First time to London - lots of questions

Jul 17th, 2009, 11:54 AM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 11,487
I'll also recommend the British Library; after you're done there, keep walking past St. Pancras to King's Cross and see if you can push the trolley through the wall at Platform 9 3/4. Yes, I have a picture of myself attempting it.

If you visit Oxford, be sure to stop in at The Eagle and Child. As you probably already know, the Inklings met there.

Here's a link to our England/Wales pictures:

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
Jul 17th, 2009, 02:52 PM
Original Poster
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Posts: 78
I just got home from work and checked to see if I had any replies. Woohoo! I have a lot to think about and some fabulous suggestions that I had not considered.

Thank you, thank you for the fabulous tube advice and for the link to that bigger tube map. I will take the tube on the Piccadilly line from the airport and do as suggested. Thank you for the Oyster card advice as well. I get it now. I will also do a London walks of some sort as I would like to at least listen to another person talk/converse over the course of ten days! I really want to see the Kilns so I am leaning towards attempting that. Thank you flanneruk! I had NO idea how to go about getting there.

There are so many fantastic suggestions! I will let you know what I decide and of course post a trip report to let you know what actually ends up happening. And I'll probably have more questions before I go.

jent103, I would love a cup of tea and a pep talk. My family is so sick of hearing about everything I plan on doing. None are the museum sort. And Apres_Londee, thank you for the blue guide link. The book is on its way. Fodorites are the best.
mogsanova is offline  
Jul 17th, 2009, 05:31 PM
Join Date: Jan 2008
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If you love museums, you'll have a wealth of options in London. Consider these possibilities, all musts as far as I'm concerned:

-National Gallery (art, large)
-National Portrait Gallery (British art, portraits, medium sized)
-Tate Gallery (British art, medium sized)
-Tate Modern (modern art, medium sized)
-Victoria and Albert (decorative arts, huge)
-British Museum (antiquities, huge)
-Courtauld Institute (art, small)
-Sir John Soanes Museum (historic house with a bit of everything, small)
-Wallace Collection (historic house with a bit of everything, relatively small)
-Queen's Gallery (art, small, maybe a touch less essential then the others)

There are a wealth of other things to see, too. Research is good here, as is preparing at least a rough itinerary. And don't be nervous -- enjoy! London's great.
bachslunch is offline  
Jul 18th, 2009, 06:14 AM
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 1,190
As you are a CS Lewis fan then do a day trip to Oxford, you can get a bus that runs 24 hours and takes 1-1.5 hours depending on traffic.

Warning for the day trip to france - you will need a shengen visa or you won't get on the train so you need to decide if yuo want to do it before you set off.
sashh is offline  
Jul 18th, 2009, 07:13 AM
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Posts: 5,271
Huh? Americans, Canadians, Australians, Kiwis most assuredly do not need a Schengen visa to enter St. Pancreas they will stamp your passport....when you leave via Gare du Nord there is a French passport control where they stamp your passport and a British immigration officer.
xyz123 is offline  
Jul 18th, 2009, 07:52 AM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 4,248
mogsanova - you can email me at thompson [dot] jennifer [at] gmail if you want to get together. You'll have a great trip! London is great for a first-time, solo traveler.
jent103 is offline  
Jul 18th, 2009, 07:56 AM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 416
mogsanova -- You are going to have a truly fabulous time. I'm excited for you just reading your initial posting!

You asked for offbeat suggestions, and you love Harry Potter and C.S. Lewis (and Shakespeare . . . hmm, are you sure you're not me? . I know you said you're not a big shopper, but may I nevertheless suggest the Forbidden Planet store? It's the biggest sci fi & fantasy bookstore and toy store that you could ever imagine, and it's right in central London, on Shaftesbury Avenue roughly in between the British Museum and Covent Garden.
I'm sure you'll find different HP stuff than is available in the US, and there might be something you'd like for your boys.

I've also got a book recommendation to whet your appetite even further:
Imagined London by Anna Quindlen
Amazon listing:
It's Quindlen's love letter to London, which she visited many times in books and in her mind before her first "physical" visit in her 40s (sound like anybody you know?).

A great advantage of traveling alone is being able to go to offbeat places that appeal to only you. I found it useful before I went to buy the Knopf Mapguide for London (my local Borders had it), which has sturdy foldout pages of individual neighborhoods, and mark on it the locations of nontouristy places I wanted to visit (Forbidden Planet, for instance). It fit neatly in my pocket as I walked around town. You can do the same thing with your guidebooks, of course; I just found that this gave me better space for jotting.
tahl is offline  
Jul 18th, 2009, 08:53 AM
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If you get to Oxford you will find most of the colleges open in the afternoon for visitors. There is no campus the city and colleges are one. The angel and child (bird and baby) is easy to find, the Asmhmolean museum is close by and heading south you can visit a variety of colleges and even walk onto CHristchurch meadows. If this of interest come back and we can tell you about the deer park in Magdelen or Old Tom in Christchurch.
bilboburgler is offline  
Jul 19th, 2009, 12:43 PM
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Per their website, the Ashmolean Museum is currently closed and won't reopen until November 2009. They had been doing renovation and had the place open in a "greatest hits" mode for a while, but that seems to have ended.

With Oxford's colleges (and there are several), please note that their respective grounds and buildings may or may not be open to visitors (in theory they should be, but...). Any of them can close for the day with no notice, so be prepared for that possibility. Plus they are all closed during certain times of the year (exams and such). It helps to check online about this.
bachslunch is offline  
Jul 19th, 2009, 12:46 PM
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 32
Hi mogsanova,

My husband & I just returned from our first visit to London. I also was a bit nervous (although not alone), and you'll get lots of excellent advice from the more experienced folks here. But I hope it is reassuring to hear that I truly felt safer in London than I have in other large cities, domestic or foreign. The public transportation is easy to navigate. Enjoy, it's wonderful. Also, here's another vote for London Walks, we went on their trip to Salisbury & Stonehenge.
Lambie123 is offline  
Jul 20th, 2009, 01:19 PM
Join Date: Apr 2009
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I visited London for the first time last month (check my trip report about London) and absolutely LOVE it! The weather, the accent, the historical places, the convenient tube, etc. I went to Milan & Paris but I felt a lot safer in London. The underground subway is very clean and well-lighted. I made shuttle reservation on from/to hotel-airport. It's convenient and not expensive at all. I think it's about 30 pounds roundtrip.
If you have 9 days, I think it's a good idea to take eurorail to Paris (approx 2 hr trip) and stay perhaps 3 days? If you're going to Paris, be extracareful when on the underground or anywhere else due to pickpockets.
I stayed in London for 2 full days and was able to visit several tourist places. It was so tiring because I left hotel around 8am and returned at midnight (crazy huh?). I visited the following:
-Tower of London, Tower bridge
-Big Ben, London Eye, House of Parliament, Westminster Abbey
-St Paul Church
-Westminster Church
-Buckingham Palace "changing of the guards"
-Harrods dept store
-Notting Hill
-Piccadily Circus, Soho Chinatown

If you have time, you should visit Stonehenge & Windsor Castle. You can take the "hop-on hop-off" city tour" around the city, and they also have guided-tour to Stonehenge/Windsor and Bath. Search it on google/yahoo.
Enjoy your visit
henryw is offline  
Jul 21st, 2009, 10:15 AM
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I traveled to London in March with my daughter - had tons of ??? too - you are in the right place!! you will get great advice!!! YOU WILL LOVE IT!!! Have a great time!!!
oh2doula is offline  
Jul 21st, 2009, 12:16 PM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 5
I haven't read all the response but the few that i have read have provided great information. i just need to add that it easier and cheaper to take the train because the hotel is 5 - 10 mins walk from the station.

If you are going to buy a sim card, VERY IMPORTANT - make sure that your phone is unlock because the sim card would be useless. if you have t-mobile here just check on line to make sure the phone is an international phone and call t-mobile to unlock the phone. i don't know about other carriers. also, the simcard is a bit more expensive at the airport that at local shops. if you can wait till you get to your hotel then get one from the area cause it's only 5 quid.

Also, you can take a bus ride to Oxford for a fraction of the cost and and you get to see more and other places like Brighton which is only 2 - 3 hours ride.

Like most people have said, London is a great city. i lived there for a years and would do all over again. enjoy!
slimgoody is offline  
Jul 21st, 2009, 12:21 PM
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Posts: 5,271
5 quid for a sim card....what a rip off...if you go to the T Mobile UK or O2 or Vodafone web sites, you will find that you can have up to 4 sim cards posted to your hotel've also pointed out other sim cards available for free via various methods....

Can't beat can you?
xyz123 is offline  
Jul 21st, 2009, 01:36 PM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 5
cool... didn't know that. thanks xyz123
slimgoody is offline  
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