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Help me plan a London trip!

AkilaeAkilae Registered User regular
The missus and I are looking into going to London for the holidays. We're New Yorkers and are familiar with most metropolises, but London, and the greater London area, offer almost overwhelming choices. Does anybody have any suggestions on what to eat, what to see, or even which areas to stay?

A few preliminary thoughts we have right now:
The Usual Tourist stuff (Buckingham, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, etc...)
British Museum, Victoria & Albert
221B Baker St. (We're both Sherlock Holmes fans, so...)

We have in mind to visit a henge as a day trip. Stonehenge supposedly isn't that great. Does anybody know a better henge?

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    hsuhsu Registered User regular
    I had an amazing time at Stonehenge, but, and this is a big but, I went during the summer solstice festival, when they let you (and 20,000 of your closest friends) touch the stones between dusk and dawn. The winter solstice, another all night festival, as well as the fall/spring equinoxes, dawn only festivals, also let you touch the stones. Outside of one of those 4 festivals, outside of private showings, you'll be roped off about 50 yards away, which is why your friends found Stonehenge boring - and I would agree - it's a long from London just to take photos from 50 yards.
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    japanjapan Registered User regular
    Avebury is often recommended as a better henge, and it's a similar distance from London

    Still a bit of a trek, though

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    HypatiaHypatia Registered User regular
    When we went we had a lot of fun on the London walking tour, it was surprisingly good and our tour guide pointed out a ton of details, trivia, and history that we would never have noticed or known about without her. I'd highly recommend going on one :) We went on the one for old London or something like that, which was very cool.

    The only downside to it is just that you have to pay attention when you're waiting for the guide, since sometimes the meet point isn't very clear and because you just show up and pay on the spot.

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    WassermeloneWassermelone Registered User regular
    edited October 2016
    If you are into art, National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Tate (Modern if into modern or contemporary art, Tate Britain if you are not), and Royal Academy of Arts

    If you are into food, Burough Market. Super busy and popular but can get some really great street food. Theres an amazing cheese shop there called Neals Yard Dairy if you are into cheese.

    Kew Gardens/Royal Botanical Gardens is really pretty.

    London Eye - I've never actually done it, but apparently it is worth it for the view. Book tickets ahead of time

    Just walking around

    Wassermelone on
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    BlindZenDriverBlindZenDriver Registered User regular
    A couple of pointers.
    - There is a WW2 era cruiser, the HMS Belfast, on the river which one can visit. If you're interest in naval history and/or engineering it is worth going and it is just in the city center.
    - There are amazing book shops in London.
    - Public transport is pretty decent in London and it is a big city so you will need it to get around. Make sure to get the Visitor Oyster card instead of buying individual tickets as it like half price that way.
    - Make sure you know your pin-numbers for the credit cards as signatures aren't used in many places.
    - Note that several airports are listed as London airports, but not all of them are really that close to London and transport to and from airports can consume both time and money. Luton is one of those airports and it is undergoing some big changes and it can be chaos, so best avoid that one.

    PS. British Museum deserves at least a full day.

    Bones heal, glory is forever.
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    AkilaeAkilae Registered User regular
    Thanks for the suggestions so far guys! London will be so odd. All the familiar neighborhood names (Chelsea, Kew Gardens, Soho) in a different city. With a week of time to kill, suddenly the possibilities are endless.

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    SkeithSkeith Registered User regular
    The Shard has a good view as well (it's a good bit taller than the Eye), and is a bit cheaper.

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    HollerHoller Registered User regular
    Akilae wrote: »
    London for the holidays.

    As in Christmas season?? Because hoo boy, Christmas markets. Since you're going to be on the south bank at some point anyway, there is a fun one there – I would recommend maybe doing the Tate or Globe Theatre or whatever during the day, then at nightfall head to the southbank winter market. The bar at the BFI right there also isn't bad if it looks like something good is playing, although it's definitely a bar and not a pub.

    I don't know if you're into shopping, but if you're doing some time at the national gallery, you can walk right down to Fortnum & Mason which is basically just the best fancy food shop for all your tea and snack needs (and Christmas crackers! and figgy pudding!!). It's also right next to the Piccadilly Market in the churchyard at St. James, which isn't huge or crazy but I feel like a lot of the best gifts I've brought back for family members have been from things like this market. And Liberty of London is just a hop north, which probably puts every US department store you've ever been to to the deepest shame.

    BlindZenDriver is right about the book stores – just, every time you see a little book shop, go inside. You will not be disappointed (until you go to check your bags for the flight home and they weight like 90lbs). And as far as British Museum being a day: specifically look up ahead of time what collections they have. Honestly, you will probably get tired out before you see everything so definitely strategize.

    And, depending very much on who exactly you guys are, my biggest London regret has always been not finding time to go to the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons. Some day!

    Also, it's might be touristy, but definitely do go to Rules. It's London's oldest restaurant, and it is genuinely quite tasty and not very expensive (not cheap, but not crazy expensive – though if you go, you probably will want to wear something that doesn't scream "American tourist" since it's the quite literally the kind of place they put in James Bond movies and Downton Abbey and shit). Definitely the kind of place you want to treat yourself to for a lovely holiday meal.

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    AkilaeAkilae Registered User regular
    I tend to like to hit the historically significant, but the missus likes to just walk around and take in the surroundings. We do love food, and as already been pointed out to us, we will be swinging by the various markets to try out various foods!

    Alright, we have currently on the books:

    -City of London & Westminster
    -British Museum. Gotta see what the Brits stole from the Parthenon.
    -HMS Belfast
    -The Globe
    -Shopping. I'm not, but the missus is. Fortnum & Mason is a must for the tea. We're torn on Harrods just to see all the moneyed people. Probably not since we're short on time as it is.
    -Avebury day trip
    -I really, really want to do Southampton for a whole day. The Victory! The Mary Rose! The Warrior! Maybe I should just skip the Belfast...
    -Still debating between Oxford and Cambridge, either/or or neither.
    -Rules does look interesting, we will need to go for a bite.

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    baudattitudebaudattitude Registered User regular
    One huge shock for me visiting London was just how EARLY things close; shops were starting to pull down the shades at 6 PM on a Saturday.

    You can pick up a pre-paid chip & PIN credit card from the currency exchange at the airport before leaving the US and I really recommend this. You'll lose some money on the affair but I had a couple of businesses flat out refuse to take a US-style card.

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    ShadowhopeShadowhope Baa. Registered User regular

    Just walking around

    So much this. If you're able, then London begs to be walked.

    I think that my ideal day of walking in London, seeing it all for the first time, would go something like this:
    • Start at the Shard. You can get there via the London Bridge tube station. Go to the top, see the city spread out around you.
    • Leaving the Shard, go north to the Thames. See London Bridge (it's just a bridge, but you'll be able to laugh at people confusing London Bridge with Tower Bridge). Walk east along the Thames past City Hall.
    • Turn north and cross Tower Bridge. This is the pretty one.
    • Turn immediately west upon reaching the north side of the Thames and see the Tower of London.
    • Be sure to see the London wall after leaving the Tower, and then continue west towards the Monument to the Great Fire of London. Climb up!
    • From the Monument, go straight north to the Leadenhall Market. After taking a few pictures, continue west past the Bank of England, and then veer a little southward to get to St. Paul's.
    • Go directly south from Saint Paul's, across the Millenium Bridge, to where the Tate Modern sits.
    • Head east a few hundred feet to see Shakespeare's Globe. This may also be a good time to get a bite to eat - plenty of restaurants in the area.
    • Cross back to the north, and walk along the banks of the Thames towards the west. You'll pass a number of gorgeous gardens, the lost river Fleet, and you'll cross back south again at the Waterloo Bridge.
    • Continue west and south, and take a great shot of Parliament from across the Thames. Keep going south until you reach Lambeth Bridge.
    • Cross Lambeth Bridge and take a covert picture of MI5. Walk north past the Victoria Tower gardens and see the House of Commons (very likely only from the outside), the clock tower housing Big Ben, and Westminster Abbey.
    • Walk north along Whitehall, and take a turn down Downing St to see one of the most famous addresses in the world. Go back to Whitehall and continue north past the Horse Guards.
    • Continue north and arrive in Trafalgar Square. Pop into the National Gallary if you have time, and the National Prtrait gallery.
    • From Trafalgar Square, walk south-west down the street called The Mall, past St. James Park, which will take you Buckingham Palace. At this point, you may be in need of a break, so relax for a few minutes in Green Park to the north. Just make sure that you see the Wellington Arch at the west end of the park.
    • With the day likely just about over, depending on how many stops you made, turn back east and walk along Piccadilly until you reach Piccadilly Circus.
    • From there, it's up to you. I would recommend going to see some live theatre, but there are restaurants, bars, clubs, concerts, shopping, and more within easy walking distance.

    That walk leaves out far, far more than it includes, but I think it does a good job of hitting the biggest things things and a few of the less obvious cool things.

    Civics is not a consumer product that you can ignore because you don’t like the options presented.
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    JragghenJragghen Registered User regular
    Trying to remember some of the details of when I was there from a logistical standpoint. Can't recommend places to stay, since I was staying with a friend. Tower of London is worth it, but get there first thing to at least mitigate the crowds (there is no avoiding them).

    As previously mentioned, walking is great, but for when you don't want to, just get an Oyster Card and pre-load it. It's good for both metro and busses, and there's a daily max, and at the end of the trip, you can turn it in for the balance (trying to remember where, I think it was at the station by the airport for me).

    British museum is the most impressive collection of stolen goods over been impressed/been bothered by how I was impressed by.

    Look at what you want to do, and weigh getting a city card off that. London's wasn't a good deal for me, but you never know.

    Shakespeare's Theater tour was cool, didn't see a show, but I imagine it'd be real cold at Christmas.

    I'd also ask a local to recommend a pub and grab some cider, too. Also, get some Indian food while you're there.

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    alltheolivealltheolive Registered User regular
    edited October 2016
    You don't sound desperate for budget-saving tips, but just in case:
    • If you get in to Heathrow, they are suspiciously quiet about the fact that you can take the regular subway for either 5.10 or 3.10 (depending on time of day) into London. If you don't mind it taking an hour and it gets close to your destination, big savings. Buy an Oyster card at the transit info/sales desk.
    • London's buses are really excellent, and cheaper than the Tube, and outside of peak commuter times they're also uncrowded. You can get a great view from the top level. I believe Citymapper is now the transit app of choice, if you don't care for reading unfamiliar bus maps.
    • All the best museums are free; I'm partial to museums of creepy things like the above-mentioned Hunterian, and also the Wellcome and Grant museums
    • Speaking of things near Euston station, I like the Euston Tap and the Bree Louise, both great pubs
    • Speaking of free museums, the big ones also have free toilets.
    • The National Maritime Museum in Greenwich (free! or 13.50 to see the Cutty Sark) sounds like it might be up your alley: http://www.rmg.co.uk/plan-your-visit/tickets-prices/museum-tickets
    • Buy a pre-mixed cocktail in a can from a convenience store and drink it in public. Tastes like freedom.
    • Depending on how far out of the way you like to go, I'm partial to Abney Park cemetery: http://www.abneypark.org/ and follow that up with food here: http://www.trattoriadaluigi.co.uk/our-story.html

    alltheolive on
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    djmitchelladjmitchella Registered User regular
    +1 to the "just walk around" -- the sides of the Thames are very walkable, and most of the central sites are closer to one another than they might seem based on Tube maps.

    One thing that nobody's yet suggested that we did last year is a canal tour -- it's pretty relaxing, it's informative about things I'd never known before, and it gets you to Camden (which is worth seeing) in a pleasant way. (that said, winter might make this less fun if it's grey and rainy).

    The Science museum is worth seeing, and it's just down the road from the V&A and the Natural History Museum. The British Library is another pretty great place with Significant Artifacts in there; a Gutenberg Bible, Leonardo da Vinci's notebook, a Magna Carta, Handel's Messiah (Handel's copy), Scott's final "for god's sake look after our people" diary entry, etc.

    Oxford and/or Cambridge might be worth a day trip if there's something you especially wanted to see (the Bodleian/Ashmolean in Oxford, the Fitzwilliam in Cambridge, for instance), but just to wander around and look at old buildings there's plenty of that in London.

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    AkilaeAkilae Registered User regular
    Just found out London mass transit shuts down on Christmas Day. The day we're arriving. Should have known something was up when flights came up so cheap.

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    Dis'Dis' Registered User regular
    edited October 2016
    Holler wrote: »
    Akilae wrote: »
    London for the holidays.

    And, depending very much on who exactly you guys are, my biggest London regret has always been not finding time to go to the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons. Some day!

    The Hunterian is fantastic museum if you're into biology/medicine/jars, its not that big though (only a few hours) but is free.

    For food I recommend the historical pubs you get out towards the east of centre - places like the Mayflower in Rotherhilde (yes its built on the wharf the Mayflower departed from, but the pub came some decades after so its only 3.5 centuries old), or the Seven Stars, the The Black Friar, or the Cittie of Yorke tend to have amazing food and atmosphere albeit being a bit crowded at times - but being there over christmas might actually be a benefit near the City as so many people will be away.

    Dis' on
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    Dis'Dis' Registered User regular
    Akilae wrote: »
    Just found out London mass transit shuts down on Christmas Day. The day we're arriving. Should have known something was up when flights came up so cheap.

    Ooo yeah, taxi's will be pretty astronomical as well. No trains from the airports either. If you're coming in late on christmas day it might be easier to just get an airport hotel and travel the following morning (though Boxing Day is reduced service), unless you know anyone well enough to volunteer to come pick you up.

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    AkilaeAkilae Registered User regular
    Shadowhope wrote: »
    Just walking around

    So much this. If you're able, then London begs to be walked.

    I think that my ideal day of walking in London, seeing it all for the first time, would go something like this:
    • Start at the Shard. You can get there via the London Bridge tube station. Go to the top, see the city spread out around you.
    • Leaving the Shard, go north to the Thames. See London Bridge (it's just a bridge, but you'll be able to laugh at people confusing London Bridge with Tower Bridge). Walk east along the Thames past City Hall.
    • Turn north and cross Tower Bridge. This is the pretty one.
    • Turn immediately west upon reaching the north side of the Thames and see the Tower of London.
    • Be sure to see the London wall after leaving the Tower, and then continue west towards the Monument to the Great Fire of London. Climb up!
    • From the Monument, go straight north to the Leadenhall Market. After taking a few pictures, continue west past the Bank of England, and then veer a little southward to get to St. Paul's.
    • Go directly south from Saint Paul's, across the Millenium Bridge, to where the Tate Modern sits.
    • Head east a few hundred feet to see Shakespeare's Globe. This may also be a good time to get a bite to eat - plenty of restaurants in the area.
    • Cross back to the north, and walk along the banks of the Thames towards the west. You'll pass a number of gorgeous gardens, the lost river Fleet, and you'll cross back south again at the Waterloo Bridge.
    • Continue west and south, and take a great shot of Parliament from across the Thames. Keep going south until you reach Lambeth Bridge.
    • Cross Lambeth Bridge and take a covert picture of MI5. Walk north past the Victoria Tower gardens and see the House of Commons (very likely only from the outside), the clock tower housing Big Ben, and Westminster Abbey.
    • Walk north along Whitehall, and take a turn down Downing St to see one of the most famous addresses in the world. Go back to Whitehall and continue north past the Horse Guards.
    • Continue north and arrive in Trafalgar Square. Pop into the National Gallary if you have time, and the National Prtrait gallery.
    • From Trafalgar Square, walk south-west down the street called The Mall, past St. James Park, which will take you Buckingham Palace. At this point, you may be in need of a break, so relax for a few minutes in Green Park to the north. Just make sure that you see the Wellington Arch at the west end of the park.
    • With the day likely just about over, depending on how many stops you made, turn back east and walk along Piccadilly until you reach Piccadilly Circus.
    • From there, it's up to you. I would recommend going to see some live theatre, but there are restaurants, bars, clubs, concerts, shopping, and more within easy walking distance.

    That walk leaves out far, far more than it includes, but I think it does a good job of hitting the biggest things things and a few of the less obvious cool things.

    This sounds a pretty ideal route for what we had in mind. Thanks for the turn-by-turn!

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    AkilaeAkilae Registered User regular
    You don't sound desperate for budget-saving tips, but just in case:
    • If you get in to Heathrow, they are suspiciously quiet about the fact that you can take the regular subway for either 5.10 or 3.10 (depending on time of day) into London. If you don't mind it taking an hour and it gets close to your destination, big savings. Buy an Oyster card at the transit info/sales desk.
    • London's buses are really excellent, and cheaper than the Tube, and outside of peak commuter times they're also uncrowded. You can get a great view from the top level. I believe Citymapper is now the transit app of choice, if you don't care for reading unfamiliar bus maps.
    • All the best museums are free; I'm partial to museums of creepy things like the above-mentioned Hunterian, and also the Wellcome and Grant museums
    • Speaking of things near Euston station, I like the Euston Tap and the Bree Louise, both great pubs
    • Speaking of free museums, the big ones also have free toilets.
    • The National Maritime Museum in Greenwich (free! or 13.50 to see the Cutty Sark) sounds like it might be up your alley: http://www.rmg.co.uk/plan-your-visit/tickets-prices/museum-tickets
    • Buy a pre-mixed cocktail in a can from a convenience store and drink it in public. Tastes like freedom.
    • Depending on how far out of the way you like to go, I'm partial to Abney Park cemetery: http://www.abneypark.org/ and follow that up with food here: http://www.trattoriadaluigi.co.uk/our-story.html

    Thanks for the suggestions! Free toilet tips are much appreciated.

    I want to see the Cutty Sark, but the missus is already giving me dirty looks about overindulging in my Aubrey–Maturin related interests. Portsmouth with its all-ships-in-one-destination was the easier sell. Otherwise I'd also be swinging by the Imperial War Museum...

    We are trying to hit up a few good pubs and have cellar temperatured beer. Not exactly The World's End style, but it seems the British thing to do.

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    AkilaeAkilae Registered User regular
    Dis' wrote: »
    Holler wrote: »
    Akilae wrote: »
    London for the holidays.

    And, depending very much on who exactly you guys are, my biggest London regret has always been not finding time to go to the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons. Some day!

    The Hunterian is fantastic museum if you're into biology/medicine/jars, its not that big though (only a few hours) but is free.

    For food I recommend the historical pubs you get out towards the east of centre - places like the Mayflower in Rotherhilde (yes its built on the wharf the Mayflower departed from, but the pub came some decades after so its only 3.5 centuries old), or the Seven Stars, the The Black Friar, or the Cittie of Yorke tend to have amazing food and atmosphere albeit being a bit crowded at times - but being there over christmas might actually be a benefit near the City as so many people will be away.

    Will do for the pubs!

    We'll probably bite the bullet and pay up for the Christmas taxi, seeing how our hotel reservation is none-changeable and non-refundable.

    On the flipside, I suppose this means London will be deserted for Christmas and Boxing Days, so we won't have to fight it out with the crowd!

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    Dis'Dis' Registered User regular
    Akilae wrote: »
    You don't sound desperate for budget-saving tips, but just in case:
    • If you get in to Heathrow, they are suspiciously quiet about the fact that you can take the regular subway for either 5.10 or 3.10 (depending on time of day) into London. If you don't mind it taking an hour and it gets close to your destination, big savings. Buy an Oyster card at the transit info/sales desk.
    • London's buses are really excellent, and cheaper than the Tube, and outside of peak commuter times they're also uncrowded. You can get a great view from the top level. I believe Citymapper is now the transit app of choice, if you don't care for reading unfamiliar bus maps.
    • All the best museums are free; I'm partial to museums of creepy things like the above-mentioned Hunterian, and also the Wellcome and Grant museums
    • Speaking of things near Euston station, I like the Euston Tap and the Bree Louise, both great pubs
    • Speaking of free museums, the big ones also have free toilets.
    • The National Maritime Museum in Greenwich (free! or 13.50 to see the Cutty Sark) sounds like it might be up your alley: http://www.rmg.co.uk/plan-your-visit/tickets-prices/museum-tickets
    • Buy a pre-mixed cocktail in a can from a convenience store and drink it in public. Tastes like freedom.
    • Depending on how far out of the way you like to go, I'm partial to Abney Park cemetery: http://www.abneypark.org/ and follow that up with food here: http://www.trattoriadaluigi.co.uk/our-story.html

    Thanks for the suggestions! Free toilet tips are much appreciated.

    I want to see the Cutty Sark, but the missus is already giving me dirty looks about overindulging in my Aubrey–Maturin related interests. Portsmouth with its all-ships-in-one-destination was the easier sell. Otherwise I'd also be swinging by the Imperial War Museum...

    We are trying to hit up a few good pubs and have cellar temperatured beer. Not exactly The World's End style, but it seems the British thing to do.

    If you're liking ships like Cutty Sark, the replica of the Golden Hind between Tower Bridge and Shakespeare's Theatre can be incorporated into Shadowhope's walk (just do a few hundred meter detour when you leave the Shard)

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    CelestialBadgerCelestialBadger Registered User regular
    Akilae wrote: »
    Dis' wrote: »
    Holler wrote: »
    Akilae wrote: »
    London for the holidays.

    And, depending very much on who exactly you guys are, my biggest London regret has always been not finding time to go to the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons. Some day!

    The Hunterian is fantastic museum if you're into biology/medicine/jars, its not that big though (only a few hours) but is free.

    For food I recommend the historical pubs you get out towards the east of centre - places like the Mayflower in Rotherhilde (yes its built on the wharf the Mayflower departed from, but the pub came some decades after so its only 3.5 centuries old), or the Seven Stars, the The Black Friar, or the Cittie of Yorke tend to have amazing food and atmosphere albeit being a bit crowded at times - but being there over christmas might actually be a benefit near the City as so many people will be away.

    On the flipside, I suppose this means London will be deserted for Christmas and Boxing Days, so we won't have to fight it out with the crowd!

    Deserted and closed on Christmas day! You might find it difficult to find a restaurant that is open and selling things other than Christmas dinner (pre-booked.) Book a Christmas dinner in advance and celebrate the season with the Londoners too lazy to cook at home! 100% of the attractions will be closed. A good day for a long walk in the park!

    Everything will be open for Boxing Day. It's the UK equivalent of the Black Friday sales. Attractions will still be closed, but the shops and restaurants will be mobbed.

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    AkilaeAkilae Registered User regular
    Akilae wrote: »
    Dis' wrote: »
    Holler wrote: »
    Akilae wrote: »
    London for the holidays.

    And, depending very much on who exactly you guys are, my biggest London regret has always been not finding time to go to the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons. Some day!

    The Hunterian is fantastic museum if you're into biology/medicine/jars, its not that big though (only a few hours) but is free.

    For food I recommend the historical pubs you get out towards the east of centre - places like the Mayflower in Rotherhilde (yes its built on the wharf the Mayflower departed from, but the pub came some decades after so its only 3.5 centuries old), or the Seven Stars, the The Black Friar, or the Cittie of Yorke tend to have amazing food and atmosphere albeit being a bit crowded at times - but being there over christmas might actually be a benefit near the City as so many people will be away.

    On the flipside, I suppose this means London will be deserted for Christmas and Boxing Days, so we won't have to fight it out with the crowd!

    Deserted and closed on Christmas day! You might find it difficult to find a restaurant that is open and selling things other than Christmas dinner (pre-booked.) Book a Christmas dinner in advance and celebrate the season with the Londoners too lazy to cook at home! 100% of the attractions will be closed. A good day for a long walk in the park!

    Everything will be open for Boxing Day. It's the UK equivalent of the Black Friday sales. Attractions will still be closed, but the shops and restaurants will be mobbed.

    How early are Christmas dinners available for reservations? We've been looking at some places, like Rules, and there's nothing available. Is it too early, or are we too late?

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    CelestialBadgerCelestialBadger Registered User regular
    I advise phoning and asking.

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    SkeithSkeith Registered User regular
    Sooner would be better than later. Since you're on the East Coast, I'd do it as soon as you wake up tomorrow.

    aTBDrQE.jpg
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    AkilaeAkilae Registered User regular
    Goodness, Christmas Dinner reservations two months ahead of time! I suppose Brits really do take this seriously!

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    CelestialBadgerCelestialBadger Registered User regular
    Akilae wrote: »
    Goodness, Christmas Dinner reservations two months ahead of time! I suppose Brits really do take this seriously!

    Brits take Christmas dinner *very* seriously, it's like Thanksgiving for Americans.

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    Redcoat-13Redcoat-13 Registered User regular
    Akilae wrote: »
    -Still debating between Oxford and Cambridge, either/or or neither.

    I lived in Oxford all of my life, apart from the 3 years I studied Chemistry at Southampton, so if you've any questions...

    It is very easy to get to Oxford from London, both in terms of trains (3-4 every hour almost depending on the route you take) and buses (2-4 every hour, and runs late into the night).

    One of the trains takes you past Bicester Village (it isn't a village before you ask) where they sell a tonne of designer stuff at discounted prices. It is incredibly popular (I'm pretty sure the station announces itself in Chinese) if you want to do some shopping, which you might want to do at Christmas and the £ being relatively weak. Plus, they'll probably tart the place up for that time of the year.

    There's lots of nice pubs in Oxford as well.

    PSN Fleety2009
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    V1mV1m Registered User regular
    edited October 2016
    If you're thinking of making a train journey to another city, buy your tickets now or asap. You will pay a LOT less, up to 75-80% discount compared to just rocking up to the ticket office and buying on the day.

    http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/ is the portal I use. Pro-Tip: ifyou're booking well in advance, always check the "other fares available". Sometimes you can get first class tickets for only a little more, which is well worth it on Intercity journeys.

    V1m on
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    AkilaeAkilae Registered User regular
    V1m wrote: »
    If you're thinking of making a train journey to another city, buy your tickets now or asap. You will pay a LOT less, up to 75-80% discount compared to just rocking up to the ticket office and buying on the day.

    http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/ is the portal I use. Pro-Tip: ifyou're booking well in advance, always check the "other fares available". Sometimes you can get first class tickets for only a little more, which is well worth it on Intercity journeys.

    That's good to know! I was actually looking into this for tickets to Portsmouth and Salisbury, and saw some comments says there's little difference between buying prior and buying at the ticket window. Now I know better!

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    AkilaeAkilae Registered User regular
    Redcoat-13 wrote: »
    Akilae wrote: »
    -Still debating between Oxford and Cambridge, either/or or neither.

    I lived in Oxford all of my life, apart from the 3 years I studied Chemistry at Southampton, so if you've any questions...

    It is very easy to get to Oxford from London, both in terms of trains (3-4 every hour almost depending on the route you take) and buses (2-4 every hour, and runs late into the night).

    One of the trains takes you past Bicester Village (it isn't a village before you ask) where they sell a tonne of designer stuff at discounted prices. It is incredibly popular (I'm pretty sure the station announces itself in Chinese) if you want to do some shopping, which you might want to do at Christmas and the £ being relatively weak. Plus, they'll probably tart the place up for that time of the year.

    There's lots of nice pubs in Oxford as well.

    Sadly, we might cut Oxbridge from the itinerary. Too little time, and there are other spots we really want to hit. Bicester doesn't sound like it'll be our particular spot of tea, being pretty much an outlet and all.

    It's a pity though, I had wanted to see the Bodleian Library, but Victory and Mary Rose win out!

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    Redcoat-13Redcoat-13 Registered User regular
    Akilae wrote: »
    Redcoat-13 wrote: »
    Akilae wrote: »
    -Still debating between Oxford and Cambridge, either/or or neither.

    I lived in Oxford all of my life, apart from the 3 years I studied Chemistry at Southampton, so if you've any questions...

    It is very easy to get to Oxford from London, both in terms of trains (3-4 every hour almost depending on the route you take) and buses (2-4 every hour, and runs late into the night).

    One of the trains takes you past Bicester Village (it isn't a village before you ask) where they sell a tonne of designer stuff at discounted prices. It is incredibly popular (I'm pretty sure the station announces itself in Chinese) if you want to do some shopping, which you might want to do at Christmas and the £ being relatively weak. Plus, they'll probably tart the place up for that time of the year.

    There's lots of nice pubs in Oxford as well.

    Sadly, we might cut Oxbridge from the itinerary. Too little time, and there are other spots we really want to hit. Bicester doesn't sound like it'll be our particular spot of tea, being pretty much an outlet and all.

    It's a pity though, I had wanted to see the Bodleian Library, but Victory and Mary Rose win out!

    I can certainly understand not having the time to stray outside of London, although I'll note that if it does snow in Oxford, it basically looks like Hogwarts / Narnia (conversely in the Summer, its like Wind in the Willows). That said, the UK struggles to cope with any weather that isn't grey / overcast, so if it snowed, you probably couldn't get to Oxford.

    The one disadvantage of there being so much to see / do in London, is that people don't get the chance to see other places that you could easily have a lovely time at. Bristol / Bath / Oxbridge / Somerset / Cornwall / The New Forest / Lake District / etc...

    There's a lovely French Professor working down the corridor from me, and she absolutely loves the UK, because you can travel really short distances and get completely different landscapes (her favourite place to holiday is Cornwall).

    Anyway, have a lovely time in London!

    PSN Fleety2009
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    CelestialBadgerCelestialBadger Registered User regular
    Bath is delightful, especially if you are a Jane Austen nerd. You can easily take the train from London to Bath as a day trip.

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    djmitchelladjmitchella Registered User regular
    Akilae wrote: »
    It's a pity though, I had wanted to see the Bodleian Library, but Victory and Mary Rose win out!

    If I remember correctly, I don't think you can get _into_ the Bodleian without a card, and definitely not the stacks / long-term storage -- so you can look at the buildings from the outside, but that's about it unless you're a student at Oxford (or possibly if you can get some sort of cross-institution access). If you want famous books, the British Library is in London and actively visitor-friendly.

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    Redcoat-13Redcoat-13 Registered User regular
    edited October 2016
    Akilae wrote: »
    It's a pity though, I had wanted to see the Bodleian Library, but Victory and Mary Rose win out!

    If I remember correctly, I don't think you can get _into_ the Bodleian without a card, and definitely not the stacks / long-term storage -- so you can look at the buildings from the outside, but that's about it unless you're a student at Oxford (or possibly if you can get some sort of cross-institution access). If you want famous books, the British Library is in London and actively visitor-friendly.

    The Bodleian library is absolutely vast and is situated in loads of places above ground (a significant chunk is underground, and thus joins a bunch of the buildings all up). They've just revamped one of the buildings (I think this took 2 years to do) to be visitor friendly, and they have a bunch of tours that take you around and show you bits (including the Radcliffe Camera).

    Their website goes into more detail.

    There might be areas you can only get in with an Oxford University card, but there's still a lot to see anyway. You've also got the Blackwell's bookshop right next to it, with the famous Norrington room, plus there's an absolute tonne of Colleges within 5-15 mins walking distance (Christ Church, St Johns, New College, Trinity, Magdalen, etc..), in addition to some old pubs, like the Turf, or the Eagle and Child (also known as the Bird n Brat) where C. S. Lewis would heckle Tolkien about elves.

    Redcoat-13 on
    PSN Fleety2009
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    djmitchelladjmitchella Registered User regular
    Oh, that's good to know; I mostly went to the RSL when I was there, so I probably got an inaccurate impression of how friendly-to-the-world the rest of the Bod was. Norrington room, for people that don't know, looks like this:
    norrington-room.jpg

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    AkilaeAkilae Registered User regular
    So we're back from London! Thanks for all the suggestions guys!

    The walking route suggested by @Shadowhope was terrific. We split it up over several days since the holiday schedule meant a few things were easier to hit on different days. The lack of public transportation on the first day, and an unwillingness to hail a cab (not that there were many available!) meant we walked around the city and went on the London Walks Christmas walk, staying on our feet for over 8 hours. Oxford Street during Boxing Day was quite a thing, and the crowd to get into Selfridge's was an awesome sight. Portsmouth was interesting for the naval history, and the sheer lack of foreign tourists. Stonehenge was... pretty much what everybody else says about it.

    We ended up missing out on Tower of London. The crowd to get in was crazy. Instead, we spent time at St. Paul's, Westminster Abbey, and Shakespeare's Globe.

    Some random observations:
    -Brits take Christmas seriously. Quite a few restaurants we wanted to try out were closed from the 24th all the way into the new year.
    -Coming from NYC, London's underground was an amusing comparison. There were stations that were so over capacity that the crowd to get on the trains was up the escalator, out the station, down the block, and around the corner. Track work and signal failures also seemed to occur with relative frequency. When things worked, they were swell, with trains one minute apart. When things failed... they seemed to fail in a rather serious manner.
    -Londoners give no fucks when crossing streets, even worse than New York jaywalkers.
    -London winter weather is every bit as dreary as rumored.
    -Speaking of London winters, there are places on the internet that claim London's indoors and underground trains are overheated during winter. After experiencing it for ourselves, we felt New York interiors were downright tropical by comparison.
    -Canned pre-mixed cocktails are civilization.

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    Dis'Dis' Registered User regular
    Akilae wrote: »
    -Coming from NYC, London's underground was an amusing comparison. There were stations that were so over capacity that the crowd to get on the trains was up the escalator, out the station, down the block, and around the corner. Track work and signal failures also seemed to occur with relative frequency. When things worked, they were swell, with trains one minute apart. When things failed... they seemed to fail in a rather serious manner.

    They do huge amounts of track work during the holiday period. After all no one will be using it because...
    -Brits take Christmas seriously.

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