What to see/do the first day?

Jan 11th, 2002, 08:48 AM
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What to see/do the first day?

We will be arriving at Heathrow at 7:35 a.m. on Monday but cannot check into our room until 2:00 p.m. How long will it take to get through customs, turn in voucher for Travel Card and arrive at hotel in Earl's Court area (we are being picked up by mini van through BA)? Also, need suggestions of what to do when first arriving (5 hours before we can check in), breakfast in hotel or elsewhere, checkout general area, walk to Harrods, visit V+A, etc. Have never had jet jag so somewhat concerned. Thanks for all suggestions.
Jan 11th, 2002, 08:53 AM
Marc David Miller
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When I arrived four hours before I could check in to my room in London, I took one of those Hop-On-Hop-Off buses (and of course sat on the top in January). Nice overview of London to wake you up without the activeness required of a walking tour.
Jan 11th, 2002, 08:54 AM
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I could tell you what we do~it always seems to work the best.When we arrive and have left our luggage at the desk until the room is ready (this happens most times) we take a walk through the neighborhood, find a good breakfast place,then we used to go to American Express but now use ATM cards so that is no longer neccesary.Customs has never been long for us.I would save Harrods for a day with energy, it is big and the area is so full of activity and stuff to do/see that you want to be fully awake and have lots of time..Around 2-3 in the afternoon,I start to droop,so back to the hotel,unpack,take a hot bath and sleep until around 5-6..get ready for dinner,after dinner walk around a little,then to bed.You should wake the next morning fairly clear headed and ready to go! You will have such a good time~C
Jan 11th, 2002, 08:57 AM
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You could wait in the lobby and doze off, but if you can, be more productive. Leave your bags to be attended, and take a walk to get some breakfast/lunch or browse in your new neighborhood or get to one of the places you have on your sight-seeing list. You will be tired unless you got some significant sleep on the plane. Everyone's metabolism is different, but for me on the way to Europe from the east coast of the US, the biggest issue on how I feel is simply whether or not I got any sleep on the plane. I don't schedule a bus tour or boat trip or a large museum for that first day; I will tend to fall asleep. It's best to keep moving as much as you can.
When you do get into your room after your overseas flight, there are two schools of thought. One is to take a nap for a few hours, get up, shower, and head out, staying up until whatever your bedtime would be at home. The other is to shower if you want, but keep moving, go right back out, do some activity or long stroll, and have an early, casual dinner that you don't have to change clothes again for. In either case go to bed early, and wake up in the morning feeling pretty rested and "normal".

Jet lag tends to hit me more on the second day after I return home, perhaps a combination of time zones and fatigue and let down.
Jan 11th, 2002, 08:58 AM
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The best thing to do is keep moving. My guess is you'll be at your hotel by 10 am and you can ask them to hold your bags until check in. If you have never been to London before I'd grab a large coffee and get on one of the hop on hop off buses and ride one entire route just to get some great views and a lay of the land. Then start hopping off at places of interest and follow your nose. Stay up until at least 9 or 10 and you'll be ready to sleep through the night (hopefully)
Jan 11th, 2002, 09:24 AM
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They will have fed you breakfast on the plane - BA's food isn't too bad - so you won't need to stop for breakfast. I would drop off the bags - it is possible you room will be ready early. But even if you can check in - DO NOT go to sleep. A quick shower and unpacking is fine, but if you take a nap it will probably take you two days longer to get on "local time".

But while you shouldn't go to sleep - don't over do it either. If it isn't raining, the hop-on-hop-off buses are great. Don't do that if it is stormy tho' since you can't see anything through the fogged up windows downstairs.

When you finally get in your room (if it wasn't ready in the morning) relax but don't go to sleep. Even a short nap can screw up your body clock even more. Fresh air, a leisurely walk, the sightseeing bus, an early lunch, early dinner and to bed between 9 and 10 PM would be your best course.
Jan 11th, 2002, 09:26 AM
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Whenever I go to Paris, it seems to take me until noon or later to actually get to my hotel (weather or other delays). I prefer to walk around and perhaps visit one site or store. I then eat an early supper (that is rather difficult when supper isn't served until 7 p.m., but there are always cafes) and go to bed around 8 p.m. I never think about what time it is at home - I just start thinking in "local time." The next morning, I am ready to be at the Louvre when it opens and beat the crowds!
Jan 11th, 2002, 09:47 AM
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If this is your first time in London and if you can summon the energy, my fave way to spend the morning after an all-night flight is to drop bags, then make your way to a subway station, take the tube to the Waterloo Station, cross York Road and make your way to the river. Then walk across Westminster Bridge and stroll up Whitehall to Trafalgar Square. The Thames, the Palace of Westminster, Horseguards, Downing Street, pigeons and Nelson...

You've seen pictures of all this before, but there's nothing quite like being there for the first time. I know of no other set of images which so strongly tells you "here I am" (except maybe the Staten Island Ferry or a stroll around Red Square.)

You'll also have found out where the nearest tube station is, how to use the coin of the realm (at least for the time being) how to look to the right as you step off the kerb, how to spell "kerb," and lots of other useful things. Get yourself good and tired the first day, and you'll probably have an easier time the next day.
Jan 11th, 2002, 12:37 PM
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I second the motion on keeping your body moving until later in the day or evening. My best activity, once I drop off bags at the hotel, is to find the nearest tube stop and head for the National Gallery. Since you can never see all you want to see in the gallery anyway, seeing some specific part of it is a good way to spend time, absorb some culture, even grab lunch right at the little restaurant in the gallery, and in general get oriented for what you might want to see on another day. Of course, if you don't go for great art, then you might try heading to the north end of London to the British Air Museum, with all the old aircraft from earlier wars. In general, I just find that museum visits are more relaxing, less demanding, and require only the amount of attention I wish to give them at the moment---a great way to start your first day.
Jan 11th, 2002, 01:01 PM
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I'm with the school of thought that suggests you keep walking and enjoy the sight. Drop off your luggage at the hotel and do the typical sightseeing things, leaving museums for another day. We like to go to tea at Brown's Hotel the first day around 4 (reservations made ahead of time) and enjoy the scrumptous sandwiches and pasteries and make it an early night with lots of energy for the next day. If I tried to take a nap, I'd never wake up....
Jan 13th, 2002, 05:34 PM
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Thank you all for your ideas...they are greatly appreciated. We will have to see how all 3 of us feel once we arrive. Thanks again.

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