Leaving for London in 3 weeks

Oct 13th, 2003, 07:35 AM
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Leaving for London in 3 weeks

Just posting to share my excitement about the fact that we're leaving for our honeymoon in London in 3 weeks. Yay!

I've been reading these boards for months, and have gleaned what I hope will be invaluable information from you all.

Here is our plan. It is pretty nebulous, since we want to mostly play it by ear and go with the flow, not locking ourselves into a rigid schedule.

We'll be there for 10 days, not including travel time to & fro.
We arrive on a Monday morning. We'll check into our hotel or at least drop off our bags if we're too early to get into our room(Bryanston Court / Hotel Concorde, near Marble Arch, chosen because it was economical and seemed to be well-located near a couple of tube stops & major bus lines - 69GBP, VAT and breakfast included).

Then we'll take one of the hop on/off bus tours, probably Big Bus or Original, to get an easy overview of the city. We'll probably be a bit dazed with jet lag because neither of us sleep well on planes, so we'd rather not do anything strenuous while we're loopy - don't want to get hit by a car coming from the "wrong" direction, etc.
Then an early dinner & to bed or play cards for a bit in the room before passing out from exhaustion.

Tuesday & the rest of the week we'll rise whenever we're ready, and go exploring.

Sights we'd like to see during our 10 days are the usual ones: Tower, Tower Bridge, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul's (and climb up under the dome if possible), Hampton Court. The Eye is probably a no-go, since I'm prone to vertigo and don't want to end up having to lie down on the floor of the car and wait for it to be over. We'll go & look at it to decide, but I'm guessing we won't be taking a ride.

We like museums, so we'll be hitting a few of those, like British Museum, V&A, Nat'l Gallery and a few of the more interesting small ones.

A daytrip to Stonehenge & Avebury is a must.

The loose plan is each day we'll pick a neighborhood that has something particular in it that we'd like to see, and check out other things in that area as time allows.

Finish each day with a pint & a casual meal.

Sometime during our stay we'll do some laundry, because we're only taking enough clothes to fit in our carry-ons.

We were going to buy Travel Cards online before we go, but the website has been having some troubles, so we're just going to buy them when we get there, even though it means we might pay a little more.

Can you think of anything I've forgotten?
motorgirl is offline  
Oct 13th, 2003, 08:04 AM
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Your comment: The loose plan is each day we'll pick a neighborhood that has something particular in it that we'd like to see, and check out other things in that area as time allows.

Don't be so "loose" that you don't know where things are and how to get there effciently. I've seen so many frustrated folks waste precious vacation time trying to do pre-trip research and transport options on the metro steps. I like to have the first activity each day well planned so my stress levels remain low.
Oct 13th, 2003, 08:07 AM
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I shouldn't worry about the London Eye. I suffer from vertigo too, but was fine. If I were you, I wouldn't look up at it before you get on.
The view is fantastic and it's more like being in a plane. I found it much more comfortable from the vertigo point of view than a cable car.
Oct 13th, 2003, 08:21 AM
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Degas: Don't worry - we'll start out each day with a specific destination, and we'll look at our Tube map & street map before we set off.

Right now I've got a good mental map of where the big sights are, and we'll fill that in as we go along. And if we end up in the wrong place? Well, as far as I can tell, London has no shortage of things to do & see.

I appreciate the words of advice, though and will keep them in mind.

Sylvia: thanks for the comments on the London Eye. I'll let you know when we return if I screwed up my courage & took a ride!
motorgirl is offline  
Oct 13th, 2003, 08:30 AM
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London is very large and spread out.

You may already know this, but try to group sights and activities in the same general are each day so you don't waste time and energy backtracking.

This is a major departure from many americans who want to go from priority number one to priority number two and so on, even if it means lots of Tube time.

I also try to go first to my farthest destination and then work my way back towards the hotel. Nothing worse than a long subway ride packed with office workers on the way home.

I know you will have loads of fun.
Oct 13th, 2003, 09:26 AM
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Motorgirl, sounds like an excellent plan. The travelcard will not cost any more if you buy it there.
jsmith is offline  
Oct 13th, 2003, 01:13 PM
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Actually the travelcard will be slightly less expensive bought in London.

As for the Eye - a couple of thoughts. I do not fear heights nor suffer vertigo. But I have been on it w/ friends who do. One trip all 4 of the folks I was with were REALLY nervous about it and declined to ride it. Finally one of the guys screwed up enough courage to go on it with me - just KNOWING he would hate it. Not only was he won over - the minute we landed he raced into the ticket hall to buy tickets so he could take his wife up. There is no sense of movement and there is a large bench in the center of each capsule if you can't bear to stand near the window walls.

But if when you get there it just seems to daunting - encourage your husband to ride it. I know, I know - it is your honeymoon. But the ride only takes 30 minutes and you can bear to be separated that long. There is a lot you can do to fill that 1/2 hour: Walk across the bridge to Big Ben; have a coffee in the cafe at the foot of the Eye; go into the Dali museum; walk a short ways down river to the used book stalls; just walk along the river watching all the boats go by . . . .
janis is offline  
Oct 13th, 2003, 02:50 PM
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janis & Sylvia: what's the floor like in the London Eye cars? Is it solid or transparent? One of the things which seems to trigger vertigo for me is seeing things moving under my feet, like when I try to take open-grid stairs or cross an open-grid steel deck bridge.
Subway gratings don't bother me much because it's all dark below and I can't see anything moving.
motorgirl is offline  
Oct 13th, 2003, 02:52 PM
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Degas - excellent point about starting with the farthest point and working our way back towards the hotel. Thanks!
motorgirl is offline  
Oct 13th, 2003, 03:09 PM
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Do you have any pubs lined up or will you just pop in one as the spirit moves you?

I'm going to make a point of stopping by Blackfrairs, Gordon's wine Bar, the Salisbury, and the Red Lion, along with a few others. There have been a some good recent posts about pubs and the ones that serve food at night.
Oct 13th, 2003, 04:29 PM
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Sounds like you are approaching things correctly. I have always found that preparing for the trip can be almost as much fun as travelling itself. I would suggest that you check out the London Walks tours as a good way to show you parts of the city that you may not see in casual exploration. They have (usually) small groups that are led by an experienced guide and focus on a specific topic or area (e.g. Dickens London, Old Mayfair, Ghosts of the West End). Their web site is London.walks.com. They list their schedule and infoon how to go on a walk (no pre-booking needed). I will be going back to London for the 8th time in 25 years in December and plan on taking a few walks during our week there.
Since you mentioned that you want to include some small museums as part of your itinerary,I would also recommend a visit to Sir John Soane's House in Lincoln's Inn Fields. This is an eccentric collection of art and artifacts crammed into an amazing townhouse that was the home of one of Englands most famous architects. Truly a fascinating place to spend an hour or two.
Have a great trip.
kevdoy is offline  
Oct 13th, 2003, 04:50 PM
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Since you like museums, don't miss Sumerset House for the architecture, site, and collection.
With 10 days you will have time to go to Kew Gardens to get a sense of the English gardens, plus it's lovely.
I also love Greenwich. If you have read "Longitude", it's a must. Plus, the area is an interesting neighborhood.
You will have a fab honeymoon.
Elainee is offline  
Oct 13th, 2003, 04:54 PM
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Hi motorgirl,
Congratulations on your upcoming wedding and honeymoon. Ten days in London will be fabulous!

The floor of the London Eye is solid (no grating or see-through material). I am afraid of heights, but I did do the London Eye. I hate to admit this, but I did not like it at all. Even though it moves VERY slowly and you are inside the capsule, my fear just got to me once we got a little bit high. That being said, the views are terrific, and I love the pictures my husband took from the top.

Another great area in London is Primrose Hill, and you'll get some great views of London from here too (it's close to Regent's Park and the Camden canal area--I think (but I'm not the best with directions). The parks in London are beautiful, so be sure to walk through as many as you can. Maybe you'll get lucky with nice weather and can have a picnic one day!
Lee4 is offline  
Oct 13th, 2003, 05:13 PM
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I get dizzy on the edge of a curb hanging over. I've never been a cheap date because I can only sit in orchestra seats. Of course I was terrified to ride the London Eye but I knew my husband wanted to do it and I didn't want him to have to go alone.
So I brought a book and figured I could bury my nose in it while he enjoyed the scenery and took pictures.
Within two minutes of the ride starting, I was wandering around the cabin, standing next to the rail and pointing out good shots. I was so surprised at my reaction, I had to ride it again the next trip to London.
That said, if you really think it will make you uncomfortable, skip it. There are certainly enough other wonderful things to do.
vcl is offline  
Oct 13th, 2003, 06:09 PM
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One other suggestion I'll offer - one of the great joys of London is the theatre. Be sure to see a few plays or musicals while you're there. There's everything from "Mama Mia" to "Stones in His Pocket" to "After Mrs. Rochester". Whatever your taste, you'll find something you like. And the theatres themselves are wonderful works of art. You can check out the half-price ticket website before you go to see what's been available recently.(http://home.clara.net/rap/half/).
Also, pickup a Time Out London magazine as soon as you arrive to see what else is going on. Enjoy!
sheepdog is offline  
Oct 13th, 2003, 09:21 PM
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Motorgirl, I think you're approaching this well--leaving lots of room for just meandering around. This IS your honeymoon after all!

I'd like to suggest you add Windsor. An easy 25 minute train ride from Paddington. Lovely town and, of course, the castle is fabulous (as is St. George's chapel). It's a great day away from the city.

Congratulations and best wishes on your new marriage and your trip abroad!
MelJ is offline  
Oct 14th, 2003, 04:44 AM
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For your day trip to Stonehenge and Avebury, do look into Astral Travel's "Inner Circle" tour, which includes both those places with access to actually enter the Stonehenge circle after-hours (it's normally roped off) as well as other Neolithic sites and perhaps a crop circle or two.
Anonymous is offline  
Oct 14th, 2003, 06:48 AM
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Don't forget to look up at the animated clock at Fortnum and Mason at Picadilly Circus
Congratulations on your wedding!
donnae_b is offline  
Oct 14th, 2003, 08:47 AM
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We took Trafalgar's day trip tour to Leed's Castle and Bryton Beach - fabulous!
ProudMom is offline  
Oct 15th, 2003, 10:23 AM
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Pubs: I've read & made some printouts from pubs.com and CAMRA's online historic pub guide ( www.camra.org.uk )(was planning to order their Good Beer Guide but have run out of time for ordering it. I'll keep my eye out for it when I'm in bookstores "over there."

Blackfriars and Red Lion are both on my list of interesting-looking pubs. I've organized them in my travel book by neighborhood as a quick-reference while we're out and about. I'm not sure we'll make an special effort to go to any particular one, but rather will pop into them as we run across them or look for them when we're in aparticular neighborhood. A couple from CAMRA & pubs.com are in the neighborhood of our hotel, so those are especially likely prospects (Argyll Arms, Barley Mow)
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