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Best phone for England, and do we need day tours in London?

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Aug 13th, 2016, 03:00 PM
  #1
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Best phone for England, and do we need day tours in London?

We will need to make calls when we're in England for taxis, information, etc? Probably only use it for local calls. We have Verizon cell phones we use at home in the U.S. Any suggestions on a cheap way to use a cell phone there?

We'll be in London two full days the first week in October and then fly home. We want to see the Tower, the London Eye and the British Museum at least. Is it necessary to get a tour at that time of year to not wait a long time to buy tickets at each location? Is the hop on hop off bus worth it with all the traffic? Should mention, there will be 4 of us and we are mid 70's and 80's.

If you think a tour would be the better choice, any suggestions for a good one.
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Aug 13th, 2016, 03:14 PM
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No, you do not need day tours in London. At the Tower, you will want to join a warder's tour (the guys in the fancy costumes). Get there at opening and go first to the Crown Jewels, then come back to get the full tour. Given your exceptionally limited time, I might go from there to the British Museum. Anyone have mobility problems? Can you manage the stairs in the Tube? If stairs are a problem, take a taxi. If al of you can manage stairs, the tube is the most efficient way to get to places. If the London Eye is important to you, go there based on the weather.

I think the Hop On Hop Off buses are a waste of time.
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Aug 13th, 2016, 03:16 PM
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Oh, and about phones. I can't imagine why you would need to make local calls for taxis, information, etc. Do you have smart phones? If you do, you might use them for maps and may want data. In that case, Verizon has very inexpensive data-only plans available. Call them and ask.
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Aug 13th, 2016, 03:21 PM
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First talk to Verizon -- they offer an (expensive) plan but you only pay for the days you actually use the phone so might end up cheaper than buying an unlocked phone and sim card. Couldn't be easier. And since you are only there 2 days that is probably what I'd do.

Plus you can use the phone on wifi so you can always send e-mails instead of phoning.

The Tower, British Museum and Eye would totally fill one of your days (or halves of each day)

>>Is it necessary to get a tour at that time of year to not wait a long time to buy tickets at each location?<<

Well lines aren't an issue at the Br Museum (except for the security everyone has to go through).. The Museum is free and there are no tickets/ticket line.

At the Tower - just get there just before opening time and there will be essentially no line. Head straight to the Crown Jewels first (later in the day the lines for the jewel house will be enormous) - then retrace your step back to the entrance and hook up with one of the Yeoman Warder tours (Free except for a small tip given when you are in the chapel at the end of the tour)

Don't waste the time/money for the H-o-H-o buses.

>> we are mid 70's and 80's<<

Age is just a number -- do any of you have health/mobility problems?
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Aug 13th, 2016, 03:24 PM
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We were posting at the same time . . .

OH - and you never (well almost never) need to phone for a taxi. You just hail them on the street.

Please don't take a taxi to/from the airport. Use a pre-booked car service like justairports.com They meet you and it is door-to-door for about half what a cab charges.
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Aug 13th, 2016, 04:21 PM
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Also note that the tube is almost always quicker than a taxi. I seldom use a taxi in London. As stated use a car service to/ from LHR. If flying to/ from Gatwick use the train.
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Aug 13th, 2016, 06:23 PM
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>>Also note that the tube is almost always quicker than a taxi. I seldom use a taxi in London.<<

The tube is faster and cheaper - and I use it a ton . . . but I still often use taxis. I love London black cabs.

Especially if there are any mobility issues, the tube can be a nightmare w/ all the steps. Buses are usually much easier.
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Aug 14th, 2016, 12:57 AM
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As janisj wrote: "do any of you have health/mobility problems?" I am in my 70s, and to my shame, only recently discovered how easy it is to get from one place to another in central London by foot. I used to always take the tube. In some tube stations you go long distances between platforms through tunnels, so you end up walking anyway.

If you have a smart phone with Google Maps you can use it to navigate, with an arrow for directions, and it even shows distances.
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Aug 14th, 2016, 04:43 AM
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NB, if you set up your phone with the APP "here" or other pre-loaded maps you can use GPS (at no cost) without picking up phone charges. Some London transplrt APPS also exist again based on GPS (no data). Most hotels (except the high priced ones) will offer free wifi. (The high priced ones just slab on extra wifi bills because they can).

Cabs, you hail them, phones don't get them. Local "taxi hire firms" please don't use them in central London, the biggest is run by a man who favours killing bicylists rather than being late for a client so best avoided. Jansj's pick up service from the airport is not part of his monopoly and has a more positive attitude to human life.
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Aug 14th, 2016, 08:26 AM
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Thanks for all your advice. I forgot to mention we will be in England for 21 nights, not just London. London is at the end of our trip. You can check out 21 nights in England, if you wish. I was thinking the phone to call ahead to B & B's and order cabs in different locations, outside of London. We will be in the Cotswolds for a week , Stow on the Wold, and don't think buses run from there to Warwick Castle, for example, and from the trains to our village.

Had one knee replaced this year, can walk alright, do stairs, but slowly. My husband still jogs and the other couple is fine. Think we'll be ok.

We'll get the Oyster card. My husband didn't want to go for the hop on hop bus, so from you comments, thats out. Our phones are smart phones.

So, we'll get to the Tower first, see the jewels, and take that Yeoman tour. Which is easier, closest, next, the Museum, that 30 minute boat cruise? Think we'll save the London Eye to the end of the day or the next day.

We're changing at Victoria station on our way to Gatwick airport.

Any suggestions for places to eat lunch that are not so touristy? Any other must see places to visit? We should have planned more days in London, but we really wanted to see the countryside first.

Less than a month away and I'm getting excited.
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Aug 14th, 2016, 08:29 AM
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This links up all public transport
http://www.traveline.info/

Stow-on-the-Wold to WW would take you 3.2 hours and two changes.
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Aug 14th, 2016, 08:47 AM
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Why Warwick Castle? it's fine as far as it goes, but [ducking for cover] more an attraction for children than adults, IMHO. Nearby Kenilworth Castle is a proper ruin and with its recently renovated gardens, well worth seeing, but they are both a b..ger to get to on public transport. No chance you would drive? exploring the Cotswolds would be infinitely easier with a car.

Closer to Stow is Sudeley Castle which has some terrific gardens:

http://www.sudeleycastle.co.uk

A little further afield is Berkley Castle where Edward II met his end [quite literally] and that can be combined with a trip to the Wild fowl centre at Slimbridge - a great place to visit in September when there should be some migrating birds.

if you want to do these places by cab, I suggest prebooking a car with a driver rather than trying to do it on a day by day basis - you might be able to fine a local service that would do you a rate for the week which between the 4 of you could be quite affordable.
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Aug 14th, 2016, 09:10 AM
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In this day and age, the whole phone thing is so different than what it was just a couple of years ago. With the advent of smartphone, perfectly good phones for use on voice and texts are dirt cheap and will work perfectly for those two things. They're almost like give aways the same way 4 function calculators have become. What you will need are UK pay as you go sim cards. Sim cards are free in the UK although for the most part, the minimum top up is £10 which will provide oodles of minutes within the UK for a 30 day period. The various plans are too numerous to go through and may require some web research or you can pop into a mobile phone store, decribe that you want the cheapest phone they carry; yes it will be a few years out of date but it will work perfectly for voice and texts. Add ons, for almost every UK mobile telcome, will allow you to call outside the UK dirt cheap, like 1p/minute to call the USA and Canada. It is very simple and to me since you say you're spending a little time in the UK, you will find that like elsewhere in the world, public pay phones are almost a thing of the past as every 10 year old kid today walks around with a mobile phone and spends half his or her time texting. It's something that does bear looking into. (It is also very possible you already have a phone that is unlocked and that all you have to do is procure a sim card but you have to check with your carrier wherever it is.
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Aug 14th, 2016, 09:11 AM
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Here is the OP's other thread:

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...lease-help.cfm

NevadaGranny: Did you contact any of the Tourist offices? I would NOT call for a cab from your B&B in the Cotswolds to Warwick castle. You could hire a local driver guide for a entire day and fit in Hidcote Manor Garden (a MUST), Warwick castle, and either Kenilworth or Stratford upon Avon. That wouldn't cost so very much more than just being driven to Warwick and back.
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Aug 14th, 2016, 09:34 AM
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<< You could hire a local driver guide for a entire day and fit in Hidcote Manor Garden (a MUST), Warwick castle, and either Kenilworth or Stratford upon Avon. That wouldn't cost so very much more than just being driven to Warwick and back.>>

great minds think alike, JJ.
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Aug 14th, 2016, 04:45 PM
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Got some great ideas from this forum. Think we will find a driver for a day trip to Warwick castle, Stratford on Avon and Hidcote Manor. Husband is 86 and we don't want to drive ourselves. Any especially nice place to eat lunch at one of these places or is it better to just find a place in Stratford?

We have a tour scheduled for the high country in the Lake district, a day tour with Tim in Cornwall and a Secret Cottage tour in the Cotswolds so far.

Now it sounds as if we don't need a tour in London. Our friends have been there 2 or 3 times, and we don't feel we need to see everything our first visit.

I'll let my husband read your suggestions for the phone. This is his trip and he is doing the planning!
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Aug 14th, 2016, 11:07 PM
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>> Any especially nice place to eat lunch at one of these places or is it better to just find a place in Stratford?<<

The National Trust runs a very nice restaurant and a simple cafe at Hidcote Manor. You will want to book at the Winthrop just as you enter the gardens and then return for your lunch time..
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Aug 15th, 2016, 05:39 AM
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We have a tour scheduled for the high country in the Lake district, a day tour with Tim in Cornwall and a Secret Cottage tour in the Cotswolds so far.>>

where are you staying in Cornwall? I have a fodorite friend who is going to doing a day with Tim next month so I will be interested to see what your respective impressions are.

good idea to book the driver for a day - much easier than trying to arrange a taxi while you are here.
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Aug 15th, 2016, 06:23 AM
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Just a suggestion: London Walks does a nice tour of the British Museum.

http://www.walks.com/
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Aug 15th, 2016, 08:11 AM
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Annhig, we are staying in Penzance for 3 nights and our tour with Tim in on Oct 2.

rncheryl, London Walks tour of the British Museum is available one of the days we are in London. I will look into doing that tour.
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