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Need opinions about scheduling days in London

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Jan 28th, 2009, 05:18 PM
  #1
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Need opinions about scheduling days in London

Hi,
I need advice about scheduling my familyís days in London. Weíre there for nine days (including arrival), but arrival day and the first two days are already scheduled. Iíve come up with the following rough ideas for the remaining six days --Tuesday thru Sunday, but not necessarily in the order presented: 1) a day in Greenwich including a boat ride on the way back (or on the way there if you think thatís better) ; 2) a Tower of London/Southwark day; 3) a Hampton Court/Kew Garden/Richmond day; 4) a Canal boat ride/London Zoo/Camden lock day; and 5) a Kensington Palace/park/royal things day. Weíll visit open museums/galleries in the evenings if we have the energy. Iím also leaving a blank day in case we bonk and need a day off or if we decide to do something else.
Hereís my question Ė Iíve got a Tuesday thru Sunday to schedule this Ė are certain days better for certain things? For example, should I avoid Hampton Court (or any of these places) on the weekend? Do certain areas have more things happening on certain days? Will certain attractions be more interesting/meaningful if I've seen the other first? Iíve already checked opening times and things like that. What Iím looking for are warnings and opinions as to the particular days that we should do particular things. For instance, I expect that the Kensington Palace day to involve a lot of walking, so I probably shouldnít follow that with another exhausting day. Fodorites who have visited or live in London undoubtedly have opinions as to the best days/order to do things!
Any ideas jump out at anyone?
Thanks in advance,
Lauratg
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Jan 28th, 2009, 05:46 PM
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I spent one week in London a few years ago and, in hindsight, think I really covered a lot of territory without killing myself. My trip is too long to post here but if you're interested, e-mail me at [email protected] net.

I did go back to London a few months later by myself just to catch what I missed.
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Jan 28th, 2009, 05:51 PM
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yk
 
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Hi lauratg-

3) a Hampton Court/Kew Garden/Richmond day

This day won't work. Hamptcn Court itself takes up at least half a day, if not longer. It's not possible to visit that PLUS Kew Garden.

5) a Kensington Palace/park/royal things day

I'm not sure what this means. Can you elaborate? Do you mean Buckingham Palace, Horse Guard parade?

London zoo - I'd skip this unless you are dying to go.
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Jan 28th, 2009, 06:00 PM
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2) a Tower of London/Southwark day

You should consider visiting the Borough Market while you're in the Southwark area. Make sure you schedule this day when the Market is open. Preferably Friday because it's less crowded than Sat but more vendors (based on what I've read here) than Thurs.
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Jan 29th, 2009, 01:42 AM
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"Iím also leaving a blank day in case we bonk and need a day off"

Don't say this in England! ;-) (bonk is slang for intercourse).
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Jan 29th, 2009, 01:54 AM
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For Greenwich, check out www.walks.com as they do a walk that includes a boat ride out there. I highly recommend all their walks.
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Jan 29th, 2009, 02:02 AM
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Thanks!

Nancy, I sent you an email.

Yk, thanks for the input. The Borough market wasn't something I had thought about doing. However, if we're in the area, it makes sense to see it. I'm going to add that info to my list and push the Tower/Southwark day to the weekend, preferably Friday. That's exactly the type of information I need!

FWIW, I'd skip the zoo too -- I like animals, but have about a thirty second attention span at zoos, so they aren't worth the admission for me. However, what I failed to mention in my post was that I'm traveling with my four kids and my twelve year old daughter is a zoo fanatic. I let each kid look at the guide books and choose two "attractions" to visit. I'm grouping things on the list according to area (and adding things that interest me!).

Yk, you mention that its not possible to visit Hampton and Kew Garden on the same day. Do you think that's true considering that the kids probably won't last more than two hours at Kew and we'd try to be at Hampton Court (or at Kew if it opens earlier) as soon as it opens?

Finally, by Royal stuff I mean a glance at Buckingham Palace and a visit to the Royal Mews (the daughter's other request) and other things in that area. I've decided not to wait for the changing of the guards since it seems to get universally underwhelming reviews. If the weather cooperates (first week in April) we'll likely try to walk from Kensington through the parks to get to Buckingham Palace. I haven't really looked at attractions in the area yet as its the least interesting to me although I would like to visit the Wellington Arch. Kensington was my sixteen year old's choice.

Thanks again!

Lauratg
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Jan 29th, 2009, 02:07 AM
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Sigh,

I wish Fodors let us edit. I didn't mean to swear.
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Jan 29th, 2009, 02:20 AM
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Just as a guide to time for Hampton Court Palace, I visited with my sister and brother in law and their two small children. We went through the various parts of the palace twice - once with a guide and once following an audio guide - the kids did an audio guide which had a number of activities to complete, did the maze and wandered the gardens and ate in the cafeteria and were finished by early afternoon.

We were visiting at the same time as numerous school groups which you wouldn't get on the weekend.

I always try to plan one major event for morning and one for afternoon (unless you know it will take most of the day) and whatever else you can fir in is a bonus. Then there are all the things you discover just wandering. I'm often sidetracked like that and have to raationalise the interesting things I 'discovered' against the planned activities I had to skip or cut short because of it. Next time... mosst of these sites have been there a while and will wait until I get to visit again.

I guess with four kids in tow, taking a day off for bonking might not really happen? jk.
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Jan 29th, 2009, 04:17 AM
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Conk! I meant conk (konk?) out! I hope that isn't vulgar too...

I really wish we could edit!
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Jan 29th, 2009, 04:52 AM
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Don't worry, laura, It gave our British posters a good morning laugh.
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Jan 29th, 2009, 05:17 AM
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I think you can do HCP and Kew on the same day if you get to HCP right when it opens. Kew is lovely, but I'm guessing it won't hold the kids' attention for more than a couple of hours.
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Jan 29th, 2009, 05:39 AM
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Hi Lauratg-

1) Hampton Court Palace itself will tire you and your kids out. The palace is quite big, and there are many gardens plus the maze, which involves lots of walking. Make sure you take one of the costume-guided tours, I took 2 of them and enjoyed both.
http://www.hrp.org.uk/HamptonCourtPa...idedtours.aspx

I really suggest you plan on spending half a day there, then the rest of the afternoon walking along the Thames. There are plenty of swans and your kids will probably enjoy watching them.

2) Kew is HUGE, so even if you plan on being there for *just* 2 hours, you'll be too exhausted to even walk around after being at Hampton Court Palace. Plus, at £13 admission, it seems a bit of a waste to just spend 2 hours there. Is KEW a place chosen by your kids? If yes, plan on going on a different day than Hampton Court. If no, consider visiting a smaller garden, eg, the Chelsea Physic Garden, which is much closer to the city as well.
http://www.chelseaphysicgarden.co.uk/garden/

3) Regarding Kengsington Palace, are you planning to go inside for a visit, or just see it from the outside and visit the gardens? I've never been inside Kensington Palace, but I've read that it's not particularly interesting, and if you're going to HCP already, you probably can skip Kensington Palace. You didn't say how old all your kids are? But I suppose they'll enjoy seeing the Peter Pan statue in Kensington Gardens and the Princess Di Memorial fountain in Hyde Park.
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Jan 29th, 2009, 06:06 AM
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Thanks for the replies. I think Kew may have to be relegated to grey font --"must do's" get black. Kew isn't a kids' choice, its mine. I'll look into Chelsea Psychic. I too like to schedule two things per day when we travel, but sometimes we never get to the second.

BTW, my "kids" are 9, 12, 16 and 18 so they're mostly past the whining age. However, one of the 9 year old's request was the Highgate statue of Dick Whittington's cat (I nixed that -- just couldn't fit it in so she chose County Hall at Southwark instead-- go figure). Maybe the Peter Pan statue will be a nice substitute.

Kensington was my 16 year old's first choice. Her best friend is a Princess Diana fanatic so I'm afraid that we'll be forced to go inside so that every detail can be reported afterwards.

Lauratg
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Jan 29th, 2009, 06:18 AM
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BTW, are your kids Harry Potter fans? If yes, you're missing the platform 9 3/4 at King's Cross, and the Leadenhall Market (served as Diagon Alley).

You can easily make a quick stop at Leadenhall market on your Tower of London/Southwark Day.
http://www.leadenhallmarket.co.uk/index.php
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Jan 29th, 2009, 07:04 AM
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I think the ride to and from Greenwich from Westminster is an excellent choice and you and the kids will enjoy a visit to the Maritime Museum and Greenwich Observatory to stand on the Prime Meridian Line as a bonus. The museums are free and the large park gives everyone a chance for some fresh air and space to move around. I would check BBC weather since much of this day would be outside. Westminster is across from the London Eye and County Hall which all border the Thames. Plenty to see and do along this stretch which is naturally busier on the weekend. Other sights include the Globe Theatre, Tate Modern Museum, St. Paul's Cathedral and several of the wonderful bridges in London. Towards the end of this lengthy walk is the Tower of London and Tower Bridge which is worth a few photos. You can walk over it too. Have fun!
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Jan 29th, 2009, 07:31 AM
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Chelsea Physic Garden is only open certain times, so you'll have to work that into your schedule. Here's a link: http://www.chelseaphysicgarden.co.uk...ng%20Times.htm.

London Walks also does a Richmond/Hampton Court Palace tour. They take a boat from Richmond to HCP. We greatly enjoyed the boat ride, admiring houses along the way, riverside pubs, parks, etc. Your kids would like this. However Richmond may be of less interest to your children. The tour is only done on certain days, but you can do it on your own.
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Jan 29th, 2009, 11:39 AM
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As you have probably read, consider the changing of the horse guards instead of that at Buckingham Palace. Much easier to see and interesting for the children.

If you do go to Kew, have afternoon tea at the Maids of Honour across from the entrance. It's lovely, but it is closed on Sundays.
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