3questions re London by a first-timer


Oct 17th, 1999, 11:43 AM
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3questions re London by a first-timer

My husband and I are going to London for the first time the end of October for 5 days. We have had a lot of wonderful suggestions from friends (thanks Wes!) about sights to see, but have several questions. Can anyone help?
1)We would like to take a sightseeing cruise of the Thames (weather permitting). Any suggestions?
2)Should we buy a Travel card ahead of time in US or wait until we are there.
3)Portobello vs Camden markets? Which would you recommend.
Any other suggestions, must sees, must dos would be appreciated!
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Oct 17th, 1999, 12:03 PM
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There are lots of choices for cruises on the Thames in London. I would advise you to wait until there and look at all your options. I took the bigbus/cruise combination - very good.
Are you referring to the London Travelcard? If so I would not bother. You can buy unlimited on/off "underground" (train) passes for 2 pounds a day and if you are going to tour London by bus which I strongly recommend - its only 12 pounds per person and this gives you unlimited bus access for a whole day. If you have never been to London I would strongly recommend you do the bus tour first and then do your individual tours.
I always go to both markets, but if I had to choose I do like Portabella - more character!!
Something I always do when in London - take the underground to the Tower of London and then stroll back to Westminster Abbey along the embankment - lovely 1 hour walk - places to stop for refreshments along the way.
If you are walkers then walking from Buckingahm palace up the Mall to Picadilly circus, Trafalgar Square is fun to do - lot's to see. You can buy discounted theatre tickets in either Leicester square or Picadilly circus - good prices for last minute decisions.
Good Luck and enjoy London - one of my favourite cities.
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Oct 17th, 1999, 12:16 PM
wes fowler
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Susan? David?
The days you are in London may dictate which markets to see. Portobello's food and produce market is open from Monday to Saturday, but the antiques and junk market only on Saturday. The Camden Lock market is open from Thursday through Sunday, the Camden Passage market only on Wednesday and Saturday.

There are any number of river cruises ranging in length from 30 minutes to 4 1/2 hours. Choices range from Westminster pier to Tower Bridge (30 minutes) to Westminster Pier to Hampton Court ( 3 to 4 1/2 hours). Tours revert to a winter schedule around the end of October. You should be able to get information at the Tourist information Centers at Heathrow Airport or Victoria Station. If not, call 071-930-4721

Get your travel cards in London. You'll either need passport photos or passport sized informal photos with a good likeness.

(By the way, do a text search here on the Forum on the word "astoundingly" for a lengthy diatribe [read trip report] on our recent trip to Vienna.)
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Oct 17th, 1999, 01:54 PM
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You can take a boat down the Thames to Greenwich which makes for a nice sightseeing trip as well as a chance to see the Royal Observatory, etc. in Greenwich. I would not take Thames trip to Hampton Court, way too time consuming and probably less boats in Oct. too. (If you plan on seeing Hampton Court - and it is wonderful - take the train from Waterloo, it's only about 35 min.)

Don't buy the travelcard in the US - you can get cards in London for unlimited travel on buses and underground at any underground station. I am not sure of the price for 5 days as we always buy for 7 but whatever it is it's a real bargain if you plan on using the underground/buses to get around.
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Oct 17th, 1999, 03:09 PM
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As suggested for item #1, definitely Greenwhich where you can see the observatory and the Cutty Sark when you get off.

#2 - many companies selling the travel cards here offer only very expensive all zone tickets. (much more than you are likely to need) Sorry but Liz must have visited some years back since the daily card prices are currently 3.80 pounds. If you're staying over a weekend, the weekend pass is probably best, and fill in with either a daily pass if you're making a whole bunch of trips, or don't even buy a card at all. If all you do is one trip to/from your hotel and back, the cheapest way is a single ticket. Education is the best idea, www.londontransport.co.uk

Personally, Portabello since it's got more variety. Bust mostly I think everything in both markets is over priced.

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Oct 18th, 1999, 06:48 AM
Bill Irving
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There have been a number of discussions in recent weeks on the travel card for London. I will give you the info which I have given before about this. It is a matter of preference, but when we went to London this past June, we purchased a London tourist travel card, in the States, before we left, from RailEurope. You can also contact BTA for information on purchasing them. It cost us about $22 for a 4 day pass for zones 1 & 2 (Zone 2 includes Greenwhich). It is mis-information that only all zone tickets are sold in the USA.This year, zone 1-2 tickets are also available. & you don't need a photo when it is purchased in The USA. There is also a 7 day pass available.
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Oct 18th, 1999, 07:24 AM
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1) Did the City Cruise of the Thames about a month ago; about an hour and some change; from Tower Bridge to west of St Paul's. Chilly! so an hour or so is about right (we did it at night, so it was quite something to see everything all lit up!)
2) You can buy the London Travelcard in a variety of shapes and sizes, and right in London at any underground station. As we were in London from Saturday through Tuesday morning (we left very early on the Eurostar to Paris), we bought Weekend passes for Sat/Sun; we bought a day pass for Monday, and then used a carnet (10 tix for the price of 6; there were 8 of us who used the tix to go to Waterloo to catch the Eurostar) on Tuesday. The passes work if you plan to make at least three trips a day; otherwise, buy the carnets; or make a combination, as we did, based on when, where and how many.
3) I've been to neither Portobello or Camden, but my sister LOVES Camden (she says the people watching is as much fun as the market).
4) Have a good time; if going to the Tower of London, buy your tickets at an Underground station - so you don't have to wait in line at the Tower.
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