London – five days with two teen boys

Old Aug 5th, 2013, 02:18 PM
  #141  
 
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I think the bike tour is a great idea for day 1.
1) outside
2) fresh air
3) activity/movement - not sitting around

While I understand the ideas of wrong side of the road and such, in reality, you will be with a group - at a basic level, you are following the back wheel of the person in front of you - so as long as you follow "traffic" you are okay.

Also, I assume they do something similar as Fat Tire - which is primarily through the parks. There is a little street riding - not much - so you will be fine. Also, it does give you a great overview of London and a sense of where things are.

I think you have good thoughts about avoiding Hard Rock - not because your boys wouldn't enjoy it, because sometimes the need to eat is greater than the ability to plan it and get to the other side of town. That actually is my concern about the day you are planning on eating at a pub in Notting Hill. I don't know if that is close to your hotel/apartment? But after a day at Tower of London and/or Greenwich, I don't think I'd want to hunt down a specific pub on the other side of town.

I agree it makes sense to put the Tower of London and Greenwich on the same day. Another quick thought - it made sense for us to buy an annual family pass for Historic Royal Properties - which includes Tower of London and Hampton Court. One bonus was that a day ticket allows you through the maze once, with the annual pass, the kids could go through it multiple times. Of course, they were younger, but the adults enjoyed sitting at the exit waiting for them to do it once or twice after we did it as a family. We also ended up going into the Tower of London on two different days breaking each visit into smaller chunks - of course, one child had just finished a project on it, so we really spent a bit of time there.

(I just looked quickly, and it looks like a family membership is £86 for a year for all properties. Tower of London is £57 and Hampton Court is £45 so it would make sense if you visit both.)
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Old Aug 5th, 2013, 03:09 PM
  #142  
 
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I agree with Janisj on favoring Hampton Court over Windsor. For Windsor, you have to line up and wait on a security line for at least one hour and then you proceed to the ticket area so even if you have your ticket in hand, you of course still wait on the security line.

Since the Royal Family still lives there you are only allowed to see some of the rooms. Whereas at Hampton Court there is a lot more buildings/rooms/areas to visit.

Plus my son was not interested in the doll house. I was more interested in it than he so Windsor didn't hold the same appeal to him as Hampton Court Palace did.

We found going at night to the London Eye, the lines moved very quickly and I think we only queued for about 20 minutes. I agree it helps to get over jet lag if you are outside rather than inside on the first day.

On the London Eye you are in a pod with 20 other people for the half hour it goes around. I thought it was nice to do after we had seen some of the sights so when we looped around we easily recognized some buildings and pointed them out.

Also on your first day since you will be by St Paul--if you have energy you can climb all the way up to the Golden Gallery for a view of the Eye among other things. The climb to the Whispering Gallery is easy--big wide open stairs, even to the stone gallery is fine but your view is obstructed by the stone wall. It is that last part from Stone to Golden Gallery that is hair raising.

My son then 10 actually enjoyed the Cabinet War Rooms. He liked looking at the time line in the room.

Agree too that given the timing of the bike tour and muggles tour you don't really have enough time to eat unless you want to grab something on the run and eat while walking on the tour--not very relaxing.

It might make sense to combine Tower with Muggles tour but don't know how to fit in Greenwich.
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Old Aug 5th, 2013, 04:03 PM
  #143  
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Thanks, PalenQ – I'm trying!

Tend to agree with europeannovice re bikes. And BTW we drive on left-hand side of road in Oz, so no dramas there! I like the idea of doing something active on the first day and getting our bearings on the ground. Also it takes the pressure off me by having a guide for a few hours.

Thanks for your input again, europeannovice! We will try and climb St Paul on the first day. And I take your point about the Notting Hill meal. Might just leave that open for anytime it works for us.

I haven't compared prices, but I was hoping that the 2-4-1 deals would work out better and I guess there's always the possibility that things may go awry and we don't get to HCP after all!

I think we may have to forgo Greenwich.
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Old Aug 5th, 2013, 04:56 PM
  #144  
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Oops! Sorry about that...

I combined surfmom and europeannovice in one!

Thanks, surfmom for your input again. Some of the above applies to you.
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Old Aug 6th, 2013, 03:30 AM
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Not to confuse this by trying to add a new thing, but I have never seen any mention of the view from the top of The Shard.

Anybody been?
Was it worthwhile?
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Old Aug 6th, 2013, 07:29 AM
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bendigo - it's £25 for adults, £19 for kids.

you might like to google how other people felt about this before you book!
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Old Aug 6th, 2013, 08:00 AM
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Plus, they publish panoramic views from the Shard on their own website, and with those you don't have to worry about clouds and rain getting in the way.
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Old Aug 6th, 2013, 08:21 AM
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The Transport for London museum and shop at Covent Garden is a great place to shop for London souvenirs - especially those iconic ones involving double-decker buses, the Tube, Mind the Gap Tee-shirts, etc. - grad a model of a bus or tube train or those legendary London Tube wall maps - even if you do not pay to see the old forms of transport in the museum proper - plus Covent Garden is a great great place for kids - really should be at the top of your list if only for a short time - the most lively place in London - don't miss it!
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Old Aug 6th, 2013, 01:26 PM
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Just flipped through a couple of reviews for The Shard: along the lines of expensive, dirty windows, amazing view, aim to get you in and out as fast as possible...

So, not for us. I think London Eye sounds more fun, anyway. And I'd take lower height but greater soul in St Paul's any day.

PalenQ – luckily our bike ride on day 1 stops for a break and something to eat in Covent Garden, so it'll be a good intro and we can return on our own.
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Old Aug 6th, 2013, 02:59 PM
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Note: printing off 2-4-1 vouchers. Not available for Tower of London.
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Old Aug 6th, 2013, 08:58 PM
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<< <i> Note: printing off 2-4-1 vouchers. Not available for Tower of London. </i> >>

Bummer -- that's one of the more expensive ones. It's just you and the boys, right? So that's "only" &pound;10.75 more . . .

(Still worth it!)
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Old Aug 6th, 2013, 10:51 PM
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I like your quote marks "only"!! And the Aussie dollar continues to tumble...

Well, slip...
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Old Aug 7th, 2013, 03:45 AM
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Don't give up on any 2for1 deals. There are booklets with all the offers available where ever you buy National Rail tix - grab one when you get to London to make sure you are getting access to all the deals currently available.
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Old Aug 7th, 2013, 11:09 AM
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Q about 2 for 1 and kids - 12 and 14 - do they pay half-price or go free - if so do they get half off half price - if not it may not be worth all the hassle? I understand different places have different ages, etc.
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Old Aug 7th, 2013, 01:11 PM
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Thanks, bendigo – I'll do that.

PalenQ – I think basically one child will go free on child rate (which is not always simply half adult rate) using 2-4-1.

So, same as each getting half off child rate.

I think I've only read 'children free' at one place - Churchill WR maybe? And mine are still 'children' @ under 15.

I don't think (hope not) it's going to be too much hassle. Just have to get to National Rail stn first thing to buy travel cards and pick up this booklet bendigo mentioned. Have already printed off 2-4-1 vouchers.
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Old Aug 7th, 2013, 01:13 PM
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Are you landing a Gatwick - if so buy a return paper train ticket to London and back and use it for 2 for 1 your whole stay. Not sure if this works on the Heathrow trains or not but I believe it does for Gatwick trains - just like any train.
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Old Aug 7th, 2013, 02:05 PM
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Heathrow, so it doesn't work. Thanks for thinking, though.

Also we're not returning, heading for Pareeeee...
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Old Aug 8th, 2013, 05:37 AM
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And assuming you are going by Eurostar, you'll have access to a range of 2for1 deals in Paris too:

http://www.eurostar.com/uk-en/eurost...m=facebook_1x1
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Old Aug 8th, 2013, 01:15 PM
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Thanks, bendigo – bonus! I didn't know about this.

I won't bin the tickets on arrival now!
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Old Aug 8th, 2013, 02:27 PM
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Hi smm - I've taken my kids to London for several days almost every summer for the past few years, so we've seen most of the sights at least once. Luckily for me, they love history and museums.

The places they like the most are Imperial War Museum, Cabinet War Rooms, Tower of London and the British Museum. They also enjoyed the maze at Hampton Court Palace, but were not that excited about the palace itself as they prefer castles (I really liked it, though).

I've taken them to see "One Man, Two Guvnors" and "39 Steps" and they loved both.

I've never taken them to tea at a hotel because it's so expensive, but we did enjoy tea and scones at Kensington Palace Orangery.

Also, there are a few old Routemaster double decker buses still operating http://www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g1...ter.Buses.html
I would not recommend spending too much time on the bus in central London because the traffic can be really slow. My kids love the tube.

Sorry if I've repeated info already posted. I didn't have time to read all the replies.
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