6.5 hours at Heathrow

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Mar 5th, 2006, 12:01 PM
  #1
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6.5 hours at Heathrow

Dear all, I will be traveling with my wife & our 3 girls (ages 2,4&6) from the US to Africa through Heathrow airport on a Sunday in May 27th. We have exactly 6.5 hours of transit time and were wondering if it is safe to take the Heathrow express train for some sightseeing, a short walk at the hydepark or a stroll at one of the famous streets in London. Any thing that is fun for the kids.
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Mar 5th, 2006, 12:28 PM
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Hi,

Firstly try to book your luggage on the next flight so that you don't have to carry it around, then with your carry on luggage, store it in a locker in the airport.

What time of day will you be arriving?
If you are arriving first thing in the morning, a lot of the shops will be shut. However a considerable number of attractions are open on a Sunday.
1. The London Eye is not to be missed. (just catch a cab from wherever the train drops you off - this is huge fun in itself)
2. Have a look outside the gates of Buckingham Palace, (it would be a huge shame to miss that). With luck you may see the changing of the guard. (check their website for times)
3. Harrods is amazing and whilst the crowds on a Sunday can be hideous, there is always the Toy Department to keep your kids entertained for a little while.
4. Another great toy store is Hamley's of London
5. There are several Bus tours that do not take all that long and could be very easily managed in that time period (i.e. around 4 hours by the time you get there and back). The best one is the Big Red Bus Tour Company (I think - check the internet) - one of the lines have a talking guide as opposed to headsets. The "real life' guide is FAR better.
6. Forget Hyde Park, whilst it's a lovely park, lets face it - its a park and there are zillions of them all over the world. London has far more to offer than Hyde Park!.
7. Next to the London Eye there is also the London Aquarium which the girls will love.

It is really safe, there shouldn't be anything to worry about and you should have a brilliant time.

Hope this helps.
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Mar 5th, 2006, 12:28 PM
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I think that is doable in the time you have, but another option would be to visit nearby Windsor. It's a beautiful little town, and of course, there's a rather large castle there.

If you still prefer London, your kids would probably enjoy the London Eye. I believe you can book in advance, which is best for anyone with time constraints.
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Mar 5th, 2006, 12:29 PM
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I wouldn't w/ all the little ones in tow. Your 6.5 hours is really barely 3 hours when you factor in all the looooong walks at LHR just to get to arrivals/departure gates, security lines etc. After an overnight flight from the States some or all of you will be totally exhausted.

Even a short trip over to Windsor might be a bit much.

As much as I LOVE London - in this situation I would opt for a day room at a hotel near LHR.
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Mar 5th, 2006, 12:51 PM
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You've just arrived from the US with 3 kids and expect to be able to wander round London. I suspect you may have a few problems.

If you haven't got a boarding card or if your luggage isn't checked through I wouldn't bother going into London ass ypu are going to lose too much time storing luggage at a cost of £5 per bag (BTW there are NO LOCKERS at LHR), recovering it & standing in queues to check it in.

Typically you will be arriving at 6-7am if from the US, so you have the problem that nothing major will be open before 10:00am - some don't open until noon which will seriously cramp any form of sightseeing.

In order to be able to ake your flight you need to be BACK at LHR at least an hour before hand just to get through security subject to the luggage & boarding card limitations mentioned above.

Paddington is a long way from any of the sights mentioned so it's going to be just as quick (within 10 minutes) to take the Tube into London and if it's raining you can stop at South Kensington and go to the Natural History museum. Otherwise change Tube to the District Line at somewhere like Hammersmith & travel to Westminster where Big Ben, Parlisment, the London Eye are to be found - and if the kids are up to it you can walk to Buckingham Palace through St James Park.
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Mar 5th, 2006, 12:58 PM
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Meant to add - you'll probably have at least one stroller. But even wheeling the 2 yo, the other two are still pretty small and getting three of them on and off the train/tube/buses or just walking around will be a hassle. Especially if they are jet lagged.
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Mar 5th, 2006, 02:00 PM
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Many thanks for all these great tips. We will be ariving at 6:55 AM, our luggage should be checked all the way thru and we will have our boarding passes. We thought it will be diffuclt to manage the 2 & 4 y/o so we'll be bringing a light double stroller with us. Thanks again
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Mar 5th, 2006, 02:09 PM
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Is the stroller side-by-side or front to back? If side-by-side, you will have a bit of touble navigating the trains/tube/buses, etc. If front to back it will be a little easier.
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Mar 5th, 2006, 02:13 PM
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just a couple of other thoughts - if you take the HEX you will probably arrive at Paddington a bit after 0800 - right at the start of the morning commute. The queue for cabs at Paddington might be quite long.

The more I think about it the more Windsor sounds like a better choice. Just less hectic. But at that time of the morning nothing will be open . . . . .
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Mar 5th, 2006, 02:17 PM
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London may think of itself as a 24x7 city, but 8:00am on a Sunday morning isn't part of it.

Oh and strollers or prams of any sort are a swine to use on the Tube - some idiots built the underground with stairs & long escalators
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Mar 5th, 2006, 02:20 PM
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Oh Shoot - I missed the "Sunday" bit. Of course there won't be any commuters to worry about. Duh!
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Mar 5th, 2006, 02:21 PM
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I'd go to Windsor. It's a cute town and the castle is right in the middle. The kids would enjoy the dollhouse and you could grab a bit to eat. You'll spend more time coming and going in London than being there
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Mar 5th, 2006, 02:25 PM
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Windsor = LEGOLAND
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Mar 5th, 2006, 02:27 PM
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http://www.legoland.co.uk/ - and it opens at 10:00am over the Late Spring Bank Holiday weekend (oh we didn't mention that, the Monday is a bank holiday in the UK & all the kiddies are on holiday)
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Mar 5th, 2006, 03:09 PM
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I recall reading last week about new Security procedures at LHR, which means more time.
Regards, Walter
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Mar 5th, 2006, 03:27 PM
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Thanks again. We like Legoland but probably would be hard especially after being on a long flight. My wife has never been to London and would love to see any or some of the sightseeing. Are you aware of any tour buses that departs from Paddington station? Kind regards
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Mar 5th, 2006, 03:46 PM
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There is an open-top sightseeing bus called The Original Tour that stops at Baker Street, a short Tube or bus ride from Paddington. Here's their site:

http://www.theoriginaltour.co.uk

This could be a lot of fun for everyone, but you'd have to watch the clock very carefully to know when to bail out and head back. The Family ticket is £60 if purchased on line, or £72 in London.

If the logistics don't daunt you, you could get on a #15 city bus at Paddington and see just about the same thing for a very few bucks. One-day bus passes go for £3.50 (kids free). Here is a map that might give you some ideas:

http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tfl/pdfdocs/tourist.pdf

If a bus trip sounds too ambitious, you could grab a cab and ride a few minutes over to Kensington Gardens, where the Princess Diana Playground is. A little further on, in Hyde Park, is her (in)famous fountain.
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Mar 5th, 2006, 05:23 PM
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You don't have time to go into London! You have to factor in at least 1 hr to get thru deboarding and immigration. With HEX, it will take 20 min but you will then have to change to the Tube to get to the most central parts of London. So travel time alone will be 1 hr RT.

But the bad part is the return. I just came back from the UK via Heathrow on a Sunday. The security lines are unbelievable! It took me just under an hour to get thru the security line. Sunday is also one of the less crowded days.

So if you factor in everything going perfectly, you MAY have 3 hrs IF your first plane is on time. I'd say 1.5-2 hrs is more like it given you have very young children. Given what I saw at Heathrow, I wouldn't risk it.
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Mar 5th, 2006, 05:44 PM
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Maybe I'm crazy but the last thing I'd do with 3 small children would be a rushed trip into London. Aside from Security at Heathrow being a nightmare won't everyone be rather tired out ?? When we travel from the US to the UK we are very tired by the time we get there.

If you must leave the airport why not go to an airport hotel, get a day room for 4 hrs or so and let the kids nap, shower, and kick back for a little bit. Incidentally, the Hilton is connected to Term 4 by a walkway and they do have day rooms available.
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Mar 5th, 2006, 05:50 PM
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Six and one-half hours.

One hour to get landed and through customs and immigration. That leaves five and one-half hours.

One-half hour to get to Paddington and back. That leaves five hours.

One hour to clear security. That leaves four hours to get from Paddington to a sight or two and back.

Naaah - don't risk it.
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