a few last minute questions

Old Mar 8th, 2003, 04:13 PM
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a few last minute questions

We'll be in London next week and have just a couple of questions:
1. Should we consider those (I may get the name wrong) hop on hop off busses the first day?
2. Do we need to bring along electrical converters?
3. Tipping protocol?
4. Should we be especially cautious of the petty theifs as in most cities?
5. General safety at night when walking.
6. Any neighborhoods or areas to avoid?
buerkle is offline  
Old Mar 8th, 2003, 04:53 PM
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1. Yes. If you've never been to London, the hop on buses, while a little cheesy give a great overview of the city, take you to major sights and there's no time limit per sight.
2. Yes you need a converter
3. Tip as you do here. England isn't like the continent regarding tipping.
4. Yes, especially on the Tube, Covent Garden, most busy tourist spots.
5.London is I think a very safe city overall though as to specific neighborhoods, someone else could probably answer better.
Enjoy, its a great place.
McBetsy is offline  
Old Mar 8th, 2003, 05:12 PM
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1. I think the hop-on, hop-off buses are a good way to do an orientation tour, but in my opinion they are not good for doing much hopping on and hopping off--they take too long.

2. Unless you have a dual voltage appliance, you will need a converter. In either case, you will also need an adapter for the wall outlet.

3. As far as your safety-related questions go, I have traveled to London solo many times and have never felt afraid. As in any city, pickpockets and thieves are more likely to be active in places where there are throngs of travelers who are distracted or tired, such as street fairs, train stations, bus terminals, etc. Just exercise reasonable precautions, be aware of your surroundings, and you should be fine.
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Old Mar 8th, 2003, 05:49 PM
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1) Yes - if it is nice weather. But if it is pouring rain you have to go downstairs in the bus and you can't see anything through the fogged up windows.

2) You need a converter if you take any single voltage appliances. But that isn't a good idea since about 1/2 the time the appliance will burn out. If you take a dual voltage appliance you just need an adaptor plug - but still run th erisk og burning it up. The best thing is to wait until you are there and if your hotel doesn't have hair dryers, go to the nearest Boots and buy a British one.

3) In many restaurants service is included and you just suplement with a few pence. So be sure to check the menu - it wll clearly state if service is included.

4) No more cautious than in your home town. Just be sensible.

5) Anyplace tourists are likely to find themselves will be VERY safe. Any "unsafe" areas are pretty much off the beaten path.

6) read #5 above.
janis is offline  
Old Mar 8th, 2003, 05:51 PM
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I will respond only to the "hop on hop off" question. Definitely do it. You don't have to go to all 18 stops (or whatever it is), just figure out which ones are most important and take your time seeing the sites you want. The buses run from fairly early morning until around 8pm (I think). It will save you money in cabfare and on some of them (they are listed in the brochure they give you) they have "live" guides who provide interesting and humorous information as you are riding along.
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Old Mar 8th, 2003, 07:29 PM
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I can't remember the last time I saw a menu in London that indicated anything about service (except that a few now are stating that a certain percent has been added but you are able to ignore it or go ahead and include it). Generally 10 to 15% is considered fine. The 20% minimum I do at home in the US is generally regarded as being overly extravagant in London.
Patrick is offline  
Old Mar 9th, 2003, 07:05 AM
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1. The bus tour is great, but I agree with Janis, it's less than ideal in the rain.
2. Again, I agree with Janis. I have "blown" every hair dryer I ever brought to England. Most hotels now have them in the room or you can "borrow" one by calling housekeeping. I also recently got a butane curling iron/hot comb which is great.
3. As usual, Patrick is right on the money. Tipping is not as generous in the UK as here. 10-15% in restaurants is plenty depending on how fancy the place is & how good the service was. For cabs, 10% is enough. 1 pound is enough for a porter for 2 bags.
4. McBetsy & Walkabout give good advice on thieves. Be aware, particularly in crowded areas.
5. Don't walk if YOU start feeling umcomfortable.
6. The area around Euston Station & Kings Cross used to make me feel uncomfortable at night but I don't know if it's ok now. Many neighborhoods that used to be iffy have been gentrified. In general, central London is safe. Just use common sense & have a FABULOUS time.
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