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  1. #1

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    Going to London any tips?

    I am just 2 months away from my dream trip of London. I am excited beyond words. Since I am a big Beatles fan, I have all of the Beatles things planned out. Anyone have any other suggestions for what I should or shouldn't do while I am there???

    Sara
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  2. #2

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    Re: Going to London any tips?

    How long are you going to be there? Are you up for driving a car, or just public transportation? Do you want to get out of town, like a road trip to the sea or Stonehenge or something like that? If you can drive it, a self-guided trip to Stonehenge is fantastic, and renting a car for one day is far cheaper than a bus tour.

    Without knowing what you want to do or what interests you, other than the Beatles, of course, I can offer the following:

    I loved the red hop-on hop-off bus. It takes you past all of the most prominent must-sees and you can stop, check stuff out, and get back on later. Sometimes they even have a deal that includes a free walking tour and a one-way boat ride up or down the Thames.

    If you want to see the changing of the guard, get there early. It should be daily if you are going in June, subject to inclement weather. Check out the British Museum, even if that's not your thing. If you aren't into museums, just make a list of the 5 or 10 things you'd really like to see (their Egyptian, Greek and bronze age stuff are all really cool, and the Rosetta stone is there) and be in and out in an hour or two - and it's free. If you are into museums, also check the National Gallery and the Tate Museums and maybe even their natural history museum.

    Westminster Abbey has a slew of historical people buried inside, including Charles Darwin and Sir Isaac Newton just a few steps apart, and a room full of poets whose work probably tormented you in English class. Lewis Carroll rests there, too. There's also a great statue of Abe Lincoln nearby.

    The London Eye is awesome. The Tower of London is awesome - lots of history there, and the Royal Jewels are there, too. London bridge is not that amazing, but a walk across the Tower Bridge is really cool. Eat at least one meal at an old pub. The Hard Rock is close to Buckingham Palace and has some cool stuff. Picadilly Circus is like a little Times Square. The best place to stand next to one of the Queen's guards with the bearskin hats is outside St. James Palace. If you are traveling without kids, seeing a show on the West End is great. Buy something at Harrod's and be amazed at the stuff they have for sale there. St. Paul's Cathedral has a huge dome and you can climb up to the rim of it and walk around with amazing views of the city.

    Buy an electrical converter and adapter kit before you go - you don't want your camera battery to die after a day and find yourself unable to recharge it. You need a plug that looks like this. Radio Shack will have one, Wal-Mart might. Make sure it converts and adapts. Some of your stuff could fry if plugged into a 220v plug.

    Buy a good street map with a map for the Underground (locals call it "the Tube"). Get at least one pocket-sized guide book to take with you everywhere. I liked Top 10 London, but the AA Pocket Guide London is good too. Day passes for the Underground are a great bargain after the morning rush.

    Be prepared for all sorts of weather. It could be blazingly hot or cold and foggy when you go. Do not carry a lot of cash and don't buy many pounds. Pay by credit cards and make ATM withdrawals to get better exchange rates.

    I do not recall whether you need an international driver's license to drive there, but it's easy to get one. A few bucks, and a couple of passport photos and your local AAA office can hook you up with one that's good for a year. No test needed. Oh, and if you drive, watch out for radar speed camera boxes, and be aware of the congestion zone tax/fee if you drive within the city.

    Check out the travel channel, too. Maybe Samantha Brown, Tony Bourdain or Rick Steves will have a show on London coming up soon.

    I'm jealous. I want to go back something fierce.
    Last edited by steamboatpete; 04-11-2010 at 05:00 PM.
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  3. #3

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    Re: Going to London any tips?

    We went 2 summers ago and found it very easy to travel about the city using trains and the tube. We also did the red double-decker on/off tour bus, just to get an overview of the whole city because we knew we wouldn't have time to hit it all. (We stayed with family outside of London and had other things going on while we were there.) We went to the aquarium, the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, the British Museum (must do!), the original Hard Rock Cafe, Buckingham Palace, St. Paul's Cathedral, Harrod's, spent a day in Windsor (highly recommend Windsor Palace).... and just did a lot of walking around town. Note that the cathedrals cost money to go inside, but the museum was free, totally opposite of Italy.

    One of our bus tour guides was a big music person, so a lot of his banter had to do with music history. Very cool! My son was 11 when we went and is a big Beatles fan, so the Hard Rock was really exciting for him, as well as listening to the tour guide.

    We went at the end of June and stayed for 12 days or so. It rained more in that time frame than the entire 6 months prior. Even though it sounds like summer, be prepared for weather!

    I have a trip report somewhere around here, too... http://micechat.com/forums/other-the...n-england.html
    Last edited by SusieP.; 04-11-2010 at 07:21 PM.
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  4. #4

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    Re: Going to London any tips?

    Susie, that trip report was awesome. I'm glad you posted that link, because I never saw it the first time around. Great pictures. Great commentary.
    Fight On! Beat the Beavers!

    Tom Chaney Memorial Debate Lounge Quote of the Week:

    Quote Originally Posted by sleepyjeff View Post
    Speaking of "drive-by" my cousin just became the new drummer for -Train-
    The only thing we have to shame is ... shame itself!

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