London Itinerary - What should change?

Old Mar 11th, 2003, 10:35 AM
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London Itinerary - What should change?

My husband and I are taking our daughters (12 and 15) to London (their first time) in a couple of weeks. Here's a tentative itinerary that hopefully is realistic and should keep the whole family happy most of the time. Where have I gone wrong?

Day One: Settle in apartment; take hop-on-off bus/explore; Harrods; early bedtime

Day Two: Leicester Square for theater tickets; Covent Garden shopping; National Gallery; St. Martin-in-the-Fields/brass rubbings; more shopping for the girls; theater

Day Three: Hampton Court

Day Four: Westminster Abbey; Changing of the Guards; Cabinet Rooms; Stroll around town; London Eye if nice evening.

Day Five: Tower of London; Tower Bridge; Courtald Galleries; The Lion King

Day Six: Cambridge, Oxford, Bath, or just more London? Suggestions please!

Day Seven: Leicester Square/theater tickets; British Museum; British Library; St. Paul's Cathedral. Could we manage the Globe as well? Theater in the evening

Day Eight: Windsor 1/2 or full day?

Day Nine: Greenwich 1/2 day?; Madame Tussaud's. Too much?

Too much to do and too little time....



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Old Mar 11th, 2003, 10:58 AM
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My only suggestion would be to not plan your last day out of the city, at least not now.
I find that I like having the last day for more relaxed strolling, picking up a few gifts, perhaps doing one serious sightseeing thing but not more than that. By the last day I enjoy the feeling of having already done the necessary things and feeling that I've gotten to know the place a bit.

On the days you have theatre you may find that you've been too ambitious in your sightseeing expectations. You may want to allow some down time in the late afternoon to relax, change clothes, get ready for an early dinner, etc. Certainly with a late theatre night your girls may not want to be up at the crack of dawn the next morning.
Just a thought.
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Old Mar 11th, 2003, 10:58 AM
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You have worked a pretty reasonable plan. Some people will advise against Madam Tussaud's - but your kids will probably love it. Don't wait in line tho' - that can take hours. Buy your tickets just up the street near the Hop-on-hop-off bus stop. Then you walk straight in the place. But Greenwich and Mme Tussauds is a difficult duo - being on opposite sides of London.

Day six could be to any of those places - but don't decide now. Just have a plan and then depending on the weather and how much of the rest of your sites you actually make you can decide then whether you want to leave London for the Day.

Bath would be my first choice but either Oxford or Cambridge would be fine.

And I probably wouldn't do Harrods on my first day - you will be pretty tired (and maybe cranky) and Harrods will be mobbed. You wil probably handle the crowds better later on.
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Old Mar 11th, 2003, 11:15 AM
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definitely go to Greenwich. Your kids will love it. The Meridian line is fun, and Flamsteed Hous and the Queen's House are interesting museums now. The town is cute too. otherwise your itinerary sounds great. Leave your last day open like Elaine suggested, in case you have anything you want to do again or missed out on. Figure out if you want a day out of town when you get to the day on your itinerary. I've been to all three places, couldn't say which one I'd pick first, they are all interesting for different reasons.
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Old Mar 11th, 2003, 11:27 AM
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If you live in a big city, Harrods is kinda Macys, but Liberty is quite nice and the back area has lots of stationary, small stuff that kids love to buy, plus the street it opens onto is great for teenage stuff. Greenwich is great with the Naval Museum excellent. Day 7 is very heavy. Lucky you to see Lion King. I took my grandaughter (age 6) and I think I loved it even more than she did. Prices in London are very high. Don't think of getting stuff you can get in US. Day 6, you can't possibly do all of that. Maybe let the girls make their choice based on their reading of the guide books. I love Oxford, but I might base my selection on the convenience of bus/train schedules. I didn't notice any afternoon High Tea. My favorite place is the Savoy Hotel. Very good food (of its kind), lovely atmosphere,really London. FYI..when we had tea there we had seconds, thirds, etc. of the food at no extra charge. Take a walk in Regent's Park or one of the other parks. London is grand, just hope the weather is.
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Old Mar 11th, 2003, 11:39 AM
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Depending on when you get to Hampton Court, it won't take a full day to visit so you should have some time in the afternoon for strolling or maybe you could even do the London Eye or one of your other activities. For shopping, I would also recommend Carnaby Street. Some quirky shops plus the 60's connection. Might be fun.
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Old Mar 11th, 2003, 01:18 PM
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If your girls enjoy shopping, try and work in one of London's great street markets like Camden (weekends, funky clothes & crafts, definitely a young crowd), Spitalfields & Petticoat Lane (Sunday, a little less funky and more organic), and Greenwich (weekends, wonderful crafts).

I don't think a trip to Harrods on your first day will be too taxing. Most people (tourists) go to look around and buy a trinket to get the Harrods carrier bag. I'd put it off until post jet lag if you're planning on leaving large amonts of cash there!

Kings Road in Chelsea has some fabulous shopping too. Definitely upscale.

A trip to Windsor is somewhere between a half and a whole day depending on your pace. If you go just to visit the castle you could accomplish the trip in about five hours but wandering around the shops in Windsor/Eton and having lunch and/or tea could easily fill most of the day.

Hope you all have a super trip.

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Old Mar 11th, 2003, 01:48 PM
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Thanks so much for the suggestions.

Harrods on 1st day does sound a bit much. As does Greenwich and Madame Tussaud's on same day.

Elaine, I know that you are right and we'll want to regroup before venturing out for the evening. I imagine that once we are there weather and fatigue will dictate some of our schedule.

Greenwich is a must for my 12 year old as is Hampton Court, Widsor Castle, and the Tower of London. Carnaby Street sounds just like her coup of tea. Maybe she'll be happy to give Harrods a miss. We must do tea, somehow!

Older daughter wants to go to British Museum, Cambridge or Bath, The Globe, visit some British bookstores and go to the theater every night, please.

My husband and I are just thankful that they have not asked to go to the London Dungeon.

No V&A, no Tate, no Imperial War Museum. Disappointing. A return trip soon....except those were my exact words as I was leaving London on last visit...twenty years ago!

Thanks again



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Old Mar 12th, 2003, 04:41 AM
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We all thought Harrods was boring and a waste of time, esp. since the US$ is low, and everything seemed outrageously expensive. My daughters (14, 13, and 10) loved shopping around Carnaby St., including nearby Hamley's toy store, which has things (esp. electronics) even teenagers enjoy. Their favorite shopping area was around Covent Garden. I would make it a top priority to go to the V&A, one of the most beautiful, interesting museums I've ever seen. Head for the British History section, where there are "Discovery Areas" where young people can learn by doing. They'll get a real sense of what life was like in the past. Even kids who are not usually museum enthusiasts will probably love the V&A.
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Old Mar 12th, 2003, 04:50 AM
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Why support the rather despicable Mr Al Fayed by going to Harrods. Selfridges is better anyway (although Harrods food hall is more impressive), especially if your daughters are into fashion. Harvey Nichols is also a better bet for fashion. As to comparison of Harrods with Macys - bit off the mark. Macys is better compared to Debenhams or John Lewis.
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Old Mar 12th, 2003, 06:01 AM
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Thanks.

I will show the girls your posts. I'm sure they'll be happier shopping in Carnaby St. I think they would love Camden Market as well.

I would love to go to V&A since I've never been, but where do we fit it in?

A busy schedule has just gotten busier. HELP! What should I drop from the itinerary?





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Old Mar 12th, 2003, 08:13 AM
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You could do the V&A on Day Three, since (as bettyk already said), Hampton Court shouldn't take a whole day. Or you could substitute it for the Cabinet War Rooms on Day Four. I thought the Cabinet War Rooms were fascinating, but if it came down to a choice between them and the V&A, I'd pick the V&A, especially for a first trip to London (the Cabinet War Rooms are more of a second- or third-trip kind of thing to do).
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Old Mar 12th, 2003, 08:17 AM
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Glad to see Hampton Court on your itinerary. We went a few years ago, and I admit, we got there when it opened and we left when it closed! I loved it - lots to see (inside and out), interesting reads, and I believe now they have an audio guide you can rent, if it's available, I would get one. Actually I would advise renting the audio guides wherever they are available, they a huge help. Be sure not to take an organized tour from London to see HC - you won't see everything you want and you will be rushed through. Take the train on your own from Waterloo station, and then it's an easy walk to HC (you'll see it when you get off the train). Have a fabulous time!
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Old Mar 12th, 2003, 08:21 AM
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Don't know what you should drop, but try to add the Museum of London. I took two teenage girls there last year and it was great - unless they're not at all interested in history.
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Old Mar 12th, 2003, 09:36 AM
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I would recommend the Original London Walks tour of Greenwitch.You start your tour on a boat ride from Tower Bridge to Greenwitch,and then a full walking tour of Greenwitch itself.While I had planned to spend just a few hours in Greenwitch,it turned out that there was so much to see I ended up spending the whole day there.The walk costs £5,a real bargain ror a 2.5 hour guided walk.Also if you have a Zone 1,2 Travelcard you can ride the DLR back to London for free.
heres the link for London Walks..
http://london.walks.com/
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Old Mar 12th, 2003, 10:37 AM
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Lorena, the V&A is open until 10pm Wednesdays and the last Friday of the month so maybe you could work it in on one of the nights you don't have theater???
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Old Mar 12th, 2003, 12:36 PM
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Unless you want the benefits of a guided tour, you might consider a do-it-yourself hop on & off bus tour. Just buy your travelcards right away and be spontaneous. Or follow one of the "official" routes you can view on either the Original or the Big Bus Web sites. If you like classical music, you can't go wrong with a concert at St. Martin-in-the-Fields. If you don't want to give up a night at the theater to go to a concert, there are some at 13:00--and they're free. I agree with the others who recommend going to Greenwich, especially on a weekend. My wife and I took a day trip to Cambridge last March when we were in London. We're not big on tours, but we enjoyed the walking tour there. Walking along the Thames after dark and seeing the great historic buildings under floodlights was beautiful. Although we didn't get to do it ourselves, my son's mother-in-law, who has lived in London for many years, recommends walking in Hampstead Heath.
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Old Mar 13th, 2003, 08:56 AM
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I continue to add must sees to the itinerary!

The only thing to do is for me to recognize that, since we won't get to see everthing on our wish list, we need to relax a bit so that we can enjoy what we do see.

While I know that the temptation is always to see more faster, my best traveling experiences have always been when I have seen less better.

Thanks again for all the great suggestions.
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Old Mar 13th, 2003, 11:14 AM
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As a Londoner (I live in Belgravia) I would always reccomend Harrods as the capital's premier department store. As stores go, their selection of fashion - virtually everything can be found there, is second to none.

Selfridges is located in a terribly touristy road - Oxford Street. It feels terribly cramped, and very fragmented floors.

Harvey Nichols is in need of a major refurbishment, the menswear has very low ceilings - and is even more claustrophobic than the other floors!

If one is looking for specifics, the designers' individual boutiques and stores are the best places to visit. A personal favourite is Oki-Ni in Savile row is ultra-hip selling highly limited edition clothes (oki-ni.com). Jil Sander store (also in Savile Row) is a more minimalist alternative to Prada, although owned by the latter.

For the finest jewellery Graff cannot be beaten. For more affordable pieces Asprey and also Garrard are not bad.


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Old Mar 13th, 2003, 11:22 AM
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If your daughters like horses, hire some ponies to ride in Hyde Park. Ross Nye Stables will provide helmets and other gear and has reliable ponies and nice experienced people to take you on a hack in Hyde Park.
We did this and it was incredibly memorable - and fun to have the tourists take pictures of us!
http://www.ridingstable.co.uk/
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