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Trip report- London, Paris, Wales

Old Jun 16th, 2004, 02:28 PM
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Trip report- London, Paris, Wales

Hi. This is my first post but I used this website to plan our trip. Everytime I thought I had a question, I did a search, and someone had already asked so I just gathered my info from all your helpful responses to others! Thank you all for sharing your knowledge.

The purpose of our trip was to see my niece and her husband who live in Wales, but we did some sightseeing on the way.

I'll try not to bore you with too many details, and just give a brief (hopefully) account of what we did on our trip to London, Paris, and Wales.
We (family with 2 boys, 13 and 16) stayed in London at The Regency Hotel in South Kensington. It was nice but rooms are small, as to be expected in London. Continental Breakfast was included in room rate or Full English was 4 GBP more. Both were very good. Staff at the hotel was helpful and we were pleased with our stay.

After accidentially leaving all notes gathered from this website and others at home, we had to rely on my memory for where to go and what to do. We were in trouble! lol I was just proud I had remembered to bring passports and tickets!

Anyway, these are the things we did during our 3 days in LONDON:

(Oh, after flying through the night without much sleep, we arrived at 8 AM and tried to keep moving all day. We were all so tired, but we did keep moving, albeit slowly! We went to bed the first night between 9 and 10PM. I set my pocket pc alarm to wake us up at 9 AM but forgot it was still on Texas time -duh- so it didn't go off and we woke up on our own at noon!! Bummer! Half the day was gone so we really only had 2 1/2 days in London!)

*The Big Bus tour - saw the highlights of the city. Glad we did this.

*Harry Potter movie premier - happened on this by chance in Leister square. Wasted, I mean spent, a couple of hours there due to the begging of our 13 y/o! Caught a glimpse of the stars of the movie amid a mass of screaming fans! A highlight for our 13 y/o!

*Tower of London - with Beefeater tour which we recommend. The boys enjoyed the "leg amputation reinactment" and seeing the crown jewels, amony other things.

*Abbey Road - famous Beatles crosswalk and studio area. We did this for my Beatles-fan husband. We got there just in time to see 2 guys "streak" across the crosswalk... yes, I mean in the buff, totally! I said to my husband "Your turn!!"

*Portobello Road/Market area- We went on a week day so there was not much activity but still interesting.

*Buckingham Palace - changing of the guard. 13 y/o bored with the long wait, as we got there an hour early to get a good spot. Once ceremony started, it held his interest for about the first 15 minutes, then he was ready to move on. Although we were right next to the fence, we were on the left side and could really only see the left side of the band, which hid the view of the actual changing ceremony.

*Churchill War rooms museum - very interesting for history buffs.

*Harrods - actually only got my family to the food floor and floor with Starbucks! They were impressed!

*Madame Tussaud's - the boys loved it. It's not something I would have chosen to do but we let them pick a few things they thought would be fun. We went after 5pm to get admission discount, which I would recommend!

*Original London Walks Jack the Ripper - This is not the walk I would have chosen but being the only female in the family, the boys won out! It was actually pretty interesting, I have to admit.

Getting around was very easy on the tube. We only took taxis when we were loaded down with luggage.
We ate dinner one night at Anglesea Arms pub, a few blocks from our hotel in S. Kensington, and it was very good. The Sherlock Holmes pub was good, food-wise, but service was lacking and several items on the menu were not available that night. Our waitress could just barely speak English and it was her first day on the job! That proved interesting!

PARIS (day trip) via Eurostar
Left London at 5:30 AM and arrived back in London at 10:45 PM
*Eiffel Tower - Family went to the top without me. I stayed on the ground to take pictures! ;-) It had nothing to do with my fear of heights!
*Arc de Triumph
*The Louve
*Notre Dame
*Sacre-Coeur
*Down the steps from Sacre-Coeur, and then down some more steps, was a great little sidewalk cafe where we had dinner... wish I could remember the name of it as it was very good!

I had printed off Nina's (I think) Paris itinerary to go by, but it was of little help since I left it at home! arrrgh!
Even though it was a long, fast day, it was a lot of fun and we were all glad we got to see a bit of Paris.
Oh, we saw a "bloody" fight in the train station while waiting for our train. The soldiers with machine guns immediately got things under control. The boys thought that was exciting, I thought it was scary!

On to Wales... the southern part about 30 minutes from Cardiff.

We stayed at Ty-Cooke Farm B&B in Pontypool. It was built in the 1700's and is a working beef and sheep farm. The owners were warm and friendly and the surrounding scenery was really pretty. The Full English breakfast was made to order and good! We really enjoyed our stay here. It was so quite and peaceful after a few busy days in London and Paris! A couple from England, probably in their 70's, were staying there as well, so we got to visit with them at breakfast, which we really enjoyed. We aren't usually B&B people here in the US, but being in another country, it was a great way to get a taste of the Welsh life and interact with the people. This was my favorite part of the trip.

What we did in Wales:
*Big Pit Coal Mine tour in Blaenavon- interesting. We enjoyed this.
*Usk castle ruins - small but interesting. As my 16 y/o old put it, out of all the castle ruins we saw, "it was the most ruined!"
*Raglan castle - Ruins. This place is huge and the boys loved exploring it! It was fun to think about what life might have been like living there so many years ago.
*Caerphilly castle - More ruins. This was a good one, too.
*Cardiff, the capital of Wales. I shopped a little while the boys watched 300 trucks and semis plow through town, horns blaring, in protest of a proposed fuel tax increase.
Gas over there is about $8 USD per gallon! And I thought our gas prices were high!
*Visited with relatives! This was the best!

The Welsh countryside is so beautiful!

Our best Fish and Chips meal on the trip was at a little take-out place in Pontypool. We had a incredibly delicious lamb shank dinner at Horseshoe Inn Pub near the B&B.

Well, that's about it. There were so many things we didn't have time to do and see, I'm ready to go back!
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Old Jun 16th, 2004, 05:40 PM
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Hi bsntx... Thanks for the trip report. I really liked the format you used - easy to read and to see what you did. Nice and concise, but entertaining too.
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Old Jun 16th, 2004, 05:56 PM
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I agree with Taggie. Very nice, easy report to read. Sounds like you had a great trip and kept the boys entertained.

Thanks for writing.
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Old Jun 16th, 2004, 06:08 PM
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Good job! I miss Wales... I miss fish and chips!
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Old Jun 17th, 2004, 06:40 AM
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Hello and thanks for the funny and informative trip report. I'm currently researching London hotels - not more than 100 euros, less would be better because our currency (the South African rand) is really poor against the pound. I'm going to do some research on The Regency, so thanks for giving me another option to look at.
I was also grateful for your information regarding Madame Tussaud's and the discount, because I've heard it is very expensive.
We are going to be in Europe around April-May next year.
Thanks again.
Lisa
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Old Jun 17th, 2004, 06:57 AM
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Enjoyed reading your report tremendously!!! Thanks for taking the time to write it!

I'm going back South into London in a weeks time to meet my parents and take them around. So hopefully we'll all have as much fun as you did.
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Old Jun 17th, 2004, 06:27 PM
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bsntx: We will be in London for 4 days in early July. I, too, have an 11 year boy that I am hoping will be entertained. My question for you is, it would appear that you saw a lot in London in just 2 1/2 days. Did you feel rushed? I would like to do everything you did with a few added items, but was afraid that I was pushing the days too much.

Great report - I'm feeling relieved.
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Old Jun 18th, 2004, 04:50 AM
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Hi bsntx
Thanks for the great report. We are going to London and Paris in Aug. I have a question on Madame Tussauds. My kids want to go there too. If we go after 5:00 PM is there sufficient time to look around? I see it closes at 6:00. Plus was it very crowded at that time? Did you buy advance tickets? Thanks!
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Old Jun 21st, 2004, 09:06 PM
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Sorry for the delay in posting a response but we've been out of town.

LisainSA - the Regency was 99 GBP for a double with continental breakfast. In my research in preparation for our trip, I did see a few hotels that were less (and a whole lot that were more!), but I was really nervous about booking a place I knew nothing about. The Regency was not real upscale, but it was nice and clean. I will be interested to know where you end up staying. Good luck!


DebD - We did a lot in our time in London but we didn't feel rushed. I think it might depend on how long you want to stay in each place. For example, if you are a history buff, you might want to stay longer at the Churchill museum than we did. Also, I should explain that we went back to London (from Wales) the afternoon before our flight home, so we actually did Harrod's and Jack the Ripper walk the evening we got back to London and not during in the 2 1/2 days at the beginning of our trip.

jand - Madame Tussaud's does close at 6:00 pm but you have until 6:30 to see everything and leave. So 5:00 - 6:30 was plenty of time for us.

Again, sorry it took so long to respond. I hope you all have wonderful trips!
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Old Jun 22nd, 2004, 07:19 AM
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Hello bsntx,
My daughter is getting ready to leave for a summer program in Cambridge and will have a few free weekends to travel. She wants to go to London and then possibly Paris; I realize your trip to Paris was brief, but it seems like you maximized your time and it was worth the trip. How much was the Eurostar? Any other advice about travelling from London to Paris? You refer to all the information you gathered from this site. If you have this in a format you could email, I would really appreciate it. Thanks, Louisa or email: [email protected]
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Old Jun 23rd, 2004, 07:57 AM
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LouisaH - The Eurostar was about 45 GBP each way for standard class and about 95 GBP each way for first class. I think rates vary, though, depending on how far in advance you book your trip or possibly by time of year. You or your daughter can check dates she wants at www.eurostar.com We didn't book ours until a few days before we left so they were almost full. They only had standard class available for the way to Paris. We had to take first class to get back to London. It was quite nice, as it should have been for the price!! They brought us drinks, then we had a choice of salmon or veal for dinner. The veal was the best I have ever had! Dinner came with more drinks. After dinner, they brought by a warm wet cloth and a chocolate.

I did a search for Eurostar on google and lots of sites came up. I didn't find any other site to have any better rate than going through the Eurostar website though. Someone else may have had a different experience but I did look for discounts and didn't find any. Maybe that was because I was looking so close to departure time? I don't know.

About my research for the trip... I started with a google search for things to do in London (and Paris). I used the Fodor's London '04 book, also. As we would see things that might interest us, I would do a search on this website to see opinions of people who had been there. I also used tripadvisor.com, virtualtourist.com, frommers.com, and eopinions.com. Once we decided on the things we wanted to do or try to do, I typed them on my laptop from my hand scribbled notes. I printed them out to take with us then left them at home! I may still have that list on my laptop (in the shop) but it isn't any comprehensive research or anything. When I get my laptop back, I can send you that list, if you are interested.

Hope this helps.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2004, 06:33 PM
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Hi Bsntx, Thanks for your reply; the information will be helpful. I just wish I was going too but I'm still recovering (financially) from our January trip to Italy. The weak dollar really hurt and I understand that it will be the same situation with the pound. Louisa
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