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First timers to the UK...where do we begin?


First timers to the UK...where do we begin?

Old Jun 4th, 2012, 01:25 PM
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haha anne i agree- i think that sri-lanka book will be just fine i have planned trip there a few years ago (i think basing in Kandi?!?) but went to Bali instead so still on the to do list.

I just love reading about the places....although my next trip to Paxox seems to have a severe lack of reading material!!
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Old Jun 4th, 2012, 01:33 PM
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HG - we have been planning this trip to Sri lanka ever since we bought the book, but intermittent war, children, & lack of time all stopped us. I had even forgotten we'd got the book until i came across it while I was looking for something else. we will be going to Kandy - and a few other places as well.
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Old Jun 4th, 2012, 01:40 PM
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Some medieval stuff in London: Wallace collection, arms and armor. St Bartholomew the Great -- only Norman church in London. The Temple Church.

Take a day trip to Winchester to see the cathedral and the Great Hall, as well as the 14th century college. Click on my screen name and scroll down to my trip reports for more details on this city. One hour by train from London. If you walk out to the Hospital of St Cross you can request (and will receive) the medieval pilgrim's restorative of bread and ale.

Dover has the second greatest castle in the country.

Bodiam Castle is picture perfect in its moat.

Above advice to visit Wales is excellent. You'll find some suggested destinations in my trip report. This would require a car and a couple of days, though.
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Old Jun 4th, 2012, 01:51 PM
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ann, sure it will be great, especially as so long in the making. There are 195 (give or take 1 or 2) countries in the world and each with dozens of places to go, so there is always the next trip to plan if one place has to go on hold for a while
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Old Jun 4th, 2012, 01:56 PM
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From a fellow Texan--Yay for you for planning so far ahead.

Yes, a guide book, plus feedback from here, plus your own research, plus google-maps, plus movies, plus.....you will be setting your own itinerary so make it YOUR trip (well, with feedback from the three of you and listening to wisdom from those who have gone before.)

Speaking of which--another great thing to do since you have time is read trip reports here, as Fra says above. For example, if you click on my screen name and scroll down to the trip report section, you can read what DH (hubby) and I did in 2 weeks, basing in London and taking day trips and what DH and DD and I did in almost 2 weeks when we stayed some in London and then rented a car.

If you rent a car--it DOES TAKE A LONG TIME TO GET FROM POINT TO POINT. It's not like driving in Texas! Not even like driving in Houston or Austin traffic! There is traffic, there are roundabouts, there's the whole "other side of the road" thing, there are narrow lanes, there's the parking and negotiating in a city, etc., etc. But a car has lots of advantages, too, depending on where you want to go.

(A very few faves from 4 trips in no order--Oxford, the Tower of London, seeing a play in the Globe, Hadrian's Wall, Dover Castle, Westminster Abbey, the British Library/and Museum, Stonehenge, Winchester, Wells Cathedral, Conwy, York walls. Ok I'll stop--there's so so much! If I picked my top dozen later today, it might be a totally different set!)
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Old Jun 4th, 2012, 02:03 PM
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Louis: Here are some more suggestions:
-Be sure to call your credit card companies to alert them of your travel plans before you leave or your card might not work when you get there.
-Rental flat suggestion is a good one! (I booked one from London Connection - Amer. owners/rental price in dollars on website. 2 Bed/2.5 Bath, $1,200-6 nights) Much cheaper than 2 hotel rooms - more comfortable with more space and a kitchen. Most flats have a washer/dryer in the kitchen area. Before booking a flat, the 1st thing I checked was walking distance to tube station (the more lines the sta. has the better). Then check out the Google map street view (with the little man) and you can see what the neighborhood looks like as well as nearby pubs, restaurants, groceries, etc.
-Make a priority list of sites you want to visit, then group together by location (ex.: Westminster Abbey and Churchill War Rooms are very close to each other). I managed 2 major sites a day, with walk-by visits (Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly circus, etc) where convenient.
-Check out the London Walks website. They have inexpensive tours that you don't have to pre-book, just show up at the stated tube station area to meet the guide. They are usually top-notch. Even have day trips outside London.
-Check out the attraction websites for opening/tour times and start compiling a daily itinerary with an eye on the ease of travel between them (tube station changes?). Note: You'll want to visit Tower of London as soon as it opens - 1st go see the Crown Jewels, then get a yeoman warder tour of the whole place. Also, check out ordering tickets (I ordered them online) for the nighttime Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower!
-Read Travel Reports from this website to get tips to good restaurants, etc.
-Go see a play at least one night (or a matinee). I preordered my tickets online, but most travel savvy people go to the TKTS booth at Leicester Square to get big discounts on their tickets. I saw The 39 Steps - a Comedy/drama remake of an Alfred Hitchcock movie at a beautiful old theater (Criterion) just steps from Piccadilly Circus tube station exit.

We flew out of DFW airport - direct flight on Amer. Airlines - can still prebook seats unless it's a Brit. Air shared flight (they merged). Some flights still have 2 side seat set-up, which DH and I liked.
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Old Jun 4th, 2012, 02:37 PM
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Re guidebooks - don't use Rick Steves as his UK guidebook is - well - rubbish.
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Old Jun 4th, 2012, 03:46 PM
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You'll notice, I didn't mention his website either.

That apartment location is crap for a first time visitor. Stay in London in zone 1, not on the docks outside of town. And don't pick flats two years before you go . . . waste of time.
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Old Jun 5th, 2012, 08:26 PM
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For a general information, I liked "London for Dummies" - the best of the five books I bought. Love my London Mapguide by Michael Middleditch for a map & guidebook info. - I used it on all my trips so far - it fits into an over-the-shoulder bag and is lightweight and easy to read. I ordered it from amazon.com. I typed up and stapled my itinerary inside the front cover with the appropriate page #'s for reference.
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Old Jun 5th, 2012, 09:41 PM
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One of my absolute favorite places is Bath. It has beautiful Georgian architecture, is loaded with history, has architecture even from Roman times, and literary connections. It has great food and lots of B&Bs. You could day trip to Wells from there or take a canal boat ride. So, I would do London and Bath.

Stay at least three nights in Bath. If you don't rent a car, take a Mad Max tour from Bath to Stonehenge and the Cotswolds. It is a long day, but fun and you see a lot. It is by minivan, not a big bus. Pick up and return right in center of Bath. Take the free walking tour of Bath and spend time touring the Roman Baths.

In London, if you are into theater, you can see plays day and night. The first day there, we hit the cheap ticket booth, or go to the theaters, themselves, and buy tickets for whenever we want to go. Of course, some of the biggies are sold out way ahead of time, but they are not generally the ones we want to see anyway. There are usually some great dance performances also. We very much enjoyed the Globe just for fun.
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Old Jun 5th, 2012, 11:17 PM
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Things to see in London are:
British Museum (allow at least one full day, two days isn't too much)
Hyde Park & Kensington Gardens
Imperial War Museum
National Gallery
National Maritime Museum
Natural History Museum
Royal Botanic Gardens
Science Museum
St. Paul's Cathedral
Tate Modern
Tower of London
Victoria and Albert Museum
Westminster Abbey

After all this you can take out some time for Edinburgh too. Edinburgh is a beautiful place. The palace there is worth a watch. I don't think you should miss it.
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Old Jun 6th, 2012, 01:00 AM
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I would suggest as a daytrip Canterbury in Kent.
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Old Jun 6th, 2012, 08:03 AM
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We have two organisations in Britain which look after historic sites such as castles: The National Trust and English Heritage. Their website urls are:



Hope this helps
Celebrating the Great British Coastline
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Old Jun 6th, 2012, 12:04 PM
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Medieval - for the sake of argument the period after the Romans left up to around 1500? Knights, castles that sort of thing?

Winchester (as stated) home of Alfred the Great started the unification of England and defeat of the Danes. Many of the Early Kings of England are buried in the cathedral, some remaining medieval buildings.

If father into Military history, the Mary Rose Museum - part of the Royal Navy Museum at Portsmouth. Mary Rose was part of Henry VIIIs navy, sank around 1550, but was buried in mud, so much survived - I have always found the displays of armour, weapons, sailors paraphernalia etc fascinating. Also in the same area Porchester Castle - Roman walls, Norman Keep. No fancy stately home, just a slab sided fortress - decent audio tour.

Canterbury is well worth a visit, as is Dover Castle.
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