London trip report

Old Jun 10th, 2006, 11:00 AM
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London trip report

Well I'm back from vacation or should I say I'm back from holiday. Instead of doing a really prolonged trip report for the whole three weeks I'll just talk about each place seperately. Everyone asked why didn't I go to Italy or Amsterdam? In the end there wasn't time for everything. I think I made the right choices for me and in the end when you travel you have to make the choices right for you and not just follow the crowd to the most popular places.

London rocked. London is now a good friend of mine we didn't start out that way. I found London to be disorienting and crossing the street was the worst because of the whole driving on the wrong side of the road thing. How many times was I almost run over on my first day in London? 10? 20? who knows?

I liked the oyster card I got one for two days. I prefer bus passes because ther'es no fumbling for change every time you get on the bus. Also remember that when you get on the bus to buy a ticket BEFORE you get on and then you show it to the bus driver. A lot of bus stops have ticket machines but you can only get an oyster card is like at a subway station. When you arrive at Gatwick (cant speak for Heathrow sorry) there's the southern railways train for 9 pounds versus the gatwick express for 14. The thing about the gatwick express is that it's easier to get a ticket if youre in a hurry because there's ticket machines versus standing in line and the lines for the gatwick express are shorter. But I say take the time to use Southern railways and save 5 pounds.

Also when I bought my 9 pound ticket for just ONE extra pound you got all day bus and subway pass! I think it was because it was a Saturday so if you're arriving on a Saturday remember that please and unless it's 3 am or something dont take a cab from the airport no matter what.

Also if you're partying know where to go and know the closing times. Apparently it works like this pub closes at 11:00 or midnight one of the two I didn't go to a pub because I'm a late partier I don't go out before midnight it takes me forever to get ready. The bar I went to closed like at 2 then from there you go to the club which closes like 5 or 6 depending on the club. Not knowing where to go made my Saturday night frustrating. So have a game plan.

My favs? Brithish Museum and sitting up front on the 2nd story of the double decker buses. Just riding around London is one of the greatest things. Just people watch. personally I liked the buses better than the tube. The tube is good for long distances but for short distances find a bus map they have one in the back of this little booklet on London that I grabbed at Gatwick airport just as I was getting off the plane. Or go to a tourist office. The tube was just too crowded for my taste.

I went to the changing of the guard which is at aroudn 11:00 am at Buckingham palace get there extra early if you want a good spot. I didnt but managed to get in some good shots on my camera. I stayed about an hour or half hour. I didn't watch the whole thing. It's kinda long and there's a lot of pagentry involved but I'm glad I did it. It's kinda neat that ws the first official touristy thing I did.

Another thing I did was see a British movie. The ticket was like 9.50 pounds. If I had remembered to bring my student id it would have been cheaper. But the movie was about to start and didn't have time to run back to my hostel and get it. But seeing a British movie I think definately completed my London experience. I saw confetti which at the time was the 2nd most popular movie in the country there was ads everywhere for it and it was a little fun comedy. I recommend it if you ever get a chance. One magazine said that it was good because it didn't try to appeal to American audiences at all.

I went to the Tower of London there's so much history there and they give you a ticket to Kensington Palace and this other palace on the outskirts of London so go to the Tower of London and then head out to see another place for free. Again didn't have a student id and it was like 15 pounds! If you're in school dont be like me bring that student id!

I stayed at the Pickwick Hall hostel at 7 bedford pl. It was 25 pounds for a single room with shared bathroom. And it wasn't skanky and the room was clean. I think I got a great deal. And for the older folks yes there was one older couple from Australia there. But they were the only ones I saw not in college. I'm 24 and felt like I was the oldest one there til I saw the Australian couple. But that's why I liked it. It had a nice young atmosphere but it wasn't a party atmosphere so it's possible to get a good nights rest. There was free internet too which is a nice touch. The bathrooms weren't a hit with me but doable bring your own washcloth if you just have to have one. But 25 pounds a night in one of the most expensive cities in the world cant beat that.

My hostel was only 2 blocks from the awesome British Museum. I loved it! There's so much history there. The big lobby is actually on the cover of the 2006 fodors London guidebook. I loved the lobby and the glass roof. There's so much history and it's free! I loved the Egyptian stuff! And there was the Rosetta Stone. There's greek statues and mummy coffins. Those were my favs. I actually went twice because I walked right past the Rosetta Stone. it's a big place and it's free so it doesnt' hurt to go back twice if you missed something.

The tate modern was fun but you couldn't take pictures but the big modern artists are there. Dali, Picasso, Pollock. On the 7th floor there's a restaurant with an awesome view of the city. Dont eat there. Just buy a drink if you want to enjoy the view. THe food was not worth the 15 pounds I spent! But I was starving it was my last day in London adn I didn't have time to hunt down a restaurant. Please dont be like me.

As far as people watching is concerned walk around central London during rush hour. That my friends is a sight. Coming from a smaller town it's been a while since I've seen rush hour in a big city and everyone is rushing rushing. I thought it was interesting. But it's best that you dont stand in the sidewalk staring at your map. Everyone has on their black suits and they're in the biggest hurry. I was like did someone die? I was walking down Southampton Row and it was like everyone was going to this huge funeral except me. But when you're on vacation it's kinda neat watching everyone rushing to work and smiling to yourself knowing that you dont have to go to work today.

As far as prices go it's safe to just expect to pay twice as musch as in America. A meal at Mcdonalds was like $7 and of course figure out how much you want to spend go to the atm take out that amount and be done. Dont spend a lot of time converting stuff. It's bad for your health.

So that's it. I loved London. London and Londoners in general take some time to warm up to. But I enjoyed my time there and cant wait to go back. I was sad really really sad when I left my new city. There's so much to see 3 days didn't do it justice but I dipped my toe in the water and the water was just fine.

victorious is offline  
Old Jun 10th, 2006, 12:05 PM
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Thanks for the report - was pleased to hear that you and London ended up good friends. It is one of my favourite cities - lived there for four years (probably before you were born) and visit often on business and always try and take a little time out for the two of us (me and London).

Nice report - love the language - skanky - 'fraid in my day I would have said grotty - but that is dating me - just goes to show that the love of travel tends to start when you are young and just grow
wombat7 is offline  
Old Jun 10th, 2006, 12:24 PM
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I like how you said not to spend time converting the currency, because it's not good for your health. We found that to be so true. It was much better to just believe (for a while) that everything was in dollars. That way, the prices made sense.

It also struck me how fast everyone was moving. Quick, quick, quick. Rush, rush, rush. Hurry, hurry, hurry. It seemed like such a lively place.

We are going to London soon and I can't wait!
travelgirl2 is offline  
Old Jun 10th, 2006, 04:11 PM
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Nice report - thanks for posting. You included a lot of nice tips (although, at my age, I don't need to find which clubs are open until 5 or 6am). Great deal on your lodging too.
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Old Jun 11th, 2006, 08:44 PM
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I enjoyed your report. I also loved my first visit to London this year, although at twice your age and twice the number of days in London, my experience was different.
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Old Jun 15th, 2006, 06:51 AM
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Hey yall. Thanks for the kind words. I'm a writing major so I guess I should be able to write something well. Thanks again.

Oh for cash i defiantely recommend the atm versus currency exchange places cause those places will charge a fee. While the atm is just going to charge that foreign atm fee which is the same as any atm back home.

Barclay's doesn't charge a fee for using their atm. I like the signs on their bank "Through these doors walk the nicest people on Southampton Row (And you're one of them)" Some might call that patronizing but I thought that is so nice. So Barclay's gets the pr award.

But you know the thing I liked about London is the energy and just walking down the street not because I think the buildings are so fabulous or architecturally stunning or anything like that but just to see so people from all over the world converging onto such a large and chaotic city.

victorious is offline  
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