London Vacation A few questions if you don't mind.

Discussion in 'UK Community Board' started by Tozzie, May 14, 2013.

  1. Tozzie

    Tozzie DIS Veteran

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    Hi, I am going to visit London in September and I have a few questions if people don't mind so I can do my planning and not look like a total fool while on vacation.

    I have wanted to visit London for the longest time, I am going on an Adventures by Disney Trip to Scotland and on my way home I am stopping in London for a few Days. I have never been and while I know I could read travel books I would rather hear from the folks that actually live and work there and know first hand information.

    Let me preface this by saying I was born, raised, and work in NYC, where just about anything goes, however I know that is not true of the rest of the world an I like to be respectful of the places I visit.

    I will be arriving on Monday early afternoon, my flight lands at around 12:45 so after a taxi to the hotel I am estimating that I will only have 1 or 2 hours to do anything before finding a restaurant and having dinner. I also have tickets to the Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London that night.

    The other 2 nights I have show tickets and my biggest question is what is considered appropriate attire for the theater in London. In NYC you can get dressed to the nines or wear jeans it doesn't really matter.

    I then have 2 full days to see the City, with theater tickets each night and I would like to do the following

    The Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace
    Westminister Abbey
    The London Eye
    I must do High Tea somewhere and would really like a recommendation

    I want to go to Scotland Yard and Big Ben just to take a few pictures.


    i have looked at a private guide but I am not sure that is the best route to go, Opinons?

    I know there are so many other places to see recommendations would be great. Trains, Busses and Walking are fine modes of transportation but I would like to know if the trains run 24 hours or if they shut down at some point.

    Other recommendations for restaurants, casual simple food is great, I only eat shellfish so fish and chips I believe is out. I don't mind off the beaten path and I know that local residents will know the good places to go.

    I thank you in advance for any assistance you can provide and I am sure I will have more questions as the trip gets closer.
     
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  3. Chilly

    Chilly RIP Tag Fairy

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    Going to the theatre in London is the same as NYC, some people dress up, others don't, so whatever you want will be fine.

    The easiest way to get around is on the London Underground also called the Tube and is like NYC's subway. It runs from around 5/6 am to 12/1am.

    Another good way to get around and see sights are hop on/hop off busses. There are quite a few companies in London they are all about the same price and go to the same places but they hit all the top London sights.

    The Ritz is the classic place to have Afternoon Tea. Another one is Claridges. The winner of the best Afternoon Tea this year was The Goring Hotel (this is where Kate Middleton stayed before her wedding to Prince William). Last years winner was The Athenaeum and this is the only one i've been to and it was lovely. Here's a full list of places:
    http://www.afternoontea.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=551&Itemid=30

    I'd book the London Eye in advance because the queues can get very long if you just turn up on the day.
     
  4. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc <font color=royalblue>We had a wonderful time, but

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    You are going to LOVE the Ceremony of the Keys!!!!

    As to transportation, the tube is incredibly easy to navigate-- MUCH, MUCH easier than the NYC subway system.

    If you like history, try to get to see the Imperial War Museum and Churchill's Cabinet War rooms in addition to some of the better known attractions. Also, the changing of the Horse Guards is cool.

    Definitely see a play; the prices are so very much more reasonable than Broadway!!!

    I LOVE London; there's so very much to see and do! Have a fabulous trip!!
     
  5. torsie24

    torsie24 Mummy to a perfect princess.

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    I was born and raised in London and honestly it's culturally the same as NYC.

    In fact when I'm in NYC I just feel like I'm in a part of London or another British city I've not been to before.

    You'll be fine. Xx
     
  6. Danauk

    Danauk <font color=green>I would be sitting on the patio

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    I agree about booking The Eye in advance. The line to buy tickets gets really long!!

    For afternoon tea or high tea I love Fortnum and Masons. I always buy my leaf tea from this store! http://www.fortnumandmason.com/c-209-afternoon-tea-fortnum-and-mason.aspx

    When I go to the theatre I usually have dinner in China Town as it is right next to the theatre district, on the opposite side of the road. There are many great restaurants there. I usually go in one that looks busy and have never had a bad meal.
     
  7. Ware Bears

    Ware Bears Mourning the loss of my tags Moderator

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    ::yes::

    We did this a few years ago and it's a great experience.
     
  8. spm23

    spm23 Mouseketeer

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    You cannot beat the ritz and if you want something different, look at some of the biking or walking tours, we have done several and always good value and a nicer way of seeing parts of the city.
     
  9. willeve

    willeve Mouseketeer

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    Research some of the places for afternoon tea and book the one you choose in advance, they can book up quickly, particularly at the weekend.
     
  10. MazdaUK

    MazdaUK <font color=green>Curse this time difference!<br><

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    The afternoon tea at Fortnums and Mason (the Queen's grocer!) is excellent - very good value, and a lot more peaceful than the Ritz. The waitresses are all lovely, and will bring you out extra cakes, scones, fresh tea, the works. We took my aunt for her 80th and you can have a "High tea" option where you can also have a hot savoury such as eggs benedict instead of the regular sandwiches. The also do quite a good tea in Harrods - from there you are well placed for the Victoria and Albert museum (free!) and you can get a "heritage" bus - one of the old open platform routemaster busses (a number 9 if I remember rightly) from Trafalgar Square.

    There are actually 2 Scotland yards - Old Scotland yard is just off Whitehall, next to The Clarence pub. The most interesting thing is that this is where they base the entrance to the Ministry of Magic in the Harry POtter movies - there is no phone box, but the door to the back of the Department for Climate Change building (used to be Ministry of Agriculture) is the one where Harry, Ron and Hermione hide to take the polyjuice potion. The police horses are still stabled here, and if you walk along the road you'll come out virtually oppsite the Sherlock Holmes pub - all touristy fakery but a nice pint!

    The current New Scotland Yard (police HQ) is near Victoria St - you pass it if you are going in that direction from Westminster Abbey, but only if you know where you're headed! Its just a modern building (well 1960s) with the turny sign thing. Unless you have a specific reason for seeing it I'd not bother!

    If you want to use buses and tubes you can buy an Oyster card - I've seen tourists buy them at stations, you pay a £5 deposit and load it up, but when you leave they refund the difference. If you're only there a day or two just buy a one day travelcard each day (cheaper after 9.30am)

    As others have said, the cabinet Office War Rooms are interesting (especially if its raining outside!) and so is Whitehall - the guards are generally on horseback in sentry boxes, and there is now a museum/tour I think. If you want to get a feel for the area and take photos, think about Duck Tours. This is a cool amphibious tour so you go along the roads AND on the river - so you can take pics of Big Ben fromk the water as well. there are often London Eye/Duck Tours multi-buy saver options.

    Not far from Westminster Abbey is Smith Square - formerly home to both Conservative and Labour party HQs. In the middle is St John's church, now a concert venue with a really nice restauruant i the basement (crypt). Choice of sit down meal or serve yourself. Otherwise round Westminster/trafalgar Sq there are loads of chains like Cafe Rouge. Thw Whetherspoons pub on Whitehall called "Lord Moon of the Mall" will do you a good simple meal - actually at lunchtime it costs less to buy a meal and drink than to buy a meal on its own. Weird I know. If the weather is fine and you're heading for Buckingham Palace, there's a Pret a Manger sandwich shop (in the UK that means bread and a filling, not a burger!) so you could buy yourself a picnic, walk up the Mall to see Buckingham Palace and eat your food in St James Park (which borders the mall) - don't miss the pelicans on the pond!

    As most of the big civil service departments have offices round Whitehall, the best option is to look for poeple in business dress entering somewhere, rather than following the other tourists - having worked round there for 23 years that's the best advice for finding food that will be tasty and not toon expensive!
     
  11. ninamouse

    ninamouse DIS Veteran

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    If you want to explore London and see the main sights in a fun way, try and book a tour on The Duck. It's a bus tour that turns into a boat and takes you along the River Thames, giving you wonderful views of the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey and Big Ben.

    You can get the bus near the London Eye.

    I've had afternoon tea at a few places in London and if you want to do it in style then The Ritz really is the place to go!

    The tube is very easy to use and the best way around the city.

    There are some really lovely places to eat around Covent Garden and The Seven Dials area and they are within a short distance from each other.

    If you want to do something very different and learn some of London's darker history then The London Dungeons is a must.

    The Tower of London is worth a visit too!

    I hope you have a wonderful time in London! :-)
     
  12. Tinkmom

    Tinkmom DIS Veteran

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    Can we buy an Oyster card at Heathrow? Can we use a credit card to do so? Thanks!
     
  13. Chilly

    Chilly RIP Tag Fairy

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    Yes I would think so.
     
  14. queendisney

    queendisney DIS Veteran

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  15. DisneyNurse19

    DisneyNurse19 Mouseketeer

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    I also agree with The Ritz for afternoon tea, it is the one hotel that everyone has heard of around the world. Also instead of the London Eye why not try the Shard? :thumbsup2 It is the tallest building in Weston Europe and you can see all over London. The eye looks tiny against it now :)
     
  16. pampat

    pampat Never Forget: It was all started by a Mouse!

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    But if you choose the Shard, make sure you pre-book. We went past it on Saturday last and there was no availability unless you wanted to pay £100 per person! Much as I'd love to go to the viewing floor, I'm not paying that. To pre-book, I think it is £25.00 per person.

    Pam
     
  17. snowwite

    snowwite DIS Veteran

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    I just wanted to share a couple of ideas. I'm not sure where you will be staying but if you get a chance to go to Mayfair near the US embassy and Hyde Park check out the Audley pub. We had several meals there during a 3 day visit. There are lots of cute shops and coffee places etc there. We pretty much stuck to places which did not appear to be chain restaurants or tourist traps. We stayed in Mayfair and walked to Buckingham palace, the parks and up to Westminster area. Across from Westminster there is a boat dock with multiple boat rides which were quite reasonable. we took one o Greenwich. The driver gave an excellent commentary as we went down the Thames. There is a maritime museum, shops, the Cutty Sark ship etc there. It is where time begins. We took the tube back. We got Oyster cards ahead of time online but you can get at airport or train station. There was a quicker train from airport to Paddington Station and we walked to hotel from there. The airport is outside city much like JFK is outside NYC.
    A few stops you may want to add in:
    Harrods dept store-it makes Macy's look like the dollar store. There is so much to see it was amazing. There are restaurants inside and there is a memorial to Princess Diana and her boyfriend.
    Trafalgar square and the national gallery. It's close to the theatre district and free.
    Tower of London. It was really interesting to tour the place. There are costumes guides but we were on a tight schedule and just did a self guided tour.
    Baker Street. Even the tube sign looks like Sherlock Holmes.
     
  18. DisneyNurse19

    DisneyNurse19 Mouseketeer

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    Yes it is, we went at 7pm (there were plenty of tickets to buy at this time) in April and it was a perfect time to go :thumbsup2 We saw the whole of London in the light and then all lit up in the dark, we finally came down at 8.45pm. I am sure once people get to know about it the queue's will be bad.:sad2:
     
  19. pampat

    pampat Never Forget: It was all started by a Mouse!

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    I know you go up on timed sessions, but are you restricted to staying there for a set amount of time? So could you go up and stay for an hour or so to see the sun go down and the lights come up? You've all whetted my appetite for this!

    Pam
     
  20. DisneyNurse19

    DisneyNurse19 Mouseketeer

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    At the moment you can stay up there as long as you like but i am sure if it gets really busy this might change .
     
  21. pampat

    pampat Never Forget: It was all started by a Mouse!

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    Thanks, great info.

    Pam
     

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