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2 days in London - what can I squeeze in?

2 days in London - what can I squeeze in?

Old Aug 2nd, 2008, 10:25 AM
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2 days in London - what can I squeeze in?

Hi all, I'm taking a Cosmos tour (I know please be kind)of Europe - Oct 1-19, 2008. I'm a 39 yr. old woman traveling alone, my first ever trip abroad. and the first two days of the tour start in London where I have an open intinerary.

My question is what can I squeeze in? I arrive at 7:05 at Heathrow on Thursday, Oct 1 and leave by bus at some ungodly hour on Sat. Oct. 3rd. Staying at Thistle Euston, Cardington Street across from Euston Station.

Things I want to see:
1. British Museum (British Library)
2. Tower of London
3. Westminster Abbey
4. St. Paul's Cathedral
5. See Houses of Parliament and Big Ben
6. Trafalgar Square
7. National Gallery
8. Play at the Globe (Timon of Athens on Fri. if possible)

I want to eat at North Sea Fish. I am slightly nervous to take the Tube and want to be above ground to see as much of London as I can. Thinking bus and maybe a taxi or two. Looking at eating cheap - grabbing a sandwich somewhere.

Tell me what you think - I beg of you to be kind to a first timer if
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Old Aug 2nd, 2008, 10:32 AM
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Hello there. I travelled to London by myself for the first time too. Let me see if I can help!

Ok, I am assuming you are coming from N America, so the first day you may be jetlagged. I would assume you will be in central London by 10am based on your time. Where are you staying? this would help us organize your time.

I can say that Westminster Abbey, and Parliament/Big Ben (walk bys really) are all together. You could do that in one morning, and then head to Trafalgar Square/National Gallery (they are together) for the afternoon...depending how much time you have.

Tower definately is a MUST do! It will take 1/2 day. I would head there your second day first thing in the morning. Go to the crown jewels first then come back to the entrance and pick up the beefeater tour. This to me is the best tourist site in London. From here you could get on the tube (its really easy, I promise) and do St Pauls in the afternoon, then walk across the river and get to your play at the Globe.

Phew. I missed the British Museum, but you only have two days. Dont see how you can fit it all in...its all about priorities. This would be what I would do.

Best of luck and good for you for travelling alone. I found it very liberating. Enjpy every second, and just accept that you cant see everything. Take in what you can, and you can always come back!!!

J
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Old Aug 2nd, 2008, 10:35 AM
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Take a hop-on hop-off bus & get your bearings. You can get on & off to see what interests you along the way. Some have guides & others have headphones.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2008, 10:45 AM
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To help you organize things a bit:

The Houses of Parliament/Big Ben and Trafalgar Square are "walk by's" or "walk through's" so you really don't need to schedule much time for them individually.

Westminster Abbey is across the street from Parliament/Big Ben and the National Gallery is at Trafalgar Square. So doing those two will cover 4 things from your list.

And the play will not eat into your sightseeing time since curtain is at 7:30. Be sure to book ahead.

So that is 5 things off your list.

The Tower is an all morning and into early afternoon or an all afternoon thing. Since the Globe is a relatively easy/ineteresting walk from the Tower, I'd do the Tower Friday afternoon and then walk the south bank, eat dinner in a pub or at Pizza Express (next door to the Globe)

The British museum and British Library are not far from your hotel and are free. So you can pop in and out of either/both of them your way to and from other places each day.

For instance, Thurs night the Museum is open late and the Library is open til 6 PM so you can visit the library around 5 PM and then the museum for a while. Then on on Friday you could pop into the British Museum for maybe another half an hour, then head over to St Paul's. Then lunch, the Tower and on to the southbank. That sounds like a lot but is very doable.

So that gives you Thursday to see Westminster Abbey and the National Gallery. You will be jet lagged but you can probably manage.

I usually recommend the Hop-on-Hop-off bus tour for first timers - but in your case there just isn't time enough if you also want to visit all those places. The tour will take you past all of them - but to have time to get off and visit one or two will take most of a day.

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Old Aug 2nd, 2008, 10:48 AM
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I don't think you can do all that in two days either and I'm not critical of you at all. My first trip to Europe was a Globus tour and I had never been to Europe either. You'll have fun and no need to apologize.

Learn all you can and enjoy it. I learned a lot, and have been back to Europe three more times all on my own.

Something is going to have to go on your list I think. If you really want to do the British Museum, then you need to let something else go, but don't let it be the Tower.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2008, 10:55 AM
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Things I want to see:
1. British Museum (British Library)
2. Tower of London
3. Westminster Abbey
4. St. Paul's Cathedral
5. See Houses of Parliament and Big Ben
6. Trafalgar Square
7. National Gallery
8. Play at the Globe (Timon of Athens on Fri. if possible)

I want to eat at North Sea Fish.

It's just about doable if you only plan on flying visits.

Yuo could go straight to the National Gallery ASAP, and it's in traflagar Square. Then walk down Whitehall (past Downing St and the Cenotaph) and 10 minutes later you're at Big Ben and westminster abbey.

The British Museum and British Library aren't the same place - but they are both in Bloomsbury as is the North Sea (it's in Leigh St)

St Paul's, the Tower and the Globe are not far apart either so that could be your second day if you use cabs.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2008, 11:58 AM
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I would never touch a hop on/off bus. Traffic in London is awful - and you'll be spending enough days sitting on the bus while you're on the tour.

Get info on the tube in advance. It's fast and easy once you're familiar. London is a city that should be seen by foot - so take the tube to your first stop and walk from there. Then tube or taxi back to hotel at end of day.

To see much of the this stuff - all well worthwhile - you'll need to keep moving fast - not running but walking fast and popping on the tube to get places quickly.

A bunch of the things you want to see are fairly close together and you will just see the outside - Big Ben, Parliament, then go into Westminster Abbey, then view Trafalgar Square and go into National Gallery (pick a couple of galleries from the web site).

Get to Tower of London when it opens, then do St Paul's - quickly - then British Museum (again pick a couple of galleries in advance - or you'll be there the whole day).
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Old Aug 2nd, 2008, 01:09 PM
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You may or may not be able to see all of it, depending on how tired & jet-lagged you are on your first day.

Like others say, it's easy to group your sites together.

British Library and British Museum, and North Sea Fish are very close to your hotel.

I am a huge fan of riding the bus in London, and what I find most useful is this "dummies to London guide" which I use:
http://www.tfl.gov.uk/assets/downloa...al_bus_map.pdf

As you can see, Bus #24 and #14 essentially takes you to every place you want to go, esp #24 which goes past Trafalgar Sq and also Westminster. At Trafalgar Sq, you can take another bus that goes along The Strand and take you to St Paul's. You can pick up the bus from top of Gower Street. On the way back, the bus goes North along Tottenham Court Rd.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2008, 01:47 PM
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Nope, I'd still go with the Ho-Ho bus. I'm taking into account possible jetlag the morning of arrival & if you're groggy it's a way to get your bearings & fresh air especially since I don't think you'll be able to see all on your list.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2008, 01:48 PM
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I highly recommend the hop on/off bus, we took it in June and got off where we wanted and we weren't stuck in traffic. We also walked everywhere - never took the tube or a taxi. It helped that we were staying just behind Trafalgar Square but still, nearly everything you want to see can be done by walking.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2008, 01:49 PM
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Sorry forgot to say - we were only in London for 2.5 days and we managed to see 5 out 8 of your wants; plus spent an evening at the theatre.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2008, 02:02 PM
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"5 out of 8" isn't 8 out of 8 (really 9 out of 9 since the museum and library are not the same thing - and 10 out of 10 if you include North Sea Fish) ). So you need to decide how important each site is to you.

Cruiseryyc managed 5 of your "wants" plus the H-o-H-o bus in 20% more time than you'll have in London.

If you want them all you can do it (w/o the H-o-H-o ), but if you can pare down your list to 4 or 5 and sites you can add the H-o-H-o. I still think you can do all or most of them if you follow something like the plan I laid out. But going slower and seeing less is also a good choice.

Maybe have a plan A and plan B depending on how jet lagged you are.


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Old Aug 2nd, 2008, 02:34 PM
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If your plane is fairly on time and you can get to your hotel, have a brief rest, and eat lunch, then you have the whole rest of the afternoon. Do use the tube--it's fastest and you're still gonna see a lot. Go to Westminster Abbey, Parliament, Big Ben and perhaps up to Trafalger Square (and if National Gallery is open, pop in). Go home and rest! Friday get to the Tower when it opens, then catch tube to St Paul area, visit, walk across the Millennium Bridge, and enjoy the south bank. We just ate at Pizza Express ourselves before King Lear at the Globe (BOOK NOW!!!) I think this will work for you. I hate for you to miss the British Museum and the British Library but you'll have to make choices. (We just spent 14 days there and you can read my report I just finished posting (Oh to be in England or you can search my user name) and see what we thought about all the things you list.

You'll LOVE it!
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Old Aug 2nd, 2008, 02:51 PM
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Thank you guys so much!!! I can't believe how many replies I got and such great advice. I'm coming from Nashville and I've wanted to get to Europe for 30 years and I finally get to go. Truthfully, I'd love to spend 10 days or more in London (and surrounding areas). I'm a huge C.S Lewis fan and Shakespeare as well. But I knew I couldn't go to Europe finally and not see Paris and Rome, so the tour made sense for me.

I love the idea of being able to do what I want when I want, so I'm really looking forward to these days.

Thanks for the bus info. I have the tube info printed out. I don't care if I eat at North Sea but I read good things and I had to have fish and chips at least once (plus it was close to the hotel, at least it looks that way).

I will leave out seeing the National Gallery and it looks I won't be going up the stairs at St. Paul's. Thanks so much for the info about grouping the sights together. I will definitely do the Tower first thing on Fri. I didn't realize from St. Paul's it would be easy to get to the Globe. I have scoured the map and measured and printed about 20 walk-it directions but until you're there it's still hard to gauge.

I love the Idea of a Plan A and Plan B depending on jet lag! It will be really hard if I have to pick between Westminster Abbey and St. Paul's. I left Thurs. evening open because I figured I would be tired but I do really well on very little sleep usually (thanks for the tip about the British Museum being open late that evening as well).

You guys are the best!I appreciate it.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2008, 10:28 PM
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Don't forget it will start getting dark earlier in the evening than in the summer. You might want to plan to see the National Gallery or British Museum as your latest stops of the day.

you will ave no problems being solo so don't worry about that. Be prepared to be flexible, IMHO flexibility is the best part of travelling alone. If you get to the National Gallery and spend more time there than intended then so what? Or if you think "trafalgar Square isn't up to much" again so what?

Have a great time.

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Old Aug 2nd, 2008, 11:57 PM
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i loved the hop on /off bus in london and if traffic is bad then it gives you more opportunity for photos
i rode it for three days
first time i didnt get off til the end
got to know the layout of the land
then that night i planned my next two days and caught a different line each time ( look for the coloured symbols on the front of the bus that correspond with the maps route)
great way to see london ithink if you have only a short time
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Old Aug 3rd, 2008, 05:02 AM
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The North Sea restaurant is near your hotel so make it your last stop of the day (it's open until at least ten).

Another food option is drummond st - again near your hotel. This is a street of cheap - and generally very good - Indian restaurants selling mainly vegetarian south indian fod.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2008, 07:44 AM
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I recommend using the TfL buses over the Tube. You get to see more, and the stops are much closer together than the Underground stations, saving a lot of walking. Changing lines usually involves getting off one bus and waiting for the next, whereas in the Tube you might walk for miles. An all-day, all-zone Bus Pass costs £3.50, and bus travel is not subject to Peak Period premiums.

If you "load" a one-day Bus Pass on an Oyster Card, the maximum you will be charged is £3.

Download the "spider map" for Euston from http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tfl/gettingaro...uston-2087.pdf to study before you leave home. You will find it posted at all the Euston bus stops, too.

Also, print out a copy of Key bus routes in central London from http://www.tfl.gov.uk/assets/downloa...al_bus_map.pdf as a master guide to sightseeing. I think it makes an economical alternative to the ho/ho bus tours.

Another map, which shows the sights in a geographical plan, is http://www.tfl.gov.uk/assets/downloads/centlond.pdf. You can get this one free at any Tube station.

(Note for those in London for longer than four days: a 7-day, all-zone Bus Pass costs £13.)
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Old Aug 3rd, 2008, 10:57 AM
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I have trouble sleeping on planes, and my new best friend is Lunesta. My doctor gave me a free 7-pill-sample prescription. I took one at home to see if I had unpleasant side effects and did not. Now I take one on the plane and get a few hours' sleep and then another the first night at my hotel and get a good night's sleep, and I'm pretty much jetlag free. I'm from Louisville, so our travel time would be similar.

I hope you enjoy your first trip as much as I did. I didn't get to the British Library for some time; but I'm a reader and an English major so when I did get there, it felt like Heaven.

Please post a trip report and let us know how your trip goes and which city you like best.
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Old Aug 4th, 2008, 03:59 AM
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Hi M,

>Hi all, I'm taking a Cosmos tour....I arrive at 7:05 at Heathrow on Thursday, Oct 1 and leave by bus at some ungodly hour on Sat. Oct. 3rd. <

This is not starting well.

Can you cancel without taking a big hit?

Other than schlepping your luggage on/off the bus - which you can always find a porter to do - there is no upside to your paying for a tour.

We can help you have a much nicer experience if you DIY.

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