itinerary help needed for London

Apr 9th, 2008, 05:26 PM
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Join Date: May 2006
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itinerary help needed for London

I'm sure I'm trying to pack too much in, but . . . . My DH, his cousin, and I will have two weeks in London and this is what I've worked out so far. We've never been in London before. We're 65. Some days seem to be fairly empty, but I know I tend to think we can do much more than is really possible, so I tried to provide some time for picking up things we've missed or even for resting. ;-)

I feel very intimidated about transportation in London, but I guess we'll manage somehow.

Day 1 -- Thurs. -- Aug. 28 -- We'll arrive at Gatwick about 10 am. The first day we'll settle in at our flat in Archway and probably have lunch and get groceries. Then a short trip to Hampstead Heath and/or Highgate Cemetery if we're up to it.

Day 2 -- Fri. -- Maybe a HoHo bus tour if you guys think it's worthwhile. I gather it will cost about $49 US each. If we do the bus, we'll take the advice I've read here and take the whole ride first and then do some stopping. Or, this might be a good day for the London Eye and easy things like Harrod's or Trafalger Square.

Day 3 - Sat. -- Dover and Canterbury

Day 4 -- Sunday
Flea market
Hyde Park speakers' corner
Kensington Gardens

Day 5 -- Monday -- Westminster
Westminster Abbey
Westminster Cathedral
#10 Downing Street
New Scotland Yard
Horse Guards and Mews

Day 6 -- Tuesday train or boat to Hampton Court Palace

Day 7 -- Wednesday -- Bloomsbury & Fitzrovia
Univerity of London -- See Jeremy Benthem
British Museum
Dickens Museum
St. Pancreas Station

Day 8 -- Thursday -- The City
Tower of London
Tower Bridge - walk across
The Clink
St. Paul's

Day 9 -- Friday -- South London
The Globe Theatre
Old Baily
Tate Modern?
The Anchor Pub

Day 10 -- Saturday -- Trafalger Square area
National Gallery
Maybe dinner in Soho, followed by jazz

Day 11 -- Sunday -- St. James area
Piccadilly Circus
Fortnum & Mason????
Buckingham Palace - do we want to see the changing of the guard - if so, here or horse guards or other palace???

Day 12 -- Monday -- Cambridge and Newmarket
Newmarket for the horses

Day 13 -- Tuesday --Greenwich
take train down & boat back or vice versa
Naval Academy
Observatory w. Prime Meridian
Maritime Museum
Trafalger Tavern, where Dickens ate
maybe stay till 9 pm for traditional music session

Day 14 -- Wednesday -- Westminster Area
Tate Britain

Day 15 -- Thursday -- leave for Edinburgh

sallyky is offline  
Apr 9th, 2008, 06:06 PM
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Two weeks in London - how wonderful!
What time of year will you be visiting?

You have planned a good mix of sights and day trips. It really doesn't seem that you have packed in too much on any day. Well, you will probably be busy your Bloomsbury day, with several museums and the new station. When you go to St. Pancras, you really should visit the British Library, which is pretty much next door. The Treasures room is one of the most amazing collections of manuscripts and objects I've ever seen assembled. Give yourself an hour or two to view the displays.
"See over 200 items including Magna Carta, the Gutenberg Bible, handwritten music and song lyrics by Mozart and the Beatles, notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, Shakespeare's First Folio, longhand drafts by Charlotte Brontë, Jane Austen and Wordsworth, some of the world's most sumptuous and valuable sacred texts including the world's oldest complete Christian Bible (Codex Sinaiticus) and the Lindisfarne Gospels, and more."

On day 9, I'd add the Borough Market, which is just a pleasant walk down the South Bank from the Tate Modern, the Globe, etc. If you go in the late afternoon it shouldn't be too crowded.

Your destinations for days 10 and 11 are within a fairly easy walk of each other, so you could probably combine them. We've stayed near Green Park, walked to the shops on Bond St. then walked to Fortnum (fun to check out the gourmet food items, and I love the tea I bought there), then walked the short distance to Trafalgar.

The changing of the Horse Guards is not as crowded as the changing at Buckingham. We arrived about 10 minutes early and had a great vantage point.

I'd urge you to take 2 hours and visit the Cabinet War Rooms/ Churchill Museum. This is very well done and it's really fascinating to see the rooms that were set up underground for the government to operate during the war. My favorite is the map room with all the pins tracking the progress of the battles, the positions of the ships, etc. This is in the Westminster area, just across the street from St. James Park and the duck pond.
noe847 is offline  
Apr 9th, 2008, 10:36 PM
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Please don't feel intimidated by the transportation system in London. It is one of the city's best assets, and makes a huge city quite navigable. Most of your tourist information will give you a "tube stop" name nearest the attraction/park/hotel that interests you. Figure out which tube stop is your destination, then chart your way there on the Underground.

Even though I use the tube in London, I also like the HOHO bus tours. Yes, stay on it for the full two hours, and get a general idea of the city layout. Then, go back to any spots that particularly interest you.

London! Ah, it has everything. Have a fine time!
Merseyheart is offline  
Apr 10th, 2008, 02:31 AM
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Transport in London is one of the cities best assets. The tube is much easier to understand than New York and there are signs directing you to the correct train.

I believe Transport for London has a tourist map of the bus routes inside of Zone 1. I found that buses were easier to use in some instances, especially on weekends when parts of the Tube are closed for repairs.

Finally, don't worry that some days are empty-after all the stimulation of London, I find I need a day or 2 of just shopping, sitting in the park or even stopping into a bookshop to relax.

Enjoy. I just returned and wish I could go back soon.
emily71 is offline  
Apr 10th, 2008, 02:46 AM
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A couple of things:

New Scotland Yard is a 1970s office block of no merit and not worth seeing (and in any case it's heavily guarded and they don't like people taking photos of it). I have to go there for work - and it's equally dismal on the inside.

Clink St: A complete waste of money. This is IMHO the biggest and most egregious tourist trap in London (quite an achievement).

The area it's in is worth exploring, but the old jail is rubbish.
Cholmondley_Warner is offline  
Apr 10th, 2008, 03:47 AM
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Just wanted to add that London Walks does tours of Westminster Abbey on Mondays...I would love to take one if I didnt have to work!!! Their walking tours are great, and affordable. They also do a fantastic one of St Pauls on Friday afternoons. I have done that one and would highly recommend it.
jamikins is offline  
Apr 10th, 2008, 04:25 AM
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There is also the old New Scotland Yard, if you follow me, which is still in Whitehall, but is now used for MPs' offices. I doubt you'll be able to do any more than look at the outside (same for Downing St), but whatever floats your boat...

Jeremy Bentham is in University College London, at the top of Gower St (don't confuse this with the central Senate House of the University).

To help you find your way around, here's the map of regular buses in relation to main tourist attractions:

and to get around by tube, just remember that you need to work out from the map which line you want (each has a name and is consistently colour-coded) and which approximate direction you need to go in (North, South, East or West). If you can remember Central East, Northern South (or whatever), you'll manage.
PatrickLondon is offline  
Apr 10th, 2008, 04:57 AM
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Another transportation tip - from Gatwick, you can get a train that runs every 15-20 minutes to Bedford and Luton, through central London. You would still have to change to get to Archway, but it could less complicated than from other terminals like Victoria or London Bridge.

The train stops at Kings Cross, where you could take a taxi (the most likely option, I would think), or a long-ish walk to the tube, or you could wait for the next (stopping) train to Kentish Town, which is bit nearer Archway. I don't know what the interchange is like at Kentish Town, but I suspect stairs are highly likely to be involved - perhaps someone who knows it can advise. Kentish Town is only a couple of tube stops (or about half a dozen bus stops - route 134) from Archway, or you might be able to get a taxi from Kentish Town.

Here are the buses in the Archway area:
PatrickLondon is offline  
Apr 10th, 2008, 06:07 AM
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Day 10 - While you're in Trafalgar Sq, you can pop in to St martin in the fields if you're interested. Also, the National Portrait Gallery is right behind the National Gallery. I don't know if you'll be interested in the Portrait gallery, but it's got a nice cafe/restaurant on the top floor that has a nice view and serves a decent afternoon tea. Might be a good place (better than the cafeteria at National Gallery) to rest your tired feet.

Day 14 - "Westminster area"? Not sure what you mean by that. Make sure you do take a stroll at St James's Park - my favorite park in London. You can visit the Cabinet War Rooms nearby.

On my last trip, I visited the Imperial War Museum. I thought it was very well done and deserves a visit (easily can spend 1/2 a day there, and it's free).
yk is offline  
Apr 10th, 2008, 05:34 PM
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Thanks for your help everybody. I forgot to mention we'll be in London starting Aug. 28. You've given me a lot of good ideas, both of things to see or do and things to avoid. I'll forget Scotland Yard even though I am a mystery book nut. ;-0 I'm especially thankful for reassurance about the transportation systems. Thanks so much.
sallyky is offline  
Apr 10th, 2008, 05:59 PM
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If Sherlock Holmes is part of your mystery loving, you might want to see the Sherlock Holmes Museum. It won't take very much time unless you know all the stories by heart and want to examine every single item in minute detail.

There is also a Sherlock Holmes Pub on Northumberland that has a glassed-in room with the man himself sitting in his office. It's fun, and the Sticky Toffee Pudding is good.

Do try to see at least one play. London theater is great. Most theaters are dark on Sundays.
carolyn is offline  
Apr 10th, 2008, 06:14 PM
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We enjoyed seeing the Sherlock Holmes tiles on the walls of the Baker St. tube station.
noe847 is offline  
Apr 10th, 2008, 06:25 PM
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For your day to Greenwich--someone on this forum mentioned it's better for photo ops to take DLR to Greenwich (and getting off on the north side of the Thames for pics and then walking through the tunnel under the river--sounds like an adventure right there!) and then to take a boat trip back as the views of the city and bridges headed in that direction should be great. So that's what we're planning to do on our day trip there. Hope this helps.

Also for high tourist seasonswe've been advised to be at things like the Tower when it opens to maybe stand in shorter lines.

Check DaysOut for 2for1 deals for savings on places like the Tower and Westminster Abbey and a few others you might be going to (isn't it great how many places are actually free in London!).

DH and I are spending 2 weeks there in late July, so I know how fun and overwhelming it is to plan all this! Someone suggested having one
"really want to see this" item a day, do that first, and then see how the rest of the day went, being prepared with good ideas of what else you want to see in the area of that prime site. Be sure and study good maps, as it looks like you have, to plan your daily schedules in a feasible way geographically, which it seems you have.

texasbookworm is offline  
May 6th, 2008, 12:37 PM
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We're fans of the Imperial War Museum well and there is currently an Ian Fleming/James Bond exhibit (through March 2009) that's been getting good reviews over here in the papers.
TeaLoverDenise is offline  
May 6th, 2008, 12:38 PM
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We're fans of the Imperial War Museum as well and there is currently an Ian Fleming/James Bond exhibit (through March 2009) that's been getting good reviews over here in the papers.

TeaLoverDenise is offline  
May 15th, 2008, 06:41 AM
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<Clink St: A complete waste of money. This is IMHO the biggest and most egregious tourist trap in London (quite an achievement).>

CW i guess you have not been to the Trocadero Centre?
PalenQ is offline  
May 16th, 2008, 04:30 AM
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No - that really is ONLY for tourists.
Cholmondley_Warner is offline  
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