2 days in London

Old Jan 2nd, 2006, 05:42 AM
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"We have a 2 full day layover in London via Heathrow. What can we do with our time? Where should we stay and what about transporation? We have 3 children--16, 13, 8. We'd prefer to not have to rent a car but we are not totally opposed if the masses think this is the best bet. This is our first time in London."

Personally, I didn't think that the Tower was all that great. If you do go, get there at opening time to avoid the mobs. The BM is at the bottom of the must sees. See London, not a bunch of stuffy old relics. You are there to get a feeling for a new place that you've never been before. BM won't give you that. It's fine for people who have a lot of rtime and can see everyting else. It's so big that it would take your whole 2 days just to it, anyway.

Instead, I'd go for things are are fundamentally different than you can see at home. So I'd start with Westminster Abbey and houses of parliament. Nothing makes you feel more like you are in London than that. Take the "London Walks" tour of these areas. They are really terrific. Make sure to get your tour with Shaughan, an actor, satirist and sometimes vocalist.

Second, just walk around Bloomsbury, Picadilly and the like. Don't waste too much time in museums. Get the tourbook Access London which goes through London areas street by street and notes all the interesting minutae, like unusual speciality shops, etc. Then make up your own walking tour.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2006, 09:10 AM
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From schmidtrossi's description, it seems that the Rembrandt is near West Kensington. If we could have, I would have opted for that...

Re: what was said about museums, I agree that you do not want to spend a lot of time there, but it is worth popping in to see the highlights--where else are you going to see the Elgin Marbles, except in Greece? or the Assyrian sculptures, except in Iran or Iraq? Once these things are seen, they'll never be forgotten, and chances are the kids will see them in their history textbooks anyway. Then, they'll remember that they saw them and can start to understand why they were so odd looking or so big, etc.

Re: the Tower, it is a bit of a tourist trap, but the room full or armors is pretty cool....FWIW...
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Old Jan 2nd, 2006, 12:55 PM
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wow!Thank you all for your informative replies. I WON'T RENT A CAR! Whew! I think we'll get the family tube pass and definately the hop on hop off tour. I'm still researching the rest. This has been a big help
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Old Jan 2nd, 2006, 01:06 PM
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I'm seconding or thirding (?) the Tower recommendation. Your kids will be seeing photos and shots of it on TV for the rest of their lives, and it's rich in ancient and modern history (did you know it's last prisoner was Rudolf Hess?) It's also good for a range of ages and both genders: ravens for the youngsters, creepy atmosphere for those who like it, jewels, history for everyone...

I also think actually SEEING the Rosetta stone at the British Museum is valuable, and how often will you get a chance to see cat mummies -- not to mention the spectucular building itself?

As a quick aside, the British Library's John Ritblat gallery might be a dark-horse choice. It's free. Artistic types in your family might turn on to illuminated manuscripts. History buffs would like to see the Magna Carta, there are some Da Vinci sketches there, and handwritten John Lennon song lyrics, among dozens of other treasures. There's a good interactive computer system that lets you "turn pages" of these books and documents.

All of London's museums have good museum shops to satsify the shoppers among you.

Some of your choices will depend on the weather. Generally, worse weather means more museums. Better weather will get you strolling the streets.

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Old Jan 2nd, 2006, 01:09 PM
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No need to rent a car. Kids will love being able to figure out the tube stops easily. All these suggestions are great, but don't miss the street performers in Covent Garden. Youngest will enjoy Hamley's toys, and if they are video game junkies they will LOVE Funland at the Trocadero. Bring money.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2006, 01:39 PM
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Before you finally decide on how you're going to orient yourself to the city, please consider this:


p.s. the prices in the above article are obsolete, but the idea is the same: you can either pay Original Tours £63 for your family, or cover the same territory for free on your Travelcards.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2006, 09:30 AM
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Also, suprisingly my 2 teenage boys enjoyed the Globe tour. We all learned so much from the tourguide. They got a real sense of the city and what life was like back then They both have had to read and continue to read Schakespeare and experiences like these keep pulling it all together. I have also found that even though I research and have all sorts of books the kids really listen to and get so much more out of guides. I always pay for a guide. It always captures their attention, quadruples what they learn, allows for them to ask questions, and allows for us to see the highlights of museums. They could never tolerate a whole day in a museum.
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