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London---I have been a very poor planner, alas

London---I have been a very poor planner, alas

Old Mar 30th, 2012, 09:28 PM
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London---I have been a very poor planner, alas

ACK! Due to work overload, the flu, and an out-of-town crisis I have done NO planning for my 6 day trip to London that starts on Monday. Have plane ticket, hotel, and a ticket for the Ceremony of the Keys. That's it so far.

Going solo, will ht the usual tourist sites (with less energy than usual as I am not 100% back to normal after a killer flu.) What I would love is for someone to point me in the direction of a quintessential English village oozing with charm and adorableness.... someplace I can visit on a day trip. Maybe just one place in the Cotswolds that is accessible by train? Or Oxford plus one village?

I looked at some day tours...the Leeds Castle -Cliffs of Dover-Canterbury-Greenwich looks like lots of places together that would be tough to see on public transportation. Would anybody recommend this combo? I do not love tour groups but am considering doing just one.

Thanks for not flaming my state of unpreparedness. Usually I am fully armed with an itinerary when I go to Europe but this trip has slipped through the cracks!
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Old Mar 30th, 2012, 09:47 PM
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First - relax London is a very easy place to visit w/o tons of pre-planning.

second - the Leeds Castle-Dover-Canterbury-Greenwich tours are crap. Sorry, but they are. For one, Greenwich is IN London, so there is no need to take a tour there. Heck --the tube drops you there. And both Canterbury and Dover are very easy to reach by train from London. So you could do Dover and/or Canterbury on your own by train in one day.

For a day trip to a nice town or village, each of these would be easy by train: Oxford, Salisbury, Brighton (not my favorite though), Canterbury (or Dover & Canterbury), Charlbury - not for the town itself so much but because it has direct trains from London then you can take a taxi or local bus to other Cotswold villages, Bath, Cambridge, and MANY others.

To get away from the hustle/bustle in London itself, go to Highgate and walk through the Heath. You'll think you are miles out in the country.
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Old Mar 30th, 2012, 09:52 PM
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Oh and to basically plan your London days for you, when you land pick up a copy of Time Out and read it while riding the tube into London. It will give you sooooo many ideas and it lists all the shows/exhibitions/concerts etc.

And check out London Walks site http://www.walks.com/
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Old Mar 31st, 2012, 03:05 AM
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Highly recommend London walks as janisj has! They do a great cotswolds walk if it is on next week that would take you to some lovely villages. Bath is gorgeous, another great day trip would be Salisbury and Stonehenge. Winchester is also another option.

Have a great trip!
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Old Mar 31st, 2012, 03:40 AM
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eurocheapo.com/london great tips day trips out
londontown.com lots of good info too.
Visit Spires of Oxford at a good price in a Historic
Building frequented by JRR Tolkein CS Lewis et al.
www.mercure.com Oxford is brilliant at a great price.
Also makes a great base for a Cotswold visit.

Happy Trails!
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Old Mar 31st, 2012, 03:48 AM
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As for transport WITHIN London (including Greenwich), as you are travelling alone you won't need the 2-4-1 offers, therefore get a 7 day zone 1-2 Travelcard at Heathrow (assuming you are arriving at Heathrow) and add around £10-£15 PAYG cash for travel outside zone 1-2 (eg Tube to / Heathrow)
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Old Mar 31st, 2012, 05:12 AM
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First, have a great time and I hope you recuperate, with some added adrenaline!, quicker than you think.

As to days in the city, just plan to be at a main site (like the Tower or Westminster Abbey or the British Museum or St. Paul's for example) as early as you can each day that you plan in London and then stay in that general area afterwards as much as possible and see whatever else you feel like that day.

If you decide to do a day trip (I'd suggest at maximum one, considering your limited energy and all there is to see in London), I'd defintely recommend Oxford. Easy to do on your own. Catch one of the coaches--Oxford Espress or OxfordTube--running from London and then go to the Travel Information office and see about a guided walking tour.

But also close and more village like, maybe, is Winchester. Also Salisbury/Stonehenge would be great. But don't think about doing more than one.

And I have a different opinion about the Oyster card--I'd suggest you load it with a cash amount--PAYG--and not the 7-day-travel card value. By loading the travel card, you have paid for travel each day even if you don't use it. And if you do a day trip, you might not use public transport in London. And I can't tell if your 6 day trip is a whole 6 days or not. Anyway, we have found the agents at TfL/Oyster booths to be helpful (I've heard reports otherwise but I'm sure it somewhat depends upon the individual agent) and it would be worth taking a bit of time to ask an agent which option he/she'd recommend, and, if PAYG is better, about how much to put on the card, depending on your dates, where your hotel is, and tentative travel plans. There isn't a ton of difference, probably, in the cost of the 7daytravelcard and what you would spend using PAYG for your days, but when I did the maths for us on 2 different trips, it was cheaper by a bit to use PAYG. And no more complicated except for having to top up the cards when needed. And we got all our remaining credit back one trip, and on the other we saved the cards and I used them this last summer when there with students on a day when we had time on our own that our tour hadn't paid for and needed to use the Tube.

Do you have a very good map yet of London? And/or good guide book? If not, I'd hie myself to a local bookstore (or library) asap and get something. Use your travel time to map out some tentative areas to explore.

Let us hear back from you upon return!
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Old Mar 31st, 2012, 08:47 AM
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" By loading the travel card, you have paid for travel each day even if you don't use it. And if you do a day trip, you might not use public transport in London. "

It usually works out that after 4 days a 7-day travelcard is the best option. So even if you are only in London 5 or 6 days-a 7-day zone 1-2 travelcard loaded on an Oyster may be your best bet. Also include extra for the trips from/to LHR (the ticket agent will know what you need if you ask for that.

And to clarify my post about the Heath, You can either go to Highgate and walk west seeing Highgate cemetery and on to Hampstead Heath, or go to Hampstead and just explore that area and the Heath.
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Old Mar 31st, 2012, 10:02 AM
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Of the above I think take a day out to Salisbury. The old centre is interesting, you can go to the cathedral (also go south onto the meadow for the prefect photo), but if all this boors take a bus (from the station) out to Old Sarum
http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/d...ies/old-sarum/ and see what the Brits did 2000 years ago.
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Old Mar 31st, 2012, 10:24 AM
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I also would recommend the Oxford day trip with London walks as it gives you a Cotswold village tour also...time on your own, and the guide for that day trip is good...

As Janis says, Greenwich is easy to get to from central London so don't do a tour...the Thames Clipper is a fun way to get there and you can pick it up from various places including the London Eye...then come back into London using the DLR and some walking...
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Old Mar 31st, 2012, 10:51 AM
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Love your self-deprecating title and post!

If you still are undecided after all the above good info, I'd vote for Salisbury/Stonehenge.
Hope you have a lovely visit.
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Old Mar 31st, 2012, 11:59 AM
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Reading the trip reports on this forum was a great help to me in planning. I will also recommend London Walks. You can print out their itinerary online. I don’t see any Explorer daytrips for the time that you will be in London, though. www.walks.com

I will highly recommend the Mad Max tours. You mentioned wanting to see a quintessential English village. They have a Cotswolds tour, but it originates in Bath. However, Bath is very easily reached by train from London.

http://www.madmaxtours.co.uk/index.p...d=48&Itemid=61

As noted, Salisbury is also an easy train ride from London. The Stonehenge tour bus departs right outside the train station. http://www.thestonehengetour.info/

The A-Z map of London is fantastic. If you are unable to find one prior to leaving, you can pick one up in a convenience store once you arrive in London.

Have a great trip!
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Old Mar 31st, 2012, 12:12 PM
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my tip - if you are at the Tower, when you have finished, get a bus to St. Paul's. it costs a packet to go round, but at least go and see the outside. then walk down Ludgate hill and onto Fleet street, walking west until you get to Temple Bar. on the is the Royal courts of Justice [a mock-gothis pile, and open to the public if you are prepared to go through security] and on the left the Temple where many of "our learned friends" have their chambers. [you ahve to walk thorugh one of the little gates].

it is like stepping back in time [it is often used for filming dickens for example] and there are lovely gardens that are open at lunchtime.

you can also have a look at the Temple church where many knights templar were buried.

then you can get the bus or tube back from Temple tube station.
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Old Mar 31st, 2012, 12:48 PM
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oops - poor proof-reading here.

it should read: on the RIGHT is the Royal Courts of Justice [a mock-gothiC pile]
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Old Mar 31st, 2012, 08:14 PM
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janisj - agree with your thoughts - except that Brighton is so tacky, it's fun. Take the little train ride. That's tacky.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2012, 10:23 AM
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A million thanks for all your helpful responses. I am leaving in a few hours and feeling better, maybe running at 80% now. I just threw in my winter wool coat because it looks like it is going to be freeeeeeeeeeeezing Tuesday and Wednesday! I will write a trip report when I get back and may also ask for some more tips once I get there! Cheerio!

Trying to choose between and afternoon in Canterbury OR Salisbury, if anybody has been to both will you comment! Looking for bang for the buck (easy train, gorgeous church, darling town.)
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Old Apr 2nd, 2012, 11:25 AM
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I have been to both and definitely recommend Salisbury! Lots to see plus you can do Stonehenge via bus from the Salisbury station.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2012, 04:12 PM
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Canterbury's Cathedral is richer in history and literature.

But Salisbury's is, to me, prettier. The city/town prettier and easier to get around for us when we went.

Hope you don't really mean "an afternoon"--get to whichever as early as possible.

Either is easy by train. Don't know of price comparison.

Definitely think of Stonehenge too if you have day for Salisbury.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2012, 01:38 AM
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Hi have a fun trip, whether here is still quite good despite warnings but who knows what it'll be like later in the week.

I'd also vote for Salisbury having done both, as then you can do Stonehenge as well and you go through some beautiful scenery on the way. But Canterbury is also good if you want a shorter trip.

Salisbury has a city walk tour from the Tourist info centre every day at 11am.
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Old Apr 4th, 2012, 04:01 PM
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Thanks for the Salisbury v Canterbury tips.

I made it to London! YAY! And I feel much better. YAY! My trip took over 24 hours due to flight delays (which made me miss my SFO-LHR flight! AUGH!) Somehow, at almost-midnight, I took the underground to my hotel and walked right to it like a homing pigeon, even tho I was a zombie.

Today I went to the Courtlandt Gallery, what a gem. Also St Paul's, Harrods, Covent Garden (saw all the giant Easter eggs), the late night Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London, and walked across a few bridges while admiring Westminster and Big Ben at night. Rode around a bit on the Hop On Hop Off bus but fell dead asleep, alas.

Your help has been much appreciated.
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