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Feedback/thoughts on this London Itenerary

Feedback/thoughts on this London Itenerary

Old Nov 29th, 2007, 07:49 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 48
Feedback/thoughts on this London Itenerary

Greetings fellow Fodorites!

My wife and I are taking my niece on a London/Paris trip as her University graduation present.

We are experienced travellers, though my niece has never been across the pond. (I should work up some kind of ceremony for her )

None of us have been to London or Paris before. We're looking at three full days in each city and I've started to cobble together things we want to see.

I'd like to hear from the folks who have been there before if this itenerary for London seems about right? Too Aggressive? Missing anything? etc.

Day 1 London
We will arrive in London very early in the morning (0650 if everything is on time) so, Iím thinking get off the plane, hit the hotel, stash our gear and clean up (assuming we can check in that early) and see about heading out to Stonehenge. I figure the ride out to the site, visiting and riding back will be easier on us than trying to hit up London straight off the plane.
Get back to the hotel, freshen up, take a breather and hit the London Eye for a night view..

Day 2 London:
This is the day to see all the Ďtoursityí things in London itself. St. Paulís Cathedral, Buckingham Palace (Changing of the Guard if they do it)Knightsbridge, the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey , Whitehallís, Downing Street, Tower of London.

This is the itinerary piece Iím most unsure about from a timing standpoint. How long should one expect seeing the above to take. Is this a pretty full day or, would there be enough daylight left to run out to Leeds or Windsor Castles?

Day 3 London

My wife wants to see Oxford and Iím thinking that a trip out there will take the better part of a day. Does that sound right? If not, about how long might it take?
DesertDave is offline  
Old Nov 29th, 2007, 08:05 AM
Join Date: Jul 2005
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You're not spending 3 days in London--your spending 1 day in London with that plan. No way I would go to either Oxford, or epsecially, Stonehenge with that short of a visit. You'd need 3 days to see just the things that are listed on Day 2.
twk is offline  
Old Nov 29th, 2007, 08:23 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
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I agree with twk. Plus you're not allowing time to recover from jetlag. Both London and Paris have more than enough to fill up 3 days. And it takes a certain amount of time to get from one spot to another. Save the excursions for another trip.
Mimar is offline  
Old Nov 29th, 2007, 08:31 AM
Join Date: Jul 2007
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The previous poster may have different preferences than you, but if you and your wife really want to go to Oxford you should. That could probably be done in the same day as going to Stonehenge, that way you only need to leave London once. I am curious though as to what your transportation to Oxford and/or Stonehenge is. If renting a car, you could do both. Otherwise, if taking a train or coach to Oxford, you will be limited by a schedule.

Regarding your day 2 itinerary, it is very aggressive. You may want to prioritize what is on the list. Things take much longer than you would expect, given transportation to and from each place. You will defintely NOT have enough time for that and going to Leeds or Windsor. Again, how do you plan to "run" out to Leeds or Windsor?

janewb is offline  
Old Nov 29th, 2007, 08:34 AM
Join Date: May 2006
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Dave - great present, but, yes, I think your itinerary is too agressive...

1. Assuming you can checkin that early is a big assumption. Some hotels will let you store bags there until checkin time, but verify with them in advance. Otherwise, have plan B

2. You may not suffer from jet lag as much as we do, but doing Stonehenge the day you land is too much IMO. You don't say if you're doing this on your own, or taking a tour - but I think it would be exhausting regardless.

3. Agree that the things on your list for Day 2 really takes at least 2 and probably 3 days - and you don't have British Museum or National Gallery on there (which we think are must-sees and go to every time we visit London, but that's just our preference).

4. Assuming weather is good, London Eye at night is really nice.

5. I'd take a break on morning of arrival, leave your bags, and try and do a couple of things that afternoon that are relatively close together and "close" to your hotel - something like Parliament, Big Ben and maybe Westminster.

6. With only 3 days, I'd also be inclined to skip Stonehenge and Oxford, but if you are set on those, there are companies that do day tours that include both of those and Stratford (makes for a long day and you'll get lots of opinions as to whether its best to do these on your own or via tour). If you decide to do this, I'd do this on a day other than day of your arrival.

5. No, under your current plan you wouldn't have time to go to Leeds or Windsor. IMO those are day trips in and of themselves.

Good luck.
dfr4848 is offline  
Old Nov 29th, 2007, 08:37 AM
Join Date: May 2003
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You might consider this. On day 1 make a do it yourself walking tour of the major sights (Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Parliament, Big Ben etc.) Being outside and walking is the best cure I know for jet lag. On day 2 plan the Tower of London in the morning. On day 3 if you still want to, do a day trip to Stonehenge or Oxford. There are also great day trips that will give you a sense of the rest of London but won't be quite so far (Greenwich, Windsor, Hampstead, etc.) This way you will have an overall sense of London itself at the beginning and can decide from there in stages depending on your mood, the weather, whatever. I also recommend you see at least one of the leading museums (Museum of London, which is not far from St. Pauls so you could combine, Victoria & Albert which is near Harrod's, or the Tate Britain or Tate Modern for art -- there's a river boat that goes between the two -- or another museum if you or your niece has a special interest). Enjoy planning your trip!
laurie_ann is offline  
Old Nov 29th, 2007, 08:52 AM
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Hi DesertDave,

My wife, son snd I went to London this past summer for the first time and loved it. I hate to tall you but we spent 6 nights and felt like we just SCRATCHED the surface.

That being said and with what the other posters have said, you can "see" a lot in the time you are there.

Get a book with walks planned out with the major sights you want to see in London. Yes, your feet will be hurting. Many of the things you listed on day two are within walking distance of each other. There are many museums along the way too that are either free or low cost but take time to view.

The tower will take the better part of a morning itself so I would start one of your days there and then study what else is nearby. Tower brigde etc...

You can take breaks from walking and get from point A to B by taking water taxis from one bridge to another. all while getting another view of the sights.

We really liked the Eye for the grandest view, 30 minute round trip.

The Tube is great for to and fro to the areas you want to walk. Meals will also give your feet a break.

Do you know where you would be staying? You will likely not be able to check in before 1:00, usually 3:00PM but you can probably leave your luggage there before that.

You will be wiped out by jetlag and everyone gets it a little differently. Check out some of the threads on jetlag for some interesting tips.

Bring more information for some more specific advice.

thereyet is offline  
Old Nov 29th, 2007, 09:28 AM
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Excellent feedback folks, thanks!

I figured what I had planned was too aggressive and was hoping against hope that we might be able to squeeze in one or more little road trips.

I learned how to beat jet lag in the military and have taught my wife how to too. Not that we're bullte proof to fatigue of course, but jet lag isn't that bad for us.

We're normally at work at 0530 am daily as it is. Sleep on the flight, hit the ground at 0700. We're practically on our clocks as it is!

Besides from that, we have a 'sleep when I'm dead' mindset about vacation.
DesertDave is offline  
Old Nov 29th, 2007, 09:47 AM
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Be sure to teach your niece those tricks.

thereyet is offline  
Old Nov 29th, 2007, 10:08 AM
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Thereyet: I plan to!

It's really no trick and I figure most Fodor's folks already know 'the secret' but, just in case:

After landing and getting to where you will stay:

Get unpacked, take a shower if you can, drink lots of water/juice the rest of the day.

Avoid caffeine and alcohol entirely this day.

Avoid napping. If you absolutely cannot go on without a nap, make it no longer than 30 minutes.

Stay up until your normal bed time, and then go to sleep. This should ensure you're tired enough to sleep the night through.

Get up at your regular time.

You'll be pretty tired the first day, like pulling an all nighter in college.

But after that you should be good to go. I've done quite a bit of world travel and it's always worked for me anyway. Hope it helps someone else.

DesertDave is offline  
Old Nov 29th, 2007, 10:14 AM
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"1. Assuming you can checkin that early is a big assumption. Some hotels will let you store bags there until checkin time, but verify with them in advance. Otherwise, have plan B"

I actually expect to not be able to check-in but I hadn't thought that the hotel might not hold luggage. Good point.

What is a good plan B for luggage stoarage?

Are there lockers in the tubes? Or something?
DesertDave is offline  
Old Nov 29th, 2007, 10:17 AM
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Have you picked a hotel yet? You could always pick a hotel contingent on whether they will hold your luggage or not.

thereyet is offline  
Old Nov 29th, 2007, 10:31 AM
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DesertDave: Those are good tips - they are what most folks do to alleviate jetlag. Even IF they work for all three of you this time, your plan is really not doable/practical. Most any hotel will hold your luggage - but that is the least of your problems.

some questions -- Do you want to see anything in London - or just say you've been there? You say you want to &quot;<i>squeeze in one or more little road trips</i>&quot; out of one of the most fascinating cities in the world - do you really only want to spend 1 day there?

You just got off a cramped overnight flight - do you actually want to immediately get on a long distance coach trip for a full day?

Of your day 2 list - these are just &quot;walk-by's&quot; and are not things to &quot;visit&quot;: Buckingham Palace (Skip the Guard change - takes waaaay too much time for your short stay) Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Whitehall and Downing Street.

These each take at least 2 hours and the Tower even more: St. Paulís Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, Tower of London.

By Knightsbridge - do you mean shopping at Harrod's or Harvey Nick's - or just wandering the neighborhood? Knightsbridge is not really a touris attraction.

W/ only 3 days you honestly only have 2.5 days free for sightseeing - I'd spend the whole time in London.

W/ a 0650 arrival - you can plan on being to your hotel by 0930 or 1000. That is too late to catch most tours to Stonehenge. If you mean to do it on your own on the train - then you'd have to make your way to the station, take the train to Salisbury, then a local but to Stonehenge, then back to Salisbury, back to London and collapse in bed when you finally get back to your hotel.

I don't mean to sound snarky here - but I dread to see your plan for Paris.
janisj is offline  
Old Nov 29th, 2007, 10:44 AM
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Thereyet: Yes but, I haven't confirmed with them that they will hold luggage. It's a Hilton though so I assumed they would.

Jansij: The snarkiness was throughout your post, not just the closing lines. No worries, though. Keyboard anonymity breeds snarkiness, I've been on the net long enough to be immune. Though, I am often a carrier...

While I didn't say it directly, the feedback I have receieved has me re-working our agenda and more than likely dropping any excursions.

If we get to day 1.5 or 2 and feel like we just have to take daytrip out to see &lt;blank&gt;, We can arrange that when we come to it.

Rest assured though I'll run it by you to make sure it meets with your approval for appropriately seeing one of the most fascinating cities in the world.

Tsk...darn...I almost made it.
DesertDave is offline  
Old Nov 29th, 2007, 10:56 AM
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Dave: Whoa - None of my post - except the Paris part - was the least bit snarky. Those were questions you really do need to consider. And by &quot;walk by&quot; that is accurate. You can't go inside any of those sites - and really can't see Number 10 except for an iron fence and a police guard.

It is YOUR trip afterall - but those of us on here who know London know your plan was unworkable. It is a good thing you are re-thinking things. It doesn't need to meet my approval for sure. But before you bite the hand . . . . rest assured we ARE trying to help you.
janisj is offline  
Old Nov 29th, 2007, 11:04 AM
Join Date: May 2006
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Dave - to respond to your question, I think Hilton will store it. If not, they'll have some options/suggestions for you. Years (and years) ago we stored at Victoria Station, but don't know if that's still an option. Sorry I can't be of more help, but we've been fortunate since my SIL has lived in London for 6 yrs and we just drop bags at her flat and then head out.
dfr4848 is offline  
Old Nov 29th, 2007, 11:26 AM
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Sorry, Janisj. I didn't mean to imply you brought no value. The information about the wlk-bys, the time per place and how long it will take to get in from LHR to the hotel were indeed helpful.

I will put up my revised plan but, really, by now it's just looking like what pretty much everyone has advised: All of day 2 spread across the three days, and adding a museum or two.

Hard ti imaging going all that way and not seeing 'the Henge' though.
DesertDave is offline  
Old Nov 29th, 2007, 12:26 PM
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On the Houses of Parliament, that is only open for tour to foreigners when they are in recess in September (?). Same for Buckingham Palace. Now, if you are there on a day when the House of Commons is debating until late in the evening (Mondays and Tuesdays, I believe), you can actually get admitted and see a debate (probably a boring one, but it will get you in to see the chamber and some of the interior) and do so at at time when a lot of other sites are closed.

Agree on skipping changing of the guard, given your limited time. Check out the moutned guards at Horse Guards instead. Now, you don't tell us when you are going, but if you happen to be going in early June (and as a graduation present, that would be logical), you could be in London on one of the three Saturdays when they have Trooping the Colour or the two dress rehersals leading up to it. Getting tickets is a little complicated, but it would be worth it if you can swing it--or you could just watch the entire household division march down the Mall after the ceremony on its way to Buckingham Palace.

Get to the Tower when it first opens at 9:00 a.m. Head straight for the Crown Jewels (skipping Yeoman Warder's tour for now), and you should see the Jewels with no waiting in line. You can go back and pick up a YW tour after seeing the Jewels.

Like I said, I wouldn't try an excursion on your schedule, but if you really wanted to try one, we did Blenheim and Oxford in a day by bus. If you want the details, click on my name, and look from my trip report (you may have to go to the second page--its about our trip to London, the Highlands, and Edinburgh).
twk is offline  
Old Nov 29th, 2007, 01:08 PM
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I agree with all of the above. 3 days in London and you will just get to see DAy 2. I always budget 1/2 day for the Tower (which is a MUST see). You can also see Tower Bridge and do a lovely walk along Victoria Embankment towards parliament, big ben or on the south bank. That would be a day for me.

You may want to check out www.walks.com for some great walks in London that will show you the highlights. They are very affordable and interesting.

Please post your schedule when you've revised it and we can provide more feedback.

I know you will LOVE London...its a great city!
jamikins is offline  
Old Nov 29th, 2007, 08:12 PM
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Thanks again, folks!

Twk especially for the tip about trooping the colour! That will likely be very 'doable'.

Right now everything is hinging on the niece. She graduates in early May but, of course, has a number of things to tie out on so, I'm waiting to hear from as to whether travelling in late May would work, or in June.

I'd never heard of the Trooping the colour ceremony but a quick google and wow! that would be something to see indeed!

Looks like our hotel (at least the one it looks like we'll be using at the moment) is near Edgware Road tube station. Is that good/bad/indifferent?

I'm clicking the walks link now Jamkins.
DesertDave is offline  

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