Another Doper headed to London!

There are some GREAT threads floating around here about trip to the UK. I have learned tons and added the advice to my travel plans.

But I still have a few questions that I was hoping the experts here could help me with!

**Is the “Tube” different than the "Train? The tube is the subway, I know, but does a train go through the city or is that for out of city travel? **


**What Travel passes should I buy? Is the TravelCard for the Tube? Should I buy them in advance for any benefits or savings? **


In fact, is there any thing else I should buy or arrange before leaving? Is there any way to beat the lines at the more popular events short of group travel?


**I am no quite clear on what an A-Z is but I know I must have one. Is it a travel guide? I bought a Frommer’s today. **


I was planning on doing an overnight trip to Ireland or Scotland. But in another thread Owlstretchingtime suggested a day trip to Paris. I think I may do that instead. If I decide to go instead to Scotland or Ireland, what should I do. I am really only going for the “I’ve Been There” experience. I wouldn’t have a ton of time. What really touristy destination should I see in either choice?
**If I go to Paris, should I make my Eurostar reservations before I leave home? Is that the CHUNNEL? **


Will I be ok if I stay outside of Central London? Like Hampstead or even Greenwich? I am looking at hotels in the Kensington area, but I see they get cheaper the further away from Parliament I get! Any advice on hotels? I want a private bathroom and a clean room. I don’t need the Four Seasons. I’m looking at known entities like Holiday Inns.


**Isn’t there some way I can back the amounts I pay for VAT? This is a vacation. no business. **


**Any advice on where to get the cheapest international phone calling cards? My wife and I are leaving out three year old with the grandpartents and I anticipate a daily check-in! **


**An odd question, but are there any street artists in London? When I went to Paris ten years ago, I bought my mother a beautiful painting on the bridge next to Notre Dame. It is one of her most cherished possessions (that guy was good!) She’s love it if I could get one from England to go with it! **


**Um…Ugly American time, but should I worry about Mad Cow’s Disease? **


**Mid-May Weather? Any advice? **


**I love the Beatles. Is there anything in the London vicinity I should look into? **

Sorry for the laundery list (especially that Mad Cow thing), but New York City intimidates me. London is going to be off the charts.

Man. Lotta spelling errors in my post. Sorry. I’ve been out in the sun all day!

(And, by “ok” if I stay out of Central London, I meant for convenience, not safety!)

I wen to London for my Spring Break, and here we go

No train in the city. You can go around by buses or Tubes. They worked fine for me.

**What Travel passes should I buy? Is the TravelCard for the Tube? Should I buy them in advance for any benefits or savings? **

If you are there for a week, like I was, you should consider buy a one-week travel card. The other option is one day travel card. No benefits or savings if you buy in advance.
**Um…Ugly American time, but should I worry about Mad Cow’s Disease? **

No

The other questions, I leave it for others who are more capable !

[QUOTE=watsonwil]
**Is the “Tube” different than the "Train? The tube is the subway, I know, but does a train go through the city or is that for out of city travel? **
‘Tube’ = ‘Underground’ = subway. South of the river there’s few tube lines, most of the provision being regular trains.

http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tfl/ gives info for all tickets.

It’s just a small pocket-book streetmap. But without it, you’ll find it impossible to locate anywhere (don’t expect a grid-system of streets!)

Go for Paris. The journey time is much smaller - the other two aren’t really practical as day trips. Yes, the Eurostar is the ‘chunnel’ (but nobody calls it that!) No idea about tickets - try http://www.eurostar.com/dctm/jsp/index.jsp

[quote]
Will I be ok if I stay outside of Central London? Like Hampstead or even Greenwich? I am looking at hotels in the Kensington area, but I see they get cheaper the further away from Parliament I get!
Either of those would be thoroughly practical, assuming you don’t mind about having a bit of a journey to make.

Nope. That’s ancient history - all the mad cows are dead & buried (well, dead & incinerated). I’d be more concerned about hormone-laden American beef, myself…

Unpredictable. Could be nice & sunny, could rain non-stop. But there’ll be no extreme.

Calling cards: I’ve used www.nomi-phone.co.uk, which requires you to set up an account. There’s other overseas calling cards that only require you to ring a special number.

Beatles: you could check out Abbey Road. It’s a functioning recording studio still.

Street artists: they’re fairly common. I’ve seen them doing portraits on Charing Cross Road near Leicester Square, also on the South Bank and Waterloo Bridge doing vistas.

Location: Hampstead is quite close to the centre of things (plus it’s very nice), but Greenwich is a bit out of the way.

If you want to see Scotland a day-trip to Edinburgh is your best bet - worth flying up there (only about $30 rtn). Try RyanAir or EasyJet.

Covent Garden is great for street artists and performers - lots of colour and lots of fun.

Depends on the type of thing you want to do. For the West End theatres, there’s always the ticket booth on Leicester Square, where you’ll have to queue up to get tickets – generally about 10/11am, but you will get good tickets for shows on the day…

Yes there is, but I can’t remember what you need to do.

Changeable. Bring an umbrella, but be prepared for it to be warm…

At the riskof repetition as I can’t do multiple quotes - The “Tube” is the subway, we also have suburban trains that you would need if, for instance, you wanted to go to Hampton Court - the travel card is good for tube, train, and bus services (plus a few odd things like the Croydon tram - which you don’t need to worry about). It’s MUCH cheaper than buying individual tickets.

For some of the big attractions you can buy timed tickets - but they’ll still be very busy. The best way to avoid the crowds is get there either first thing or towards the end of the day

An A-Z is a book of street maps - London has a very ancient and therefore tricky street plan. You’ll get lost without it. Even natives have to carry one.

Paris is 2 and a half hours away and you arrive at the gare de Nord - which is pretty central and well linked to the metro (subway). You can get a train at about 9 am which will get you to Paris for around 11.30 (they’re an hour ahead), spend the day there, see the sights, get a meal and get the 10pm train back - which will bring you back to Waterloo for 11.30 (you get your hour back). That willgive you time to saee the most obvious bits - but clearly not in any depth.

For prices I would book before you come as it’s cheaper the further ahead you book:

www.eurostar.com

(BTW the “Chunnel” usually means the car carrying train under the channel - not the Eurostar (which is what you want). I can’t recommend the Eurostar highly enough.

Hotel: I usually recommend the Holiday Inn in County Hall (Other side of westminster bridge from Parliament - also handy for Waterloo). The hotel’s OK and the location’s unbeatable. Here’s a Times write up:

Vat; Claim at the airport - and ask in the shops - they’re used to it.

Phone cards: EVERY SINGLE NEWSAGENT sells these.

Street artists: Leicester Square is running a live with them.

Mad Cows: They’re all dead. Get some steak and kidney pie down you!

Beatles: Abbey Rd is in NW8 (St Johns wood). There are also guided tours ofthe beatles in London - google is your friend (I 've never done one).

I hope you enjoy your trip. Any other questions feel free to ask (or email if you want)

Easyjet. Ryan Air doesn’t do Edinburgh-London.

It’s likely to be quite a bit more than US$30, especially when you include travel to and from the relevant airports. The USD’s plummeting value will not help you here.

I hope you have a good time. (The OP that is!)

John

guinnog’s right, the value of the dollar’s not going to help you here.

With Easyjet flights, the price changes according to demand. In my experience (and I fly London -> Scotland fairly regularly), the sooner you book the tickets, the cheaper they’ll be. Sure, it’s possible they’ll plummet and you’ll feel silly… but if they rocket up to £100 each way you’ll be pissed off. Edinburgh’s worth a trip - very scenic.

Wow. Thanks. Some great advice! As my plans firm up, I may need to post my daily schedule to make sure it is feasible.

You guys rawk!

About the Eurostar… I love it dearly, I do.

But if you want to order your tickets ahead of time, do it online if possible and not over the phone. I’ve had some problems both ways, but online is much more fool proof.

For my trip to Amsterdam via Eurostar Brussels last month, they had my name spelled completely wrong and more importantly the wrong departure date!

The Travelcard is a very good deal.

A-Z is essential.

Museums and the like are free! There are often a lot of people, but not so many that you’d need to ‘game the system’ or anything to have a good time.

Have a wonderful time!

Hardly. The DLR trip to Bank can’t be much more than 30 minutes - plus, there’s a day’s worth of touristy stuff in Greenwich itself.

…in fact, I just checked, and Cutty Sark - Bank is 21 minutes. About the same as Hampstead.

If I do the France in a day thing, getting there at 10:30 AM and leaving at about 10:30 PM, would the following be too ambitious of a schedule?

  • A general bus tour to get the hilights (see the Arc de Triumph)
  • Limited visit to the Louvre (Mona Lisa, Venus De Milo)- stop off of bus
  • Notre Dame- stop off of bus
  • Eiffel Tower (probably in the evening before I go back to the train station)

Yo can do this easy. Central Paris is quite small and the metro is very good (if it does smell a bit “odd” - they actually make it smell like that - you’ll see what I mean).

Get yourself a decent guide book.

A few tips: Do the Eiffel Tower first - firstly because it’s a bit out of the way (not very, but it’s in a park.) secondly the view from it will give you a vague idea of where things are (and even Americans are amazed how big it is), and thirdly it opens early and doesn’t get THAT busy at first.

Then get to the the Ile de Cite for lunch - see Notre Dame and get lunch (it’s very touristy - but you ARE tourists.)

The Louvre is HUGE so have an idea what you want to see (mona Lisa etc). The information desk do sell a guide called something like “the one hour tour” which takes in the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo etc. If you just want to see great art the Musee D’Orsay is a great alternative - it has the impressionists onwards, and is nowhere as busy.

A great way to see Paris by night are les bateaux mouches - floating restaurants that go up and down the seine as you eat - just check you will make your train!

Faling that head for the Montmatre area and pick a restaurant and people watch (La Coupole is a tourist spot - but it’s exactly what you’re looking for on a day trip) Here’s a virtual tour of it:

http://www.wcities.com/outside.html?u=http%3A%2F%2Fdisplay.maxvr.com%2Fsponsor%2Fviewer%2Fviewer_1205.asp%3Fattraction%3D3711

Great advice, but since I don’t get to Paris until 10:30, I am not sure I will be able to put the Eiffel Tower first.

Also, my wife is now telling me she wants to work an overnight visit to Scotland into the works. I will probably have to cut out Stratford Upon Avon! :frowning: My wife cares not for the bard and the appeal of hitting Scotland is pretty strong. If I ever make it back to Europe, I will probably do a tour of the mainland countries, or do a tour of just Italy. So this may be my only chance to see Scotland. So what to see?

With that in mind, here is my tentative schedule:

MONDAY, MAY 9TH

FLY FROM IAH TO LONDON GATWICK
DEPART 3:50 PM HOUSTON TIME

**TUESDAY, MAY 10TH **

ARRIVE AT LONDON- GATWICK 6:55 AM

CHECK-IN/DROP OFF BAGS AT HOTEL

WESTMINSTER ABBY
10 DOWNING STREET
BIG BEN
PARLIAMENT
BUCKINGHAM PALACE

EVENING: BUS TOUR OF THE CITY?

WEDNESDAY, MAY 11TH

BRITISH MUSEUM
TOWER OF LONDON
TOWER BRIDGE

THURSDAY, MAY 12TH

PARIS TRIP
DEPART: LONDON @ 7:09 ARRIVE IN PARIS @ 10:59

*BUS TOUR(ARC DE TRIUMPH)
*EIFFEL TOWER

  • LOUVRE
  • NOTRE DAME

RETURN: LEAVE PARIS @ 10:19 ARRIVE IN LONDON @ 10:54

FRIDAY, MAY 13TH

NATIONAL GALLERY
MADAM TUSSAUD’S WAXWORKS- Again, the wife!
CABINET WAR ROOMS
DICKENS HOUSE

SATURDAY, MAY 14TH

OPTION A- STRATFORD UPON AVON

OPTION B- TRAIN TO SCOTLAND
SPEND THE NIGHT
NOTE: SCHEDULE LATER FLIGHT TO HOUSTON

SUNDAY, MAY 15TH

LEAVE LONDON- GATWICK @ NOON ON FLIGHT CO5
ARRIVE IN HOUSTON 4:20 PM LOCAL TIME

OPTION B-TRAIN FROM SCOTLAND TO LONDON
TAKE A LATER FLIGHT

ADD-ONS as time allows: NAT. HIST. MUSEUM, TEMPLAR CHURCH, HARROD’S, STONEHENGE (NIGHT TOUR?), ABBEY ROAD, SHAKESPEARE GLOBE REPLICA, IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM, SHERLOCK HOLMES MUSEUM.
I am having trouble finding a night tour of Stonehenge. Someone mentioned one in another thread.

You are definitely right to accede to your wife’s request to do Scotland over Stratford. Admittedly I am biassed as I live and work in Edinburgh, but I have been to Stratford and there really isn’t much there. Loads and loads of tourist tat.

Consider EasyJet (www.easyjet.com) as it may well be cheaper than the train and will certainly be quicker when your time is limited.

Feel free to email me if there is anything you need sourced or investigated here in Edinburgh.

John

Forget Bucks Palace. It’s a waste of time, being a boring big building you can only gawp from a distance at. And it’s bit of a hassle to get to, particularly if it’s raining.

That’s a helluva lot for one day! The Tower can easily be a day’s visit by itself, and the museum is big.

NOOOO!!! Don’t. Please don’t. (And you’ve got too much for one day there again, so something will need to go…)

As guinnog suggests, flying to Edinburgh is a far better option. It probably won’t cost more than the train, and gives you more time (the earliest you could arrive by train on the Saturday is nearly midday, whereas the first flight from Gatwick gets in at 8am). Shop around for flights - British Airways and BMI often match Easyjet fares, particularly at weekends.

Oh, and if you do want to investigate the train, the following sites are what you need:
http://www.nationalrail.co.uk (for timetables & stuff)
http://www.thetrainline.com (for tickets)