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Arizona Rita
07-24-2009, 02:26 PM
HI!
As most of you know by now my family will be going to Europe next year on the DCL Magics 12 night Baltic cruise. We will go in a couple of days ahead of the cruise to see a little of England, mostly concentrating on London, and following the cruise with a visit to Paris and DLRP.
I have asked our friend Mazda to be my tour guide which she has graciously agreed to do and we decided to have this open for everyone and not just pm!

"Shove In Your Oar" means generally to add your 2 cents worth, thought opinions.

I will start with a basic question to get this started.

I have heard of something called an "Oyster" card. and [I] believe this has to do with public transportation. Is this good, can anyone get one or is there something better?

Thanks Mazda!

MazdaUK
07-24-2009, 02:47 PM
An Oyster card is a pre-pay card that you can use on the buses or tube (underground) in Greater London. You buy the card (I believe there now might be a small registration fee - this enables them to replace your card plus any credit if you lose it/put it through the wash!). You load up with - wither where you buy the card or at many newsagents - then before you baord a bus/tube you "touch" the card to the special reader (a blue and yellow oval, wither by the bus driver or to open the tube barriers). This pays for your bus journey, and when you get off the tube you touch it again to open the exit barriers - if for any reason teh barriers are open, still "touch in" or you will be charged max fare! This method means you will be charged the cheapest available fare - so if you have two journeys you'll be charged a return, if one peak (rush hour) and one off-peak (after 9.30am) you'll be charged one peak single one off-peak single, etc.:thumbsup2

Really convenient, as you don't need to have the right moeny for the bus - in central London you have to buy a ticket before entry, and I have known the machines to take your and not give a ticket:scared1: The Transport for London (TfL) website will give you the full info https://oyster.tfl.gov.uk/oyster/entry.do:goodvibes If you have a valid ticket for public transport (trains and I think Oyster) there are lots of "2 for 1" offers, such as the London Aquarium, London Dungeon, Tower of London (all quite expensive). Our favourite "free" stuff:
Tate Modern (near London Bridge)
Imperial War Museum (near Waterloo)
Natural History Museum, Science Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum (all near South Kensington tube)
Princess fo Wales memorial playground (Kensington Gardens)
St James' Park (near Buckingham Palace/The Mall)
Natinal Gallery (Trafalgar Square)

Kee p the questions coming!

BernardandMissBianca
07-24-2009, 06:52 PM
Mazda,
How much is the Millennium wheel and Legoland??

Would I be wise to start trading dollars for pound now that the cost is a smidge closer? DH has some BP but not a ton now that he's not traveling as much.
What would you suggest for those that like to go off the beaten path, none touristy stuff.

I would love to see the Princess of Wales playground, we're apparently related to her so just to have some sort of connection would be amazing.

Don't forget the changing of the guard at the palace too! I think that's free.

YodasMom
07-24-2009, 08:20 PM
HI!
As most of you know by now my family will be going to Europe next year on the DCL Magics 12 night Baltic cruise.

Rita, Where does your cruise stop? It sounds fascinating!! I love the Disney ships!!

Arizona Rita
07-24-2009, 09:21 PM
YM, we go to Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Russia (2 nts) Finland and back to England. My DH trusts Disney and is willing to go to Europe with them. We had a great trip in '07 when we were in the Med.
He likes to say that the parks for me and the kids but the cruises are for him.
He wants to go on a cruise, who am I to complain?!:goodvibes
Glad you joined us!

Buffy, cute car!
I'm really torn between tourist and non tourist things! I have to remember that I have been before but that the others havnt so I need a mix.

Mazda, here's one maybe for your 16yo.
My DS is into ghosts, etc. Loves watching shows like that on the telly.
If your son had to pick out a ghost walk, which one would he and his friends choose? Also, same q, Jack The Ripper?
Now, which ones would you choose?
(DS is 15, will be 16 when there).
TA!

MazdaUK
07-25-2009, 03:58 AM
OK, let's see how I an do with this;)

London Eye - cost varies;) We went a couple of years ago. Its about 50 for a family of 4 (2 adults 2 children), but if you look around the web there are lots of offers for pre-booking, or booking in conjunction with e.g. a river cruise. If you're using public transport you may find 2 for 1 offers available.

Rather than an ordinary river cruise, think about a "Duck tour" - its an amphibious vehicle (bright yellow) which leaves from the south bank near the Eye, and as well as going along the river goes round the streets - so you see the Houses of Parliament from the water and land, round Westminster Abbey etc. Combines with an Eye flight it gives a good all-round view of London and some great picture opportunities! (And you won't trip me up as I hurry to and from work:rolleyes1 The tourists drive me :mad: this time of year :guilty: )

Legoland is about 100 for a family of four. You see a lot of people bringing enough food to last a month, but we prefer not to have a load of cool bags and just pay up for food - its not all burgers, there's some nice options like pasta, and fruit available. Carry a water bottle each and maybe put an apple in your pocket and you can't go far wrong! Its not as big as Magic Kingdom, but think about trating it a bit like that. Oh, and LOADS of retail opportunities of course:rolleyes1 There is a Travelodge (motel) very close in case you want to make it a really long day, and a Beefeater (pub/restaurant) next to eat.

Changing of the guard is free, but I've never seen it:rotfl: Less well known, if from Trafalgar Square you head down Whitehall towards Parliament, on the right is Horseguards, where the mounted troops are based on duty (blues and royals or the guards), and there are two sentry boxes which have mounted officers in between about 10 and 3. They change over, and so do the foot sentries. Horseguards is the arch bit where the Princess of Wales (and Queen Mother's) coffins came through before turning up towards Parliament. You can walk through to St James Park, which is famous for the pelicans on the lake, but also has a nice restaurant and a kids playground.

Ghost walks - we've never done one! Jack the Ripper is good (my reflexologist went) but remember that part of London is still a fairly poor area, so you might prefer one abround London Bridge where there's plenty of nice places to eat before or after - my favourite is "The Real Greek" overlooking theThames between the Globe Theatre and the Golden Hind (its a replica, but it has recreated the voyage and you can visit, and even have sleepovers/sailor experiences with costumed guides). Other atttractions around London Bridge include The Clink Museum (gaol), The London Dungeon and Churchill's Britain at War experience (including a recreation of an air raid). All these are charging attractions.

Off the beaten track - why not just get on an ordinary red bus? the 15 takes you from the city to Oxford St. Or one of my faves is Eltham Palace - get a train from Charing Cross or London Bridge to Mottingham (about 30 mins) then its a short walk. Originally the home of Henry VIII, it was the home of the Courtaulds in the 1920s and is a lovely Art Deco home. Very good tea-rom - and its only 4 miles from me so I could meet you for a scone!

let me have a think about other places - I don't recommend the Tower of London in peak season as its very busy and expensive.

MazdaUK
07-26-2009, 08:55 AM
Hampton Court! Take a river bus there from central London - costumed guides give a great idea of what life was like then (I went to a talk given by the woman who was in charge of the guides and one of the costume designers)

Arizona Rita
07-27-2009, 12:26 AM
If you could plan a day for your disfamily anyway you want, what would you do? You live there and you know what your fave things are. Where would you go, eat, shop. One of the people hates the beach. One wants to ride the LondonEye. One would go to Cardiff for Dr Who anything and the other just wants to soak up as much as possible (loves the Queen).
Have fun with this.

MazdaUK
07-27-2009, 04:23 AM
First things first - just because the UK is tiny on the map, don't hink you're going to be able to see everything in one (or even two) days! Also think of cost - the UK is expensive, meal portions are tiny compared with the States so you're not going to get away with splitting a meal unless you have NO appetite! On the plus side, breakfast is often included in hotels (check!) and/or is a buffet, so pig our there! And avoid Angus Steakhouse - very expensive and very disappointing!

It takes several hours to get to Cardiff on the train - you'd have to allow a whole day probably, and apart from te Dr Who I'm not sure what else is there (I've only been for business meetings). However, the Dr Who exhibition does move round - I took DS(9) to Earl's Court last year, it was there for about 6 months, so check nearer the time and you might be lucky.

If by "hates the beach" you mean "doesn't like sunbathing" then you don't really have to worry in the UK:rotfl: Our resorts are built around our weather, so the coastal resorts have at least as many "non-beach" attractions as the cities. One of our favourites is to go to Birghton, to see the Brighton Pavilion (built by George IV when Price Regent) and the Sea Life Centre (our favourite, as a lot of it is of Edwardian - 1890s - construction).

In the summer the Queen will be at Balmoral, Scotland. If you don't want to see Buckingham Palace, then Windsor Castle is also a possibility for a day trip - Queen Mary's Dolls House is a must see! - and could just about be combined with Legoland if you have a car - but it would be a VERY long day, or involve an overnight.

A day to experience London
If you've got someone who wants to ride the Eye, then I suggest you start there - get an early flight before the crowds build too much. And as I said, a Duck Tour is a fun way to see the centre of London. If you want to shop (we pay probably more in than you pay in $$, so you might not want to!) I would walk across the Jubilee Bridge, up Villier's Street to the Strand (you can turn left and have a quick look at Trafalgar Square if you want to!) then turn right along the Strand. This is very much shops for working people - newsagents, fast food, Top Shop - but if you go along and turn left you can get to Covent Garden, which you might remember from "My Fair Lady" and "Oliver!" - no longer a fruit and veg market but very old and historic, with some quirky shops and stalls selling crafts etc. Hopefully you will still be fll from breakfast, as eating here is a bit expensive, but in the streets leading back to the strand you can find better value brasseries. Or for old English pied and puddings, Porters is not bad value (discounts available online).
Go back to the Strand and get a 15 bus to the City - you might be lucky and get n old Routemaster (the big red one with the open platform). Get off at St Pauls (or thereabouts) - if you want to go in, you have to pay, but it is quite a site> The cross the Millenium Bridge to Tate Modern, The Globe Theatre (Shakespeare) and other attractions such as London Dungeon - which you choose depends on what you all like, but Tate Modern is fun even if you're not a great art lover, as there's usually some interactive exhibits. Between the Millenium Bridge and London bridge are lots of places to eat - we like The Real Greek, but there's lots of other options including a pub next to the Golden Hind where you can eat overlooking the river. Then at London Bridge you can get a tube or overground train, depending where your hotel is.

How's that?

LindaBabe
07-27-2009, 01:21 PM
I loved - the V & A, theatre (get same day seats for cheaper - not that anything's cheap) Walking through Harrods - the meat market made fun photos, and tea upstairs was FAB. Thorntons fruit and nut toffee. brass rubbing at Westminster abby, walking down whitehall, walking over the tower bridge, I loved Cardiff - there's a great marketplace, and nearby is the welsh folk museum. But, it is def an all day trip from London. WATCH YOUR WALLET! The pick pockets are the best you'll never see. DO NOT set your purse on the floor by your chair in the MacDonalds in Picadilly circus, for example. (one of my tourists did that)

DisneyIsTerrific
07-27-2009, 05:19 PM
I just talked to my Mom and asked her about her favorites. She goes to England every couple of years to visit with my aunts. Her very favorite thing to do is shop (well look, not buy!) in Harrods and then have tea there. Some of the things she recommended are:

-- She said if it's open when you there, a must do is a tour of Buckingham Palace.

-- London Eye

-- Red tour bus - it goes to all the main tourist spots and you get off at whichever spot you are interested in and then just pop on another bus when you've finished and go onto the next place.

-- changing of the guard

My mom also suggested that if you need to exchange American $$ for British money, don't do it at the airport or in a bank because they'll charge you a fee. Take it to a post office and they'll exchange it for free.

For less expensive meals, she suggested that you eat in a pub.

MazdaUK
07-28-2009, 07:58 AM
The Wetherspoons pub chain are known for economicl food and drink- even breakfast! - but others vary. HaHA! chain is also good - more wine bar-y but good food. Agree, as with any big city, keep your eye (and preferably hand) on valuables at all times.
Afternoon tea in Fortnums and Masons is very nice - cheaper than the Ritz, less touristy than Harrods. Or Browns Hotel near Bond Street is good. for all these, as well as tea expect sandwiches, scones with jam and cream and a selection of fancy cakes. Many will refil the tea and cakes for no extra charge if you ask (if you have room!)
There is no fee at the PO to change money - there's a big one just behinf Trafalgar Sq - but the rate is not as good to take account of it. Rates at Airports are always worst, whatever currency (or country).

There is a charge to enter Westminster Abbey and to go up Tower Bridge, but walking and many museums are free - V&A, Natural History (animatromnic dinosaurs) Science Museum, Imperial War museum. If oyu are getting a guidebook, check out Dorling Kindersley range - they are excellent.

Also, for the DLRP bit check out the UK trip planning boards - we loved Walt's, an American Diner (get a window table and watch the parade in comfort) and eating in the Disneyland Hotel at Innoventions character buffet. would love to do Auberge de Cendrillon one day. And practice your French - the cast memebrs are supposed to be bilingual but often those languages are french and german!

Arizona Rita
07-30-2009, 02:25 PM
Hi Mazda
I just wanted you to know that I am still here!
Ive had alot going on with the kids and working on encampment and I havnt even been able to think about the trip!
If I wasnt so methodical and routine my swaps wouldnt be getting done either!
Thank you for all the great info youve given so far and there will be more questions soon!

MazdaUK
07-31-2009, 06:45 AM
No worries! I've picked you up a couple of the "2 for 1" leaflets from the station - I know prices etc. will probably change but I thought it might help you get your head round it - I'll send them to Michi with the ATC swap and ask hr to pass them on (they're not heavy!).

Two other place to eat while I remember - the Whitehall Cafe at the top of Whitehall (Trafalgar Sq end) is very good for sandwiches etc and the Cafe Churchill is further down Whitehall, next to the Red Lion pub (where all the MPs, researchers and journolists drink when the House is in session) and does pizzas, sandwiches, pasta etc. Avoid the burger bars - you will pay in for McD what you are used to paying in $$ and the portions are smaller:scared1:

And the Cabinet Office War Rooms (entrance opposite St James' Park) is very interesting - its an underground network of offices etc. where Churchill and the civil servants went during the heavy bombing so they could carry on working - many even slept there! And tehre's a woderful interactive Chirchill museum of sort of computer tables which you touch to look at different things from his life, like pictures and letters - when you touch Armistice Day (11.11.1918) the whole table covers in red poppies!

Arizona Rita
07-31-2009, 09:16 AM
The place with Churchhill, is that the secret bunker where they had everything except no bathrooms and they had to go in buckets and carry it out with them? Saw that on the history chanel the other day.

What pub do you reccommend? We found that you can drink when you are 16 but are not able to order it yourself. DS will turn 16 in April and he is very excited about going to a pub and having his first "beer". I would like this pub to also have good local food if possible.
Thanks for getting the pamplets. I look forward to seeing them. I may have to start scrapping this book early!

MazdaUK
07-31-2009, 11:39 AM
Your DS can have alcohol with food only - the Wetherspoons chain are reasonably priced and have OK food (nothing gourmet!) and a good range of beers - don't forget our pints are 20 oz not 16 (I've seen many US and Aussie friends fall over after making that mistake ;) ) The one at the top of Whitehall is called the Lord Moon of the Mall (it used to be a bank), its nice and big. There's a good pub near Trafalgar Square called the Chandos - not sure what the food is like. Other pubs at the top of Whitehall are the Old Shades and the Clarence - both offer fish and chips and other English stuff. Don't go in the Silver Cross - I got salmonella from their tuna jacket potato :sick: Something like John Smiths bitter would probably suit your DS, or go for a lager - you'll find quite a lot available bottled which is a nice small measure to start. Or he could go for lager or bitter shandy - that's half and half lemonade and beer (or you can have cider shandy which is the same thing with cider), lager & lime (lager and a shot of lime cordial) - real ale is stronger and generally has no fizz (or not much) Theakestons, Flowers and Ruddles are good reliable brands, but watch out for the strength - some of the "specials" can be 6-8%abv compared with a fizzy lager of 4% (ciders tend to fall between the two). Boddingtons is a creamy sort of ale, like a cross between a bitter and Guinness (milk stout)

Yes, the Churchill bunker would be the one you saw on the History channel - you can pick up an audio tour at the entrance to tell you about it as you go along. It's a charging attraction though, so if they're not that into Churchill the Imperial War museum is a better bet (as its free) - your DS will be old enough to see the harrowing concentration camp exhibit, but it might not be what you wan to see on your vacation.

MazdaUK
08-13-2009, 09:51 AM
I got soaked on the way home and so did the leaflets I'd collected:headache: Knew I should have taken them out of my bag and put them safely:rolleyes1
Oh well, I'll get you some more when I'm back at work:thumbsup2

Queenie
08-14-2009, 07:31 AM
Mind if I add some of my favourite London things in? I used to live on the outskirts and went there a lot.

By far my favourite museums are the British Museum, Natural History Museum and the Tate Modern - although it must be said that last one is definately not to everyone's taste! Best thing is all 3 are free.

British Museum is right in the heart of the city by some of the theatres and has an amazing Egypt wing from the old days of British explorers going over there and nicking half their history :rolleyes1:rolleyes:. They have the Rosetta Stone in there too although it's kept in a glass case. Beware the gift shop, it's where they make their money and everything costs an absolute fortune. Last time I went, I found some little shops practically opposite the main entrance and they were selling similar figurines (although obviously not as good a standard) for about a 10th the cost inside the museum. Natural History Museum is great too. It's a bit of a trek to get to if I remember right but there's another museum next door (think it's the Science museum) so you could make a day in that part of town.

If you want to do something different for half a day or more, try visiting Camden. It's the "alternative" area of London, lots of artists and musicians live there. It's famous for its markets and you'll be able to buy some really unique stuff there along with seeing some things you wouldn't believe existed if you hadn't seen them! The area may well appeal a lot to your DS, it's very youth orientated, I practically lived there as a teenager. There's also a lovely canal you can sit by to people watch and a branch of Whetherspoons on the main street through (last time I checked anyway) for cheapish decent food.

Speaking for food, there's a restaurant I love in London called Garfunkles. There's several of them dotted around the place, generally they're near the theatres. Not as cheap as Whetherspoons but I always make an effort to eat there if I'm in London for the day.

If you're a Queen fan then do make time to see We Will Rock You at the Dominion Theatre. I've been 3 times now and once we bumped into Brian May in the lobby! It's a fantastic show, very tongue in cheek. That theatre also happens to be just a few minutes walk from the British Museum and has a branh of Garfunkles about 2 doors down :woohoo:

Finally I'd check out what exhibitions will be at Earl's Court and Excel when you're over in case there's something of interest to you. Oh, and if you're pin traders, the UK Disney Store have their own range of pins (fully tradeable at all the parks I believe) and you can trade with the CMs in our stores. There's quite a few branches in London, I believe the one on Oxford St is the biggest in the UK.

Ok I think that's more than enough info for one post, don't you?

MazdaUK
09-02-2009, 05:02 AM
There's also a new Disney store in Bluewater shopping centre;)