South Wales/ London 2022

Old May 10th, 2021, 06:53 AM
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Rabbies is a really excellent choice. Absolutely solves all your problems/issues/concerns. (I personally think driving in rural UK is one of the joys in life but if you are worried it may color/colour your enjoyment )

So now you just need to think about what you'll see and do in London.
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Old May 10th, 2021, 07:20 AM
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Janisj I agree. If it were just me, (and who knows maybe on a return trip I may be solo and feel more confident), I’d definitely give it a whirl. But I’ve got some very precious cargo tagging along on this one, so I’m punting for now. My daughter did use all public transportation on her stay there, and she mentioned it as well, thursdaysd, so that’s another option. I’ve got a bit of time to compare that with the Rabbies tour. I know using public transportation would be slower and most likely eliminate some of these sites. The cost factor comparison, is it worth doing?
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Old May 10th, 2021, 07:38 AM
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I'd definitely lean towards Rabbies over public transport. If yours was a city-centric itinerary . . . public transport would be an absolute no brainer. But in the rural areas you want (and Rabbies covers) there is very little useful transport. Local buses are not aimed to tourists - they are infrequent and are really geared to getting kids to/from schools and workers to and from work. Between two small towns or villages there may be 2 buses in the AM and a couple in the late afternoon but one (or none) during the whole rest of the day. Trains are great for station to station . . . but not to the village or castle 5 or 10 miles out of town.
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Old May 10th, 2021, 07:46 AM
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Yes, when she was there it was all city oriented. Big difference Iím sure. So we are set for the first leg by going with the tour, yay! Iím already eyeing two places in Aberystwyth and Tenby. I may go ahead and reserve just to make sure we have a room that will accommodate the three of us. They are both within the city confines, so I think itíd be ok. I may email Rabbies just for extra assurance.
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Old May 10th, 2021, 07:50 AM
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Hi, KandKsmom. I am like you in that renting a car in the UK is a stressful thought. I did it once (solo travel), and everything was fine, but as an extremely careful and suspicious-of-others driver here in Chicago, renting a car and having to use so much of my vacation brain on navigating was not a smart use of my precious travel time. I don't know Wales well, and others may chime in and think my ideas are total rubbish, but why not rely on public transport and just choose fewer places? I love long walks and the ease of letting a knowledgeable bus driver or relaxing on a train take me to my next destination. In my 13 or more trips to England/Scotland (always with a countryside portion), this is how I get around. If you base in/around Cardiff, then Tenby, and do day trips, I think that would be wonderful with so many beautiful places to visit. Without having to stress about road signs, and petrol, and parking.

(And, if Rabbies has day tours in/out of Wales, I think that would be fantastic. But if not, there may be independent tour guides based in Cardiff or Tenby who can take you and the family into the countryside. You may not want to spend too much of the time with a tour group, but a day tour sounds nice.)

If you're flying into Heathrow with your kids, I'd use that first day to get to Cardiff. The day is a bit of a wash, anyway, with the jet lag. I'd get off that long flight, freshen up a bit in the bathroom, get a nice cup of coffee and b'fast in the airport, then go to the HEathrow bus station to catch the bus to Reading (Reading Rail?). Reading seems to have a rail to Cardiff. From there, you and the kids can check in to your hotel, and take a bus/rail the next morning to your next Wales location. You said you thought Pembrokeshire was where you'd like to explore. Seems like there's an easy rail line from Cardiff to Tenby. However, with public transport, you are trading slower travel for the stress of driving. I like to spend the train/coach time planning a bit for the next leg of my trip, or writing, or just daydreaming.

Traveline helps me plan my public transportation (rail lines and buses).
https://www.traveline.info/

And the 'Transport for Wales' site shows where the trains can take you. And also, if your group is able to walk, there may be beautiful 'right of way' public walks from the city centers through those landscapes.
https://tfwrail.wales/our-network/map

And doing the mentally taxing portion of the trip (Wales) FIRST and then ending in more relaxing/accessible London at the end, is a good idea. Pack light as you can. (Athleta has great hiking/city clothes), and a few layers that are all coordinated. Restricting my clothes has served me fine. I usually get away with 2 pairs of joggers/hiking pants and a base tank, 2 shirts, jacket and scarf to "dress up" a bit. As long as I'm clean and presentable, even in the swankier portions of London, I know no one really cares that the American tourist isn't dressed to the nines.

Have a wonderful time planning. Trust your gut on the car. If you don't love road trips or driving in the US, you sure as heck won't enjoy it in a foreign country.
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Old May 10th, 2021, 07:57 AM
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I hope that works out for you!

For the record, this is the drive that freaked us out, Haverfordwest to Portmeirion, especially the stretch south of Harlech. It was a little tense around Aberystwyth also, partially because the GPS sent us into a confusing construction detour.
https://goo.gl/maps/uj92Yo3vsAFfe4L19

We finally returned the car in Bangor, by which time driving the N Wales Expressway was a piece of cake.

It had nothing to do with driving on the left or roundabouts, which was no problem. It was the narrow roads with limited visibility and all kinds of traffic at all kinds of speeds, from cyclist to huge fast moving lorries. Then suddenly someone is parked blocking your lane. We needed a good stiff drink by the time we got to Harlech Castle on the second day.

That said, we had a truly wonderful time in Wales, didn't want to leave, and are considering a return whenever we are comfortable traveling again. Have a great trip.
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Old May 10th, 2021, 08:01 AM
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Yes, definitely Janis knows so much about travel and I heed her advice. Rabbies could be fun. I'm sure the fellow tourists will be smart, nice people.

There's things to consider doing it alone. Knowing how fit you are to walk and what's accessible via the footpaths, and how much and what you'll really want to see. I've based in a village, and done long circular walks up to 12-14 miles to see a stately house and garden. Wouldn't want to do it every day of my trip, but if there's a place I'd really want to see, I've done it. Hiking in England/Wales is such a wonderful experience, but again, it takes planning and study. Rabbies does sound like it'll show you so much. And when I travel, I suppose I don't get a lot of places ticked off a list, but I do love seeing the countryside as much as the landmarks.
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Old May 10th, 2021, 10:21 AM
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It would probably be cheaper by public transport, but the Rabbies tour really doesn't seem very expensive, and it does cover a lot of ground very easily. It is a pity that you have to go into London and then back out again, but it would probably upset the timetable if they picked you up at Heathrow or Oxford. Maybe no harm in asking. I'm assuming we're talking about the Discover Wales five day itinerary, and it does look good. (Might think about it myself...)
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Old May 10th, 2021, 10:36 AM
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Nelson, your stories made me smile, at least you were upbeat and flexible! Thursdaysd that is the trip. I really like the places they are choosing and it seems like a comfortable pace. I hope we are given time for some nice walking without having to be listening to the guide, but there have to be sacrifices I guess.

Just for due diligence Iíve spent this afternoon plotting our public transportation- using the T4 bus out of Cardiff to Brecon or Abergavenny, then bus/training back through Neath to Tenby. Seeing about the pembrokeshire coastal bus service to do a coastal walk and bus service closest to st. Davids. Iíve learned a lot for a future just Wales visit, but doing it this way would cut way into the London portion - like down to 2.5 days and Iím not willing to do that for my sonís and my first time there.

BTW I was so bummed last night. Tried to watch Penelope Clarkeís program and itís only available if you have AcornTV here. I donít want to add another streaming service- actually trying to cancel a couple to save for this trip lol!

Again, thanks to all of you so far!
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Old May 10th, 2021, 11:16 AM
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Seasons 1-3 are included with my Amazon Prime membership. I only have that because I was ordering more deliveries than usual because of the pandemic, and was thinking of cancelling, but I may rewatch these first. That is, assuming we are talking about Dame Penelope Keith.
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Old May 10th, 2021, 11:30 AM
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Bummer, we can get it even on youtube but is Penelope Keith. She was driving down the middle of the road, no room for two cars with hedges on both sides. I want to do Rabbie's tour but need extra time in Holyhead so am sure he will let us stay in Wales instead of returning.
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Old May 10th, 2021, 01:45 PM
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Good news, I found a way to get the show free- with Prime, but did it through my tablet! I’ll watch it there if I can’t figure out the TV method. Netflix, Hulu, etc. I can access easily. So exciting! Thanks all!
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Old May 10th, 2021, 02:28 PM
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Yes, Dame Penelope. She did one in Snowdonia also. ChgoGal, what a great link for Wales. We are going next May. I hate driving into town.
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Old May 10th, 2021, 06:15 PM
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Just watched the Pembrokeshire one from Season Three, but had to do it on my iPad. The TV insisted I had to go to Acorn. Bizarre.

And yes, lots of one lane roads. Don't know whether there were walls under those hedges....
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Old May 11th, 2021, 05:25 AM
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Originally Posted by thursdaysd View Post
Just watched the Pembrokeshire one from Season Three, but had to do it on my iPad. The TV insisted I had to go to Acorn. Bizarre.

And yes, lots of one lane roads. Don't know whether there were walls under those hedges....

I know! I thought the same thing about the roads. My heart would definitely skip a beat or two driving on those for the first time! So fun to watch, though!

Now that I have passed the planning baton off to Rabbies for the first part of our trip lol I am now onto thinking about the London part. In terms of accommodations, I am hoping to maybe zero in on a couple of the LSE properties, Bankside house has a triple en suite that looks great for us, but am also open to hotels or B & Bs. The issue is with the kids and bedding arrangements. I could bunk with daughter in a double, and my son have a single, but she is a bed hog of the highest degree, and it would definitely give these old bones a better rest if I had my own bed. Finding a place with three singles or one double and two singles in our price range (under 250 USD a night) is a challenge. I have been doing some reading of past fodor's posts and saw that janisj recommended the Seven Dials in Covent Garden. There was also mention of the Hotel Celtic near Russell Square. My daughter actually stayed in that area for a study abroad program and liked it a lot. The Hotel Celtic offers morning breakfast (as do the LSE halls- most of them anyway).

Do you all have any other suggestions? We had an absolutely awful experience with an Airbnb property in NYC a couple of years ago and it would take A LOT for me to go that route again, although it would be nice to have the room (and maybe a washer). I looked at flipkey places a bit, and maybe it is naÔve to think this way, but just having something not affiliated with airbnb gives me less apprehension! Anyway, if you have any other ideas on places in London, I would really appreciate it!
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Old May 11th, 2021, 06:12 AM
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When the LSE accommodation is unavailable I have been accustomed to stay at one of the B&Bs on Gower Street. Usually the Ridgemount, occasionally the Arosfa. However, they have a lot of stairs, and my last trip my knees were bad and I stayed at the Premier Inn opposite the British Library. I hadn't stayed in Premier Inns before this trip and was pleasantly surprised, but three rooms may be out of your price range. Is the LSE building on Drury Lane available for your dates? That is the one I have used most and it is convenient for the Piccadilly line.
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Old May 11th, 2021, 06:22 AM
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I emailed LSE accommodations this week and they informed me summer 2022 options would be available online around November. I donít know how quickly you have to be at the keyboard ready to secure one of these rooms. My mind goes back to the late 90s, when we were trying to get reservations for breakfast with Cinderella at WDW. My husband is on his phone calling and calling while I was trying at home! It was like winning the lottery lol!

Iíll look into those places on Gower, too, thanks so much!
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Old May 11th, 2021, 06:55 AM
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Think in terms of £ . . . $250 is approx £175. I was going to recommend Dolphin House which has fully furnished flats from large studios to two bedrooms (the rates vary quite a bit by date and type of apartment) AFAIK all of the 1 bdrms sleep at least three and even some of the studios do. But when I tried a dummy booking there is nothing at all available in June '22. It is a very large property so no way for it to be entirely booked unless 1) they aren't yet taking bookings, or 2) they are planning to leave the short term rental market at that time. My guess is their rates aren't set for June yet since the whole month is blacked out.

But in any case, IMO it is very very early to be searching for London accommodations a year+ out. Wait until late this summer or early Fall to start looking. Currently many hotels and rental flats are closed, some will not re-open, others have no idea what they will be charging a year from now. Plus University accommodations are currently in flux and probably don't know how many if any rooms will be available next summer.

When you do start looking, Booking,com is a good place to search (even if you end up booking directly with the hotel or apartment) because you can search vast numbers of properties from one site, and can filter by neighborhood, type of accommodations, prices, star level etc etc.
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Old May 11th, 2021, 07:34 AM
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It is early and with all the upheaval in the tourism sector, there are sure to be changes and delays. I agree many arenít even booking yet, which is understandable! I may seem like Iím chomping at the bit a little... and thatís partially true!

I will say that when Iíve contacted some of these establishments and prefaced my inquiry with ďI know itís very early...Ē several of them have said they are already getting people like me to email and even book their 2022 summer holiday. A couple of the nicer flip key cottages are booked- Iím sure by repeat families. Anyway, Iím putting together a nice potential list. Iíll add checking into the Dolphin House. Thanks all!
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Old May 11th, 2021, 08:37 AM
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Somehow I missed this bit "I don’t know how quickly you have to be at the keyboard ready to secure one of these rooms. "

Not at all necessary to worry about that. It isn't like a Paul McCartney or Drake concert that sells out in minutes. Relax
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