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Old 05-04-2011, 02:20 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by pjacobi View Post
Start at:

http://www.ricksteves.com/plan/desti.../brit_menu.htm

You'll also need to learn about the Oyster card, Heathrow Express, SIM cards, Real Ale, etc...

I'm planning a 1-week family trip in July. I've already done lot's of reseach, including exchanging letter with the Tower of London for tickets to the Ceremony of the Keys.

This will be my 4th trip to London. The last trip was in '97. This time we will be traveling with my daughter, 13.


-Paul
OK, check on the Oyster card, Heathrow Express (although I'm going to Winchester from the airport, not London. Do they do an express to Winchester?), and check on the Real Ale.

But "SIM cards"?? Is that for my cell phone? I'll probably just get an international phone from Verizon like I did last year. That worked like a charm...

That "Ceremony of the Keys", is that the night-time tour they do? Do you have the contact information to get tickets? Thanks!

I was in London 31 years ago. I really don't remember a lot of the details, so I'm treating it like I've never been there before.

Thanks!
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Old 05-04-2011, 02:29 PM   #17
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Boat Ride

I did Knights and Lights in May 2010. We spent an extra week in London. When you are tired of walking and your back and feet are crying "uncle", go aboard the Thames Clipper boats and ride from the O2 arena to the London Eye and back. Touring by fast boat with a bar and bathroom on board. I rode the Tornado Clipper for 4 hours and had a wonderful time and a conversation with a crew member named Sean who thought it was great that a Crazy American was riding his boat up and down the Thames River.
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Old 05-04-2011, 02:41 PM   #18
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I agree you must see a show. Madam Tussaud's is up there as well. I love London Dungeon. So gruesome it's borderline campy! But a must do? Ehh..
You should squeeze in Harrod's. They have everything. EVERYTHING! And while you're there you might as well stay for afternoon tea.
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Old 05-04-2011, 09:22 PM   #19
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I live just on the outskirts of London and work opposite Hampton Court Palace The Palace is beautiful, you can stay a couple of hours or make a day of it, there's glorious gardens too. There's some traditional pubs in Hampton Court if you fancy a pint of beer.

In London itself definitely do the Tower of London (and Ceremony of the Keys if you're able to get tickets), it's really stunning, so much history. Another great thing to visit (and it's free) is Borough Market, it's foodie heaven but only opens on certain days to the public, details here. I really enjoy looking around Fortnum & Masons too and they serve a traditional afternoon tea (don't both with the Ritz, way too commercialised). For museums head to The British Museum, it is absolutely amazing, the mummies are the no. 1 attraction there

Covent Garden is very touristy and nice to look around but I would avoid the restaurants as they really do cash in on tourists.

Westminster Abbey is lovely too.

There's so much to see and do in London, have fun whatever you decide to do
I'm really looking forward to Hampton Court Palace. I think the gardens sound wonderful. Would you suggest hitting one of the pubs in Hampton Court for lunch?

The Tower is included in the ABD tour, but I'm definitely going to check out the Ceremony of the keys. I've heard it's really cool. A lot of people have recommended the British Museum. I'm definitely adding that to my list!

Thanks!
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Old 05-04-2011, 09:25 PM   #20
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Hampton Court: we trained out there and back and saw most of it in about 6 hours--but you could spend more time there

Tower: part of the ABD tour, as is Westminster Abbey

Maybe try to get inside Parliament--I've never been able to get inside (I understand it is open every now and then)

If you can swing a day away to see Bath and Stonehenge, definately worth it (Via Tours, I think, goes there--they have a few sunrise tours to Stonehenge too)

Tate Modern is walkable from St. Paul's (across the new bridge)--but definately see the British Museum if able!
So far Hampton Court is definitely sounding like a shoe-in for my list! Along with the British Museum! I'll check out Parliament. I think I'm staying relatively close to there. Stonehenge and Bath sound cool, too. Via Tours? I'll check them out.

Thanks!
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Old 05-05-2011, 05:30 AM   #21
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I'm really looking forward to Hampton Court Palace. I think the gardens sound wonderful. Would you suggest hitting one of the pubs in Hampton Court for lunch?

The Tower is included in the ABD tour, but I'm definitely going to check out the Ceremony of the keys. I've heard it's really cool. A lot of people have recommended the British Museum. I'm definitely adding that to my list!

Thanks!
Sayhello
The Prince of Wales I feel is the best of the bunch, they serve real ales and the food is standard pub fayre, I've attached the pub's website here, and there's a link to the main menu.

If you want more of a restaurant, there's a restaurant directly opposite the Palace called Blubeckers which is pretty good (I've eaten there numerous times and never had a bad meal), details here.

Also the cafe in the Palace itself serves lighter food such as sandwiches and light hot lunches, nothing fancy but pretty good.
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Old 05-05-2011, 08:43 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by ClareH37 View Post
Also the cafe in the Palace itself serves lighter food such as sandwiches and light hot lunches, nothing fancy but pretty good.
SayHello, this cafe is where I had the fabulous Bacon Roll sandwich. You could kill two birds with one stone that way!


Also, on the food front, be sure to eat breakfast one morning at a Pret A Manger (they're everywhere). Best. Porridge. Ever.
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Old 05-05-2011, 09:04 AM   #23
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In addition to the places mentioned, here are few more:

Hyde Park. It is sorta like Central Park in NYC. The Princess Diana Memorial is in Hyde Park.

Harrods. Large department store. Not too far from Hyde Park. I recommending eating lunch in the "food court".

London Eye. Giant Ferris Wheel. Great Views.

British Museum. I know this was mentioned but it is an absolutely do not miss.

Westminster Abbey.

Here are a few activities not to miss:

Take cab somewhere

Ride the Tube (Subway)

Take a train

See a show (play, musical, anything). If you are flexible, you can get discounted tickets the day of the show. There are a million 1/2 price ticket places in London. We saw Blue Man Group for $35 per ticket a few years ago.

Have Afternoon Tea. Go to a hotel and order afternoon tea.

Eat a Pasty

Here is a list of don'ts

-Don't eat at McDonalds. It is even worse than the US
-Don't get run over. Look three times before crossing the road.
-Don't complain that everything is expensive. All large cities are expensive.
-Don't expect London to be like the US. Be a gracious visitor.
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Old 05-05-2011, 09:23 AM   #24
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Don't know if it's part of the ABD itinerary, but the Churchill War Cabinet rooms were fascinating. My kids (12 & 8) were even very intrigued by that. We did the audio tour in about 90 minutes or so. It is right by Parliament & the Abbey.

We also did Hampton Court palace and loved it.

Another day trip we really enjoyed that isn't "mainstream" was Leeds Castle. It is a short train trip and taxi out there, and just beautiful. They have a super cool garden maze - my youngest found his way to the center in about 15 minutes and then had to vector in my DH & I. If he wasn't there helping from the "tower" in the middle, I think we'd still be there wandering in the hedges! They also did a falconry demonstration. Gorgeous grounds, and, being from Virginia, we were interested to learn about the ties between Leeds & various cities/counties here in the VA/MD area - Culpeper and Faixfax County!
I've never heard about the Churchill War Cabinet rooms. I'll definitely look into that. And Leeds Castle sounds interesting, too. Is it actually *in* Leeds? My sister's husband has family in Leeds, maybe I should visit? I think I'm trying to cram too much into a few days, but oh well, isn't that how it always works? I do love garden mazes.

Thanks!
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Old 05-05-2011, 09:26 AM   #25
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All of the above suggestions are fantastic. London is really a place you cannot do in a day or two, but need more like 2 or 3 weeks to get it all in. Anyway, one thing I have not seen mentioned is that if you are a history buff at all, then I would suggest a trip to the Imperial War Museum. I believe if you get there after 4 pm(?) you can get in for half price.
I know, I really do intend to go back & spend more time in England, but this trip was just such a spectacular opportunity. I will check out the Imperial War Museum. Thanks. One thing I've heard is that London has a ton of fabulous Museums, and many of them are free or inexpensive.

Thanks!
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Old 05-05-2011, 09:35 AM   #26
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Wow, this thread is making me think Knights & Lights is high on my list of things to do! Have a fantastic time, sayhello!!
Thanks, tracyz! It's been high on my list for a while, and it all just came together for this year. I'm really looking forward to it! I'm so grateful for all the input folks are giving me here! I love it.

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Old 05-05-2011, 09:41 AM   #27
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When we did Hampton Court, we were there about 6 hours, including lunch. This was plenty of time to see everything inside, but we felt rushed at the end and would have enjoyed more time walking around the beautiful grounds. The audio tour is quite extensive and takes time to listen to all of it. If you're more inclined to take a quick glance and move on, you won't need as much time.

We did everything we wanted to at the Tower in a morning (there right when they opened) and were ready to leave after lunch.

We spent an entire Sunday in the British museum and still hadn't seen all we wanted to when they kicked us out.

So excited for you - it's going to be a great trip!
6 hours? OK, that gives me a good indication it's going to be an all-day thing for me. Because I am *SO* not the type to "take a quick glance and move on"!!!! I am a lingerer, who reads every little placard beneath each piece of art, and listens to everything on an audio tour, and stops & looks again & maybe goes back, etc. I can infuriate other people on occasion!

The Tower is a part of the ABD, so I won't do that on my alone time. But so many people have recommended the British Museum. I definitely plan on spending some significant time there!

Thanks, kristilew! I don't know how I'm going to last until September!

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Old 05-05-2011, 09:45 AM   #28
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OK - well we are British but we go to London 2 or three times a year as 'tourists'. We go for up to a week at a time (only 2 nights though in a months time). We have been going for a while - we live a couple of hours away by train and trust me, the attractions would take you much much longer than the suggested 2/3 weeks to get around.

Our favourite things to do include :

London Zoo - hope to go again end May - it's worth it to walk through Regents Park when all the flowers are out.

Speaking of parks, we love to walk through Hyde Park - to see the Diana fountain (free attraction) or the adjacent St James Park.

Other free attractions included the museums - been to a few - favourite free one is Natural History Museum - wasn't so entralled with the British Musem - but maybe that's just me. Also love the Imperial War Museum - this is FREE - they only charge for special events.

Also been to Tussauds (good but very very crowded) go first thing in the morning - always discount vouchers about for this one. Right across the street is a little museum with a old style British 'bobby' stood outside - it's 10b (is that the right number?) Baker Street - Sherlock Holmes house (not really he was fictional but they've decked out the house like the books) - it's also right by the entrance to REgent Park (for the zoo)

Tower of London was OK to see once.

Agree with the shows - we love Wicked - seen 3 times - we've also booked in advance but you can go the booth that's been mentioned in Leicester Square - go early and you might score front row seats for as little as £25.

You can go on a Ghost Walk or a Jack the Ripper walk - ran by UK TV celebrity Richard Jones - both were excellent and a great way to spend an evening. We are also doing a Harry Potter walking tour - seeing the sights in the books - it's a daytime tour and we have this planned for a months time.

We love the London Dungeons - gruesome but great fun and not far from Waterloo.

We also went on a sightseeing bus tour last time (January) but it was freezing - you'll have better luck in August.

If you have only got 3 days though, I wouldnt stray too far from Central London - theres loads to do there - I think Hampton Court is a bit of a way off and that's only 35 mins by train from Waterloo. I could go on about Windsor Castle and theme parks reachable by train but I wouldnt recommend in a short trip - you'll just have to go back again. I probably missed loads out anyway - do a search on London Pass if you're planning to do lots of attractions and see if that's worth buying.
Thanks, pigby! This is all such great information. Who are you doing the Harry Potter walking tour through? That really sounds like something I'd enjoy. Mix walking tours with Harry Potter -- what's not to love? I really do intend to come back to London for a longer trip (of course, I said that 31 years ago, and look what happened! )

Thanks!
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Old 05-05-2011, 09:47 AM   #29
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I did Knights and Lights in May 2010. We spent an extra week in London. When you are tired of walking and your back and feet are crying "uncle", go aboard the Thames Clipper boats and ride from the O2 arena to the London Eye and back. Touring by fast boat with a bar and bathroom on board. I rode the Tornado Clipper for 4 hours and had a wonderful time and a conversation with a crew member named Sean who thought it was great that a Crazy American was riding his boat up and down the Thames River.
Oh, thank you!! That's a wonderful idea! A way to have some down time, and yet still be out, seeing London. I really like that idea. I'm staying not too far from the London Eye (walking distance, really) so it might even be a fun way just to get back to the hotel!

Thanks!
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Old 05-05-2011, 09:53 AM   #30
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But so many people have recommended the British Museum. I definitely plan on spending some significant time there!

Thanks, kristilew! I don't know how I'm going to last until September!

Sayhello
One way to pass the time til September: download the podcast series "A History of the World in 100 Objects." The director of the British Museum details objects from the collection and their signifcance in an historical context. Each podcast is about 15-20 minutes and they are all fascinating. When you get to the museum, special placards point out the 100 objects, which are throughout the museum. There is even a map for where to find them. This was a great way to organize our touring there, and helped to put what we were seeing in persepctive. Plus, it was fun to know a little bit more about what we were seeing than just what the signs said.

Also, if you enjoy historical fiction, you may want to check out Tasha Alexander's Lady Emily mysteries. Or, the first few anyway. (the first one is "And Only to Deceive") As a sideline to the mystery, there is a lot of history of the beginning of the British Museum. The stories include details about the private collections that were popular and led to the establishment of the Museum. When we toured the Museum, there is one room that is set up like one of these "gentlemen's collections" and I especially enjoyed it after reading these books. (I did eventually get tired of the later ones, as it's not the very best writing, but the first few were enjoyable!)
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