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Raven01 Jan 21st, 2008 05:53 PM

England + Wales Itinerary

I'm new here, but am hoping to take advantage of the wealth of knowledge and experience. I'm planning a trip to England, Scotland, Wales, and possibly Paris with my 50-something mother. This will be her first trip abroad (she's not traveled much). I studied abroad and am comfortable in new places, but I'm trying to keep in mind it is a vacation :)

We're planning to go sometime in 2009. Obviously, I have time to research, but opinions on what month to go would be great -- we're aiming for not too hot, but not too crowded, and I was thinking March/April (though I'm slightly concerned with the Easter holiday.

Anyway, here's our current itinerary. Please let me know if this is reasonable, or if I should adjust. Just being there will please my mother, so I'm not worried about missing anything huge -- just about experiencing the country.

Day 1: Arrival after night flight/London (Big Ben, Parliament, Westminster)
2. London (Tower, St Pauls)
3. Oxford
4. Cotwolds Drive (renting a car from Oxford)
5. Cardiff
6. Edinburgh (flight from Cardiff)
7. Edinburgh
8. York
9. London (Harrods, Buckingham, Museum, Covent Garden, possible show)
10. Paris
11. Paris
12. Flight home

janisj Jan 21st, 2008 07:20 PM

Welcome aboard!

Sorry, but I think that is avery fractured and hectic schedule. Especially for someone who has never been to Europe.

You are staying overnight in 7 different cities in 4 countries in 12 nights. Places like Cardiff, Edinburgh and York will have you spending more time in transit than touring the cities.

You arrive in London jet lagged and 2 days later you are headed to Oxford. I would sit down and decide which 3 cities/areas are most important and concentrate on them.

If you have the choice - I'd try to go a little later. May is a terrific and is not crowded except for the first and last weekends which are Bank holidays in the UK. The middle of May will likely have much better weather. March/April can still be quite wintery in both the UK and Paris.

tod Jan 21st, 2008 10:23 PM

I'm taking note of Janisj's weather prediction as well! Bank holiday weekends - Oh no!
Well lets see. We land at LHR on 30th April and spend the next day relaxing in London. Then on the 2nd it's off to Dover by train from Charing Cross to pick up our motorhome. So, Janisj do you think that's going to be a problem for us? I see on the Rail Info that one cannot pre-book a train seat on that particular route - also there are trains leaving from Victoria station every 30 min. but since we are staying at the Ibis Euston/St.Pancras which gives us the Northern Line to Charing Cross, it makes sense to go directly there.
Your comments please!

Raven01 - Our planned trip is almost identical except for the fact we are doing it over three and a half weeks.

lynnielegend Jan 21st, 2008 10:55 PM

Oh my, I think you are being WAY too ambitious, you both will be exhausted with this schedule! I've been to all the locations you've mentioned, I would suggest skipping Edinburgh/York entirely (although they are wonderful), and thereby skip that extra plane trip. Spend quality (and relaxing) time in London, rent a car there and drive around to Oxford, Cotwolds, etc., back to London and then to Paris, and give yourself more time in Paris also, you could take a day trip to Versailles. Save Scotland for your next trip! I agree also with the May/June suggestion. We tend to forget how far north England really is.

MissPrism Jan 22nd, 2008 01:40 AM

I'd skip Wales too.
The great thing about Wales is the scenery.
You are not going to appreciate it by spending one day in Cardiff.

Mucky Jan 22nd, 2008 02:29 AM

Welcome Raven01
I feel I have to agree with Janis and Lynne the schedule is a bit hectic.

In 12 nights you could comfortably see and enjoy Some of London, Oxford Cotswolds and South East Wales. But to be honest, I think the other places ought to wait.

Consider quality and not quantity.

The UK is not an easy place to travel around,roads are busy, trains are usually late and with security as it is, you could spend hours and hours waiting in airports.
I would try to keep to one or 2 specific areas, by renting a car you can do this and still see a wide area too.

Miss Prism is right, the scenery here in Wales is lovely. But the best scenery(if that's what you like) is further west which would need a few days to really appreciate

Cardiff though is a beautiful city and well worth at least a day if you can afford the time. The castle dominates the city center, the arcades, shopping, Cardiff bay the Millenium center, Castle Coch, Caerphilly castle, Museum of welsh life, National Museum of Wales to name just a few places to see.

Good luck with your planning


bilboburgler Jan 22nd, 2008 04:43 AM

Way too much.

You need to think what you want to see. If you search these threads on individual items you will get some good ideas but note you are visiting the second most densly populated country in the EU (Malta is number 1) and yet Wales and Scotland have tiny populations so there is a lot to see and do.

More research then test the new itinary

noe847 Jan 22nd, 2008 12:46 PM

I have visited all of the places that you mention in the UK, over multiple trips. Your schedule is way too ambitious and the trip will be a huge blur. You've given all of your destinations "minimum" time - and in the case of London and Paris, not really a minimum.

If Paris is a 'must', you might consider doing London and Paris, maybe split the nights 8 and 4 or 7 and 5, flying open jaw into one and out of the other. You can do some wonderful day trips from London - Oxford, Cardiff, York are all around 2 hours travel time. You'd get up for an early morning train, have the bulk of the day sightseeing and return in the evening. Shorter day trips could include Hampton Court, Windsor, Greenwich. Plan your days to alternate your in-city and day trips, and you have seen a lot without having to truck all your luggage with you. Of course on my first London trip we were there 6 nights and never left town!

You could also save Paris for another time and do London, York and Edinburgh, all by train.

alanRow Jan 22nd, 2008 01:36 PM

At the minimum, skip York, move day 9 to after day 2 and fly between Edinburgh & Paris

Better still remove one more major city from your itinerary

5alive Jan 22nd, 2008 02:35 PM

I would do either:
1. half London and half Paris, with one daytrip thrown into each location. A great intro to Europe.

2. Just Great Britain, with London and some (not all) of the smaller cities you mention. This might be preferable if your mom likes smaller towns or the countryside.

annhig Jan 22nd, 2008 03:01 PM

Hi Raven,

I'm in agreement with the others who've chipped in so far.

however, [and this won't surprise regulars to this forum] I'm going to suggest adding somewhere to your itinerary - Cornwall. you'll have to take other places away of course,but mostly those are places which you can visit anytime of year, whereas, Cornwall is at it's very best, IMO, in the spring. nice weather, the gardens are superb, not that many people - perfect.

it would fit well into a south of england trip too, especially if you got a cheap flight to Newquay [Ryanair from stanstead or ? from Gatwick] and picked up a car from there. then work your way back east, dropping your car off somewhere convenient for a railway station.

then eurostar to Paris.

as for your 50-something mother [3 cheers for us 50 somethings] although I doubt she's yet in her dotage, she might appreciate a slower pace too. and what about jetlag - are you planning to miss it out?

please come back to me if you'd like specific sugggestions for cornwall.

regards, ann

Raven01 Jan 22nd, 2008 04:51 PM

Thanks for all the responses! I'll talk with my mom about what's important to her. Paris was a recent idea that isn't necessary, but she's been dying to see Wales. I've also thought of basing out of London and day-tripping. While I know the 'we'll never be back' attidue is not recommended, this could very well be my mother's lone trip to Europe, so I'd like to make the most of the time. I'm also hoping to extend our trip by a few days, but that depends on my job's flexibility

If we do Paris, we'd do an open jaw ticket from North Carolina to London, and return home from Paris. I plugged it in for kicks and found it cheaper than a roundtrip to London -- which greatly surprised me.

janisj Jan 22nd, 2008 04:57 PM

You don't have to eliminate everything. If Wales is important to your Mom, you could fly into London, spend 4 or 5 days, then drive or take the train to Wales for a few days. Then you can fly to Paris from Cardiff or Bristol or Birmingham or Liverpool (depending on which part of Wales you are in at the time). Then 4 or 5 days in Paris and fly home.

Any add'l days you can add will only give you more flexibility and a chance to maybe add one other place.

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