Notices

Planning our trip in London

Reply

Apr 3rd, 2011, 07:18 PM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 38
Planning our trip in London

My sister and I are planning a trip to the UK, this is the first part of our journey and the main things we'd like to see that first week if at all possible. We've already purchased a 3 day London Pass and a 7 day Great Britain Heritage Pass. We will most likely be getting an Oyster card and some type of rail pass, but have not nailed down those specifics yet.

Day 1
Arrive at Gatwick, in the morning, hopefully get to our hotel (near Victoria Station), rest some, Leave hotel and head to British Museum and stay there from aprox. 1-3 pm, then head to British Library from 3-6pm. After that maybe get a picture of Big Ben...but not a high priority. Get some supper and get back to hotel for an early night to get as much sleep as possible. (yes, I will be somewhat jet lagged, but I'm hoping I'll be in fairly good shape to see the museum and library) Main question would be: How long does it take to get from Vic. Station to British Museum and Library? Does this time frame seem reasonable?

Day 2

Leave around 8am, to go to Windsor and be there from aprox. 10-1 go back to London, try to see Westminster Abbey from 3-4:30 If possible try to see Big Ben, and Buckingham Palace for picture purposes. Hopefully be back at hotel around 8-9pm. Unless we try to do a Thames River Cruise. Possibly fit the Handel Museum in here, but not sure if that will work.

Day 3
Get an early start this day
St Paul's 8:30-10am,
Shakespeare's Globe 10-12:30 (not sure on the times of tours etc...) (no shows, just tour stuff is my goal)
London Tower 12:30-3
Hurry next to get to Churchill War Rooms from 4-6. Possibly could even squeeze Handel in here somehow Is the timing I'm giving this realistic? Suggestions on how to improve it?

Day 4
Wimbledon stuff from 9-12 am (not sure of exact times for tours, etc...)
Kew from 12-3
Possibly do Handel museum, and anything else major we may have missed, if we are able to do our schedule as planned, maybe we can fit in National Gallery/Portrait on this day, or on Thurs and Fridays they are open longer. Jewel Tower, is another thing on our list, but not a major one.

Day 5

Attend service at the Metro. Tabernacle Church. I'm wondering if anyone on these forums has visited this church before or attends there? Any suggestions? I'm not quite sure how long we will spend here yet, but my goal is to go back and get our luggage, and then head to Oxford. Spend the night in Oxford then next day...

Day 6
See Blenheim Palace, early as possible, hopefully leave the Palace by 2pm? Kind of flexible here, get our luggage then head to Bath, ideally, be in Bath by 6pm. Maybe catch a show, or see a major site if time or energy permits.
JAustenFan is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 3rd, 2011, 07:51 PM
  #2
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 2,799
Wow, I think you really need to study a map of London; also some tube and bus route maps. Day 1 is do-able if you're not too jet-lagged, Bus #24 will easily get you from Victoria Station to the British Museum area. I wonder why you are allotting 2 hours to the British Museum and 3 to the British Library, though...the Library is fascinating but I would have a hard time spending three hours there. YMMV, of course. On Day 2 I would suggest seeing Westminster Abbey first thing in the morning; the lines just get longer as the day goes on. The Cabinet War Rooms are just a 5 minute walk from Westminster Abbey so I would work those in the same day. On Day 3, I would go to the Tower first thing (again to avoid crowds), then walk to St. Paul's, then cross Millennium Bridge to get to the South Bank where the Globe is. Hope this is helpful; I'm sure others will chime in.
azzure is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 3rd, 2011, 08:38 PM
  #3
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 59,844
azzure is spot on . . . especially re Day 3.

Not only should you go to the Tower very first thing in the AM - - it is REALLY difficult to squeeze 4 major sites into any one day.

The Tower requires 3 hours just to scratch the surface (and that is in the AM before there are queues for the crown jewels). St Paul's about 1.5 - 2 hours. The Globe tour about an hour. An the Cabinet War Rooms 2+ hours. So you have 8+ hours of heavy duty touring not counting a meal and about an hour worth of transport. Just not doable in real life . . .

On your Wimbledon/Kew day -- it takes nearly an hour to travel from one to the other by bus and tube.
janisj is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 3rd, 2011, 08:45 PM
  #4
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,525
Whats with the Handel museum being so important to see on this first London trip-can think of so many other things that would be ahead of it.
I would be putting Westminister,Big Ben and the Cabinet War rooms in one day with possibly adding your photo op at Buckingham.
If you don't travel much overseas,I think that you might be overdoing your first day in regards to the jet lag. I work for the airlines and fly overseas everyweek and everyone seems to overplan their first day thinking that they will rest and feel great when they get there-NOT! The British Museum and Library lend themselves to making one sleepy when you are tired and jetlagged.
I know that you will probably think that this is a bad idea but if you are staying by Victoria Station-have you ever thought that maybe you could get to your hotel(alot of them won't let you check in till 1/2PM which could be a problem?) and possibly take the ON/OFF tour bus? If you start the 24 hour ticket for the bus tour at 1pm ish you can actually get two days from the ticket. It would give you a great overview and you can see most of the sights of London and get off if you want to see more.
The Oyster Card is a great deal for London so definitely buy one.
I am kinda confused as to what you are seeing and why? Where are you coming from;what time of year and what are your interests? Let the forum know more and we would love to help you.
dutyfree is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 3rd, 2011, 11:47 PM
  #5
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 10,213
Agree with those above - you are over packing your days and some are not logical. Get yourself a good map and group the sites by areas to cut down on transit time. Also dont forget to factor in transit time, walking around, a pint in a pub and eating times, enjoying a few moments overlooking the river etc. You will be racing around all over London with your schedule as it is....
jamikins is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 4th, 2011, 01:24 AM
  #6
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 2,056
Is there a good exhibition on at the Handel Museum, like the castrati one I saw? If not, it's not very exciting at all, although it's in my favourite part of London.
tarquin is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 4th, 2011, 02:59 AM
  #7
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 38
Just a quick reply for now, thanks, all of that is really helpful! Main reason for the Handel Museum is that my sister and I are big fans of classical music and have played the piano for years...so we were mostly trying to fit it in because it was unique and related to our musical interests. I'm coming from the US and my sister is coming from Spain. I've been leaving off the time of year we are traveling in for safety/not giving out too much information reasons...

Just curious, how safe is London at night? In Paris we felt very comfortable wandering around, but am wondering if it's the same in London or different?

Thanks again!
JAustenFan is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 4th, 2011, 03:13 AM
  #8
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 10,213
Tourist areas of London are as safe as the tourist areas of Paris. I walk around all the time by myself at night and as long as you have your wits about you you should be fine.
jamikins is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 4th, 2011, 05:08 AM
  #9
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 7
As someone who lives in London (and an occasional tour guide for friends and family) duyfree's idea of getting the hop-on hop-off bus tour is a really good one for day one and the fresh air on the open top deck will keep you awake.

You'll get a whistle stop tour of London's major highlights and you can get off at key spots for your photo opportunities. The Big Bus Tour http://www.bigbustours.com/eng/london/ includes Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, The London Eye, Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus and Downing Street. You can buy tickets in advance on-line and save 30%.

The Tower of London opens at 9:00 am and the morning is the best to go as it gets very busy. azzure's suggestion of doing the Tower, St Paul's and then the Globe seems like a good idea. You could either walk to St Paul's from the Tower or get the 15 bus.
jetsetguy is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 4th, 2011, 05:40 AM
  #10
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 1,738
I echo what is said above.

1. Really, the BM on arrival is a bad idea. If you insist, you should swithc your times. An hour is plenty (given your hectic pace) for the Library; you really can only see stuff (and very cool stuff it is!) in one room, so reallocate so more time in the Museuem.

2.London is "safe"--that's a relative term. You need to be alert and aware at all times anywhere anyway. However, most things you'd want to tour (everything on your list) isn't open at night anyway. As far as just walking around or finding places to eat, yes it's safe.

3.Please listen and get to the Tower first thing and plan only St. Paul's on that day.

4. Also listen and get to the Abbey first thing on another day. It needs at minimum 90 minutes once you are inside and starting the tour. That's the day you will see Big Ben and whole Westminster area.

5.Really you need to get a map and look. Don't crisscross. You will waste hours in the plan you have going back and forth. London is waaaaayyyyy spread out and while walkable with great public transport, stuff is physically distant and traffic can snarl things. Like day 3--these aren't in a good order and even if they were, you'd need 15-30 minutes minimum (and I walk fast) between each one; you can't just pop out one door and be at the next site. You really are seriously underestimating the time involved in ALL your transportation plans. And as someone mentioned above, you might not be able to get into your hotel on arrival--need to check on that timing/left luggage options, etc.

What if you ignored the fact that you bought the London Pass (sorry, that was a bad idea but...)and made a realistic itinerary based on what you most want to see and what is possible to get to.

Going out of town twice sure defeats the purpose of seeing much of London.
texasbookworm is online now  
Reply With Quote
Apr 4th, 2011, 09:07 AM
  #11
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,336
You should visit the Abbey and the Cabinet War Rooms on the same day, then you can walk through St. James Park toward the Palace for photos. The reason to group sites by location is LONDON IS THE LARGEST CITY IN WESTERN EUROPE -- you're going to a city that's the size of New York City and you'll spend lots of time on the Tube if you don't group sites well.

Skip the bus tours, you've already wasted enough money (Txbookworm is right, you really effed up by purchasing the London Pass -- you should have done the 2for1 offers from daysoutguide.co.uk and saved money, but that's basically worthless now that you have the pass). Take the 9, 15, and 136 buses if you want to see London from the bus -- they hit all the high points.

When are you going? I've not had a problem at the Tower of London (there is no "London Tower") seeing the Crown Jewels in the afternoon, but my last two visits were in April and May, not summer.

I'm with the others: your day 3 is daft. There's two days of touring in there and you're trying to do it in one. The point of visiting those sites is to see what's there, not keep checking your watch to make sure you have time for the next spot on your list.

What's the interest in Wimbledon? It's a tennis stadium outside central London. If you go to the museum, you'll see tennis stuff. Much more thrilling things to do than look at pics of McEnroe when he had hair or all the great champions from the 1960s that no one now cares about.

I'm also wondering if you and your sister eat lunch?
BigRuss is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 4th, 2011, 09:58 AM
  #12
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 59,844
Hopefully you'll take this in the way it is intended -- but "I've been leaving off the time of year we are traveling in for safety/not giving out too much information reasons... " -- is just plain silly. Sorry but it is.

We really do need to know when the trip is in order to give useful advice. Things like in June it is daylight til nearly 11PM and in Dec it is dark by 4PM. Some holidays have HUGE impact on certain attractions. Lots of other issues. No one on here knows who you are and if I was sitting next to you and your sister on the tube I wouldn't think "ah she is that Jane Austen fan from Fodors" There are millions of people in London -- you are perfectly safe telling us when you are visiting.

I might add -- an option to the Handel Museum since you have such a short time in London -- why not go to a concert one evening. All the amazing orchestra and chamber music possibilities are pretty overwhelming. (Another reason we need to know when you are there -- we can make suggestions for programs)
janisj is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 4th, 2011, 11:14 AM
  #13
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,525
I don't understand the not telling us when you are going "is for safety reasons"-we don't know you or what city you live in.
Everyone on this board shares what time of the year they are going for the above reasons.If you want help planning then sometimes you have to tell us where you are coming from(conditions of jetlag);ages(interests and what you are in to),etc.Alot of us either live in London or go there frequently and we would be happy to offer suggestions or check on prices or times for you.
This travel board(I have found) through the years is one that really wants to help people and is trustworthy!
dutyfree is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 4th, 2011, 11:44 AM
  #14
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 10,213
Agreed - you dont need to give us your flight number etc - but even something like we are going in early June or late Aug will impact what we suggest due to bank holidays, daylight hours etc. Dont post your home address and bank details - but give us a little to work with!
jamikins is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 4th, 2011, 01:12 PM
  #15
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 38
Wow, so much to say! First of all, I'm not worried about anyone on these boards, it's more random people who search the internet who might read the information. I however, DO see your point and our plan is to meet on June 1st and spend two weeks touring. So, all that said, I'll go ahead and give some background on us first.

My sister has been in Spain since October, and is a teacher's assistant in the local schools helping with their English program. She's done quite a bit of traveling since she's been gone and in March I went to visit her. (my first overseas trip) We spent some time at her flat and a couple of days in Paris, we had a great but busy time together. Overall my first experience was a good one, but as I'm sure is normal, we had a few "glitches" along the way, but managed to get through them just fine. As for jet lag for me, I arrived (after some delays) around 4pm in Spain, and by the time it was all said and done, we didn't get to bed that night until 12:30. I was tired, but I still haven't determined if it was true "jet lag" (whatever the definition of it is) or just normal since I only got about 2 hours of sleep in a 36 hour period. I was functional the next day and we got a semi-early start and were out and about seeing Tarragona, Spain around 10am or so. It was a good day just walking around and was fairly relaxed. We left the next day (Wed) for Paris and did our major touring on Thurs/Fri. Sat. we left back to Spain, spent the night, and I left that Sunday morning.

We both love classical music, British Literature and enjoy BBC period dramas. (Pride & Predjudice and North & South being my top two) We're also into a lot of Christian History, specifically around the period of the Reformation, and are looking forward to attending a service at C. H. Spurgeon's former church. I'm probably a little bit more "into" British History than my sister is, but she also enjoys it. (I guess if I had to choose a wide time frame I like the history from about 1500-1900, I know, big range) We are both in our early 20s, which is will help with various "student" passes along the way. Seeing England has been something I've always wanted to do, but never actually thought would happen, so I'm really excited to be going and spending two weeks with my best friend...who happens also to be my sister.

Neither one of us are huge fans of Shakespeare, but we would like to see the Globe anyway. (we originally talked about trying to see his birthplace, etc. but realized we wouldn't be able to fit it in our schedule, so doing the Globe is sort of our way of at least doing something Shakespeare related. We are talking about seeing a play in Bath, but haven't decided yet)

Hopefully this background is helping somewhat, this post is getting a little long, so I'll stop and respond to some more specifics in another one.
JAustenFan is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 4th, 2011, 01:26 PM
  #16
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 318
I just had a suggestion for day 6. Bath is one big open air museum and the streets are one of its biggest major sites. While the theatre there is lovely and usually has a great programme I think your time in the evening might be best spent just wandering round the city. Most of what makes Bath so lovely is on, or just off, a very easy walk up and down the main street - Milsom St, and connecting steets. Turn left at the top of Milsom Street and then right on to Gay Street (where the Jane Austen Centre is) walk up the hill and you hit The Circus, take a first left on to Brock St and you get to the Royal Crescent - two must sees in my opinion. To the south of Milsom Street, Union St and Stall St, you will pass the Roman Baths and the Abbey. I can't think of a better way to see Bath after a (very) long day than just slowly walking the streets seeing the fabulous buldings and taking it all in. And yes, it is just as safe as Paris.
tjhome1 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 4th, 2011, 01:38 PM
  #17
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 38
Back to our London plans...

First, a question. I really would like to see the Kew Gardens, but, if we are seeing Windsor, and various other properties along the way, is it worth trying to fit it in or will we see enough "garden" things along the way that we won't be missing a whole lot if we do skip it? Another question, is it at all possible to do Windsor AND either Wimbledon or Kew on the same day? Or is that too impossible with the direction they are in?

Second, pretty much everything on our list is stuff we really want to do, so cutting out something is rather difficult. Our reason for doing Wimbledon, which may see weird to you, is that our Dad and brothers are big tennis fans, and so we kind of want to do it "for" them, and plus, I kind of like the idea of doing different things along the way of our trip that are not just castles, palaces, houses, and museums...which I want to see, I'm just trying to get a variety in so we don't get burnt out of them.

Also, the only reason I was trying to separate Churchill and Westminster Abbey was so that if we were doing several things in one day, we might be able to fit them all in somehow. Since the Westminster area is ideally going to be closer to our hotel, I thought we could get more things in if broken up. However, I do see your point in trying to do all the Westminster things in the same day and doing the Tower of London first thing in the morning, I only put St. Paul's first because it opened first.

Another thought I had today would be starting our London Pass the first day we arrive and doing Kew and Wimbledon, but I'm not sure if that's a good plan or not. Then Thurs/Fri fit in: Windsor, Tower, Buck. Palace, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Handel,Churchill War Rooms. Then, Sat, we could start our GBHP and do St. Paul's, Globe, and then do the free British Museum and Library. It does involve some back tracking, but maybe it would be better that way? I was just trying to keep the first day somewhat open, just in case I am too tired to do a project like Kew/Wimbledon...

Also, no particular reason for amount of hours spent at Museum and Library...I think I was just trying to give us enough travel time from place to place, but I do agree, the Museum sounds like it has a lot more to do than the Library. I'll be sad if we miss the Library...but not devastated, same with the Handel Museum.

I do like the concert idea, we discussed trying to see a free lunch concert at St. Martin's but we kind of felt like we had too much planned for us to have time for one...and I was kind of expecting regular evening concerts to be expensive in London.

Oh, the question about lunch, it's kind of funny you asked. We pretty much starved ourselves in Paris because of the amount of stuff we tried to cram in. We probably will eat a good breakfast, find a snack when we feel like we won't be able to make it too much longer, then try to get a half way decent dinner. Neither one of us likes spending money on food...

Hopefully that helps some, and I covered most of the questions. We really do appreciate the help!
JAustenFan is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 4th, 2011, 01:48 PM
  #18
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 10,213
Thing about Kew and Wimbledon is that they take so long to get to (and the thing about criss crossing London as well) you waste time you could be seeing something by sitting on the tube looking at the wall for 30 - 40 mins. Up to you. I would focus on things YOU are interested in rather than experience something on behalf of your family members who arent there and arent spending their precious funds.

Fact is - you cant do everything. The more spread out (Kew, Wimbledon, Hampton Court, Oxford etc) you plan to spend your time the less time you will actually have SEEING things and the more time you waste in transit.

If it was me, with such a short amount of time I would drop Wimbledon, Kew, Blenheim etc and all other day trips this time around as you are already going to see the countryside. I would focus on London and enjoying the time there.

I would also skip the Globe if you arent interested in Shakespeare. Why waste time just to experience something you arent interested in? The tour I found boring as heck when I went and the money would have been better spent on something I was more interested in (hubby felt the same and he was an english major).

I would look at what is in London and group the sites into mangeable bites. Make a list for each day - if you get to them all great, if not, add them to your list for next time you visit London.
jamikins is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 4th, 2011, 02:24 PM
  #19
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 59,844
"We are both in our early 20s,"

Here I thought we were talking to two frumpy middle aged school teachers

Whether to skip Kew is up to you but if you are interested in Gardens -- you really don't have any other garden-centric sites on your whole itinerary (except if you can squeeze in the Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh)

Windsor is all about the castle -- The Savill Garden is out in the Great Park and you simply won't have the time. Blenheim has some gardens but it is really the bldg that you'll be touring.

Now - there are botanic gardens in Oxford -- whether you'd have time for them I doubt . . .

If I was debating between Kew (for me) or the Wimbledon museum (for other family members who aren't on the trip) Kew would win every time.

I personally think Wimbledon is interesting but only if you are REALLY into tennis.
janisj is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 4th, 2011, 02:56 PM
  #20
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 38
Hee! Loved the comment about middle aged school teachers...I'm sure my posts indicate my age to some extent. Thanks for suggestion on Kew vs. Wimbledon, I think we're both leaning toward doing Wimbledon. if we had to take something out I guess we kind of lean towards Kew, tennis seems like an important cultural thing to experience, and I can't really think of when we'd ever have the opportunity to see something so unique. Thanks again, we are still thinking through our decisions as we read these comments.
JAustenFan is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 06:29 PM.