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London "know before you go" questions

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May 10th, 2016, 09:01 AM
  #1
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London "know before you go" questions

I posted on this board 3 years ago about an upcoming trip to England w/ DH & my Dad. We had intended to go in May 2014 but those plans fell through. We started planning, again, last year for our trip. We will be there June 24-July 4. We only have 44 days!!! This has been in the works for a long time and it's finally happening!

Highlight of itinerary:
Saturday - June 25 We arrive in London

Sunday thru Tues - London sights; we are staying at the Marriott County Hall (Dad's hotel points; some of you may recall we had a long post 3 yrs ago about the b&b in Kennington, it's me..., I'm back and I wised up!)

Wednesday thru Friday - Windsor Castle; make our way to Salisbury (we have a b&b); Salisbury Cathedral, Avebury, Stonehenge, Old Sarum

Friday thru Sunday - Make our way to Bath; we have a b&b; Bath sights

Sunday - Marriott at airport

Monday - July 4 Fly home

I just want to ask a few, "know before you go", questions. Please and thank you to all you UK experts!

1) I want to book JustAirports...a) Do I put our flight arrival time as pick up?
And JustAirports keeps an eye on arrival and they know how long it takes to get through customs. As opposed to putting flight arrival time, our flight arrives at 6:55am so knowing it takes a while to get through customs, I could put arrival time for later.

2) The price is lower when paying cash with JustAirports. How is the experience of getting money at the airport? Too much trouble, I should pass on it. Or, not too bad, go ahead and plan on doing it.

3) Any tickets for sights should be bought when we are there?

Any other tips? Thanks in advance!
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May 10th, 2016, 09:18 AM
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If your car service "keeps an eye on things" they it seems reasonable they should be told the airline, the flight number, and the scheduled arrival time. Why should YOU have to worry about how long it takes to get through Immigration IF they are supposedly keeping an eye on this?

I am all for car services at heathrow and I have used them; i have also used the Tube to get into the city but for the Marriott County Hall i would not use the Tube given its location.

Just make sure you have a contact number for that car service. Once, I had to actually call mine and ask them where the hell they were because when we rolled out of Immigration, etc., they were nowhere to be seen...be prepared for that eventuality.

If you are going to "get money" at the airport i would very strongly suggest using an ATM to do it because you will get a better rate of exchange than ANY of those kiosks and that includes Travelex (if you decide to change money in the US before you leave).
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May 10th, 2016, 09:31 AM
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>>2) The price is lower when paying cash with JustAirports. How is the experience of getting money at the airport? Too much trouble, I should pass on it. Or, not too bad, go ahead and plan on doing it. <<

There are lots of ATMs at the airport - including in the arrival hall where you have to wait for your luggage anyway. Getting £ cash is no problem

>>Wednesday thru Friday - Windsor Castle; make our way to Salisbury (we have a b&b); Salisbury Cathedral, Avebury, Stonehenge, Old Sarum
Friday thru Sunday - Make our way to Bath; we have a b&b; Bath sights<<

You have given yourselves 5 full days for what some numbskulls try to tick off on a one day coach tour. Good for you. But that is also a lot of time (I probably would have added two more nights to London and used 3 nights for this bit - but there is plenty to fill your days). You can do a day trip touring the souther Cotswolds, and try to hit Wells and Glastonbury.

As I recall justairports does ask for your flight #/terminal/ETA so they will monitor your flight arrival and use that to gauge when to meet you.
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May 10th, 2016, 09:37 AM
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No matter how many times I have been to London, I always look the wrong way crossing the street, so I just look in both directions.
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May 10th, 2016, 09:49 AM
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Oh - meant to add . . . good that you changed your plans. Kennington is a pit while the Marriott County Hall is close to Nirvana.
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May 10th, 2016, 10:26 AM
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I remember you well, looking forward to the visit report
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May 10th, 2016, 10:56 AM
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When you say "make our way" are you driving? If not, what are you doing with your luggage while you are in Windsor?

The best London museums are free, but you will need tickets for places like the Tower and Westminster. If you are doing those look into the two for one deals with a transport pass (do a search here).

Consider going to the theater in Bath: http://www.theatreroyal.org.uk/page/3009/Whats-On

London has great Indian food.
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May 10th, 2016, 12:14 PM
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<>

Uh, thinking the counting is a bit off.

Regarding the currency issue: where would you get it if not at an airport ATM? Fact is you do NOT have to bring any cash to the UK. There are ton(ne)s of ATMs and you should use them as necessary. Currency exchange went out with cassette tapes.
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May 10th, 2016, 12:33 PM
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Thanks so much for the replies!

janisj...I'm so happy to have your approval...! We are lucky to be using my Dad's points! He travels, a lot, for work so he built them up and saved them for this trip! I can't believe how close we will be to the major sights!

I'm glad it will be easy to get cash and I will definitely book w/ Just Airports today. Do they meet you with your name on a sign?

Also, janisj, in regards to the 5 days from Windsor to Bath. I'm glad you think that's plenty of time. With the getting around it will be less. I know w/ only 3 days in London it will be a packed itinerary.

Wednesday morning we will get our car, which answers your question, thursdaysd. Drive to and tour Windsor, lunch, drive to Winchester to see the King Arthur round table (we know it's a replica) then onto Salisbury. Possibly, and depending on time we can stop at the Jane Austen house. It is on the way but I'm not a huge fan. Still think it would be cool to see. Thoughts, anyone?

By the time we get to Salisbury, we check in at the b&b and have dinner. Thursday, we will do Avebury, Stonehenge, Old Sarum, Salisbury cathedral. Busy day, too much? We could move one to Friday morning.

Friday, anything left over in that area and, janisj, I looked up Glastonbury. I would love to stop there! It has the burial site of King Arthur. We stop there then continue on to Bath. Check in and dinner. Saturday is Bath. Sunday we can take the day to explore more. Someone mentioned on a previous post about Castle Combe. It looks lovely! We will take Sunday to, slowly, make our way from Bath to airport hotel.

We are stretching out this area but it will be nice to see the sights of the, supposed, relaxing countryside versus the bustling London. No amount of time would be enough and we are going to make the most of what we have.

bilboburgler...I remember you too! I will definitely do a trip report. I'm already thinking of titles of my report...haha! I'm thinking, "Texas Trio Take on London"! Haha!

Also, thursdaysd, my Dad loves Indian food! DH & I don't so Dad said we are on our own for dinner one night!

Thanks again everyone!
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May 10th, 2016, 12:34 PM
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I meant my countdown from now is 44 days until the trip! Until we leave for London.
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May 10th, 2016, 12:44 PM
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Definitely try to fit in Wells. Even more than Glastonbury, unless you sre super into New Age stuff.
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May 10th, 2016, 12:55 PM
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>>Thursday, we will do Avebury, Stonehenge, Old Sarum, Salisbury cathedral. Busy day, too much? We could move one to Friday morning. <<

That is a totally doable day. I would book a time at Stonehenge in the AM, then head up to Avebury -- then the rest of the day whatever is left can be for Old Sarum and the Cathedral. If by any chance you get back too late to tour the cathedral -- go to evensong.

OR . . . even better IMO -- you can leave Avebury until Sunday. Leave Bath, visit Castle Combe and/or Lacock, then Avebury and then back to LHR to return your car.

This would give you PLENTY of time for Stonehenge, Old Sarum and exploring Salisbury.
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May 10th, 2016, 12:55 PM
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(I knew you meant a 44 day count down )
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May 10th, 2016, 01:32 PM
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Thanks janisj! And...have you been to the Jane Austen house?
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May 10th, 2016, 01:50 PM
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My tips are, look right, and mind the gap.
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May 10th, 2016, 04:18 PM
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>>And...have you been to the Jane Austen house?<<

I'm not janisj, but I have been to Jane Austen's home in Chawton. If you have time, it's definitely worth visiting.

Lee Ann
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May 10th, 2016, 05:38 PM
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Salisbury Cathedral is beautiful, but if you get the docent we had to show you around, it can take as long as you are willing to give. We learned a lot from an older gentleman, but our eyes did begin to glaze over.
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May 10th, 2016, 07:53 PM
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Jane Austen's house in Chawton is a great stop, as ElindelPickle says, but I don't see how you have time get a car (that might take a while), drive, tour Windsor (that's half a day right there at the very least), drive, see Winchester (that's several hours right there), and go to Chawton. If really trying to "do" Windsor AND Winchester AND drive to Salisbury all in one day, that's probably too much, without even factoring in Chawton. I think this is rather ambitious for Wednesday.

Probably somewhere in your planning, someone told you to not go by the times given on things like Googlemaps, right? You should double the time given on such things and hope that there aren't any more serious delays. Driving there is not like driving our big Texas highways. You may be on some major highways, but not whole time and all take a lot longer than you think. So double the time when planning. (We found that the different legs of most of our UK driving have averaged taking about 1.5 to 1.75 times the times given by Google maps--traveling in summer like you in some of the same general areas).

Wells or Glastonbury? Both lovely. Glastonbury really is heavy on the magical/Merlin-y side of the Arthurian legends (probably not REALLY his grave--but it's still fun) and climbing the Tor and seeing the abbey ruins are great. Wells Cathedral is one of the prettiest, if not my favorite, of dozens I've been blessed to visit in several countries. And the town (actually it may be officially a city? since it has a cathedral?) is ...ok, gotta use the words cute and quaint! Great stop. So, if you have to choose, it depends on your interests.

And Winchester has a great cathedral, too--so don't just dash into that Hall to see the "bogus" round table (which is also fun to see--just know what you're seeing). Jane Austen is buried in the Cathedral, so that's a draw for me but sounds like not for you. But it's lovely in any case.

So just some thoughts from a fellow Texan and England-lover!

(And don't you want to try to squeeze Oxford in there somehow!? So close!
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May 11th, 2016, 09:27 AM
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Thanks texasbookworm!

We are staying Sat, Sun & Mon at the County Hall Marriott. Tuesday evening/night, after sightseeing, we are actually moving to the Marriott by the airport so we can get an early start Wednesday. We thought it would be easier to be near getting our car & Windsor.

As far as Winchester, we just intended to see the "bogus" round table! Haha! And, we will see the Winchester Cathedral. We may just head on unless, anyone, suggests other things to see. Time will determine if we stop at the Jane Austen house. I would like to see it but I don't have to see it.

Sunday, we leave Bath w/ our destination being the Marriott at the airport. We stop at Avebury and Oxford. Skipping Castle Combe. When we are in Salisbury, if we have time for Avebury then Sunday will be Castle Combe and Oxford or just Oxford.

Any thoughts on Castle Combe?
What would you suggest for Oxford?

Thanks!
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May 11th, 2016, 10:00 AM
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Oxford will be a bit time consuming. You can't really drive into the city centre and park. You will need to park on the outskirts in one of the park & ride lots and take a bus into the city. So not really doable as a quick look-see.

Bath to Castle Comb to Oxford - then faffing about w/ the park and ride in and back, to Heathrow will take between 4 and 5 hours transit time not leaving much if any time to see anything. (and just Bath to Oxford / P&R lot to LHR is still going to be about 4-ish hours.)

I LOVE Oxford but the logistics just are not in your favor - I'd forget about Oxford this trip and just do Castle Combe and Avebury en route to Heathrow.
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