Making most of 4 days in England?

May 21st, 2002, 10:55 AM
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Making most of 4 days in England?

We're flying in to Gatwick 4 days before leaving on a cruise. Bed and breakfast near airport is reserved. How do we make the most of our time? Rail in to London, rent a car? First time there.
May 21st, 2002, 11:01 AM
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Rent a car? In London? Brave lad, that Ronnie. Personally I'd take the tried and true advice of finding a hop-on/hop-off tour bus and take a good look at the City before I was so bold as to rent a car. Then, if you decide you're still quite mad, you'll at least have a rudementary idea of the lay of the land.
May 21st, 2002, 11:08 AM
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Now, BUZZ, I think that Ronnie's not mad -- I think he (?) meant to rail in to London *OR* rent a car and not go into London.

Or you could do both -- rent a car at Gatwick for two days and do trips into the countryside (Salisbury, Bath, Cotswolds, Cambridge, Brighton), *then* spend two days taking the rail (Gatwick Express) into London.

On second thought, if you'll be dealing with jet lag upon arrival, start with London (including the hop-on-hop-off bus that Buzz reommends) and then deal with driving in the countryside after you're rested.
May 21st, 2002, 11:37 AM
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Or take the train from Gatwick to Salisbury, spend your first jet-lagged day in Salisbury, then rent a car for Suzy's itinerary. Drop the car someplace like Bath or Salisbury, and take the train back to London for your last day or so, then take the Gatwick Express to your b&b the night before you leave for your cruise. One question just hit me: why are you staying at the airport when you need to board the ship on the coast?

If what you're saying is you've got a b&b reserved for four days near Gatwick, then that's a bit of a sticky wicket (love that phrase). You'll be jetlagged; if you take the Gatwick Express into London, be prepared to leave the city early to return to your b&b - you'll poop out probably about 7, but you don't want to be in London when that happens (you'll either be miserable trying to get back to Victoria to catch the train, or paying for an expensive taxi). The next day, rent a car at Gatwick and do day trips to Bath, Salisbury, Cotswolds, etc.

If that's the case, I'd cancel the first three days of the reservation, do the Gatwick>Salisbury train/car itinerary, spend 1 1/2 days in London, then head for a b&b near where the ship is anchored.
May 21st, 2002, 11:45 AM
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Staying near the airport is already not making the best use of your time. There's no reason to stay near the airport -- that's for people who are leaving early next morning! Cancel that res, make one in London, either for all 4 nights, or for just 3 and then as elvira suggested stay near the cruise departure site if your departure is early. If you've never been to the area before, forget about driving around, do consider train trips, but personally I think there's plenty to do just staying in London!
May 21st, 2002, 11:47 AM
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Originally hadn't planned the extra days before the cruise. Already arranged and paid for transfers to and from ship/airport. Like train in to London and then hop on/off bus. Could arrange one of those whole day bus tours to Stonehenge etc, but wondered if renting a car for day trips would be better.
May 21st, 2002, 11:54 AM
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The advantages to renting a car include greater flexibility and usually lower cost (for two or more people) than tours or even the trains. BUT don't forget you will be driving on the other side of the road -- at the very least, be sure that you get an automatic transmission, even though it will cost extra. For two people, I'd recommend that instead of renting a car, you take something like the Astral Travels tour that includes Salisbury and Stonhenge, I believe they have a few versions, rather than dealing with mastering wrong-side driving, just for two days.

Even though you have paid for airport/ship transfers, that's still no reason to spend 3 or 4 nights near the airport, just so you can be there on the final day! Maybe keep the last night near Gatwick and stay in London the others?
May 21st, 2002, 12:30 PM
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Many thanks Jen for the tip on Astral Travels. A quick glance at their web site was encouraging for the Stonehenge tour.
May 21st, 2002, 12:35 PM
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Hi Ronnie,

My wife and I are flying into London, cruising for 12 days and then staying for 4 nights in London. We've been to London before and what we'll do for those 4 days is:
1. One day of sightseeing on the double decker buses, stopping at different sites as we wish - lots of fun, the guides on these buses are a hoot.
2. One day split between shopping ( you can spend a half day just in the food court in Harrod's - incredible ) and taking a cooking class. Last visit we did a half day class at the London Cordon Bleu - very nice. This year we're going somewhere else for a class but I forgot the name of it.
3. One day on a day long organized tour, this year we're taking a bus tour to Stonehenge and Bath, last visit went to Oxford and the Cotswalds.
4. One day of museums, gardens ( went to Kew Gardens last time and enjoyed this thoroughly ) or just freelancing.

We try to see as many plays as time allows. The London Theater is just magnificent. Something for everyone.

The tube in London is very easy to use and very quickly gets you to your destination. Take advantage of it. London has some great restaurants and if this is your thing then you may want to make reservations now.

Have fun and see the sights...
May 21st, 2002, 01:30 PM
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Don't forget that in addition to the fabulous Food Halls, Harrod's also has 22 restaurants within its upstairs domain. One of these years, I'll have a one-week trip to London in which every meal is eaten at a different Harrod's restaurant. Well, Monday thru Saturday anyway!
May 21st, 2002, 01:57 PM
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Ronnie - even with Ship/Airport transfers I would cancel the B&B near LGW and stay in London. You can still use the vouchers - simply take the Gatwick Express train back to LGW to catch your transportation to the port.

With only 4 days - understanding that most of the 1st day is lost to jet lag and general exhaustion. stay all 4 nights in London. You won't need a car, can see a lot, and if you decide you can bear to leave London can take any one of a number of organized day trips.

So when you arrive at LGW take the express to Victoria station and a cab to your hotel. Then on your return take the Express back to LGW, catch the coach to the port and head off on your cruise.
May 21st, 2002, 07:01 PM
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May 22nd, 2002, 02:05 PM
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Staying in London would be much wiser. Don't try to drive around on your first visit. Take the buses, tube, etc to see the sites. Get a feel for things and on your next trip you can plan a driving tour to the things you learn about and want to see.
May 23rd, 2002, 04:39 AM
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agree with the above.
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