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yk's heading to London for 5 days. Pls help with lots of Qs

yk's heading to London for 5 days. Pls help with lots of Qs

Aug 10th, 2007, 10:30 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 24,252
yk's heading to London for 5 days. Pls help with lots of Qs

Hi folks -

Last minute decision to fly to London for 5 full days in early September. I have been to London over a dozen times and lived there for a year in early 1990s. I have done most touristy stuff, but there are still plenty I haven't done or want to revisit.

I plan to stay at a LSE dorm (Northumberland House) which is right next to Charing Cross.

My itinerary is jam-packed, but that's the way I like to travel. Please try to help me with Qs rather than telling me I'm trying to "do too much."

September 4 (Tues)
Arrive LGW at 8am. I'm trying to upgrade to Biz class on the outbound so that I can get some sleep on the plane and feel refreshed in the morning.
- Check-in at hotel/dorm
- Queen's Gallery to see the rediscovered Caravaggio
- Apsley House
- Tea at the Orangery at Kensington Palace
- V&A

September 5 (Wed)
- British Library (9:30-11)
- Kenwood House in Hampstead Heath (11:45-1:15)
- Old Hampstead Village Walk by London Walks at 2pm (2-4)
- Back to hotel/dorm for nap
- National Gallery (opens late on Weds)

September 6 (Thurs)
- Courtauld
- Tate Modern
- Merchant of Venice at Globe Theatre (2-5p)
- evening free - either west end show or a play at the Barbican

September 7 (Fri)
- Kew Gardens (9:30-11:30)
- Thames River boat to Hampton Court (12-1:30)
- HCP (1:30- closing)
- evening free

September 8 (Sat)
- Royal Academy
- Wallace Collection
- John Soane Museum
- Cabinet War Rooms
If there's time left, Imperial War Museum and Dulwich Picture Gallery

Leave on Sunday

I plan on getting a 7-Day travelcard even though I will only be there for 5.5 days. I am still confused about the travelcard. On the tube's website, it says it is valid for travel on "National Rail". What does that mean?
I will have to take SouthWest train from HCP back to London, and Southeastern train from London to Dulwich (if I go). Does the travelcard include these rides? Are they part of "National Rail"?

Also, looks like getting a Zone 1-3 7-day travelcard is enough for me.

What time is afternoon tea offered at the Orangery? It'll probably serve as a late lunch for me. I don't want to get there too early.

Is allocating 1.5 hrs to both British Library and Kenwood House realistic?

The el cheapo tickets (£5) at the Globe are standing room tickets, right? From what I've read here, they're not recommended. Is the theatre open to air? What happens if it rains?

Is it worth going to Kew Gardens in early September? It's quite expensive, but I've never been.

I'm only taking the Thames Boat btw Kew and HCP. Am I missing a lot not taking it all the way from Westminster?

I've read that the food at the Restaurant at Wallace Collection is good. Has anyone eaten there and can comment? What's the ballpark price?

I'm not a history buff. If I have to choose between Cabinet War Rooms and Imperial War Museum, which one is "better?" What's the difference btw the 2?

I don't think I can fit Dulwich Picture Gallery into the schedule. Anyone out there thinks I should drop something else (eg Shakespeare play) in order to fit it in?

If anyone can re-shuffle my itin and fit in more stuff, that'll be great!

Any other suggestions are most welcome!
yk is offline  
Aug 10th, 2007, 10:42 AM
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Travelcards are valid on Overground or whatever they call the National Rail train networks within the coverage of the Travelcard - i think Gatwick Express and Heathrow Express could be exceptions - Gatwick Express is also well outside the Travelcard max coverage.

Within the Travelcard zone you can thus ride National Rail trains like you would the Tube or buses.

National Rail meaning any of the various privatized rail lines that operate suburban commuter lines into various London termini.

OysterCards however often don't work on this urban train network yet because of the lack of card readers but this is quickly being remedied i believe. So get a printed TravelCard, which also gives you 2 for 1 admissions i believe at many London sights.

Dulwich and Hampton Court palace are within the bounds of the TravelCard.
PalenQ is offline  
Aug 10th, 2007, 10:52 AM
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One more Q
I'll probably go to the BBC Prom at Royal Albert Hall Friday night (Boston Symphony + James Levine). What's the deal about the standing tickets? I assume one has to stand during the entier concert? Is it on a slant (looks like one can either stand in the middle or in the upper gallery)?
I'm only 5'2" and worry I won't see anything, so maybe it's worthwhile to actually spend more money and buy a seat?

PalenQ- So, you're saying I should get the old-fashioned travelcard, not the Oyster w/Travelcard loaded on it, right? HCP is in zone 6, so if I'm taking the Southwest train from HCP to London, do I just pay for the additional fare at the HCP train station on my way back?
yk is offline  
Aug 10th, 2007, 10:52 AM
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Is allocating 1.5 hrs to both British Library and Kenwood House realistic?

Haven't been to Kenwood House, but you can see a lot at the British Library in 1.5 hours.

The el cheapo tickets (£5) at the Globe are standing room tickets, right? From what I've read here, they're not recommended. Is the theatre open to air? What happens if it rains?

I thought it was really hard to stand for a 3-hour play (even with intermission), particularly after you have been running around London all day. I did this, and got a spot where I was able to lean up against the stage. Still - I did not find it particularly comfortable. My recollection is that the top is covered, but not the sides, if that makes sense, so rain could blow in. Consider that you might enjoy the rest of your trip more if you are willing to fork out another 7 or 10 pounds.
WillTravel is offline  
Aug 10th, 2007, 10:58 AM
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More Q re Question #1)
To/From Gatwick I guess I'll take the cheaper Southern train. Does the 7-day Travelcard include those too as "National Rail?"
yk is offline  
Aug 10th, 2007, 11:01 AM
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The Imperial War Museum - I thought it was very worthwhile, but I haven't yet visited the Cabinet War Rooms, so can't compare. Check what special exhibits the IWM is having. I think I skipped an exhibit on torture, because I doubted I could handle it.
WillTravel is offline  
Aug 10th, 2007, 11:03 AM
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No i'm sorry i should have said, from reading others posts, you should get some kind of thing that you have loaded the Oyster Card with a TravelCard as proof that you have a TravelCard. Hopefully someone like alan or patrick will clarify that
PalenQ is offline  
Aug 10th, 2007, 11:05 AM
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I think 1-1/2 hours will be enough time at Kenwood House. Say hello to the gorgeous library for me--my idea of Heaven.

My husband, who loves flower gardening, and I went to Kew in September once. There wasn't too much in bloom at that time. If you do go, and assuming you will need to have lunch somewhere before HCP, go across the street to the Maids of Honour Tea Shop. It is charming and has delicious food.
carolyn is offline  
Aug 10th, 2007, 11:13 AM
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I've not been to Imperial War Museum or Cabinet War Rooms. But aren't Churchill's war bunkers replicated in the latter?

It looks like you're hitting all the museums in London.

Maybe give the annual Pavilion at Serpentine Gallery a quick look see? Plus it's always nice to walk through Hyde/Kensington Parks.


(There's a link to the Pavilion there -- this year Eliasson is one of the collaborators.)

Also ICA is missing from the list, but there's not much there of interest to me. I also don't find the upcoming Tate Modern exhibitions of much interest, but I guess the permanent collection will be good to see.

111op is offline  
Aug 10th, 2007, 11:16 AM
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Oh wait -- are we both going to be at Northumberland House?! That's funny.

As you know I won't be back in London until 7 pm-ish on Sept. 8 and my mom and I are supposed to have dinner at Pied-a-Terre.

Let's discuss this more offline (maybe you've already sent some e-mail, but I've not checked it yet).
111op is offline  
Aug 10th, 2007, 11:17 AM
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The fact that National Rail stations don't have the full Oyster equivalent is only a problem for people using Oyster pay-as-you-go: you should get a printed confirmation that you have a travelcard that you can keep with the Oyster if you need to show it. But your proposed itinerary will be almost entirely in zones 1 and 2. For Hampton Court, Kew or Dulwich if you go there, you'd have to buy an add-on paper ticket anyway.

The travelcard would cover that part of the trip from Gatwick to London that falls within your travelcard zones, but it's not going to get you much off the full ticket price anyway. (We're assuming you can get the travelcard at Gatwick, but I honestly don't know).
PatrickLondon is online now  
Aug 10th, 2007, 11:18 AM
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Kew is a serious scientific institute, and is close to outstanding in its ability to explain what it does, what it's collected and why it's there.

It absolutely ISN'T a beautiful park, and I wouldn't say it's even very interestingly landscaped.

If you're interested in botany, biodiversity, or the history of agronomy - or even think you might be - it's arguably the most interesting site in the London area. It's probably been responsible for more impact on today's world than anywhere in Britain apart from Liverpool landing stage or Ironbridge.

It engages the brain, not the soul. Early September's not the most interesting time to see English gardens anyway - too late for spring greenery, too early for autumnal mellow fruitfulness. But if you're interested in what Kew does (and possibly more importantly, has done), there's no time that's a bad time to see it, not least because it's not at all English.
flanneruk is online now  
Aug 10th, 2007, 11:22 AM
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I can only help with a few things, but I'll give what input I can!

- I think an hour and a half at the British Library is about right. Haven't been to Kenwood House.
- The Globe standing tickets are somewhat open-air, as another poster said, and if it rains... it rains.
- I went to Kew Gardens in November and it was beautiful - September would be even better, although probably not as great as, say, June. I think it's worth it if you've already done lots of things in central London, but it depends on how into gardens you are.
- Bear in mind that the last time I was at the Imperial War Museum was 1999, but I would do that over the Cabinet War Rooms. The Holocaust exhibit alone made it worth it for me.
jent103 is offline  
Aug 10th, 2007, 11:23 AM
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That's one heck of a lot of museums. But then I do that much theatre, so I guess to each his own.

I'd agree about the Southern trains. We left our of Gatwick. Because we could easily roll our luggage from our flat to Charing Cross, we took the train with a change at London Bridge. There are no stairs to deal with at Charing Cross, and although we did go down and up a flight to make our quick connection at London Bridge, after we did so, we spotted an elevator at the far end of the platform. So we could have done a "stairless" change.

Regarding the Globe. Unless it really starts pouring in a deluge, the show goes on in rain. Those "groundlings" in the open are not allowed to put up an umbrella. They either get wet or leave. Most of the other seats are covered and unless a fair amount of wind is blowing the rain in, you'll pretty much stay dry. We had a very short shower during our show, but although we were in the front row of the second level, we stayed totally dry.

Will Travel must have been lucky to lean against the stage. When we were there I saw ushers moving in to prevent people from leaning or touching the stage area every time someone tried to do that.
NeoPatrick is offline  
Aug 10th, 2007, 11:25 AM
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WT - thanks. The IWM is free, whereas the Cabinet War Rooms is not. But the CWR is more convenient in location.

Carolyn - Have you eaten inside Kew Gardens? The Maid of Honour Tea Shop - I assume you mean it's across the street from Kew (not HCP, right)? Can you tell me which Kew entrance it is across as there are several.

111op - I looked at Serpentine gallery's website, and there's nothing on during that time. I didn't know what to make of the Pavillion - it's only there temporarily? What happens after November? Is it located right outside the Gallery? I think I can go see it if I decide to walk from Apsley House to Ken Palace.

PatrickLodon - I've read that some rail station doesn't have machines that read Oyster. Which is why I ask wouldn't it be easier to just get a reuglar paper 7-day Travelcard? Or do they not exist anymore (ie has to be 7-day Travelcard loaded on Oyster)?
yk is offline  
Aug 10th, 2007, 11:28 AM
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flanner: talking of gardens: What about the Chelsea Phsychic Garden - i've heard of it for years but never got there. Any good for gardeners or also too cerebral?
PalenQ is offline  
Aug 10th, 2007, 11:29 AM
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Just FYI, I've been to National Gallery many times, and in the last 2 years been to Courtauld and Tate Modern. The reason I'm returning to these 3 is for the special exhibition (Dutch/Rembrandt at NG; Lucas Cranach at Courtauld; Dali at Tate Modern). I probably won't spend much time on the permenant collection. Otherwise I could spend a whole day at each place!
yk is offline  
Aug 10th, 2007, 11:34 AM
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Yes, the Pavilion is meant to be temporary. I think last year Koolhaas was the one who designed it. It was right next to the Gallery. The idea is to get a leading architect to contribute something different every year. It could be something fun and low key to see.

Yes, there's nothing at the Gallery when you're there.

Personally I'd probably find a Time Out and see what else is going on in London at that time. Maybe choose a few galleries rather than go to museums. But that's my preference.

Visitlondon.com also has good ideas you can check.

111op is offline  
Aug 10th, 2007, 11:35 AM
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And NeoPatrick - Since you fly into/out of Gatwick, do you recall Barclays' ATM at Gatwick? I know you have BoA debit card, so I figure you'll know.
And you're saying that I can catch the Southern train to Gatwick from Charing Cross by changing once at London Bridge? That makes it real easy!
yk is offline  
Aug 10th, 2007, 11:37 AM
Join Date: Jan 2007
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go to www.nationalrail.co.uk for train schedules

Charing X to Gatwick or
charing x to London Bridge
and London Bridge to Gatwick

there definitely are trains from London Bridge to Gatwick but not sure Southern Trains - old Thameslink run from there every few minutes.
PalenQ is offline  

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