LONDON TR (late) - 2/19/08 - 2/27/08

Mar 27th, 2008, 11:58 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: Jan 2007
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LONDON TR (late) - 2/19/08 - 2/27/08

Hello all!

Would have posted my trip report sooner but I was stricken with pneumonia upon my return to the US - I'm doing a lot better now!

Flew from SFO to LHR in Virgin Atlantic's new Premium Economy (PE) cabin. The new PE cabin is OK, but I really prefer the old PE seats as they had the full leg rest... Oh well...

This trip was different for my husband and I as we had our 13 year old niece in tow. We found out quickly how sheltered my niece is... had to explain all about what was happening on the plane and that certain sounds were "normal". Also, no one (Air crew, customs) questioned us about our niece, who looks very different than my husband and I - we are brown eyes & hair, niece is blonde and blue-eyed. We did however have a notarized consent to travel/medical care letter on hand just in case.

Arrived LHR in a very thick fog - so thick that our flight landed using the guided auto-pilot "that can see through the fog" as the captain said. It was one of the smoothest landings ever!

We had carry-on only and cleared customs very quickly. I found out that there are no ATMs before the Arrivals hall, the nearest are by the Information booth. Got ££'s (£55) for our driver, to take us to our flat in Covent Garden. Yes I know I could have gotten a cheaper car, but I decided to go with the driver offered by the flat company. Which turned out to be a good idea as for some reason, once we got past Cromwell Rd. the traffic was horrific! It took close to 2 hours to get to the flat! All the while our driver was in contact with our waiting let-in lady.

Our flat was superb! the location could not be beat (for us at least)! Our flat was located on the 2nd floor and located directly across the street are of the following: Noel Coward Theatre, Brown's restaurant, Pizza Express & Prêt A Manger! Next door there is a Spanish Tapas, and Mc Donald's. There is a Tesco Metro, not more than a block away on New Row & Bedfordbury. There is also a M & S a little further away up Long Acre.

Our flat was very spacious with 2 bedroom & 2 baths, large lounge/dining area and Kitchen. The kitchen contains a Washer/Dryer combo, dishwasher, microwave, toaster, electric kettle, all glasses/dishes and cutlery. Also in the cupboards were some spices and other items left by the previous punters, er renters... The flat was quite large - and we loved it!

There were 2 hairdryers, and there were even the correct travel adaptors supplied for our use! We had high-speed internet, and contact numbers for any IT help that may be needed. There were fresh towels and linens. The master bedroom contained a double bed, 1 dresser with mirror on it, 2 night tables w/storage and a large closet. The mattress could have been better, we thought is was a bit bumpy and not too comfortable. We are used to sleeping on a Tempur-pedic mattress so sleeping on a conventional mattress is a little rough sometimes. However with that said, all of the beds we've had at the Hampshire Hotel have all been very comfy... The master also has an en suite - basin, toilet, towel warmer & shower.

The smaller room had 2 twin beds with 1 nightstand between them, 1 dresser and another nightstand near the door with a mirror, and a large closet. The mattress on the twins was more comfy than the double... nice sized room. Our niece enjoyed her own room. There is a second full bathroom located in the hall - has tub/shower, basin, toilet & towel warmer. Having 2 bathrooms made getting ready very easy!

We rented the flat through London Connections, and I am glad to say I had no problems whatsoever. When I went over the flat with the let in lady I had her make notes of items I saw that were questionable, like the dishwasher door not opening properly - she was more than happy to write it down. The cost of the flat for 7 days was $2548. I would use London Connections again!

We were lucky to be blessed with the BEST weather EVER, sunny every day! Only one morning had rain, but it stopped and the sun shined as we left our flat to start the day!

For the first time my husband and I used Oyster cards! I got 7 day travel card for zone 1-2 loaded (no PAYG), and each morning I bought my niece the £1 travel card. I have to admit I was not looking forward to using the Oyster card as I thought it would be confusing, but the truth is it's very easy to use. Tap in tap out... not hard at all. Don't know why I even worried...

Because my husband and I travel to London every year, we had our niece pick out the majority of places we would be visiting. Here's what we did:

1. National Gallery & Portrait Gallery
2. London Dungeon (used the 2-for-1)
3. Tower of London ((used the 2-for-1)
4. Tower of London Ceremony of the Keys
5. Thames Beachcombing - 2/24/08 with London Walks - I highly recommend this!
6. Harrods
7. Science Museum
8. Victoria & Albert Museum
9. British Museum
10. National Gallery & Portrait Gallery
11. Kensal Green Cemetery (my choice, lovely place!)
12. Saw Speed the Plow at the Old Vic - Wonderful!
13. Shopping on Oxford Street (First time to Primark - WoW! Can't wait to back there!)
14. London Eye - Was a gorgeous day!
15. Westminster Abbey, Parliament & Clock Tower - all viewed from the out side (niece's choice...)

We ate (3 times!) pasties from the Cornwall Pasty Company in Covent Garden. We all found them to be very, very good! My favorite is the Chicken and vegetable, yummy!

My niece's observations were that: Wow everybody (women) wears boots and ballerina flats, food taste better - for instance: Salt & vinegar crisps - the ones in the UK are better as they have less vinegar than the US version. Chocolate is better - she loved the Malteasers (sp?), and Smarties are the best! When we ate at Pizza Express, she asked why everyone was eating pizza with a fork and knife - Ha-ha! Had to explain the continental way of eating...Asked every day if we were going to have another pasty...

We really had a great time, and even though it was a little tough at times with my niece (I have no children), I would do it all over again...

Now that we are back in the US, all she talks about is how much she wants to go back to London! I believe I've just converted another London lover! Can't wait for my next trip to London!

P.S. Had some posting issues trying to get this into the UK forum - Sorry if I posted incorrectly...
angelica00 is offline  
Mar 27th, 2008, 12:11 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 12,176
That was such a nice gesture to take your niece to London. I am sure she will treasure the trip. Thanks for the report. I'm glad the weather worked out well, and you clearly saw some great sites.
WillTravel is offline  
Mar 27th, 2008, 12:56 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2003
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I'm fascinated why, surrounded as you must be in San Francisco by malls with Old Navys (at any rate Mrs F found an awful lot last time we were in the area), you were so impressed with Primark.

I'm even more fascinated why you seemed more interested in them than your niece was in Top Shop, New Look and their peers.
flanneruk is offline  
Mar 27th, 2008, 01:06 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2003
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I can't recall why, but my daughter really liked Primark as well. She happened upon it by accident.
WillTravel is offline  
Mar 27th, 2008, 03:06 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2005
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How fun to take your niece to London, lucky girl! Thanks for the trip report.
LCBoniti is offline  
Mar 27th, 2008, 03:07 PM
  #6  
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Flanneruk:

I found Primark fascinating because everything was *so* cheap (by US standards)! Also the fact that the selection of goods is such that I would actually want to buy! Also, the quality was quite decent too!

Next visit to Primark will be for me only! This trip was for my niece. The one thing I didn't like about Primark was the queue to the fitting rooms! I taught my niece the art of trying on clothes over the ones your are wearing...

Oh, believe me, we went into just about every store on Oxford St, Selfridges, M & S, Monsoon, Top Shop, etc. including The Gap...

My niece is very particular in what style/color she will wear (what female isn't?). No mini-skits or the current trend of hot pants/short shorts worn with tights...

She is not Goth or Emo, but is currently in her "Black" period...and let's face it Top Shop did not have what she was looking for...

BTW, my favorite shopping in San Francisco is Union Square, has been since I was a teenager...
angelica00 is offline  

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