London bound, on a wing and a prayer!

Old Aug 31st, 2000, 10:05 AM
Beth Anderson
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London bound, on a wing and a prayer!

Hey all,

Good things are happenen' - I just accepted a new job, with new challenges, new responsibilities, a great raise, and lots more vacation time! (4 weeks per year!)

this all happened so fast - half an hour ago I gave notice and 5 minutes later bought tix to London for 10 days (the amount of time I was able to finagle in between jobs).

I am not a newbie to London, have been there 5-6 times actually but there is always something new to find. Plus I figure when I get there if I feel like it I can pick up a cheap train/plane ticket and go somewhere for a few days - London is a good base.

anyway, my questions are these - is there anything quite unique you might suggest I do or see? or do you know specifically of something going on right now or soon which I shouldn't miss out on? fall activities, etc. I will be there the 13th - 23rd.

I've done much of the tourist stuff, I've done some of the non tourist stuff - in a way, I even consider London as home away from home. I am staying with friends I have made over there (due to going there so often) so I do have local resources as well.

but there is so much to London that even on several trips there is no way I could have seen it all. I plan on doing several London Walks (never did get to go on the Jack the Ripper one) maybe rent a bike with a cycling friend over there, catch some shows, check out other museums I have not seen yet, shop, etc.

tell me your favorite spots, things to do, you name it! if this helps, I am a big history buff, especially WWII. I have seen many of the comments from other posters and I thank you all for them.

I will be doing a lot of research on my own but I thought I'd put that out there...



Old Aug 31st, 2000, 10:12 AM
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Can't help you on your questions. But it sounds like congratulations are in order. So Congratulations!
Old Aug 31st, 2000, 10:19 AM
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Congratulations from me too! What an exciting move!

There is a wonderful spot between the Tower and St. Paul's, and the name escapes me. It's an old church that was bombed during WWII, and after the war, rather than repairing it, it was committed as a war memorial and park. The roof is open, but the walls still stand, and vines and plants have grown all around. It's very peaceful, nad I thinkvery special.
Old Aug 31st, 2000, 10:30 AM
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Hi Beth--and congratulations. I'm a museum buff, so just got back from visiting a group of them a couple of months ago. The V&A had a marvelous show on art nouveau. The National Gallery had a fascinating show of modern artists' interpretations of master works in the museum. Worth a visit if either of these is still going. The Wallace collection has just been revised and if you like 17th and 18th century European art, this is one of the best collections extant. I've mentioned in other posts not to miss the brand new Gilbert Collection of mosaics, silver, gold and jewelled boxes. Exceptional. As for the Tate modern, it is exciting to see crowds at museums and this one is vast. I was underwhelmed with the London Eye, but overwhelmed with the current museum scene.
Old Aug 31st, 2000, 10:50 AM
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Congrats, doll! Look, I bought a ticket for a tour of Parliament for 9/15, but I can't use it. If you'd like it, email me (free, doll, free - no money down).

Old Aug 31st, 2000, 11:13 AM
Beth Anderson
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Thanks for the words of good cheer everyone! I will print this string out before I leave, too - I cannot wait I have to tell you.

Elvira, thanks for the offer! I'll definitely send you a note. I am contemplating heading over to Paris for a few days (but all of this will be pretty much spontaneous, I gotta say, so I don't know the when-ifs yet) so if so, I could meetcha for coffee or something! my treat. (would that make me practically a Loon? I am already a loon - little "l" - so I am partway there!)

thanks again!

Old Aug 31st, 2000, 02:21 PM
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Beth and others who replied! how did your trip to london go? i am moving to alconbury which is only 45 minutes away. will be there 30 oct. please tell me about the hot spots you went? did you go to any clubs, concerts?

ATTN> locals!! i will be looking for a house too. what is a good area/village? i heard about the cottages for temporary living in Norwich. it is called the cotel? have anyone been? please advise! and thanks!

just got married monday we are BOTH excited to come to the UK!
Old Aug 31st, 2000, 03:07 PM
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BETH and ROBIN!!! Congratulatons!! Thanks for sharing such exciting events!

Beth---- the (new in 1998) British Library is a must, IMHO. Very exciting collection of old manuscripts (i.e. Magna Carta), scientific treaties (i.e. Galileo and Michelangelo handwritten notes), and some pieces of contemporary relevance (i.e. John Lennon's handwritten "Imagine" composition; original "Alice in Wonderland"). I thought it was kind of cool.
Old Aug 31st, 2000, 08:13 PM
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sounds like we're buttin' in on a sorority thread here..but...

if (in your previous London hops) you haven't managed to get to the Churchill War Rooms..or the Imperial War Museum..or the Dover cliffs...NOW is the time.

Congrats on your freedom!!
Old Sep 1st, 2000, 03:08 AM
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Robin, the church you mention is St. Dunstan in the East, on Great Tower Street. A beautiful spot. The Wren tower is exceptional. The garden still feels sacred.

Beth: don't know if you've explored, but there are some real gems in London beyond the Circle Line. Try Richmond, or Wimbledon village, or Dulwich (for Dulwich Picture Gallery) and Blackheath, Hampstead and Highgate. All retain the atmosphere of the country towns they were before London swallowed them up. Dulwich is a real treat, and mostly overlooked by foreign visitors. You could combine it with a walk via Blackheath (another Georgian village) across Greenwich Park to the Royal Observatory and the Naval College, and then take a boat back to central London. Would also highly recommend the Time Out Book of London walks... expert guiding through the best nooks and crannies of neighborhoods you think you know, and don't.

Also, if you haven't been for a couple of years, you'll be amazed at how the South Bank has been transformed since Tate Modern opened.
Old Sep 1st, 2000, 03:45 AM
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Highgate cemetary is pretty cool. I went there years ago and a lot of it was overgrown and sorta creepy. I think Karl Marx is buried there. Congrats on your new job (and more vc)!
Old Sep 1st, 2000, 04:35 AM
Gordon R
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WWII buff huh...? What about visiting Portsmouth to take in the D-Day Museum and Memorial, and Southwick House just north of the city (this was the operational headquarters of General Eisenhower and includes the Operations Room with a large wall map showing the ships in the D-Day landings).

Also in Portsmouth is the historic dockyard with Nelson's flagship, HMS Victory, The Mary Rose and HMS Warrior. Other military history attractions nearby include The Royal Marines Museum and the Submarine Museum in Gosport.

Portsmouth is 1.5 hours S/W of London, easy day trip by car or train.
Old Sep 1st, 2000, 05:06 AM
Karen S
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Hi Beth

Congratulations on your new job. I don't know if you have been there before, but I recommend a visit to Greenwich. I was there on a lovely sunny day 2 weeks ago (not been since I was a kid) and although its a little touristy now its still a good place for a day out. Take a boat down the river there and come back on the Docklands Light railway (or vice versa). The DLR travels through the new Docklands area, Canary wharf etc, where all the new developments are taking place. The new Jubilee station there is very cool!

Also, I've never been, even though I work 5 mins walk away, but I hear the London Museum in the Barbican is a really good museum, often over-looked but its the biggest city museum of its kind in the world. I must set time aside to go! Nearby are parts of the old Roman wall.
Actually, there are a lot of places of interest in the city, if you like history, as its one of the most historic parts of London (and not many tourists, mostly office workers).

If I think of anything else, I'll let you know.
Old Sep 1st, 2000, 05:30 AM
Karen S
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Congrats to Robin too. Norwich is a nice place to live, my boyfriend comes from there. He lived in one of the tiny villages about 20 miles away from Norwich city centre, where the house prices/rent is a lot cheaper. Although even living in central Norwich is a lot more affordable than within the outskirts of London. Fast Intercity style trains serve Norwich into London Liverpool Street - which is the same station I travel into each day, so I know it well . For timetables and so forth check out, which have the best online service.

You should be able to search on the Net for cottages to rent, local estate agents etc. Depending on whether you will have a car, check on local transport, because it is very limited in some areas, especially the further from Norwich you go.
Norwich is good for shopping and there are some places of interest there.
Old Sep 1st, 2000, 05:49 AM
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Congrats! Well London is pretty exciting at the moment, and I say that even as a resident.

All of the above suggestions are good, but you might note that the Art Nouveau exh at the V&A has finished.The Museum of London has a special exh called High Street Londinium including Roman artefacts and a "Roman" street. Free after 4.30pm (closes 6pm) - otherwise 4 or 5.

For art, the Tate Modern is tops but smaller places like Dulwich and the Wallace Collection have also had Millennium revamps. The National Portrait Gallery (or satify the history side of things and also has new galleries.

The Imperial War Museum has an excelent but harrowing exhibition on the Holocaust (again free after 4.30pm). It is the largest such exh outside the States.

The Dome is always worth a mention and worth a visit IMO. I would take up Elvira's offer of the Parliament Tour which we did and its a great 1.5 hour guide through British history though the Victorian interiors are quite OTT. No more tours after Sept until August next year.

My personal fav at the moment is the revamped courtyard of Somerset House which is worth walking thru from the Strand to the River Terrace. It has simple but effective "walk through" fountains which put on a mini-show every half hour and are illuminated at nice. The courtyard looks superb.

As you're still in London on Sat 23rd Sept, that is one day of the London Opne House 2000 event. Pick up a leaflet at any tourist office. Website at still only has last year's listings though. This involves private homes, govt buildings and other places not usually open being thrown open to the public for two days a year (or waiving usual admission fees). The Lloyds Building in the City, Foreign Office, Carlton House and Banqueting Hall in Whitehall area are really impressive. You will need to plan a course of action though as queuing if often required, but worth it!

Other sites you might want to visit are and for listings. Please feel free to email me if you need any more help! Alex
Old Sep 1st, 2000, 08:15 AM
Beth Anderson
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Hey all,

Thanks for the replies! You are all wonderful! I've printed this out and am sure there'll be more cool stuff over the next week or two.

Robin, congratulations on your wedding!

Arjay - thanks for the suggestions - I have indeed been to all three places you mentioned on different trips, and especially intend to head back to the Imperial War Museum again - it'll be a year to the DAY practically since I was there last.

Gordon, thanks for the extra history tips. also my friend Jon and I are planning to make a day of it at Bletchley Park - not too terribly far from where he lives (north of London). side note: I am now reading a book called "Bodyguard of Lies" which is about the code breaking efforts during WWII - including the sad fact that even though the Allies broke many secrets, they sometimes decided not to act on them so as not to alert the Axis powers... (this includes the tragedy at Coventry among others) great book, but out of print, I had the dickens of a time finding it. (in case you are at all interested)

Alex, I've already contacted Elvira and the tix are on the way - very nice of her! and I am going to miss the open house as I fly out at 1130. darn it. I found out last night, but the tix are booked. I start my job monday the 25th and usually don't let little things like jet lag stop me, but for a new job - perhaps I should, ya know? so I return Sat not Sun.

and now, back to work...


Old Sep 2nd, 2000, 04:44 AM
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Old Sep 3rd, 2000, 06:51 AM
Beth Anderson
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Hi all,

Just Beth again, with another question:

As I will be staying with a friend for the ten days I am there - is there anything you native Londoners think would be a nice gift from the States, specifically Washington DC?

I know that one can get just about anything they could possibly want in London, but I'd like to get him something which may be unique to the States and am not quite sure what to look for. Is there anything you might think of which you might appreciate yourself & is unique to the US, or what sort of gifts did you find to be very nice and thoughtful?

Thanks for the help!


ps. Ben Haines, I am surprised I have not heard from you yet! I was looking forward to your advice...
Old Jan 22nd, 2002, 09:23 PM
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Beth, just spotted your post on Rick Steves. How are things going, job, life, etc.? If you have posted all that, give me a good search phrase! I don't check in that often or I get hooked for days on end. I envy you your adventure--hope it is everything you wished for!

Old Jan 23rd, 2002, 06:47 AM
Leigh Ann
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Beth-I travel to the U.K. at least twice a year, as my husband's from Northern Ireland. We've stopped bringing presents, but we used to take things like Virginia wines, or little things from the Senate gift shop (glasses, towels), Redskins/Wizards hats or sweatshirts, that sort of thing. Also, coffee table books on DC, or just good books on history/politics. Really depends on the person. There is one gift we still give, though. We usually go at Christmas time, so we stock up on the annual White House Christmas ornaments every year. Our family and friends love them, and now expect them every year. Doesn't really help you out this time of year, but maybe in the future.

We are going to be moving to small town in County Down at the end of the year, so I appreciate what you are going through right now! Who are you using to move? Are you taking much with you? We have done the move once in the past, but we were poor, and so ended up taking our boxes to the port in Baltimore and even stacking the pallet ourselves. I wasn't happy with the movers who brought us back across the Atlantic, so I'm shopping for someone new. If you have any names, please share.

Congratulations on the job! I'm impressed with any company that can get a visa pushed through that quickly, so I'm sure you'll enjoy it. Good luck.

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