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Advice on our whirlwind week in England!

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Jun 26th, 2013, 08:15 AM
  #1
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Advice on our whirlwind week in England!

My dad, DH and I will be going to England for the first time next May. I would like some advice on our itinerary.

Saturday May 17: Arrive in London @ 7am; retrieve rental car; Windsor Castle, Stonehenge; arrive in Bath for the night
Breakfast idea around Windsor? Lunch idea around Stonehenge?

Sunday May 18: Bath; late evening drive back to LHR to return car; tube to our London B&B
Is one full day in Bath enough?

Monday May 19: London sights

Tuesday May 20: Take the train to Winchester for the day

Wednesday May 21 and Thursday May 22: London sights

Friday May 23: Fly home

With 3 full days in London, do we have time for:
Tower of London; British Museum; Kensington Palace (other sights of Kensington Gardens); St Paul's Cathedral; Museum of London (possibly); other suggestions?

other sights you can't tour but would like to see...Buckingham Palace; Houses of Parliament; Big Ben

How would you pair everything to make the most of our days? Does it sound like a well rounded whirlwind of a first timers week in England? Is it a good idea to see London sights for a day, Monday, then go to Winchester for a day to follow with two days in London? Or, would you get Winchester out of the way on Monday then see London three days in a row?

Thanks in advance!
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Jun 26th, 2013, 08:36 AM
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Driving to Windsor, Stonehenge and Bath the first day is a very bad idea IMO. Jet lag will make it dangerous. You can take the express coach to Bath from LHR. Not only will it be safer, it will likely be faster since you won't have to take the shuttle and daffodils about w/ the rental agency.

The next day take a train to Salisbury and the local tour to Stonehenge (only if Stonehenge is a must). Or, take the train from Bath to London and skip Stonehenge.

Buckingham palace , Big Ben, parliament are just walk by's so no problem seeing them.

The order you do London / Winchester probably don't matter. You are spending an awful lot of time outside of London so you really won't see much in the city. I'd probably decide between Winchester and
Windsor and do one or the other as a day trip from London -- or skip both depending on what you want to see in London. I'd actually prefer Hampton Court Palace over either for a first time visit.
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Jun 26th, 2013, 08:59 AM
  #3
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Thanks, janisj, but we are set on the rental car. My dad is a business traveler and has been traveling for years. He is not concerned with jetlag and driving. We want to be out on our own and not have to take a bus from Bath to Stonehenge then a train back to London. Also, Windsor is just to see the castle. Stonehenge is a must for my dad. Winchester was another day trip because my dad is such a British history buff.

With the sights that I listed that we do want to see in London, will they fit well in 3 days?
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Jun 26th, 2013, 09:11 AM
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Where are the Cabinet War Rooms and Imperial War Museum on this itinerary? Remember, you are going abroad with two boys. Your itinerary does not discuss pops' health - we're guessing he's ambulatory and relatively hale?

Go to daysoutguide.co.uk, the 2for1 offers will save you some money (Tower, Cabinet War Rooms, maybe St. Paul's, maybe Kens Palace), the old man will likely be able to get pensioner prices.

Why Winchester? Yeah, the pics look nice on the tourism site, but as a destination opposed to other places you may go?

Why would you drive unless you must? Easy to take public transport and the fuel (petrol) prices in the UK absolutely suck - over $8/gallon after metric and currency conversions. Janis is anti-driving after a long flight (I think it's something anyone can handle with caffeine and G-d knows there are Starbucks aplenty in the UK, but there is a learning curve if you've not driven on the wrong side of the road before . . . while sober) but her point about the ease and ubiquity of public transport is right. Fast train from Bath gets you into Paddington; fast train from Paddington (with a change) gets you to Windsor in 25 minutes. Or slow train from Waterloo gets you to HCP in 45 minutes.

Do go to londontown.com and use its walking tours and maps to group your sites with some logic. Also, go to www.walks.com and see what interests you and the hubby.
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Jun 26th, 2013, 09:13 AM
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I didn't say take a bus from Bath to Stonehenge. I said train from Bath to Salisbury, local bus to Stonehenge - you'd hen take a train straight to London. But doesn't matter if you insist on driving.

W/ a 7:00 arrival you probably won't be on your way in the car til nearly 10 AM so a bit late for breakfast in Windsor. You'll get to Bath in the late afternoon.
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Jun 26th, 2013, 09:20 AM
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And just to clarify what Big Russ posted - I may be 'anti- driving' after an over night flight . . . I am not anti driving. I've driven tens if thousands of miles in the UK over 30 plus trips. And tens of thousands more over the five years I lived there. And I raced sports cars. I'm not a nervous nelly "ooh, I'm afraid to drive on the wrong side of the road!" type . .
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Jun 26th, 2013, 09:47 AM
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Big Russ: That would have been helpful if I mentioned our ages/health! Okay, so DH & I are 32 (will still be by the trip) and my dad, who I actually call Pops, will turn 52 in August. I have young parents! He is in great shape/walking ability! Before I read the latest replies I starting thinking about the Imperial War Museum.

Also, I need to add Westminster Abbey.

To add more info, to help w/ the itinerary, I am looking at the Kennington B&B. It says on walkit that the B&B is 12 minutes from the Imperial War Museum.

Sorry, janisj, you did not say to bus from Bath to Stonehenge.

We just started planning so things could change. We felt that we didn't want to be at the mercy of buses/trains and felt it would take more time. My dad is very comfortable with traveling and is confident with driving on the other side of the road. He has traveled to Germany, Taiwan, and so many other places for work.

I realize that the gas is expensive but it is just for one day. From LHR it says, via google maps, that Windsor is 20 minutes away. From Windsor to Stonehenge: 1 hour 15 minutes. From Stonehenge to Bath is a little over an hour and we can make a stop to see the Wiltshire White Horses. We like the freedom we can have from LHR to Windsor, Stonehenge, and Bath.
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Jun 26th, 2013, 09:50 AM
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Also, I just thought, if you add up train/bus tickets, well there is the gas money!
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Jun 26th, 2013, 09:53 AM
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Sorry but I heard this week about friends who on returning from a European holiday to the UK picked up their car fora 70 mile drive home and ended up putting it in a ditch, driving when tired. So I echo the poster who said don't drive after a transatlantic flight. You may be comfortable driving but please think of the other road users.
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Jun 26th, 2013, 10:01 AM
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Looking a at all of the on-line mileage calculators, you need to add from 30% to almost 100% to the drive times. The20 minutes to Windsor can be about right - it is only 7 miles. But otherwise you really need to add time.

And Kennington is a horrible place to stay. It is far from anywhere.
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Jun 26th, 2013, 10:28 AM
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janisj: I read almost 200 excellent/very good reviews on tripadvisor stating that they "wouldn't stay anywhere else in London", "excellent location", "so close to the tube".

The b&b is only 50 meters to the tube. I put in the b&b address to the British Museum and it says 16 minutes by tube. I put in Tower of London and St Paul's Cathedral...both 20 minutes by tube. IMO, 15-20 minutes is not far.
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Jun 26th, 2013, 10:29 AM
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How much are taxis per mile?
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Jun 26th, 2013, 10:36 AM
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It is in Kennington. It is not near anything g at all except for the Oval. Kennington tube station is on the northern line south of even Elephant and Castle.

There is absolutely no reason to stay there. Honest. But you seem convinced, so go for it . . .
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Jun 26th, 2013, 10:50 AM
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louistraveler, please may I say this in the kindest possible way?

There are those here who are very seasoned travelers, for business but also for pleasure, and they seldom strongly urge for or against something unless they're pretty sure that they're right.

When I first read your original post, my thought was that this can't possibly be right; I must be misunderstanding something.

It seems that you want to do as you have planned. So that is perfectly fine, but you may rely on people here to give better time estimates than online calculators. They have no reason to mislead you.

Try to get a hotel in Bath with parking.
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Jun 26th, 2013, 11:46 AM
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tuscanlifeedit: "when I read your op, my thought was that this can't possibly be right"...what are you referring to?

I don't see what the big deal is about being 15-20 minutes away from sights by staying in Kennington? Anyone want to explain? I scoured the internet for days for a b&b and finally found this one with a good price for 3 people. I don't mind taking advice from seasoned travelers but also I don't think about 200 reviewers are misleading either. We eat breakfast at b&b; take the tube; see the sights...am I missing something? We have no intentions to return to the b&b throughout the day. We are going to be out all day and return after dinner.

Like I said, I don't mind taking advice so janisj, could you explain why you wouldn't stay in Kennington with the sights being a short tube ride away? Any b&b suggestions that are closer to the sights? Also, stating that Kennington line is even south of Elephant and Castle means nothing to me since I don't know anything about the London tube. Explanation?
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Jun 26th, 2013, 12:13 PM
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"Explanation?"

I always wonder, when plans seem to be already fixed, and reasonable suggestions are ignored, why ask the questions. An explanation of that might be interesting.
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Jun 26th, 2013, 12:15 PM
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Another thought is to spend Saturday through Tuesday in London. You could do Windsor Castle as a day trip from London.

Pick up your rental car early Wednesday, do a Stonehenge/Bath/Salisbury/Winchester loop (or the other way around)and be back Friday for your return flight.

We weren't all that interested in seeing Stonehenge, but we drove from Bath to Salisbury via Stourhead in part of a day. The next morning we visited Winchester and Chawton before heading to Heathrow to catch our flight.

This way you can avoid driving while jetlagged and still get to see things on your must-do list.

In London, try to group your sites. You could visit Westminster Abbey and the Cabinet War Rooms on the same day, for example, as they are very close to one another.

Lee Ann
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Jun 26th, 2013, 12:28 PM
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Most of the tourist sites, and most of the tourist infrastructure, i.e. hotels, restaurants, even the Tube, are concentrated north of the river. Kennington is south of the river. That part of London would be considered less pretty, gritty even. It's probably not the first area that tourists would think of staying.

Having said that the reviews for the B&B are very good. It is only a short walk from a Tube station and there'll be plenty of buses to get you where you want to go. If you're happy with the price then I wouldn't worry. You'll be in a part of London that most tourists don't see. And London is so big, so constantly changing, there may well be the most fantastic restaurant just round the corner,

Handy for The Oval if you want to see cricket.

An analogy could be like staying in Brooklyn rather than Manhattan. Maybe.
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Jun 26th, 2013, 12:35 PM
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To add my 2 cents

We've visited London many times and tend to stay outside of the main tourist areas. However Kennington has no "there" there - it has a lovely park but not much else beyond the Oval. And when Janisj said its beyond elephant and castle, she was making a good point that it's a ways away on the tube to any sights.

I realize many tourists like the idea of a B and B but over the years we've changed our minds in that in London. I'd rather be in a bit better more convenient area and buy our own breakfast.

Like many other places, Kennington is cheaper hair good reason. It's not the safest area and no charm of its own .
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Jun 26th, 2013, 12:44 PM
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I've just read this with growing incredulity as well - and i don't know which astonishes me most, the speed of your trip or the fact you want to stay in Kennington. i thought it must be Kensington, but no, Kennington it is. Oh my giddy aunt. how many people do you need to tell you that it's a bad idea? I used to work round there occasionally and I would never have wanted to stay there.

particularly with a crammed itinerary like this, you want to be as near as possible to most of the things you want to see, which, as sofarsogood says, unless you have tickets for every day of a test match at the Oval, Kennington isn't. However good the B&B, the environs and distance from most places you want to be make this a bad choice.

as for your itinerary, can i suggest this:

Sat - arrive LHR. Get train to Bath. See Bath.

Sun - spend early am in Bath, rent car, drive to Salisbury then onto Winchester.

Mon - am in Winchester then drive to Stonehenge and London. [possibly via Windsor]

Tues -London

Wed - London

Thurs - London

Fri - fly home.
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