Go Back  Fodor's Forum > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page > 2 weeks in UK to visit my daughter at Queen Mary Univ Dec 15-28 2013
Notices

2 weeks in UK to visit my daughter at Queen Mary Univ Dec 15-28 2013

Reply

Dec 5th, 2013, 09:13 PM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 5
2 weeks in UK to visit my daughter at Queen Mary Univ Dec 15-28 2013

I am planning to visit my daughter age 21, who is attending Univ of London for 2 weeks on a budget of $1200 for 13 days. I need guidance on taking trains: do I buy the Brit rail pass in the US? We'll be staying in her flat when in London, but would like to see some of the countryside. Chilshire? Bath? Stonehedge? Hope to see a play, how do I find good tickets, yet not too expensive, to either Wicked, Book of Mormon or Phantom of the Opera. How to see the lights of London during the holiday other than random walk abouts. I am anticipating cold, wet dark days,but am excited about sharing this time with my daughter, Ideas on an itineray would be most helpful. We are outdoor folks and I had thought about going to the Lake District or Snowdon (sp?) but understand that it would be cold and wet and poor views at this time of year. Your ideas and suggestions would be most welcome
Jeanettey is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 5th, 2013, 09:55 PM
  #2
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 18,926
1: Theatre tickets: the TKTS booth on Leicester Square, but whether those particular shows will have any offers out while you're there, I don't know. You could try the theatres where they're playing, on the day, in case they have any returns. Or you could do something different and go to a panto - if your daughter's flat is near Queen Mary (i.e., in East London), then I'd suggest the pantos at Hackney Empire or Theatre Royal Stratford.

2: Christmas lights: I'm always a bit disappointed by the lights in Oxford St and Regent St, but if you sit at the front on the top deck of a bus going along that way, you at least get to see them in some comfort. In my experience, the lights are better around Covent Garden and Seven Dials. And don't forget to look at the Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square, but you might be surprised at the simplicity/austerity of decoration the Norwegians prefer.

3: The Lake District and Snowdon are too far away for the time of year, I'd have thought, and too much depends on the weather. If there's a nice sunny day, you could simply go for a walk in Richmond Park, Hampstead Heath or (again, if you're in the east of the city) Epping Forest. Or you could get your daughter to check out one of the many guide books suggesting country walks within a short train ride of London, and decide day by day whether the weather would tempt you out.

4: I'm no expert on train passes for travel outside London, but there are plenty of places within an hour or two's train ride. You should check out the TfL website for everything on public transport within London (top tip - NEVER pay cash-per-ride for bus or tube - for the length of time you're staying, get weekly passes):
http://www.tfl.gov.uk/gettingaround/15101.aspx
and for National Rail services:
http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/

5: Don't forget, there are no bus, tube or train services in London on Christmas Day.
PatrickLondon is online now  
Reply With Quote
Dec 6th, 2013, 12:05 AM
  #3
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 59,833
Just a couple of quick comments for now:

• Forget about Book of Mormon -- absolutely no discounts and most nights are sell outs.

Phantom has been playing for decades so you can usually get good seats. Wicked has been a round quite a while but is still pretty popular. Relatively easy to get tickets but not usually discounted.

• You have no use for a BritRail Pass - the few out-of-town excursions you might take - a pass doesn't make sense.
janisj is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 6th, 2013, 12:53 AM
  #4
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 246
I think the new visitors' centre at Stonehenge opens soon, might be worth a visit. (it's not Stonehedge BTW; also there is no such place as Chilshire, though it does sound cool).

You could get a train out to the Cotswolds from Paddington - about 90 minutes to Kemble or Stroud or a train to the south coast for a coastal walk. Bath about the same time frame by train from Paddington. TKTS office on Leicester Square may have the tickets you want. If you're in the East End there is the Olympic Park but you'll need to investigate what stage its redevelopment is at. Liverpool Street Station is that side of the city so you could easily get to Cambidge. Otherwise you could easily walk miles around Hyde Park, Richmond Park, Wimbledon Common etc. etc without leaving the city.

It will get dark early but rain isn't guaranteed at all. (People seem to think we live under water).
Havana128 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 6th, 2013, 12:54 AM
  #5
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 246
Also echo Janisj's comment about the BritRail pass - no need at all for what you require.
Havana128 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 6th, 2013, 05:05 AM
  #6
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 2,559
The Lake District and Snodonia won't go away. I'd save tem for the next time.
I'd spend the whole time in London. If you are on a budget, remember that most museums and galleries are free
You might like to visit Kew. They seem to have quite a lot of Christmas activities http://www.kew.org/visit-kew-gardens...-on/christmas/
If you are outdoor types, the Wetland Centre at Barnes is worth a visit. Wild birds go about their business with jumbo jets flying overhead. At this time of year, there will be Christmas stuff, families choosing the tree etc. Barnes itself has a village feel with several cosy pubs
MissPrism is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 6th, 2013, 05:44 AM
  #7
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 2,559
Silly little iPhone keyboard. It's Snowdonia, of course.
MissPrism is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 6th, 2013, 07:36 AM
  #8
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 63
Agree with what's been said already, leave the Lake District for another trip. If you're on a budget, stay in London and maybe look at taking day trips.
If you look at the London Walks website - walks.com - they do day trips outside London you can get some good ideas of what's possible. You can easily do day trips by yourself, although I can really recommend London Walks trips, I've done quite a few of them and their guides are terrific. (They do lots of 2 hour walks in London, including a couple on Christmas day.)
Try timeout.com/London for what's on in the period you're here - as mentioned most of the galleries are free.
Also remember transport completely closes down on 25th December and on 26th December there will be no overground rail and much less underground rail transport. On these 2 days there will be some restaurants open but galleries etc will be mostly closed.
Mary24 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 6th, 2013, 07:51 AM
  #9
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 17,052
"on 26th December...much less underground rail transport."

Highly misleading.

Assuming there's no strikes (the threat of a Boxing Day tube strike is one of our Xmas traditions: as usually is its being lifted), the tube, doesn't start on Dec 26 till 0830, then more or less runs at a Sunday frequency - which by US public transport standards is close to non-stop. Some services run over railway track may have specific problems. The timetable is usually out around Dec 10-12.

If you daughter's in the QMUL halls of residence in the East End, this really shouldn't worry you. On Xmas Day, remember that those halls are within the area covered by Boris Bikes, which may be the only effective way of getting around
flanneruk is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 6th, 2013, 08:15 AM
  #10
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 1,947
Am I the only person here who thinks $1200 (£750) is quite insufficient for 13 days in England? What is this expected to cover - accommodation, travel, food, admission fees? Even staying in your daughters flat while in London, you will need to find lodging when visiting the countryside. Does your budget cover her costs as well?

Bath is certainly worth a visit, but you should note that it is Stonehenge, not Stonehedge. Chilshire has me baffled - Cheshire? Wiltshire? I don't know why Havana suggests going to Kemble - a station in the middle of nowhere - or Stroud, a town with some fascinating features but mostly industrial although the farmers' market is famous. Most tourists go to Moreton-in-Marsh, which is in the prettier end of the Cotswolds, but you will really need a car to visit the small towns and villages for which the area is famous. Most of the visitor attractions will be closed at that time of year. The local bus service is not frequent.

The weather is totally unpredictable from day to day. While much of Britain has experienced strong winds, storm surges and flooding today, we live just south of the Cotswolds and have had clear blue skies and temperatures of 13 degrees C - a perfect December day. Next week, we could have frosts, heavy rain, fog or even snow.

Note that there is engineering work on the lines westwards from London Paddington to Bath and the Cotswolds. Details can be found on the First Great Western website at www.firstgreatwestern.co.uk.
chartley is online now  
Reply With Quote
Dec 6th, 2013, 08:22 AM
  #11
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 246


Because I live there and it's very nice. Further questions?
Havana128 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 6th, 2013, 08:47 AM
  #12
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 1,060
It's right enough that you are on a very tight budget.
I'd agree that you'd be better staying in London. Where exactly are you staying?
Josser is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 6th, 2013, 08:57 AM
  #13
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 2,559
You might be interested in this
http://www.qmul.ac.uk/studentlife/so...don/index.html
It points out several places of interest within easy distance of the college and many of them will be free or inexpensive
MissPrism is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 6th, 2013, 09:25 AM
  #14
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 59,833
You know, I didn't even notice the budget (was very late my ti e when I posted).

Even staying with your daughter and rent free . . . Less than $100 a day is a very VERY low budget. Many of the museums are free, but most other charge pretty high admissions (everything from the Tower of London to Westminster abbey to Stonehenge to Hampton court palace to just scads of others). Many are over $20 per person.

One theatre ticket will eat up an entire day's budget unless you sit in the back of the top balcony.you certainly don't have the budget for many(any) out of town train trips. Bath - just ther train fare and you are out of money for anything but a light lunch.

Can you up the budget? If not, I'd consider cutting back the length of stay?
janisj is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 6th, 2013, 10:55 AM
  #15
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 5,106
You can have a great time in London on your budget.

By then your daughter will have scoped out inexpensive local meal options. Before I go I search "cheap eats London" for tips. Or look at pages like http://youngandfoodish.com/coffee/to...ops-in-london/. Find a cozy coffeehouse, soak up the atmosphere, and read Time Out for suggestions what to do.

Speaking of Time Out, I'd look at their theater review section rather than arrive wanting to see a blockbuster play; you can get tickets reasonably through that website, too. Last year my college age daughters and I loved One Man, Two Guvs, sitting in our (maybe £15-20?) balcony seats. A few years previous, we enjoyed The 39 Steps at the Criterion. Both are still running, are hilarious and British. You might try at the box office the day you want to see something.

Buy a week's bus pass, stay aboveground where you can see things -- including Christmas lights -- run all over town and pay less than for the Tube.

Someone here recently mentioned http://londonist.com/, and you can sign up for daily emails about what there is to do, free and cheap included.

One favorite donation-appreciated-only activity is evensong at St. Paul's and Westminster Abbey. Music, singing, a lovely service, glance around a little on the way out and in, and you've been there. Relaxing and uplifting.

Climb the Monument for exercise and wonderful views. Last year my student daughter paid £2

For me, much of the thrill of London is its energy and its people. You add architecture, walks along the South Bank, free museums and what you have is one wonderful trip.

And -- Crown Jewels or no Crown Jewels -- seeing the Tower of London is not necessary.
stokebailey is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 6th, 2013, 11:04 AM
  #16
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 5,106
My daughter -- who was with me there earlier this year, happily helping me pinch pennies -- just walked in and said "They can climb the Monument, they can go to Borough Market and have grilled cheese... And did you tell them to go to Oxford on the bus? Pay a few pounds to walk around the colleges?"

This daughter helped encourage me past my fear of heights to the top of the Monument, and it was so worth it. A Shropshire man we met at the hotel called it the cheap London Eye.

Your daughter should be sure to bring her student ID for discount bus, etc, tickets.
stokebailey is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 6th, 2013, 11:18 AM
  #17
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 59,833
Sure there are budget things to do - but that $90/£55 a day is still very low. That cheese sandwich at borough market for instance costs almost $9. Climbing the monument costs $5. the inexpensive walking tours of Oxford cost $13 to $15. Like I said, a pretty tight budget.
janisj is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 6th, 2013, 03:02 PM
  #18
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 10,213
Www.walks.com offer great affordable tours of London.

Eat lunch like a local! There are sandwich places everywhere: independents, Pret, EST...burrito places etc.

Go to museums...they are free

Go to grocery stores and get wine and food and enjoy a lovely night in with your daughter.

Buy a weekly transit pass like above suggested.

If you want to eat out book in advance on www.toptable.co.uk and look for deals like 50% off food.

Check out www.daysoutguide.co.uk for 2for1 deals and do a search for 'oyster' vs paper travel guides here.
jamikins is online now  
Reply With Quote
Dec 6th, 2013, 03:03 PM
  #19
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 10,213
EST should be EAT.

And this is a good link for free stuff in London http://www.londontown.com/London/London-for-Free
jamikins is online now  
Reply With Quote
Dec 6th, 2013, 03:18 PM
  #20
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 59,833
I also agree re London walks - but they've gone up to £9/$15. They are very worth the money but just trying to show that $90 a day sometimes doesn't go very far.
janisj is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 05:22 AM.