HELP!! Tours and Locations

Jan 2nd, 2017, 03:14 AM
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HELP!! Tours and Locations

I went to England and France about ten years ago and now get to go back! When i went last I was with my grandmother who had been so many times we didn't need a guide or direction. Now I am going with my husband and we are clueless. I am looking at doing a guided tour because of that and have narrowed to CIE and Trafalgar. My issue with all tours is the little tine you get in London. I was going to take one extra day there, which works give me three days. So here are my questions:
1. CIE vs Trafalgar-how are they different? Which is better?
2. I have considered piecing together a few 2-3 day trips, making our way up to Scotland but can't find a website or anything to help me do that. I do not like being restricted on a 10 day tour but need some structure.
3. What are the best Thames River Cruises?
4. I love Henry VIII-any cool banquets or extra activities (other than touring Hampton Court)?
Thanks for any advice/help!!
rhj3131 is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2017, 03:18 AM
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Hi, I think you'll find that most people here on Fodors do not travel with tours. If you can let us know how much time you have, when you are traveling and what your budget is, I'm sure people here can help you figure it out.

London is an easy city to visit on your own. With a tour you will have to follow their programme, even though you may have other interests.

If you have 10 days, divide it between London and Paris, staying longer in London than Paris, to get over jetlag and because it is a larger city. OR do London/Scotland - with perhaps a stop in York on the way.
Tulips is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2017, 03:44 AM
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Given that the UK speaks English and has good public transport I stuggle to think why you went to get on a coach with a whole bunch of people to be bussed about.

Scotland for 2 or 3 days. So a 4 hour train up (or about the same for flights when you take into account security) and 4 hours back allows you to see a bit of Edinburgh.

River cruises, well most expensive
it kinda goes on

Henry the 8th mock banquets (NB they are all horrible but) covers it well

The simple come to UK tour that anyone can do is
Fly to London stay 5 nights (assume jet lag ruins one day)
Bus/Train/One day tour to some of Oxford, Salisbury, Bath, Stonehenge
Fly/Train Edinburgh 4 nights (fly home from here) can fit in a stop in York on the way.

That gets you the number one and two capitals (NB most museums are free, while the shopping is good), the medievel best city and number two cathedral, the number one best cathedral, the easiest to get to ancient monument and the best Roman site in the country. Easy.
bilboburgler is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2017, 03:50 AM
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As noted, people here don't tend to do tours. And you don't need to, either. It's far, far easier now than it was 10 years ago to plan your own trip.

Sit down with a bunch of guidebooks and get to work. It's hard to believe you can't use the internet to figure out how to get yourself to Scotland for a few days. Familiarize yourself with train travel - use Use or or even Rome2Rio to figure out the many ways you can travel between places.

How many days total do you have/want? How do you wish to divide it between/among places?

Come up with a rough plan and people here will help you refine it. London is an easy trip even for the "clueless." You don't even have a language barrier - much.
StCirq is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2017, 05:25 AM
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>>Hi, I think you'll find that most people here on Fodors do not travel with tours.<< . . . ESPECIALLY in the Uk where there is absolutely no need.

A couple of exceptions would be the walking tours from London Walks, and short (1 to 5 day) small group tours from companies like Rabbies. But those would be incorporated into an independent trip.

If you traveled w/ your grandmother 10 years ago then I would guess you and your husband are not that old -- do realize that most people who want/need to take mass market coach tours like CIE/Trafalgar are older/elderly and can't manage their own luggage and need other help w/ logistics. You would likely be the youngest people on the coach by a generation or more.
janisj is online now  
Jan 2nd, 2017, 05:35 AM
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Great feedback so far! My struggle is I know London and what I want to do, I also know what I want to do in Scotland. Beyond that I would like to spend at least a day in Wales and one in York. I just do not know enough about England to prioritize outside of what I know. I do not care about gardens. The countryside scenery would be great but I am
Ok just passing through it to get somewhere else. I love history and want to see castles and churches. If I tailor my own trip, I just do not want to drive and want to know what are "must sees" for Great Britain. If I am spending 4 days in London and 2 in Scotland (Edinburgh), that leaves me 4 days to go elsewhere.
rhj3131 is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2017, 05:50 AM
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OK -- why a 'day in Wales'. Wales is a country and would be worth devoting several days to -- Sort of like saying I want to spend a day in California or in Greece. A day in say Cardiff could be done by train from London. A day in the north or on the west coast (the most scenic bits) isn't really feasible - you are talking about 3 or 4 days when you factor in the travel time.

Now a day in York is flat easy. You take a 2+ hour train from Kings Cross station in central London and get off in the center of York, spend the rest of that day and the next morning to half a day. then jump on a 2+ hour train from central York to central Edinburgh. easy peasy.

OR - in a pinch - take an early AM train from London to York and an evening train from York on to Edinburgh and net several hours to explore York. You would have to walk to a nearby car rental office to leave your luggage for the day since there are no lockers in the station. But the rental agency has jumped in to fill the void. Just means you need to factor in an extra 15 minutes at the beginning and end of your day to drop/collect your luggage.
janisj is online now  
Jan 2nd, 2017, 05:53 AM
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Think in terms of nights instead of days; ie 2 nights will give you one full day of sightseeing. I would do 5 nights London (with a daytrip perhaps to Oxford) - 2 nights York - 4 nights Scotland. Is there something specific that you want to visit in Wales? Because that is a bit out of the way, if you want to go to Scotland as well.
Tulips is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2017, 08:10 AM
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I think with your timeline you need to choose between spending time in Wales (a car would likely be needed) or York/Scotland. Otherwise you will spend too much time and money on trains or in transit for very little return in sightseeing time.
jamikins is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2017, 08:36 AM
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I suggest getting a few good guidebooks. Rick Steves's books for first time travelers to a country as he gives lots of practical information.
KTtravel is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2017, 08:46 AM
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>>I suggest getting a few good guidebooks. . .<<

Ditto that

>> . . . Rick Steves's books for first time travelers to a country as he gives lots of practical information.<<

Unfortunately not for the UK. He is totally fine for a lot of countries but IMO/IME not very good for the UK.
janisj is online now  
Jan 2nd, 2017, 11:02 AM
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Well, it is possible to take the train from York to Conwy, changing in Manchester and Chester, and from Conwy to London, changing in Chester. But the first takes four hours plus and the second three hours plus. Is it really worth it for one day? (I'm assuming two nights.) I had a very nice time based in Conwy last year (without a car), but I wouldn't include it on this itinerary.

[Edinburgh to Conwy takes five and a half hours, changing in Crewe and Chester.]
thursdaysd is offline  
Oct 26th, 2017, 03:13 AM
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nubbyrose is offline  
Oct 26th, 2017, 07:24 AM
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nubbyrose: Just a hint - instead of topping multiple old threads, you can e-mail them to yourself or save them to your favorites.

See the little orange '+' symbol up top? Click that and there are MANY options.
janisj is online now  
Oct 26th, 2017, 07:28 AM
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Good advice has been offered. I have done several Rabbies tours and would highly recommend them. You can connect many of their tours often spending an extra day or two in a city like York or Edinburgh.

As others have suggested, it's very easy to tour on your own. Many here are experienced U.K. travelers and can provide excellent advice. The most difficult part will be to come up with a reasonable itinerary. Fitting both Wales and York/ Scotland into a limited timeframe won't be easy. There are places where I think a car is necessary, but you will also find many options traveling by train.

Have a look at their tours:
historytraveler is online now  
Oct 26th, 2017, 07:29 AM
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Oops! missed the date.
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