Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

London, Ireland, Scotland Aug. 16-31, 2013

London, Ireland, Scotland Aug. 16-31, 2013

Jul 26th, 2012, 03:03 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 24
London, Ireland, Scotland Aug. 16-31, 2013

I will be going to London, Ireland, Scotland in August 2013 with 5 of my friends. We are taking a Princess Cruise on the Ocean Princess and returning to Dover on the morning of the 25th. What do you know about these areas? We want to tour Dover, Leeds, and Canterbury. What can you tell us about tours and so forth around here?

We are eager to see the sights, visit a few castles, historic areas, meet the locals, and enjoy their lifestyles. We hope to have some good food, do a limited amount of shopping...some souveniers...hear some music, and savor the flavor of the regions. We will be staying in London in the Kensington area, near the Palace, for 5 more days, as our home base.

We are in our 60's, active, and travel together (leaving a husband or two back at home so we can giggle and laugh at our own jokes...). We are all from Houston, Texas USA, great friends, and are looking forward to sharing new adventures and making new memories.

This is not our first cruise and definitely not our "last rodeo."
So, we really do welcome your comments here.

If you have favorite places you believe we would enjoy, transportation suggestions --touring companies-- attractions-- places to eat -- etc., -- please share and let us hear from you..

Cheers & Thanks,
The "6" Texas Amigos
Melaine is offline  
Jul 26th, 2012, 03:38 PM
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 4,238
How about you start with how many days the amigos want to spend in these locations.

When you head up to Edinburgh, you might consider the train up the East coast of England. I'd stop at York, as that is a lovely walled city with lots of heritage. It's worth spending 2-3 days minimum.

Edinburgh is worth the journey by itself.

If you head to Ireland from Scotland, there is a fast ferry that you can take you from the West coast to Dublin. Google it, it's easy to find.
Rastaguytoday is offline  
Jul 26th, 2012, 04:15 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 5,348
If I understand your itinerary correctly, you will disembark in Dover after visiting Ireland and Scotland. You then plan to head to London and use it as a base for touring Dover, Canterbury, Leeds Castle (assume you mean Leeds Castle and not Leeds, England.)

The easiest plan would be to do Dover Castle the day you arrive rather than making a trip down from London. Canterbury is easily done by train. Leeds castle is not. I imagine you can get bus or taxi from the nearest train station. As for group tours, can't help you out as I seldom if ever use them. Sure there are some available.

Note that Leeds Castle IMO is disappointing. It's essentially a convention/conference center. Although the castle has retained its medieval exterior and its setting beautiful, the inside is an excellent example of how people with too much money and not enough good sense or, for that matter good taste, can wreck havoc.
historytraveler is offline  
Jul 26th, 2012, 04:57 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 63,579
• You don't want to tour Leeds (that is a city up north). I assume you mean Leeds Castle which is a entirely different animal. And except for pretty grounds isn't great shakes. There are MANY better castles and Gardens in SE England.

". . . meet the locals, and enjoy their lifestyles. "

You aren't going to a village at Epcot. The "locals" will be going to work or off on their own holiday in Turkey, Spain, Croatia or Florida. They won't be sitting around waiting to meet you.

Your post is not very clear. You are taking a cruise around the British Isles and dock at Dover . . . But after that I'm confused. Do you have 5 days for the countryside before hitting London? Or do you just have 2 days in the countryside (25 and 26 Aug) before your 5 days in London.

Clarify your actual dates . . .
janisj is online now  
Jul 26th, 2012, 10:37 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 24
Great...I appreciate the replies. We will be on a Cruise Ship, Ocean Princess, departing Dover on Friday, August 17th. We will then go to Guernsey, Channel Islands (St. Peter Port) on the 18th,for 1 full day.

Get back on the Princess...go to Waterford, Ireland on August 19th for 1 Full day. Then Dublin (on the 20th) for 1 Full day.

The 21st to Glasgow (Greenock) Scotland for 1 Full day.

Next day Cruising in the North Sea.

On the 23rd for 1 Full day and the Evening in Edinburgh (Rosyth) Scotland.

Next day Cruising North Sea on our way to Dover disembarking on Saturday morning around 8:00 a.m.

We will then be on our own. Some of the "6 Amigos" are heart-set on seeing Leeds Castle.

(I will share the above comments with them...they want to go to Canterbury Castle and town. That Princess-arranged Tour will end at 1:00 PM

We will get on our way to London, and the Kensington-area hotel. From then on through Thursday mid-afternoon we will be "doing our own thing."

We do Not have any tours set up yet. I imagine several of the Amigos will team up and do things of mutual interest.

We each have a favorite "pal" who agrees on what to do. Also, all except for "me" have been to London in past years.

Being the novice, I've been using my computer for months learning what I would be keen to see.

My pal, Rochelle (a.k.a., the "Roach"), is game for most any venues. For many years she worked in the movie industry in Hollywood, California, knows many movie stars, fine eating...down-to-Earth, and a hoot to be with. We have traveled numerous times together, and we just laugh our way through our disasters!!!

More than you need to know...but I want you to "know" us and to feel free to make suggestions to us.

I hope this helps you to know our schedule.

We can see many areas in and outside of London from the 26th through the 30th of August. So just suggest away!

Any and all comments welcomed. Thanks a million.

"The 6 Texas Amigos"
Houston, Texas USA
Melaine is offline  
Jul 27th, 2012, 06:31 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 5,348
Thanks for further information. I think I've got it. Maybe. You disembark at Dover at 1:00pm. Right? This is still your best chance to see the castle. It can easily take half a day, but you should be able to get a decent tour in three to four hours. Then head back to London on the train.

As I said in my previous post Canterbury can be done as a day trip from London. No need for a special tour. Canterbury Cathedral will offer guided tours once you get there, and I'm sure tours of the town are available as well through the TIC.

I googled ( easy way for anyone to get information) day trips from London to the locations you mentioned and several came up. However I would not recommend them. One offered a day trip to Dover ( no mention of visiting the castle which is the only thing worth seeing in Dover), entry to Canterbury Cathedral, Leeds Castle and if that wasn't enough to fill your day, a stop in Greenwich ! An absolutely dreadful tour IMO. I spent over a half day doing each one.

Rethink Leeds Castle as janisj mentioned there are much better choices.
historytraveler is offline  
Jul 27th, 2012, 06:35 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 5,348
Duties call but more suggestions later.
historytraveler is offline  
Jul 27th, 2012, 08:27 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,563
Um, I'm kind of appalled that you live in Texas, have six ladies together, and call yourselves the six amigOs. There's certainly enough Spanish and Mexican influence in the great State of Texas to ensure y'all should know that you're six amigAs. Of course, the Brits won't concern themselves with that.

Other than that: (1) consider Windsor Castle or Hampton Ct Palace over Leeds; (2) there's enough to keep you occupied in London without overdoing the day tripping - it's the size (population) of New York, which means it has about 3.5 times the population of Houston; (3) which "Kensington" - Kensington, West Kensington, South Kensington? The first is a poor choice for access to London's main sites and theater.

Why are you in Edinburgh on the 23rd then don't get to Dover until the 26th? That makes no sense unless the cruise ship is being pulled down a canal by a donkey.
BigRuss is offline  
Jul 27th, 2012, 08:28 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 63,579
Canterbury Castle? You probably mean Canterbury Cathedral, or do you mean Dover Castle?

You definitely should visit Dover Castle (take a cab - it is a long up hill walk). However, you have the luggage to deal with, which is a big problem. I've never cruised out of Dover so not sure if there are left luggage facilities at the port or if the ship would hold them for you.

I might think about staying the night in Dover and visit Dover/Deal/Walmer castles. Then take the train to London the next morning.

You could do Canterbury as a day trip from London.

Or - the best option IMO would be to rent a car at Dover (solves the luggage pain) and spend 2 days/one night seeing Dover/Walmer/Canterbury (and Leeds Castle if you "must"), drop the car (there are several places you could drop the car w/o returning to Dover) and head to your hotel in London.

However . . . 6 people who most likely have a TON of luggage would require a people mover (mini van)
janisj is online now  
Jul 27th, 2012, 08:40 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,563
Thinking that The Canterbury Tales would read a bit differently if the pilgrims were going to a castle . . .
BigRuss is offline  
Jul 27th, 2012, 01:00 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 5,348
I was going to suggest Windsor Castle and Hampton Court Palace as alternatives to Leeds Castle. Big Russ beat me to it, but excellent options.

If you're not up for renting a mini van, which is what your group requires, you might have to give up on visiting Dover Castle...the logistics of doing it with a lot of luggage in tow screams Big Hassle.

London has enough of interest to keep anyone busy for weeks if not months. I've lost count of the number of times I've been there, yet each time I find something new to visit/do. Most museums are worth re-visiting as exhibitions change regularly. I suggest you spend three of your days in London as it's certainly the best place for shopping, dining and, at the most, two days on trips outside the city.

No castles of note but Salisbury and Winchester are good choices for tourists. Both have beautiful cathedrals as well as other sites well worth visiting.
historytraveler is offline  
Jul 27th, 2012, 01:25 PM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 11,469
Take a look at London Walks www.walks.com for your time there.

What are you interested in doing in London?

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
Jul 27th, 2012, 05:05 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 24
Thanks for all the good comments. To: BigRuss -- Touche. Amigas is definitely proper. Also, we should be gringas, as well. Thnx. I will keep an eye out for that "donkey" and ask the Ocean Princess' Captain about this phenom. Perhaps this is his first trip to the UK, too. Sounds like you have a good imagination...!!! I like it.

NO, we off-board the ship well before 8:00 a.m. on the 25th..and the Princess tour starts at 7:30 a.m. to Leeds Castle and Canterbury ends at 1:00 p.m.

When the tour is over at 1:00 the bus would return us to Heathrow and we would then have to get to our Hotel at Kensington area on our own dime $$.

That transfer is Not included in our tour fee. I think it's crazy to pay for a 4-hour tour and then have to pay more to get from Heathrow to our London hotel.

I believe the cost of that tour is $139.00 USD. Then Plus the fare from Airport $$.

The Roach and I may decide to omit that particular tour and go back to London straight from Dover on the train (or some way).

As you have pointed out and day trip to Canterbury might be better.

Have any of you experienced the Black Taxi tours? Sounds somewhat pricey but,if shared by 3 gringas, it would be do-able.

Lee Ann - Since everything centers around several opinions, I am taking care of thoughts for Roach and myself. We like to sightsee -- the HOHO bus is a must for us..then we can decide on what we want to go back to. Of course, I want to go to Harrod's and see the wonderful food area and explore, in general. The Brick Lane and curry food...the Crown Jewels...the Thymes Clipper tours, and much more.

Our worst problem is that several of us have bad knees, and can't walk too far without stopping for a rest. But that is not totally all a bad thing! We enjoy a "spot" of wine (LOL) or more (and, it's always 5 o'clock somewhere) and we are looking forward to that.

We will be in the Kensington area (Scarsdale Pl) just across from Kensington Palace and Gardens. I've heard it's a nice area.

The more I look up on the internet the more I realize there is SO much to do.

Thanks HistoryTraveler and JanisJ. See you later. I will be back on in the morning.

"One of the Six"
Melaine is offline  
Jul 27th, 2012, 06:08 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 63,579
So you are staying at the Copthorne Tara - right?

It is a nice hotel - but it isn't 'just across from Kensington Palace and Garden'. Probably 1/3 mile from the Palace.

It is sort of 'crazy making' taking a tour from Dover to Canterbury/Leeds, Heathrow and then having to travel in to London. Especially since you will have circled the entire city to get to LHR. But at least they would move the luggage for you. But still - that is nutty and a Looooong day.

I assume being ladies of a 'certain age' and just off a cruise, you're going to have a boat load of luggage - right?

If so, IMO the 6 of you should book a car service from Dover to London. It will be expensive - but cheaper than what the cruise line is charging, and a lot easier than schlepping on the trains.
janisj is online now  
Jul 27th, 2012, 11:19 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 24
When we booked the hotel we were slightly misled about the location. Later I discovered there is another CT down the street, looks like closer to the Tube. Too late then, non-refundable for 5 nights !!! Grin & bare it, right?

I have been watching the Olympics ceremonies and also looking at the London Black Taxis. The rates, divided between 3-4 people would not be too bad. What do you know about the company? I read the reviews and most are complimentary. Guess they would not put negative online?

I have pretty well decided not to take the tour that runs us all over the city. You're right, costly and looooooong day.

Yes, we are in our 60's and feel 40...Young hearts...aging bods! We do not need the hassle of luggage to deal with. We always take more than we use. I say this time I am not...and I hope I keep my word to myself..!

It is late night now and I can't believe I am still up. Back in the morning to look some more.

What city do you live in?

Thanks for all of your comments and suggestions.
Melaine is offline  
Jul 28th, 2012, 06:58 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 24
Good evening,

I was hoping to hear more from people who have traveled in London, Ireland, and Scotland on the iteninery that my friends and I are scheduled for. Please look at it above.

Please read my last posting and give me some recommendations.

I believe we will take the Red HOHO bus on Saturday afternoon the 25th of August, and see where we may want to go back to.

The Thames Clipper tour looks like a do. And the Black Taxi Tour, too.

We have been watching the Olympics -- last night and today and now tonight. I was very disappointed that Michael Phelps did not medal
but, after all, he still has more events. I am happy that Ryan L. earned the Gold medal. He truly deserved it and it seems he is the man to beat.

There have been some pretty amazing athletes!

Again, please let me hear from you all.

A Gringa from Texas!
Melaine is offline  
Jul 29th, 2012, 01:08 AM
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 410
Waterford : given its relatively small size, this should be a pretty relaxed day - when you might actually meet a local or two.
The House of Waterford Crystal centre is the must-see in the town and once that is ticked off your list, you can simply wander about at your leisure. There may be wine.......

Dublin in a day usually involves the tourist hop-on hop-off buses which are a good way of shortening the distances between the prime sites to visit for those challenged orthopaedically in the knee department. They generally run from O'Connell St, one of Dublin's main streets and you will return to your ship with a good few boxes ticked. If you wanted to move about a little less, and on foot, the area south of the Liffey river around Trinity College/ Merrion Square/Grafton Street would provide a good mix of history, architecture, shopping, art galleries etc.

Edinburgh is quite compact but hilly. The Old Town and the Royal Mile are most visited but you could again go for the tourist bus option. If time permitted, some of you could hop on a local bus or taxi to Leith (less than half an hour from town centre)and see how the upper crust did their cruising; the Royal Yacht Brittannia is an excellently laid out tourist venue which gives a really thorough insight into what life was like at sea for the Queen and family.
SeeDee is offline  
Jul 29th, 2012, 05:46 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,156
Ok. Greenock is absolutely NOT tourist territory. Either hire a car and drive- south I think; Burns Country; Culzean Castle, the beach at Ayr/Largs, Burn's cottage; OR get a train into Glasgow. See the Burrell, go to the Necropolis and go to a pub. I can suggest other Glasgow things, but that bit of Scotland is well off my radar- and there's a reason for that.
sheila is offline  
Jul 29th, 2012, 11:57 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 24
SeeDee and Sheila -- Great suggestions. I am making good notes on these and will add them to others I have made. I am beginning to realize that there will be so much to do we may have to be more selective to get it all in. That's a good thing though!

I have been staying up so late at night looking at options, that I have been getting up so late that my morning are so short.... The time that my husband and I will be driving from Alabama to Houston will be here soon..I am really getting excited. He's not going on the trip so I know my camera is going to get a healthy workout. Thank heavens for digital photography.

Generally, I just let my day's just unfold and enjoy the moments...this trip, once planned, will be much the same I'm sure - I'm just hell-bent to have an itinerary that we can kinda stick to, whether we do or not. Surely we won't get it all in...but it will be fun to try.

More later, and thanks so much.
Melaine is offline  
Jul 30th, 2012, 07:17 AM
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 34
Melaine, I have taken the Black Taxi Tour in Belfast, Ireland, and can recommend it highly! If the one in London is anywhere near the same calibre, it will be worth it. Enjoy!
MarilynT1435 is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 10:08 PM.