A review of 3 days in London

Aug 28th, 2003, 10:57 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2003
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A review of 3 days in London

I'd like to thank everyone for their help, especially Ben Haines, who provided additional help via email. I'm a 23 year old male who went to London by himself, so keep that in mind. My final itinerary and comments are found below:

Day 1 - Tuesday

Arrived at Euston Station around 12:45pm. Very intimidating at first; lots of people buzzing around and you have no clue where to go. I bought a day pass and looked at my tube map. A tube map PLUS a map of London showing where the tube stops are is ESSENTIAL!! The tube would be almost impossible to navigate without these 2 items, but its instead quite easy and VERY useful; way better than Toronto?s subway.

Get to the Astor Hyde Park Hostel around 2 after confusing Inverness Terrace with Inverness Place and wondering where my hostel was (it was the next street over). Check in is at 4 (never knew that) so I grabbed my key and was forced to carry my backpack with me all day because I didn't want to waste time coming back out of my way.

Tube it over to Buckingham Palace, catch a tour for 3:15. They give you an audio guide, which is really useful because you can tour around at your own pace. It closes at 430 and is only open in August and Sept. You could take pictures in the garden outside for the first time ever apparently.

I then headed to Imperial War Museum around 5. It closes at 6, and is free, so I figured why not check it out. 1 hour is obviously too little time, but everything in London closes at like 5, so I didn't have a world of options. I checked out the Holocaust exhibit for most of my hour. It is quite amazing (and depressing I suppose).

Then I just quickly checked out Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, and Marble Arch. Trafalgar is the most impressive of the 3, but read BenHaines post in the P. Circus topic for more info on that.

Got back to my hostel around 9. It is a nice place; I had a 4 person room, which consisted of 2 bunk beds. I had top bunk, no one on the bottom bunk, and an Irish girl and an American girl on the other 2 beds. Showers were fine; there was a bar downstairs, and internet café (1 pound for 30 minutes).
KingPete is offline  
Aug 28th, 2003, 10:59 AM
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Day 2 - Wednesday

Got up around 8; grabbed my free breakfast which consisted of a bowl of cereal and a bun/bread and butter. Nothing marvellous, but it kept me going till lunchtime.

Got to Tower of London around 915 or so. There's no queue, but buy your ticket in a tube station anyway. Oh, and since its before 930am, its an extra 90 pence for a "rush hour" day pass. With the Tube price increases come 2004, I'm not sure how much different it will be. Anyway, there's a free Yeoman (Beefeater) tour which is extremely funny and informative. It took an hour, then you are free to roam on your own. The crown jewels had no line up since it was early, so I took advantage. There are various other towers to check out, and it took about another hour or so to do what I wanted to do.

Next, I went to the nearby Tower Bridge. You can pay for the Bridge Experience and go to the Pedestrian Bridge that's way up high. I recommend it, because the views are quite good, and you get to see some great pictures lined along the walkways, plus a video at each end of the bridge. You can also view the engine room that houses all the material that lifts the bridge.

I grabbed a cheap sausage from a vendor and ate it by the Thames River. I then went to the Salvador Dali Museum near the London Eye and Westminster Bridge. I'm not a big art fan, but I like Dali's work, especially his sculptures. It took just over an hour to stroll through here I think.

Next, I headed to the Sherlock Holmes Museum. It was kind of pricey for what it was, and I would only really recommend for true fans. I was Holmes for Halloween a few times so I thought I owed it to the guy to check out his museum, haha, but its mostly artefacts and wax figures of scenes from the books, which I have never read. After that, I tubed it to St. John's Wood and checked out Abbey Road. I wasn't 100% sure which street was the intersecting street with Abbey Road, as there are several crosswalks by Abbey Road studios.

Tubed it back to Piccadilly Circus and bought some music magazines at Tower Records and grabbed dinner at Garfunkels. Not overly expensive compared to most places I think. A Quarter Chicken cost me around 6 or 7 pounds I think. Next, I went to the London Eye. My hostel roommate went the night before and said she waited for 45 minutes to get on. I got there at 6 and waited for 15 minutes, but as I left around 7, there was no line. Granted, the sun was quite bright at this time. It is pricey (11 pounds) but the views and the chance for pictures is pretty good.

Next, went to Tower Hill for a London Walk. The walk was the famous Jack the Ripper Walk. A LOT of people showed up, so we were split into 2 groups. The walk takes you to all the murder scenes and points out places where evidence was found, etc. The guide was very informative. Warning: the walk is not circular, so you do not end up where you started. The guide tells you were the nearest tube stop is, but if you are alone (which I was) and a female, you might not want to do this, as you end up at a kind of shady part of town.

I was dead tired with blisters on my feet after today, as I crammed a lot in, because I only had 3 days in London and wasn't sure when I?d next be back. This schedule is not recommended, especially for people with kids or the elderly. I'm a strapping young 23 year old, so its not horrible, but I don't know if I'd do it again, haha.
KingPete is offline  
Aug 28th, 2003, 11:01 AM
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Day 3 - Thursday

Overslept, as my watch battery died in the middle of the night. Got to Westminster Abbey around 945. First I took pictures of Parliament buildings and Big Ben. W. Abbey is nice inside, no pictures allowed though. Its like that with B. Palace as well. Anyway, I'm not a big religious person, so W. Abbey wasn't amazing, but its architecturally nice and very historical. Darted up Whitehall to see the Changing of the Horse Parade. Strolled past Downing St, and then headed to the Cabinet War Rooms, which is where Churchill and others were cooped up during WW2. This came with a free audio guided tour, which was very useful.

Grabbed lunch then headed to St. Paul's Cathedral. Same deal with W. Abbey; great architect (better in fact) but mainly for religious people I'd say. It did have interesting historical info inside though. Walked up the stairs to near the top (adding further blisters to my feet) and enjoyed the nice view. The stairs are extremely small and the spiral the whole way up, so not recommended for the weak or elderly.

Finally, went to the London Museum, which was free. It was quite big to my surprise and packed with information and artefacts. I didn't read everything as the effects of my whirlwind tour and loads of information had finally grinded my brain to a haul. I then headed to Euston to catch my 530pm train and ended my tour.

Any questions about anything I have described or anywhere I ate or stayed, please ask.

KingPete is offline  
Aug 28th, 2003, 03:13 PM
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Thanks for the review I will be doing London in 4 days in September. It will be a similar trip to yours blisters and all I am sure!
panhandle is offline  
Aug 29th, 2003, 04:36 AM
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It is nice to have been useful. A few jottings for future visitors.

A tube map plus a map of London showing where the tube stops are is essential. Agreed. A cheap way is to ask at the tube station for not only the day or week travel pass and the tube map but also the free bus map, to let you navigate. A better way is to buy for four pounds at a newsagent the little spiral bound AZ Visitors London map and guide.

Most tourist destinations in London close at six, but the listings magazine Time Out tells you of weekly evening openings at the National Gallery and other important places. To stretch the other end of the day you can like KingPete check the magazine for places that open at nine in the morning, such as the cathedrals and Abbey, and as for this visitor the Tower.

Trafalgar Square is indeed the best of the three listed. It used to be as dull as the others, but it now ties directly to the National Gallery, the cars are fewer, and the pigeon feeders are gone, so it is getting back to being a fine town space. Another good space rescued from parked cars is the courtyard of Somerset House on the Strand, with fountains, and midwinter skating.

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ben_haines_london is offline  
Aug 29th, 2003, 06:02 AM
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An idea for people with little time in London is to browse through a tour book and try to visit things that are all close together, if possible. Tubing or walking around town can get tiring and it makes it easier if you have a plan of things that are near each other to go to. For example, Buck Palace and the Imperial War Museum are not near each other. Just a suggestion.
jenstu13 is offline  
Aug 30th, 2003, 05:50 AM
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yes, i tried to do as much as possible that was close together

Tower of London/Tower Bridge

St Paul's/London Museum/Back to Euston Station

Big Ben/Parliament/West. Abbey/Changing of Horse Parade/Downing Street/Cabinet War Rooms

I think those 2 you listed were the odd things out

Ben; it seemed those pocket maps cost money. I didn't really ask about free (tube) maps as i had brought my own.
KingPete is offline  
Aug 30th, 2003, 06:49 PM
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KingPete, Enjoyed your review. It was interesting and will be helpful when I do get to London. Hopefully that will be next spring.
Mikex is offline  
Aug 31st, 2003, 03:33 AM
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Thanks for sharing your trip with us.

>I had a 4 person room, ... an Irish girl and an American girl on the other 2 beds. <

The hostels have unisex rooms?
ira is online now  
Aug 31st, 2003, 07:08 AM
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unless they were attractive men, and i was mistaken....

yeah, i guess that is sort of odd, but it'd probably be pretty hard to fill rooms if they limited their restrictions to one sex only.
KingPete is offline  
Sep 1st, 2003, 12:50 PM
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King Pete,
Thanks for the GREAT trip report, I am going to take your trip into consideration while I make my plans for October.
donnae_b is offline  
Sep 1st, 2003, 11:35 PM
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Some hostels have unisex rooms for both men and women, and others do not. Some hostels do have some women-only rooms, but no men-only rooms. Obviously coed rooms require the least effort in respect to booking reservations, so many hostels prefer to have as many coed rooms as possible.
WillTravel is offline  

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