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First time to London - itinerary advice please

First time to London - itinerary advice please

Dec 6th, 2015, 08:14 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2015
Posts: 30
Wow thanks everyone! With all the suggestions we will have so much fun!!! I'm getting silly excited!!! So many things to do!! We will fill up days with your suggestions.

Now we scramble for dinner reservations which I leave to my hubby. (Thank the heavens- I'd be happy with a bag of Lay's BBQ!) He's magic with that stuff!
g8travels is offline  
Dec 6th, 2015, 08:21 AM
Join Date: Oct 2003
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If they moved the day of the tour I wold use that as an excuse to cancel it. I know what those tours are like - most of the day on a bus, often half-asleep and then 3 stops each of 1/2 to 1 hour. Very long day and exhausting as you are hustled around.

If it were me I would decide if you want to do Oxford or Windsor and just do a day trip yourself; Windsor only about 30 minutes by train and Oxford by bus (to downtown) not very long either. This will let you see MUCH more.
nytraveler is offline  
Dec 6th, 2015, 08:36 AM
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We're going to try to cancel. Hubby is in Tahoe for weekend and says he will try to cancel if possible! Thanks everyone! I had him read your posts to convince him of this! We can ditch it if need. Most important was to convince hubby!! Little background: we've been to Paris three times. He's always wanted to see the catacombs. All three times I've managed to avoid the catacombs. I didn't want to be underground with human bones. So this time I think he's booked a couple of things in advance. Hahaha Just desserts!
g8travels is offline  
Dec 6th, 2015, 09:11 AM
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opentable.co.uk is a great site for researching restaurants and for booking. The often have special offers for meals too.

Have a great time!
Tulips is offline  
Dec 6th, 2015, 09:45 AM
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Food for thought - no reason to do everything together. Next time he could do the catacombs while you window shop, or whatever. Travel is an awful lot of togetherness.
thursdaysd is offline  
Dec 6th, 2015, 09:51 AM
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Hope doesn't get snowed in - I think it is really coming down today.

Re the crowds. Think Union Square Macy's at its very busiest day during christmas X 1000000. I'm not kidding. Even 'more refined stores' like Liberty will be absolute mob scenes. Not even good people watching because you will have a really difficult time just walking.
janisj is online now  
Dec 6th, 2015, 10:24 AM
Join Date: Aug 2003
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I braved the crowds once on Boxing Day and made my way to Selfridges and M&S...I could not escape into the calm of Mayfair fast enough...as the pictures show and Janis says above, you can't even walk...was not at all pleasant

Kensington High Street has some decent stores open on Boxing Day, is much quieter and has a park almost at both ends for an afternoon stroll after shopping (Kensington Palace Gardens and Holland Park)...a stroll up through Holland Park takes you towards Notting Hill...pleasant walk back eastwards from here...you can see some beautiful properties on your way, and Jamie Oliver has an interesting food store near the Notting Hill tube...
kmowatt is offline  
Dec 6th, 2015, 12:13 PM
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Definitely will try Kensington! Thank you kmowatt! I totally get Union Square at Christmas! When janusj posted ther photos it's exactly what came to mind!! Lol!! We haven't been in ten years!!!!

We got the last tickets to Buckingham and Westminster Abby for 23rd. We'll walk the gardens and parks the 24th and 25th. We've scheduled a walking tour for 25th of Trafalger Square. Now that we'll free up another day (woohooo!!) not doing the all day tour we're going to try a personal tour guide for two days. It seems there will be plenty to keep us amazed every minute we are yhere.

Stupid question: my guidebook says the restroom is called toilet or WC. Hate saying toilet. Do you say "W-C" or water/wash closet? They'll know if I say bathroom/restroom?
g8travels is offline  
Dec 6th, 2015, 01:08 PM
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nothing wrong with saying toilet - no one says WC

the ladies or gents is fine

bathroom/restroom will be understood (though the Brits will roll their eyes at such parochial terminology)
sofarsogood is offline  
Dec 6th, 2015, 01:30 PM
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That Thames Day - consider trekking out to Hampton Court Palace for they acclaimed Tudor Christmas with the palace all decorated inside and out - the gardens are wondrously lit up and there are actors and actresses around the palace playing the likes of Henry VIII who made Hampton Court his stomping grounds and of his various wives, one of whose ghosts is said to still haunt the place.

Hampton is on a cute part of the Thames - if into walking a bit of the Thames Path - do like I did once and walk from Kingston-on-Thames the 3-4 miles or so to the palace, coming up thru the sprawling deer park at the end.

But anyway Hampton Court is a great site at any time of year - one of Europe's best palaces I've seen and reeking of history we are all familiar with (if going get 2 for 1 entry with a paper train ticket or Travel Card).


PalenQ is offline  
Dec 6th, 2015, 01:44 PM
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Ah thanks sofarsogood!! Yeah nothing wrong with toilet but sounds a little yuck yes? I guess I'm a little more prudish than I thought? Seriously I wouldn't have asked if we were face to face!

Palenq: Wonderful! Thank you! Will write that down for sure! Just looked it up and looks very pretty! Really want to see it in person!

Janisj: haha that would be funny if indeed he did get snowed in! He hasn't and the roads are clear. He took our four wheel and snow tires. It did snow and it was 19 degrees when he arrived Friday night! Glad I declined in lieu of researching our holiday!

Travel card question: this is like the Paris Pass? Gives discounts to kuseums for so many day? Prepurchase or purchase there okay too?

Thanks everyone! I'm going to comb through everything and check out the links everyone was so kind to include. Feel good about lots to do.

Seems after reading what everyone wrote I'm going to fall in love with London. The enthusiasm and kindness is quite mind blowing!
g8travels is offline  
Dec 6th, 2015, 02:11 PM
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If you do go to Kew, check to see if the Maids of Honour Tea Shop is open. It is located right across the street from the gardens and would be a super place for your afternoon tea. You can google it for info.
carolyn is offline  
Dec 6th, 2015, 04:23 PM
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If you can still get tickets to the carol sing a long at the Royal Albert Hall on Christmas Eve do it! I've been twice now, and it is a great evening...the orchestra and singers are dressed in Georgian costume, and you sing along to various carols, including bits of Handel! The first time we went, a guy came on stage dressed in costume, and then turned to the audience and asked his girlfriend to marry him! In front of the whole audience...luckily she said yes! It really puts you in the spirit of Christmas
kmowatt is offline  
Dec 6th, 2015, 04:29 PM
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>>Travel card question: this is like the Paris Pass? Gives discounts to kuseums for so many day? Prepurchase or purchase there okay too?<<

Are you talking about the London Pass? If so, do NOT buy it. A real rip off.

You are there 9 days but won't use public transport at all on Christmas day and maybe another day or two when concentrating on the sites near St James's/the St Ermins. So what you'll want are EITHER 1) Oyster cards for all of you with some Pay As You Go ££ loaded on them and 7-day zone 1-2 paper travelcards so you can get the Days Out 2for1's https://www.daysoutguide.co.uk/2for1-london You should pre-print any vouchers you think you'll need.

OR 2) Oysters w/ a 7 day zone 1-2 travel card and some PAYG loaded on it, plus some one day paper travel cards ONLY on days you intend to use the 2for1's.

You can but the Oysters at Heathrow or any tube station. You must go to a train station (not a tube station) to buy the paper travelcards. The closest to your hotel is Victoria.

How are you getting in from Heathrow? For the 3 of you I'd pre-book a car service like justairports.com It will be MUCH cheaper than a taxi and easier easier than the tube for where your hotel is. They will meet you at arrivals and drop you at the hotel w/ no schlepping at either end.
janisj is online now  
Dec 6th, 2015, 04:41 PM
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Also download the Addison Lee app...a car service that can come in quite handy on days when taxi's are hard to come by...we used it on Christmas Day and they were so good that we also booked them to take us back to the airport
kmowatt is offline  
Dec 6th, 2015, 05:04 PM
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You are fine asking for the lady's or the men's room. Or the restroom.

(In the US "toilet" is just the object, not the room. In someone's house you would ask for the bathroom - since that's most likely what it will be, and in public places one usually says restroom. "Toilet" would be considered sort of odd and perhaps a little crude.)
nytraveler is offline  
Dec 6th, 2015, 10:57 PM
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the ladies or gents is fine in public

bathroom (where Brits keep the bath) except in a home where they also keep the loo (yes, I know)

restroom (going to get a net-ball on that one)

toilet works but would define you in the UK by your class

loo works but would define you in the UK by your class

WC would just confuse as would water closet

phrases like take a jimmy riddle probably best left alone
bilboburgler is online now  
Dec 6th, 2015, 11:18 PM
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River boats (since you asked up-thread): Yes, there are enclosed boats, but be aware there's a difference between the tourist cruise boats with commentary and the Thames Clippers riverbus service (comfortable, catering on board, but focussed on fast commuting down river, so not a leisurely cruise, and no commentary).

PatrickLondon is offline  
Dec 7th, 2015, 09:10 AM
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nytraveler: Thanks very much for explaining! I couldn't do it on my tablet but yes.

bilboburgler: lol!! I would feel a fraud if I said "loo" or any words that doesn't just slip off the tongue. I don't believe Jimmy Riddle would either (whatever that means). hahaha!

Funny: when traveling to asia or other non-english speaking countries, we always try to learn a few words in their language to be polite. Now we're speaking English and it's still sometimes extremely foreign!

janisj: Thanks for answering that question! I've researched online and I've read mixed reviews. I'm taking your advice as I know it to be sound!

kmowatt: Great idea for the hall to listen to carols! Family wants to do everything you've all mentioned! Going to have to extend the vaca into 2016! I'm noting the car app now to my husband! (he made it back last night - said snow chains required due to snow!!) We're going to use it for sure!!

Carolyn: Thanks! We've looked it up! Looks great! We'll do not "high" tea (sorry everyone I'm being a little "my own California" and imagine a bunch of stoned ladies having lunch - koo koo sense of humor).

PatrickLondon: Thanks for answering that question! Hahaha! I know what you mean! A very well meaning friend from out of town booked us in a SF Bay Harbor Tour for my birthday which happens to fall on July 4. Well everyone knows what SF is like in July in the evenings!! He didn't and we all froze and never saw fireworks due to fog! Still had a great time as we had to drink heavily in order to stay warm.

Hubby got Christmas dinner reservations at Hunter 486. So that's out of the way! He is now working on three other evenings (he's a foodie) for dinners out. I'll leave him to it. : )

With all your help I've almost got a working itinerary. Called the tour place re Windsor, Stonehenge and Oxford - we're out $400 if we cancel. They offered a 10% refund fee if we cancel now. We've decided if we are exhausted on that day and feel like sitting on a bus watching the country side we will. If we wake up and feel itchy and need to walk about, we will ditch it (yes ouch I know but how many times do you get to travel around the world and would be it worth it - we'll find out when we wake up) and do what we feel. I think that is a good working attitude (of course we'll be hitting a few pubs to make it feel better - of course). ; )
g8travels is offline  
Dec 7th, 2015, 11:28 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
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I like your attitude

I might make a suggestion re the tour though. If it was me I'd take them up on the cancellation - 10% is a small price to pay to get out of it. THEN if on that morning if you all wake up chipper and want to get out of town - mosey on over to Paddington Station and buy a day return (roundtrip on the same day) to Oxford and go. It is a terrific day trip and would cost a fraction of a nasty (yep - nasty. More time on the bus than feet on the ground) Coach tour.

And if only some of you feel that way the other one can stay 'home'.
janisj is online now  

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