM HEARTBROKEN! His reasoning is that "Edinburgh is miserable in March." He believes that we will not enjoy the trip due to the cold, wet weather.

I know everyone is supposed to love Paris, but as I've already mentioned, I am in love with the mysticism of medieval life and times. Besides, I'm a little intimidated by a place so reknowned for its rude treatment and unfriendly reception of tourists. What do you think?

Your post had some of the MOST wonderful suggestions, seeming to perfectly address my favorite attraction: castles. You know, I think I may just have to put up a fight for Edinburgh!

Thanks for your time and advice. My excitement about this trip grows with each new post I read!
Jan 22nd, 2000, 02:45 PM
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Hi ya Corrie,
Your tour sounds great but the Dublin sight seeing tour is a little short on good things to see. You will be seeing mainly shopping streets - O'Connell and Grafton street. It looks like your educational company could be skipping on costs. Get them to add the Guinness brewery and the riters Musuem - this last one would be excellent for your students as it is a tour of Ireland's most famous writers. The National Museum is also worth a visit and it is free (as is the Natural History Museum). If you students have Irish blood then it might be worthwile having them do some background reseach before they travel and then they could visit the National Genealogy Museum just down the road from the National Museum. What else are you going to visit in Dublin and Ireland ? Post and I can give my 2 cents worth. Newgrange and the Boyne Valley tour should be on your list, or Lough Crew instead of Newgrange, some traditional Irish music and dancing too and some of the ancient monastries (Glendalough in the Wicklow mountains). It might not be a bad idea to take a day trip to Belfast or Derry - good tours of the city etc and very topical. All is quiet in the North at present and it should stay that way. Avoid Galway around this time as it is immediately after St. Patrick's Day and both Galway and Dublin will be packed with tourists. The 17th March (St. Patrick's Day) is the kick-off for the tourist season.

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