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First time in London/Paris, going alone, need help!

First time in London/Paris, going alone, need help!

Old Jun 4th, 2009, 01:21 PM
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First time in London/Paris, going alone, need help!

Hello everyone,

I am a 22 year old female who recently graduated from college (woohoo!). In August I'm entering medical school and I wanted to plan something fun for my summer before the long hours of learning begin. However, I am really overwhelmed by the planning process! I appreciate any advice you all can offer... I'm completely new at this.

Here's what I have so far:

June 30 noon - arrive LHR
July 1 - London
July 2 - London
July 3 - 5 ????
July 6 - Eurostar to Paris, arrive early afternoon
July 7 - Paris
July 8 - Paris, back to London via Eurostar (late evening) - I don't mind throwing away this return ticket.
July 9 - 12 ????
July 13 - depart from LHR

I have a friend working at Oxford who wanted to accompany me on weekends - therefore, I always made sure to leave from and return to London, and kept my weekends free. However, those plans fell through and I will actually be traveling alone the entire time. Had I known this in advance I would have made plans differently, but now I'm stuck and confused.

Any ideas of what I should do with my weekends? I've been looking at Barcelona for one weekend and Prague for the other weekend but it seems like that will be much traveling and little sightseeing. Wherever I decide to go, I have to find a way to return to London for the subsequent departure to either Paris or the USA (what a waste of time and money!).

Other info: I'm fairly active, easily bored, and like packed schedules; I'm open-minded in terms of destination; I've never travelled alone; I love art museums/cathedrals and do not care for shopping. Also, I don't have a lot of money to throw around (too bad).

Thanks in advance for any input!
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Old Jun 4th, 2009, 01:27 PM
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Only 2 days in Paris, you are really missing the best parts, and I don;t mean the main tourist sites!
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Old Jun 4th, 2009, 01:32 PM
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If you don't have much money, you'll be much better off sticking with London and Paris only. If you add a 3rd destination, you'll be spending more money getting there and back.

It sounds like you've already bought your plane ticket? Next time, remember something called open-jaw. You should fly into London and out of Paris; instead of backtracking to London. Most of the time, the ticket prices are the same.

London is full of museums and art galleries, and most are free. If you are REALLY into art museums/galleries, I highly recommend Blue Guides' London Museum and Galleries. It's an entire guidebook on museums/galleries in London only.
http://www.amazon.com/Guide-Museums-.../dp/0393327299

For Paris, the mucipal museums are all free; but not the biggies such as Louvre, Orsay, Orangerie. You should look into getting a Paris Museum Pass if you want to visit those, as the musuem pass lets you bypass lines.
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Old Jun 4th, 2009, 01:38 PM
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Great, thanks for the advice so far. Yea, I regret not getting an open-jaw ticket, but I was originally staying with my friend at Oxford the entire two weeks (hence in and out of LHR), then weekends only, and now not at all...

I might go ahead and stay in London for one week and Paris for the other; do you have any suggestions for day trips? I've seen Bath and Versailles mentioned for London and Paris respectively... any other ideas?
Thanks!
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Old Jun 4th, 2009, 01:42 PM
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Hi, Don't worry about weekends....your cities of choice will be packed with things to see and do. And I find traveling alone, I meet so many interesting people. They will have helpful info on sights they have already seen and tips on how to save time and money. I know you will have a wonderful time. The length of your trip looks just right.

Amie
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Old Jun 4th, 2009, 01:45 PM
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Bath is a good spot for day trip; you can also visit Salisbury +/- Stonehenge (You can do Bath, Salisbury, Stonehenge together if you stay overnight). Or you can visit Windsor, Cambridge, or even York.

For Paris, again there are tons of places. See these 2 threads for suggestions:
http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...m-paris-39.cfm

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...s-360534-2.cfm
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Old Jun 4th, 2009, 02:02 PM
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P.S. Don't be scared about going solo as a 22 yr-old female. I'm female too and went to London/Paris myself when I was 19.

In general, there are fewer scams in London; but be watchful for pickpockets. There's a current thread right now where posters gave lots of advice for two 18 year olds who are going to Paris. The main thing to watch out for are scams in Paris, and the aggressive people at Eiffel Tower/Montmarte who "force" you to buy their el cheap trinkets or bracelets. Just IGNORE them, or be firm with "NO". Don't talk to strangers, esp if they seem to be just too nice. Many of them *want* something from you; or distract you enough so that their accomplice can pick your pocket.

I'm a female and I travel alone a lot. I always make sure I know the words for STOP and HELP in French (or whichever language the country I'm in speaks) in case I need it. And don't be shy about yelling for help if you think someone is harassing you, as a lot of criminals rely on shyness when they make their moves.

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...-next-week.cfm
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Old Jun 4th, 2009, 02:35 PM
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London & Paris are great to do solo but if you do go for quickie jaunts, know that you will be returning for the rest of your life for the real trip as both are paradise.
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Old Jun 4th, 2009, 03:31 PM
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May daughter went to Paris alone for her 22 birthday this past February. Yes, it was cold and rainy, but she loved it. Stayed at the St. Christopher's Hostel. Only problem she had was the occasional guy trying to pick her up. She has spent a substantial amount of time in NYC, during her college years, so she knew how to handle herself in cities. She has also traveled to Japan and Rome, but that was her first fully alone trip.

She is like me and spends a substantial amount of time planning things, so she could see everything she wanted, including day trips to Chartres and Versailles.
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Old Jun 4th, 2009, 04:33 PM
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Thanks once again for the responses! I'm now planning one week in each; will visit the others on future trips (this means I have to go back!)

The 18-year old thread was helpful, as were the Paris day trip ones. I lived in Baltimore for 4 years and worked extensively in urban "inner-city" areas so I am not altogether naive but the advice was definitely helpful.

davessl: Sounds like your daughter and I have a lot in common! I've also traveled to Taipei, Florence, Rome, and Venice Also, I, too, will be staying at St Christopher's - they seemed to have great reviews.

Now onto itinerary planning. Thanks once again!
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Old Jun 4th, 2009, 04:38 PM
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You probably don't know what field in Medicine you may go into, but here are 3 medically related museums in London that you may enjoy (a break from art museums):

Hunterian Museum @ the Royal College of Surgeons:
http://www.rcseng.ac.uk/museums

Old Operating Theatre and Herb Garret (an 19th c preserved operating "room")
http://www.thegarret.org.uk/

Wellcome Collection
http://www.wellcomecollection.org/index.htm
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Old Jun 4th, 2009, 05:31 PM
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I think a week in London, week in Paris combo sounds great!

To add to yk's list of places you may want to check out--just in case you want to think about the rest of your life on vacation (I usually don't, but there are some perverse people out there)--there's also the Musée d'Histoire de la Médecine in Paris.

http://www.bium.univ-paris5.fr/musee/
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Old Jun 4th, 2009, 05:52 PM
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Don't know where you plan to stay. There are certainly plenty of hostels in both London and Paris. If you prefer something nicer but still budget, you can check out the LSE dorms for London. These are student dorm rooms which are rented out for summer/x'mas. Some are ensuite (ie, private bathroom), some are not. Some include a hot breakfast, some don't. Obviously the ensuite ones are more expensive. I stayed at the Northumberland dorm 2 years ago and it was not bad.
http://www.lsevacations.co.uk/
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Old Jun 4th, 2009, 05:54 PM
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Hi Leely2 - have you been to the History of Medicine in Paris yourself? Just curious as to how much (if any) English displays it has?
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Old Jun 4th, 2009, 07:44 PM
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yk, no I haven't, although it's been on my list for a few years b/c it relates tangentially to a project I worked on a looonnng while ago.

My guess, based on other smaller French museums, is not much English. I wish I could head over to find out!
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Old Jun 4th, 2009, 07:45 PM
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Leely2, another decadent trip? For the sake of research, right?
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Old Jun 5th, 2009, 05:47 AM
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She liked St. Christophers. Only problem were the drunken girls in the co-ed dorm. She said that the guys were no problem. If you want, you can pre-book a female only room.
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Old Jun 8th, 2009, 02:53 PM
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I spent a week in Paris by myself while I was studying abroad in London. It was a phenomenal experience and you will have an amazing time. If you learn to say a couple of phrases in French, you will find yourself getting by quite easily. The metro is a breeze and as you sound quite independent, consider renting a bike (Velib)to get around...it's a fantastic way to get to know the city. The official english version website is: http://www.en.velib.paris.fr/comment_ca_marche

Be prepared to fall in love with Paris and have a wonderful time.
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Old Jun 8th, 2009, 02:55 PM
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There's also an informative NY Times article about the Velib written last year: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/13/wo...l?pagewanted=1
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Old Jun 9th, 2009, 08:23 PM
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Have yo considered couchsurfing? You can either stay in someone's house or you can do a meet for coffee thing. You obviously take some precautions but I've had positive experiences of locals showing me their favourite haunts.

If yo want to get out of London for a weekend then Oxford or Brighton can be good choices. It depends how much travelling you want to do.
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