London advice

Old Aug 20th, 2015, 02:52 PM
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London advice

First off, thanks in advance to anyone who offers their advice!

Two friends and I will be in London in September for two days. None of us have been before so I'd like to get some advice regarding transit and sightseeing.

We'll be arriving at Heathrow on a Saturday morning. What is the quickest way to get to central London? Alternatively, what is the cheapest way?

I've been reading some threads RE: oyster card vs. travel card. Can someone please make a suggestion for our situation? It seems like the oyster card is the way to go, but perhaps I'm missing something. Also, can someone tell me why it's called an oyster card? Is the initial deposit on the card still refundable?

Regarding sightseeing, I'm interested in literature and history. I realize two days in London isn't even scratching the surface. Any best of recommendations or must-sees are none-the-less appreciated. They don't have to be the obvious choices. I quite like off-the-beaten path type travel.

Good restaurant and coffee shop recommendations are always welcome

Cheers!
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Old Aug 20th, 2015, 03:24 PM
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>>What is the quickest way to get to central London? Alternatively, what is the cheapest way? <<

London is a BIG place - where are you staying? But in general the best/cheapest way to get into the city is by Tube. (The Heathrow Express train is faster but only gets you to Paddington which is a long way from anyplace you'll be sightseeing. Plus it is VERY expensive and then you have to pay for either the tube, a taxi, or a bus to get where you want to go.

>>I've been reading some threads RE: oyster card vs. travel card. Can someone please make a suggestion for our situation? It seems like the oyster card is the way to go, but perhaps I'm missing something. <<

Lots of confusion -- an Oyster is simply the card that holds the ££ you pay for your transport. That ££ will either be a Pay-as-you-go amount or a 'travelcard' for say a week. Since you are only there for 2 days an Oyster w/ PAYG is what you'd need. . . . <B>UNLESS</B> you want to use the Day Out 2for1 discounts. http://www.daysoutguide.co.uk/2for1-london In which case, an Oyseter doesn't work -- you would have to go to a <u>train</u> station (not a tube/Underground station) and but paper travelcards. The biggest problem w/ that is you can't buy paper travelcards at Heathrtow

>>Good restaurant and coffee shop recommendations are always welcome<<

There are thousands of restaurants and coffee places in London - what sort of food do you want, what part(s) of the city, and what is your budget?

>>Also, can someone tell me why it's called an oyster card?<<

Who knows - one theory is there is a similar card in Hong Kong called the Octopus . . .
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Old Aug 20th, 2015, 04:21 PM
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If you are counting Sat as one of your days you actually have 1.5 days in London and will likely be very jet lagged the first day - so really only one. I hope you will be there both Sun and Mon as well.

As above - you really need to give us a lot more info.

I would say my top sights are (but do check Sunday hours)

Tower of London
Westminster Abbey (walk past Parliament and Big Ben)
British Museum
View Buckingham Palace and visit/wander through St James or Green Park

If you are still active on Sat afternoon you might head for Hampton Court Palace - which is fascinating, esp if you are interested in the Tudors.

Can't think of off the beaten track places that are worth the time - until you have seen at least the above.
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Old Aug 20th, 2015, 05:12 PM
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Literature and history- The British Library and the British Museum...
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Old Aug 20th, 2015, 05:41 PM
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>>I quite like off-the-beaten path type travel<<

You have <i>Two days</i> (and if one is your arrival day you really have about 1.5 days) - how far off the beaten path could you get???
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Old Aug 20th, 2015, 06:14 PM
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I like walking around the streets of London. You don't have to see must-sees to have a great time.

Get the free bus map at any tube stop once you get into the central area, and take buses with your Oyster. Sit on top and in front.

Can't beat the British Museum.
Museum of London for history from the time of wooly mammoths, Romans, through 20th C. You can see a section of the old Roman wall there.

Go to a play at The Globe. History and literature combined. Or the Sam Wanamaker Theatre next door.

The chain coffee shops are plenty good for quick refreshment: Caffe Nero, Pret a Manger, and more Frenchy: Paul, Patisserie Valerie.
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Old Aug 20th, 2015, 07:10 PM
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@janisj

We'll be staying close to to Russell Square. How long will it take to get there by Tube from Heathrow?

Sounds like Oyster card is right for us.

We like all types of cuisine… Italian, Indian, Mexican, Chinese... It doesn't have to be fancy or trendy. I was just hoping for a few recommendations. Where would you tell your friends to go if they were in London for two days? As far as location is concerned, I mentioned where we'll be staying, however we don't mind venturing into other areas of the city.

We will have two full days to explore London. I didn't count the day of our arrival.

By "off the beaten path" I mean we don't necessarily have to go see the big attractions. I'd welcome less touristy suggestions.

@nytraveler

Thanks very much for the advice. As I mentioned above, we will have the two full days. I think this will be a very brief introduction to London, so I'm not expecting too much as relates to sightseeing. My main goal is to get a good sense of the city. Visit a key neighbourhood or two, eat tasty food and get two or three sights in. I'll definitely try to make it out to Hampton Court Palace.

@stokebailey

How busy are the buses generally? Is it easy to get a spot at the front?
Also, does the oyster apply to buses?

Thanks for the suggestions! The Globe is on my list!
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Old Aug 20th, 2015, 07:34 PM
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>>We'll be staying close to to Russell Square. How long will it take to get there by Tube from Heathrow?<<

About an hour (53 minutes to be exact - but it is a bit of a a walk to the tube station at LHR and you have to buy your Oysters so count on an hour) -- no changes, get on at LJR get off at Russell Sq. very easy.

>> I'll definitely try to make it out to Hampton Court Palace.<<

HCP is wonderful -- but it is also out in Zone 6 (reachable by train) and will eat up a minimum of half a day. More like 3/4. Depends on if you want to devote 35% of your entire time in London to one site.

>>How busy are the buses generally? Is it easy to get a spot at the front?
Also, does the oyster apply to buses?<<

Some buses are crammed full some less so. The majority of riders do go upstairs. But people get on and off at every bus stop so seats open up.

To be honest -- on such a short visit I probably wouldn't look for specific places to eat. I'd eat in the neighborhoods where I was sightseeing -- you don't time to run all over the city. Once you put together a sort of short list of places you want to see we can give you ideas of places nearby to eat.
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Old Aug 20th, 2015, 07:44 PM
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I get a top front seat maybe half the time, more if I lurk until someone gets up. (I'd have thought more people stay below; will have to conduct a careful count next time.) I've rarely been on a crammed bus in London. They run frequently, and you can get free apps that tell you when next one is due.

Less pricey than the Tube, and much more fun seeing where you're going. Definitely use your Oyster.
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Old Aug 20th, 2015, 09:55 PM
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<i><i> I was just hoping for a few recommendations.</i>

On the more casual end (and off the top of my head), I quite like Iberica, Ceviche, Koya, and Leong's Legend. Still have a soft spot for North Sea for fish and chips, but suspect it has been surpassed by others.
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Old Aug 21st, 2015, 12:17 AM
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If you haven't already done so, check out the Transport for London website for all the information you need about tubes, buses and tickets (but ignore their attempts to push the Visitor Oyster card at you, there's no great advantage to you to get it in advance - just get one each at Heathrow and put £20 on it).

http://www.tfl.gov.uk

http://tfl.gov.uk/cdn/static/cms/doc...itor-guide.pdf

(I assume it's called Oyster to associate with the idea that the world is your...... - but who knows?)
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Old Aug 21st, 2015, 02:45 AM
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The tfl website will answer all your public transport queries and has a journey planner so you can see how long it takes to get anywhere.

https://tfl.gov.uk/

If I only had a couple of days in London I would probably see:-

The Tower of London (Tower Bridge is right next to it) eating somewhere at Butlers Wharf just over the river.

One museum - probably the British Library in your case (V&A is a favourite of mine however)

One market - maybe Borough or Broadway

One park for a wander - take your choice

Shopping - Liberty if you want a department store fix - or otherwise smaller quirky places like James Smith umbrellas and/or a good chocolatier like Paul A Young

I would not do Oxford Street, Picadilly Circus, Leicester Square, Harrods or anywhere likely to be heaving if time was tight.
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Old Aug 21st, 2015, 02:47 AM
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Actually, I wouldn't do any of those last four even if I had a month.
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Old Aug 25th, 2015, 10:38 PM
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Get tickets for one of the Hop on Hop Off buses when you are ready to start sightseeing. The ticket gives you 24 hours and takes you to all the major sights. This, combined with a ride on the Eye, is a great way to get an overview of London in a short time. You can then pick the things you want to do. The Original Tour and Big Bus London are a couple of options. Tickets are sold at all the major attractions. Take the tube from Heathrow I think it costs 5 pounds. The Oyster Card seems to work very well.
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Old Aug 25th, 2015, 11:26 PM
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"Also, does the oyster apply to buses?"

Yes and buses don't have zones.
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Old Aug 25th, 2015, 11:36 PM
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24 hours on the 'Big Bus' HOHO costs 28 pounds.
One day unlimited tube and bus in zone 1 and 2 costs a maximum of 6.40 pounds.

The OP likes 'off the beaten path' travel; I wouldn't advise a HOHO tour.
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Old Aug 25th, 2015, 11:48 PM
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>>I would not do Oxford Street, Picadilly Circus, Leicester Square, Harrods or anywhere likely to be heaving if time was tight.<<

I wouldn't have said there was anything to <i>do</i>, in particular. But I'm not particularly interested in chain stores and restaurants, nor in the show-off opulence of a shop like Harrods.

Certainly they've nothing to do with the OP's declared interests in literature and history. I'd certainly second the British Library and Museum, and those, combined with the Tower, could take up the bulk of the two days. Whether it's worth devoting trying to squeeze in time for Dr. Johnson's House, the Dickens Museum or Sir John Soane's House, only the OP could say.

Or what about a guided walk - plenty of historical and literary topics there, and some are in the evenings, if you've the stamina after a day of sightseeing:
http://www.walks.com/standalone/lond...r/default.aspx
http://www.timeout.com/london/walks
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Old Aug 26th, 2015, 12:46 AM
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"Caffe Nero, Pret a Manger, and more Frenchy: Paul, Patisserie Valerie."


Caffe Nero, famous tax dodger avoid.

and more Frenchy: Paul is actually a French company

Patisserie Valerie, is a very British company ( I went to Uni with the founder) and they mass produce out in the sticks
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Old Aug 26th, 2015, 06:59 AM
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Is Caffe Nero a bigger UK tax dodger than Starbucks? I seem to remember that being an issue a couple of years ago.

(By "Frenchy" I meant "reminds one of France.")
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Old Aug 26th, 2015, 08:03 AM
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Well I'd say for sure do The Tower - this takes quite awhile, very interesting. Then you can tour the Globe - a play would be nice but your time is limited. I thought both of these sights were just the iconic / unique London experiences.

Near the Globe is this unbelievable food market - maybe another poster can provide the name. I was not feeling well when we wandered thru it - I could have cried there was so many amazing offerings.

Finally maybe one of the cathedrals and one museum that most hits your interests. Or a cruise on the Thames - the HOHO might be nice but it also might be quite slow as the traffic is horrendous but on the river, you do see quite a few of the other major sights.
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