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Banks alerted, pounds converted, and our airplane diverted: Our London Trip Report

Banks alerted, pounds converted, and our airplane diverted: Our London Trip Report

Old Jun 11th, 2008, 09:43 AM
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Like I say - there's chickens and then there's chickens.
Cholmondley_Warner is offline  
Old Jun 11th, 2008, 10:36 AM
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On the chicken debate. This is a big news item in the UK at the moment. Supermarkets here will sell ridiculously cheap chicken. You can get two rotisserie chickens for £5 at many Asda's, Tesco's and Morrisons all over the UK. Cheap fresh chicken is also readily available.

The point of the debate is that to meet that price point they're raised in appalling conditions. The supermarkets counter by saying they are meeting consumer demand, although many consumers were, until recently, ignorant of the methods used to produce such cheap birds, and that they supply premium chickens at higher price points to satisfy consumers who'd rather opt for meat produced in a more ethical manner.

Its an ongoing debate and one which is changing buying patterns. After a recent series on the issue, on Channel 4, free range chicken sales shot up to the extent that supermarket shelves where cleared and many suppliers are starting to switch production to less intensive methods.

That high prices for chicken quoted above are invariably for free range or organic chicken supplied in city centre specialist outlets or local metro style stores and these are totally unrepresentative of the kind of prices the average Briton pays for food. The mass produced kind retails at not much more in UK supermarkets than those in the US. The likliehood of you being in the vicinity of those stores whilst in tourist districts is the problem. After all, if I'm in New York on holiday I'm really not likely to be searching out Costco for good deals on chicken.
wellididntknowthat is offline  
Old Jun 11th, 2008, 11:13 AM
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I really enjoyed your report a lot! We love England and wish we had a bolt hole there.'
I too was fascinated about your chicken comment. It still seemed to me that 8 pounds for a chicken would be a lot cheaper than eating out! But each to their own, I guess.
Isn't it funny what grabs each of us in a persons trip report. Yours was so fun to read and very informative, so thank You
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Old Jun 11th, 2008, 01:41 PM
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where I live we also have $4.99 rotisserie chickens -- but some shops also have $18 rotisserie chickens.

One is a battery raised chicken - especially from the mid-west, the others are "Rosie", "Rocky", "Rocky Jr" and other free range chickens http://www.petalumapoultry.com/

Sure we can get $5 birds -- but at farmers markets, Whole Foods and upscale markets they cost a LOT more than that.
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Old Jun 11th, 2008, 05:49 PM
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Wow! I just came in from work and checked my post for replies. It seems I really hit on a subject of some interest with the roasted chicken!

jrecm-We decided that buying the chicken and a couple of sides to go along would run about 25 pounds, so we passed up on eating in, even though it would have been a little cheaper, and headed back to Chinatown. My stepson and his Chinese/Malaysian wife have taught us to appreciate a good roast duck, and even though we have a large Asian population here in Atlanta, and I have many favorite restaurants, I still haven't found one with really great roast duck.

I checked with my local Whole Foods Market, and the chickens there are $7.99, which still is very reasonable. Like a couple of other posters, I'll still buy the Costco chickens, because they are the best I've had anywhere.
Chicken farming is a huge business in the small towns just north of Atlanta, so maybe that makes some difference.

SandyBrit--We liked our flat very much, and would certainly stay there again. I will say that the furniture was not elegant--Ikea, probably, but we were glad for the location, and the kitchen and bath facilities were good.There was a washer/dryer in the kitchen, too. We were on the 4th floor, and there was a small lift. Wifi was included, but there was no cable tv, just a couple of local stations. Since I rarely watch, especially on vacation, it didn't really matter to me. I think DH would have liked access to more choices for sports and news.
We paid the deposit for the flat by Paypal, and might have been able to pay the balance that way if we paid in full before arriving. I just liked that we didn't have to shell out until we saw the place.

YK--I think my husband was willing to pay a little extra for the peace of mind that having the cash gave him, but I paid $1671 for the 800 pounds at Amex, and it would have cost $1558 through my credit union ATM. $113 is a lot of money. The main problem is our credit union limits us to $800 per DAY, not per transaction, so I would have had to use another account--Bank of America, and when I called them, they said that transaction fees and conversion fees would apply. So....
I would probably still have taken 4 or 5 hundred pounds, and gotten the rest on arrival.
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Old Jun 11th, 2008, 05:56 PM
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Barb: "when I called them, they said that transaction fees and conversion fees would apply. " Another reason to ask here and forget about anything your bank says

Just for your future info -- BofA has no transaction fees if you use Barclay's Bank ATMs. And Barclay's are everywhere in London.
janisj is online now  
Old Jun 11th, 2008, 06:22 PM
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Barb, if I posted the question in the Lounge (since it's of less-than-dubious relevance here) would you be willing to give a few names of your favorite Asian restaurants? We're always on the lookout.

Also, the debate about origins and conditions of poultry and meat also rages on this side of the Atlantic. My oldest daughter has given thought to becoming vegetarian, but for the moment is going with humane/local source/sustainable considerations when she buys meat. I know other folks who are making similar decisions. To connect this to England, I've been roasting my own heritage fowl lately, using a recipe from www.deliaonline.com - I've enjoyed Delia's recipes (which I learned of from this forum!)
noe847 is offline  
Old Jun 11th, 2008, 06:38 PM
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whoops, I just realized that I wrote something extremely imprecise (and probably misleading!)

Lately I've been roasting in my own oven heritage fowl that I've purchased, usually at Whole Foods (not fowl that I raise myself!!). I've been using a recipe I found online at deliaonline.com (Delia Smith is an English cook and television presenter).
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Old Jun 11th, 2008, 07:42 PM
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HI Barb - my question is actually the following:

Do you think next time when you and your husband go to London (or other European countries), he'll still insist on changing some money in the US? Or has he realized how easy it is to get money from local ATMs that he'll use ATM from now on?

BTW, ditto what Janis said. Bank of America doesn't charge any extra if you use the ATMS from Barclays. I was just in London/UK 2 weeks ago and withdrew a couple of times from Barclays. I checked my bank statement, there was no fee, no conversion charge.
yk is offline  
Old Jun 11th, 2008, 08:25 PM
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I think for our trip to Paris we won't even think about getting Euros in advance. We are renting an apartment that we've rented a couple of times before, and the French owner lives in the US, so we pay in dollars.

We've been to Paris 4 times before, most recently in spring 07, when we arrived at Gare du Nord from London on the Eurostar. We bought our coupons for our Carte Orange using credit card, and then used an ATM in the train station for cash.

This trip we're flying into CDG, but we will get cash after landing at the airport.
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Old Jun 11th, 2008, 08:49 PM
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Bookmarking for future enjoyment.
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Old Jun 12th, 2008, 10:51 AM
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It's been quite a while since we went to UK, but I like reading others experiences as ideas for what to do or possibly avoid.

We always took (AmExp) trav. checks as well as cash, no problems w/trav. cks anywhere. We've stayed in B&B's which we really enjoyed & picked up easy meals at Safeway or Marks&Spencer; pub meals were very good, very filling & well priced. Always a stop at Harrods - if for no other reason than wandering thru the Food Hall - Covent Garden, Neal Yard, Fortnum & Mason, museums.

While London makes a great vacation spot, there's a lot to see in the rest of the country, too, & frequently for less. We usually spent only 1-2 nights there to recuperate, then moved on, generally w/an open travel plan. The only definite is spending a few days w/family near L'pool. In between, we bought multi-use Brit. Heritage Passes & used them as a loose guide for 'where to go next.'

We rented cars for convenience but that may not happen next time. Besides, there are lots of busses & trains to get you where you want to go... and you don't have to cope with driving on the other side of the road or the roundabouts or...=)

When we were stationed in Germany & traveled to UK, it was nice not to worry about purchases as they'd be part of the household shipped back to US. It really can put a damper on the pleasures of bargains when you have to ship it yourself!
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Old Jun 12th, 2008, 07:09 PM
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I am enjoying the posts about the London trip...but who would have thought that the casual mention of the price of a chicken in London would have elicited all these replies? Too funny for a travel site!
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Old Jun 12th, 2008, 08:21 PM
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Well, LorrieB, that's Fodor's for you! Welcome, by the way. You'll find tons of great information here, and lots of knowledgeable (and sometimes opinionated!) people. And you never can tell when a thread will veer off the rails. Well, sometimes it's predictable, but often posts take on a life of their own.
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