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London visit: Kennsington or Hampton Court Palace

London visit: Kennsington or Hampton Court Palace

Jan 4th, 2006, 07:32 PM
  #21  
 
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I wrote Richelieu meaning Richoux LOL

My daughter took a boat up the Thames to Hampton Court one Spring ..they really enjoyed the entire experience plus the Palace.
We took a car, and we , too , loved HCP.
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Jan 4th, 2006, 11:33 PM
  #22  
 
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Scarlett's suggestion of combining an excursion to HGP w/ a river trip is a good one. (Maybe not in Feb so much)

But for anyone wanting to do this - it is better to take the train TO the Palace and a boat BACK into central London. A couple of reasons. First, traveling to the Palace by boat means one wouldn't arrive until mid afternoon. It is better to start out at the Palace in the morning and then take the boat back if you have time.

And second, because of the river current, the trip up river can take an hour longer (or even more) than returning down river into London.
janisj is online now  
Jan 5th, 2006, 07:51 AM
  #23  
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I think I got the travel card confused with the London Pass. Is the travel card the transit pass? Also, since we're on London -- Greenwich and the Cutty Sark - would that also be a fun excursion? Wish we would have added another 4 days! We just thought as a first European trip that 6 days would be about right. Oh well, hindsight!!!
Carlene
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Jan 5th, 2006, 09:25 AM
  #24  
 
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carlened: Yes - people use different terms in their posts, but Travel card, transit pass, oyester, etc are all talking about transport (tube/bus/train) tickets.

The "London Pass" is a commercial ticket that gets you into some major and a lot of minor tourist attractions. It isn't really a bargain for most visitors, but sometimes they run 2 for 1 specials that might it a good deal.

As for Greenwich - it is definitely a good day out. Especially w/ the combination of a boat trip down, a walk UNDER the river, and the Docklands lightrail back. But I would wait for a nice-ish day since any trip to Greenwich will involve a lot of walking and being outdoors.
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Jan 5th, 2006, 09:27 AM
  #25  
 
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Oops - " . . . that might make it a good deal"
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Jan 5th, 2006, 11:36 AM
  #26  
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So Janisj, how do you know so much, if you don't mind my asking? are you a Londoner?

If any of you are ever in the Seattle, WA area I'd be happy to point you in the right direction!

I've noticed that people do 'trip reports'. Is that a customary thing to do?
Regards,
Carlene
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Jan 5th, 2006, 12:14 PM
  #27  
 
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Carlened--obviously, we ate places that we would not have eaten if it had just been me and my husband, but I'll tell you the places that had good kids' menus and where we had a good meal too; Giraffe (which is a mini London chain--we ate at the one in Kensington, but look on the web, they are all over London); another "chain" (but really we found their chains much better than anything in the U.S.) that you'll see around is Bella Italia--it was great; look for pubs that have a family dining room which all seemed to be non-smoking and generally upstairs--that was fun because otherwise kids are not allowed in pubs, but the food was good (pretty cheap)and we got to go to a pub. We ate twice at the King's Arms in Victoria near out hotel. Also, Pizza Express which are upscale pizza places--good food; they are all over.

A book I would recommend because it had great eating advice is Time Out London for Children; I got it on Amazon--it is organized by neighborhoods so if you are at the Tower of London, it has a list of what's nearby (and where the Pizza Express is!); it is the only book I took with us and it was invaluable.

Lastly, one word about shopping--am I right in assuming that you are American?--my discussion of international currency markets was (understandably) met by glassy eyes by my 6 year old; your 10 old you can probably reason with, but anyway, we got away with just going to Harrod's; a friend had told me that Hamley's is basically Toys R Us (I went in w/o my daughter) and while the surroundings are nicer, it is basically the same stuff for twice the price. We had fun in Harrod's and got away with a souvenir bear; they are pretty aggressive in the toy department (they figured out my daughter's name in nanoseconds and were having her "try" things)--your children are probably not as spoiled as mine, but just thought I'd give you a heads-up. We were just in New York and had fun watching the Brits and Europeans shopping to their hearts' content--what goes around, comes around!

Hope this helps,

Mary
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Jan 5th, 2006, 03:20 PM
  #28  
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Dear Mary,
Thanks for the heads-up on eating, books, and toy shops!

Yep, we're American and my girls are pretty indulged as well. Not sure they'll understand currency markets either. I'm hoping to get away with only a trinket or two as well.

Everyone that I've spoken to agrees that Harrods is a must for the experience alone. I only wish the $ wasn't so in the tank (good for our exports, but it sure hurts as a tourist!) I can't complain too much - I lived in Germany when it was 2DM to the dollar. Like you said, what comes around, goes around.
Take care,
Carlene
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Jan 5th, 2006, 03:43 PM
  #29  
 
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Carlene--"indulged", better word! Forgot to say that we ate at both the Tower and Hampton Court; the food was really good and they have great kids deals; if you do go out to Hampton Court, plan to have lunch there, the food was really fresh and it's a pretty spot.

Mary
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Jan 5th, 2006, 08:11 PM
  #30  
 
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carlened: Actually I'm from Northern California. But I lived in the UK (just outside of Oxford) for five years and basically traveled the whole time I was there. I get back as often as I can.

to follow up a bit on marymarra's info about eating at the Tower and Hampton Court Palace - many of the other major tourist attractions also have really good cafes/restaurants on site. The British Museum, V&A, Natural History Museum, Globe Theatre, National Gallery, the Tates, etc. Plus places like the Orangerie in Kensington Gardens, the Cafe on the lake in St James Park, and the Crypt cafe in St Martin's in the Fields. This is a big help when you have kids in tow - If they start to wear down (or if mom and dad do) you can get very good food right there and not have to hunt around the neighborhood.
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Jan 5th, 2006, 08:19 PM
  #31  
 
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To add to janis' excellent list is lunch at St James Church- The Wren Cafe.
Then go to Libertys
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Jan 6th, 2006, 02:26 AM
  #32  
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Carlene. Re: Harrods. You can visit but don't have to buy. Take the girls to see the food hall, toy dept, pet dept where they have cute kittens etc & accessories for pets. Get a store guide as you enter & you can plan what you want to see. Dad may like the gents dept as they often display cars there. Last time we were there they had a ferrari. also check out the ladies room. You may get out of spending a fortune in the toy dept with the promise of some sweets in the candy section of the food hall. This has worked for us, twice!
 
Jan 6th, 2006, 01:59 PM
  #33  
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Hi all,

I printed a copy of all your great suggestions to take with us.

I know I started with just one question, but it sure helps to have advice from those who've been there. Guide books are great, (and I've looked at them)but they only get you so far!
Sooooo....

Any thoughts on the Orginal Bus Tour or Hop-on bus tours?

Have any of you visited the London Aquarium or Zoo? We're staying at the Mariott County Hall, so the Aquarium is right there. I'm kind of conflicted, because we have a nice zoo and aquarium here. It seems to me we should concentrate on things uniquely London.

I know I started with just one question, but it sure helps to have advice from those who've been there. Guide books are great, (and I've looked at them)but they only get you so far!

Regards,
Carlene
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Jan 6th, 2006, 02:21 PM
  #34  
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Hi Carlene. The hop on/off bus tours are good value. Both companies do similar routes. We used the big red bus company & the staff made a real fuss of the kids. The weather won't be great for sitting up top but as the tickets are valid for 24hrs you can work in a free river cruise & maybe even a guided walk. We starting using our tickets about 1pm on day 1 & finished at 12.30pm next day by taking a river trip from westminster bridge (london eye, big ben etc) to Tower Bridge as we were spending the afternoon at the tower of london. We walked back along the river at about 4pm & went on the london eye. It will get dark earlier in Feb so you would have to take that into consideration.
The bus is a great way to orientate yourself and even if you don't get on & off too much ,you will get to see alot of the main sights. I think we may have broken a record by driving past big ben 3 times while our tickets were valid. on one occasion big ben was chiming & my son was able to syncronise his watch - it made his day!
We haven't been to the aquarium, I was saving that for a rainy day but there was so much else to do.
The one place I would not recommend is Madame Tussauds. Very expensive & not really worth it. Mainly waxworks of british celebs, we didn't spend much time there ,and it was sooooo crowded.

Finally,your hotel location if fab - really great place to access sights, transport etc
 
Jan 8th, 2006, 09:12 AM
  #35  
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Ok -- so looking at maps of London -- it seems immense. Is it very walkable or should we be tubing it? I really prefer to stay above ground except when things are farther afield. Is the bus service as good as the tube? I was thinking of walking from Westminster to Trafalgar Square. Crazy? Thoughts?
Carlene
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Jan 8th, 2006, 09:54 AM
  #36  
 
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London IS a huge city but it's also very walkable.

But you'll likely find yourselves doing all three: walking, tubing and bussing.

I haven't read all of the messages, but surely someone has suggested you invest in a travel card so you can take advantage of the tube and bus services. Both are excellent but the tube system is usually easier for first time visitors to master. But don't discount the buses as they can be a great way to see the city.

The Aquarium and the Zoo are fine places but unless one of you has a particular interest, I'd skip them for things, as you say, uniquely London.

Westminster to Trafalgar Sq is less than a mile.

obxgirl is online now  
Jan 8th, 2006, 10:07 AM
  #37  
 
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I love the Hop On bus tours when I bring first timers to London. But only if you can ride on top. If it's raining there may be a covered bus. If you have to ride downstairs it's just not worth it because you can't see that much.

Double decker city buses are a fun way to see a lot of the city when your feet give out. Pick a route and ride end to end. You see parts of the city you wouldn't see otherwise.
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Jan 8th, 2006, 11:49 AM
  #38  
 
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You will likely use a combination of walking, tube, bus, and taxi during your visit. Westminster Abbey to Trafalgar Square is a bit over half a mile straight up Whitehall, or just fractionally farther along Horse Guards/St James Park. it is a very pleasant walk - especially via St James Park
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