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Road Trip Southern England and Ireland - Please help newbies!

Road Trip Southern England and Ireland - Please help newbies!

Apr 14th, 2013, 06:59 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2013
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Road Trip Southern England and Ireland - Please help newbies!

Hi there! Mike and I are planning our honeymoon trip July 16-30 to England and Ireland and would love some help as we have lots of questions. I've done quite a bit of research, but I would love to hear from people who've actually been in the driver's seat!

Here's our itinerary so far:
July 16 - flight leaves Detroit, MI at 10:25pm
July 17 - flight arrives at Heathrow Airport in London at 11:05am. Get to flat rented from airbnb. Head out for lunch. Shopping (Harrods and Oxford St). Dinner.
July 18 - Tower of London tour. Take picnic lunch on boat from Tower Pier to Westminster Pier. Tour Westminster Abbey and stay for evensong service. Walk by House of Parliament and Big Ben on way to dinner. Maybe some sort of walking tour (Mike wants Harry Potter).
July 19 - Take double decker bus tour and get off at Buckingham Palace for changing of the guards. Walk through St. James Park to Covent Garden for lunch. Then the British Museum or Victoria & Albert Museum. Dinner and some sort of late night entertainment (any suggestions?)
July 20 - Windsor Castle, Oxford, and Avebury
July 21 - Bath
July 22 - Cotswolds
July 23 - back to London to fly Gatwick to Cork on Ryan Air 12:50-2:15pm. Pick up rental car at Cork Airport and drive to Kilarney. Get dinner and stay at Crystal Springs B&B.
July 24 - Kilarney National Park and Ring of Kerry drive (I know this is ambitious and will take 8-10 hours, but I thought I'd attempt it anyway). Dinner on the road. Stay in The Grove Lodge in Killorglin.
July 25 - Drive Dingle Peninsula. Stay at The Pax Guest House in Dingle.
July 26 - drive to Cliffs of Moher. Stay in Limerick at The Boutique Hotel.
July 27 - Drive to Kilkenny. See Kilkenny Castle, Jerpoint Abbey. and St. Canice's Cathedral. Stay at Butler House and dinner at Campagne.
July 28 - drive to Dublin. See Trinity and Book of Kells, walk through St. Stephens Green and Merrion Square, eat lunch, then National Museum and/or National Gallery. Stop by St. Patrick's Cathedral on way to dinner. Enjoy some live music?
July 29 - Chester Beatty Library, Guiness Storehouse tour, lunch, Irish Museum of Modern Art and Kilmainham Gaol, dinner, and Literary Pub Crawl.
July 30 - flight leaves 11:20am from Dublin airport. Back in good ol USA by 5:17pm.

Here are my questions/concerns:
1. Should we get a Travel card or Oyster card in London? This may depend on question 2.
2. We want to take some day trips from London, but I'm not sure of the best way to go about this. Should we take the train/bus out to each location and then come back to London each night? Should we train/bus to each location and then stay there that night? Should we rent a car to allow more freedom?
3. I'm not sure what day trips are best. Rick Steves talks up Greenwich, Canterbury, and Cambridge. He doesn't seem to think too much of Cotswolds. I want to stay away from day tours with the bus, as those seem to be quite expensive. He also suggests starting out in Bath and then going to London - do you agree?
4. What is the best place to get traditional English tea in London without breaking the bank? I looked into tea at Harrods, but it seemed overpriced. Also - is there a best place to get fish and chips, or is it the same everywhere?
5. I am trying to be realistic about driving in Ireland. Is this trip doable? Is it too much? I'd love to get some real tips from anyone who has done this about accurate drive times, road conditions, gas prices, etc.
6. We have a Garmin GPS and can buy the UK/Ireland package to use overseas. Or should we just pay extra to get the GPS in the rental car?

Any specific suggestions about sights, restaurants, and entertainment are welcome. We are in our 30s - love good food and beer (Mike brews at home). We want to really experience the culture of the places we visit and not spend all our time in museums, so we may not make it to all those on the list. We are flexible, so things can be moved if that makes more sense.

Thanks so much for all your help!
wsugrad13 is offline  
Apr 14th, 2013, 07:14 AM
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Also - I should add that we got married in March, so this is not right after our wedding. We have fully recovered and want to take an active trip. We are ok with not having the "typical" honeymoon at the all-inclusive tropical resort - that's not our style.
wsugrad13 is offline  
Apr 14th, 2013, 07:21 AM
Join Date: Mar 2011
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Rick Steves talks up Rick Steves and what Rick Steves Likes so find a less biased Guide Book (not difficult) My view on Bath? Traffic jam and needs a good wash. Cirencester is a good option for the Cotswolds.

Makes no sense at all moving from Killarney 30 minutes up the road to Killorglin
Tony2phones is offline  
Apr 14th, 2013, 08:22 AM
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Your July 20 is just too much for one day. How would you get to all those places? Windsor takes half a day, Oxford at least one day. I haven't been to Avebury, but I'm not sure it's worth the travel.

Unlike Tony, I love Bath; we spent several days there. But you can see quite a bit in a daytrip from London. Must-sees: the Roman Baths, the Pump Room, and something of the architecture of the town.

Assuming you'll arrive jet-lagged and sleepy after an overnight flight, you're better off going to London upon arrival, not Bath. It can take several days to get over jet-lag. With so much to see in London, you can adjust your itinerary according to how you feel.

I like Cambridge too. It's a much smaller town, more laid back than Oxford. Oxford is better if it rains (more to see indoors), Cambridge is better on a sunny day.

Have you looked at London Walks: www.walks.com? In addition to wonderful walks in London, they have excursions. Looks like their Cotswolds excursion is not scheduled for during your time in England. We greatly enjoyed their excursion to Richmond and Hampton Court Palace, especially the boat trip up the Thames from Richmond, arriving at HCP by water as Henry VIII arrived by barge. And your husband might enjoy their evening pub crawl.

Eschewing bus tours, the Cotswolds are hard to see without more time and/or a car.

I wasn't thrilled by Greenwich, which we did on a boat trip with London Walks. And, given your limited time, I'd omit Canterbury.
Mimar is offline  
Apr 14th, 2013, 08:47 AM
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Just some random thoughts on the England bits -

1) Forget Rick Steves for anything to to w/ the UK. (I'm not a RS hater like some but his much of his advice for England in particular is daft). Get a Fodors or Michelin or some other guidebook.

2) Windsor, Avebury and Oxford in one day is madness. Oxford id a full day's worth and Windsor - several hours. Avebury is a distance from both.

3) On your arrival day you'll be having a pretty late lunch if you don't land til 11AM. By the time you get to your flat it it could be nearly 2PM. (Where is the flat BTW?)

4) Harrods/Oxford street are the LAST places I'd go on my jetlagged arrival. Both are exceedingly crowded and not places to get fresh air/acclimated.

5) If you are in the Cotswolds (or most anyplace west of London) and have a 12:50 flight out of LGW you will need to get a move on. You'll want to be at the airport by 11AM, since it will be a 3 hour drive give or take.
janisj is online now  
Apr 14th, 2013, 09:26 AM
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Thanks everyone for the feedback!

@ Tony

I didn't realize that Killarney 30 minutes up the road to Killorglin - that will make things easier.

Mike is worried that we have too much driving for Ireland, so we may skip ROK and add an extra night in Kilkenny. I've heard that Dingle is a better scenic drive than ROK anyway.

@ janisj

1) I will look into getting some other guide books - thanks!

2) We are still deciding on day trips so will definitely keep this in mind.

3) Yes it will be a late lunch. We will snack, but we'd like to sit and rest for a bit once we get to London. The flat is on Broadley Street - near Oxford. It looks like we should be walking distance from quite a bit.

4) I know the first day probably sounds horrible to most, but I think it will be ok. I have been overseas multiple times and usually don't suffer too much from jetlag. One of my major goals is to do some shopping in London and I can handle crowds (can't be worse than black friday at the New York Macys flagship store Mike may not be able to handle it - so I may have to leave him in a pub while I venture out.

5) Given our short amount of time, we may cut Cotswolds. It sounds hard to get around without a car. We may just stick with one day in Windsor, one day in Bath and one in Cambridge - coming back to London the night of the 22 so we can head out for our flight in the morning.
wsugrad13 is offline  
Apr 14th, 2013, 09:42 AM
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The flat is on Broadley Street - near Oxford.

I don't think it is. Some friendly advice: please be careful in the UK not to shorten street names like that, or you risk being given completely wrong directions. It's Oxford Street, Liverpool St, Leicester Square etc not "Oxford", "Liverpool", "Leicester" etc... which are completely different places a long way from London.

Having said all that, I put Broadley St into Bing maps and, if it's the location in NW8 near the junction of Marylebone Road and Edgeware Road, it ain't anywhere "near" Oxford Street anyway...
Gordon_R is offline  
Apr 14th, 2013, 09:54 AM
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@ Gordon

I sincerely apologize for any confusion I may have caused. Here is the listing for the flat (I have not booked it yet):https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/905501.

When I type the address listed for the flat (100 Broadley St - approximate) it is 1.4 miles from Oxford St. I guess it depends on your definition of "near", but this does not seem that far to me. It is certainly walking distance. But then again, I walk a couple miles a day with our dogs every day - so this does not seem too bad.
wsugrad13 is offline  
Apr 14th, 2013, 10:07 AM
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I have to agree, that flat is nowhere near Oxford St. Near to Oxford Street to me would be within a couple blocks of Oxford Street.

People tend to talk about locations using the tube map. That flat to me near Edgeware Road.

Hope that helps!
jamikins is offline  
Apr 14th, 2013, 10:09 AM
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Check out the Wolsey for tea, and this is a good site for others
jamikins is offline  
Apr 14th, 2013, 10:10 AM
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Oh forgot - check out www.walks.com for great walks and day trips!
jamikins is offline  
Apr 14th, 2013, 10:18 AM
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Great sites - thanks jamikins!
wsugrad13 is offline  
Apr 14th, 2013, 10:35 AM
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OK, now we've established where this flat is. It looks like what is being advertised here is one room in a shared flat with 4 bedrooms and shared dining room and bathroom. No wonder it's that cheap! Are you sure that's what you want for your honeymoon? Give us some idea of your budget - there are some real London experts here who can help you.
Gordon_R is offline  
Apr 14th, 2013, 10:43 AM
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London is pricey and we figured we wouldn't be spending much time in the room. It is a shared space and bathroom, but it will only be for about 3 days. We'd like to have the extra money to spend on good food and entertainment. We'd like to keep our room and board under $150 a night and most places in Ireland are no problem with this budget. London was a bit trickier. We are happy for suggestions of course.
wsugrad13 is offline  
Apr 14th, 2013, 10:52 AM
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Check out www.londontown.com for hotels.

Also Premier Inn, although be sure it is a central one...cheaper ones in the suburbs are not worth the savings because you waste time and money on transit.
jamikins is offline  
Apr 14th, 2013, 12:33 PM
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If you want a shorter drive than the Inveragh (Ring of Kerry) then Beara would be my recommendation. That said it would be better from a Kenmare base. If you want to take a tour of the Ring rather than drive yourself then Deros Tours are good. If you fancy driving the Gap of this is best done after the Jarveys have packed up for the day. O'Connors or Tattler Jacks would be my recommendations for bars with a mix of locals and tourists or The Danny Mann at the Eviston is the tourbus sing along spot. On the subject of avoiding Tourists, Loop Head in south west Clare is a good option and the best view of Dingle (away in the distance) from the top of the Lighthouse.
Tony2phones is offline  
Apr 14th, 2013, 12:44 PM
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1.4 miles isn't all that close in London - the flat is near the Edgware Rd end of Broadley street in Lisson Grove. It is closer to Paddington Station (or even Regents Park) than to Oxford Street. And you are sharing the bath w/ 3 other rooms.

Just so you don't assume you can pop over to Oxford St in a few minutes. But you can take the Bakerloo line from Edgware Rd to Oxford Circus.

If you are comfortable bidding Priceline or Hotwire you can probably get a 3 or 4 star hotel for about $125 a night.

Or there is a Travelodge in Covent Garden - if they have availability it is a great location.
janisj is online now  
Apr 15th, 2013, 06:03 AM
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Yes, Priceline or Hotwire are really good for London. If you're not familiar with these sites, check out betterbidding.com or biddingfortravel.com.
Mimar is offline  
Apr 15th, 2013, 11:05 AM
Join Date: Apr 2013
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Hi WSUGrad,

First time for me giving advice on here but came across your post and I work in London.

As others have said your July 20th is simply not possible. Oxford is lovely but my favourite is Cambridge by far, it's easy by train from London and although basic accommodation, for your date you can stay in Kings College, it's a breathtaking place and they have free boats for punting there too. Once you've travelled to and from London I'd suggest 2 days though (1 night).

Greenwich is actually in Greater London and easy enough to get to for the day, they have a cute market, Observatory, Cutty Sark....plenty to keep you busy for a full day.

You asked about an Oyster, I'd recommend getting one. You pay a small deposit for the card but it is so convenient to use on buses, London overground and the tube. You won't regret it!

You mentioned Canterbury and it is lovely but you seem to have enough going on already. I'd say a very minimum of three days in London, four would be much better, then maybe an overnight in Bath or Cambridge. It is your honeymoon after all and even that is quite a packed schedule.

Check www.tfl.gov.uk for Oyster and transport. You asked about tea, offers quite often come up for tea in
London on Groupon so it's worth taking a look.

maria1988 is offline  
Apr 16th, 2013, 04:06 PM
Join Date: Aug 2010
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We (kiwis in our 50's)have used B&B in Paddington (Albro House) on 3 trips to London, under 100Pound per night including breakfast and can use tube or walk (20mins) to Oxford St. We usually land Heathrow 11.30am, use Heathrow Paddington Express 15min, drop bags, shower and then shop in Oxford St that day, this is after 24hr flight from NZ. Then to Covent Garden for show that night.
You can fit a lot in if you plan your day in advance as we always do
kiwipete is offline  

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