London – five days with two teen boys

Old Aug 1st, 2013, 09:21 PM
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Thanks for setting me straight, jansj.

Tabernash2 mentioned it was at sundown, but maybe it was a mid-summer comment. I'll have to rethink this.

Hampton Court: now need to decide if we should go or not. Aagh.

Piccadilly was just to pass by Regent St showroom really, as suggested by bendigo.

OK, agree Tower plus Muggles is enough. My notes say 14:30 for Muggles. No time for anything apart from lunch in between.

Hmm. Decisions, decisions...
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Old Aug 2nd, 2013, 05:55 AM
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I think that the walk or bus down the magnificent sweep of Regent Street from Oxford Circus to Piccadilly Circus is magnificent.
But maybe the night time Christmas lights gave it a special aura - nice but not so special on Street View:
https://www.google.com/maps/preview#...9!4f13.1&fid=5
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Old Aug 2nd, 2013, 10:13 AM
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There is nothing to see at Piccadilly Circus.>

Duh seeing Piccadilly Circus to me at least was one of the main things for my first visit - like saying there is nothing at Trafalgar Square - see the famous statue in the middle of Piccadilly Circus, which is right by the Trocadero Center.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2013, 10:36 AM
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>>Duh seeing Piccadilly Circus to me at least was one of the main things for my first visit - like saying there is nothing at Trafalgar Square -<<

PQ - you really need to get off the paint -- we do worry about you.

OK - let' compare/contrast: Trafalgar Sq - National Gallery, St Martins in the field, National Portrait Gallery, Nelson's column/the Lions/Large fountains, the plinths, Admiralty Arch, etc

Piccadilly Circus - small statue of eros, backpackers sitting on the steps below eros, extremely busy tube station, advertising lights (which are only a 'site really when it is dark), Lilywhites.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2013, 11:06 AM
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Jan you forgot the Trocadero Centre is your listing of Schlock surrounding Piccadilly Circus. I fear you would say the same about Times Square in NY and tell folks not to bother about seeing it - Piccadilly Circus is one of the most famous things in London - warts and all and most folks would want to see it and then be flummoxed at why it is famous.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2013, 12:30 PM
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yes, but Pal you cna easily see that sort of stuff from the top of a bus.

no need to waste time actually going there.

I once bought a very good tennis racket at Lillywhites.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2013, 12:43 PM
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Yes annhig I do agree with just a quick look but a quick look - like going to NYC and not at least looking at Times Square, which I am sure janis and others would call very tacky and not worth the time!

This is a few-minute site and no not just from the top of a bus - this area is always thronged with people as it is on the edge of the West End Theatre district - walk down from Piccadilly to watch the Swiss Clock show - just like those in Europe like in Munich - fancy clock with moving figures strutting around to music - Leicester Square in here as well - like saying to skip a part of London that is so so popular with many.

And keep walking the several blocks to Covent Garden and see the perpetual street theatre performers there - great fun for kids that age and maybe adults too.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2013, 12:50 PM
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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-15930226

the Clock was given to London by Switzerland in friendship - see the BBC link on it for a video of the show. Yes schlocky but some schlock can be fun!
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Old Aug 2nd, 2013, 02:42 PM
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I don't know if you want to do both a bike tour for three hours and then spend another hour or two climbing over 500 steps in St Paul Cathedral on the same day. It might be too much.

I wouldn't eliminate Hampton Court Palace. We spent ten days in London and it was clearly one of our favorites along with the Tower of London.

I will make a suggestion as to itinerary working around what I think are your "must sees".

Friday--St Paul climb and area exploration

Sat--Bike tour combined with Muggles tour in the afternoon?

Sunday--Tower of London then take boat ride right at the exit of Tower of London over to Greenwich for the afternoon.

Monday-Harry Potter Warner Bros tour and then a museum on your return. Either British Museum or Natural History since they are not near each other. For a first time visitor I would say British Museum wins. That is what we did too and still have yet to visit the Natural History museum in London. Also keep in mind that on Friday I think the British museum is open late until 8:30PM. I know the National Gallery is open late until 9PM on Fridays too--don't know how tired you will feel though since Friday is your arrival day.

Tuesday--Hampton Court Palace take the 1/2 hour train ride from Waterloo station try to arrive at opening 9AM to allow plenty of time and after Hampton Court walk across Westminster Bridge to go see the Cabinet War Rooms. They are open until 6PM. Allow 2 and 1/2 hours for the War Rooms and Churchill Museum within. The London Eye is very close by and if the weather is clear you can do that toward evening.

Just my suggestions for grouping things.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2013, 04:06 PM
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Thanks everyone, once again – more of the spirited discussions! You all seem to know each other very well...

I don't mind seeing things that are a bit down-at-heel from time to time and Piccadilly Circus with its backpackers etc could be an occasion for people-watching... It's not that were going to spend hours there. Just adds richness to the travel experience.

Thanks for creating an itinerary for me, europeannovice! That's not such a bad idea, combining bike tour and Muggles on same day.

Friday night I'm sure we'll be abed by 8pm at the latest!

Greenwich after Tower is an excellent idea.

And I do think we'll go to Hampton Court. Apart from looking amazing, it could be a nice break away from central London's busy-ness.

Just a logistical Q: we catch the train from Waterloo, I believe. So when we get the tube from Marble Arch, travel cards in hand, can we buy the 'add-on' tickets from there?

Also, does walking from Marble Arch on arrival day to Charing X sound reasonable?

Thanks once again for the thought you're all putting in to this.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2013, 04:23 PM
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Please don't eliminate the London Eye. We've taken four grandkids (3 boys, 1 girl) in two different trips (2 on each trip) when they reached the age yours are, and they loved it. I was a bit scared the first time, but not the second.

We also took them to the London Aquarium, which is opposite the London Eye. Hadn't planned on it but it was raining both times and seemed a good refuge. Both sets of grandkids enjoyed it. I couldn't get the first set out of there, whilst the second set took half the time, though they did enjoy going through there.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2013, 04:25 PM
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Google says it is 2.5 miles from Marble Arch to Charing Cross. You can take the bus either #6 or #159. Another excellent resource is the tfl website where you can use the journey planner to see how to go on the tube/bus from point A to point B.

I think you would buy the add-on at the waterloo train station. The experts can confirm this.

The train ride to Hampton Court I think is from the Waterloo station and it is only a half hour to 45 min but factor in the tube too from your starting point to get the total destination time down. I am going to sound like their spokesperson which I am not--we just happened to really like the place.

On Saturday I think you will still have enough time for the car showrooms in between or after your two tours depending on logistics of where the showrooms are in relation to the tour starting points.

Factor in the weather too. We ended up not going to Greenwich that trip because the day we wanted to go it was raining so we ended up at the Imperial War Rooms instead and enjoyed that.

You can also purchase show tickets for an evening performance. Billy Elliott, Matilda--all popular with kids/teens. This way you still have time for sight seeing during the day.

Enjoy and hopefully you will write a trip report when you return.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2013, 04:33 PM
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I rank the aquarium with the zoo. Great if you have extra time but for things you can see at home, I'd rather skip in favor of things that are unique to London especially for a first time visitor who only has 5 days.

London Eye--agree you can line up in the evening after Cabinet War Rooms--literally across the bridge--so very close by to each other. We did that. We toured the Tower of London then took the boat instead of to Greenwich, we went the other way toward Westminster, and toured the Cabinet War rooms and then did the London Eye that night.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2013, 01:08 AM
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<I once bought a very good tennis racket at Lillywhites.>

They also have some very good prices on Lonsdale gear and Vans shoes on the ground floor (at least by comparison to Oz).

For sporty kids, that can make it worthwhile going to Piccadilly - and Lillywhites is open late, so you can go at night and see the garish lights.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2013, 04:15 AM
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http://www.soccerscene.co.uk/Stores/...0Kingdom&sd=10

If kids are into soccer trek up to Carnaby St, famed Carnaby St and head to Soccer Scene where you can buy all the various British team stuff, etc. Carnaby St a short walk from Piccadilly Circus - up Regent St.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2013, 04:15 AM
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No, I'm not eliminating the London Eye, just keeping it on the back burner. I may take my cue from how keen they are. In fact, flexibility is important, in spite of all the planning!

And rain will always have an influence, I tend to forget about that! We've had seemingly endless days of sunshine over winter in my corner of Oz.

Thanks for the info on walking, europeannovice – not too far at all, and just what is needed after 20-odd hrs on a plane. And thanks for info on everything else, too! Very helpful.

We saw Billy Elliot here, but Matilda may be the go. Was thinking along the lines of a couple of trade-offs: Harry Potter for them (and I'll enjoy), Chorus Line for me (and they'll enjoy). Also believe we can go to the Globe and watch a play as the Elizabethans used to (throw rotten fruit?!)

Vans shoes are very pricey in Oz, and we've only ever bought cheap imitations.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2013, 04:16 AM
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Whoo. Spooky. Posting at the same time!

They are into soccer, thanks!
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Old Aug 3rd, 2013, 08:14 AM
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http://www.timeout.com/london/things...the-london-eye

the South Bank Walk is one of my very favorite things to do in London - the walk described in the link above - so many famous sights you can see on both sides of the busy Thames - and people watching - kids roller blading, skateboarding, folks biking - always a hubbub of activity and great views - once at the Tate Modern St Paul's Cathedral is just across the infamous tilting pedesrian bridge that tilted a tad too much when first opened, scaring folks so now it does not tilt as much.

a great walk and great people watching - many think that London's sights are mainly inside its museums and sights like the Cabinet War Rooms (yes of great interest to older folk but IMO would bore kids that age) but to me London's greatest site is its people and tourists who flock to certain areas like Piccadilly Circus or Convent Garden or Oxford Street or the South Bank walk - things some above would call 'pants' or garbage not worth your time but a real joy to London for many lies outside of its many museums, palaces, churches, etc but in the areas thronged with other tourists and Brits themselves.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2013, 11:40 AM
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I hate to suggest this because it bored me, but my kids and husband loved The Blue Man Group.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2013, 12:12 PM
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I don't think the BMG is currently performing in London . . .
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