VISITING LONDON, et al 12-15-2015
A NUMBER OF YEARS AGO, I WROTE THIS FOR SOME FRIENDS WHO WERE GOING TO ENGLAND/IRELAND. THIS IS MY OPINION, OF COURSE, BUT MIGHT BE VALUABLE TO OTHERS CONSIDERING A TRIP.
One of my Christmas gifts was a box set of 50 walks in London. I have been there 5 times (not enough) and there is no place I’d rather be than England. I went thru the box and came up with 6 walks I thought might really be worth doing if such a thing interests you. The instructions say the walks are 1-2 miles long and take 1-2 hours. But, you would probably spend ½ day on some because of places to stop and enjoy.
I have forgotten how long you will be there. If you have a week in London, you could carefully plan what you will do and what you need in the way of transportation passes. This could save you a lot of money. There is really no need to have a car in L. It is exceptionally easy to take the tube anywhere in L and the train to day trips out. I forget what increments the day passes come in, in terms of days but it has probably changed anyway. So, let me give you an example. Say you have 7 days in London. The first 2 you spend walking, so you do not activate your tube pass until the 3rd day, and you have a 5 day pass for that. The next 2 days you take the tube everywhere that is too far to walk.
The last viable 2 days you activate the train pass, which combines with the tube.
Places you should not miss are the Tower of London ( on no account miss the tours operated by the Beef Eaters because they tell everything and are so entertaining), Westminster Cathedral with Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament (which you probably won’t be able to get in to or would waste hours waiting on) across the street. Right next to the Cathedral is the Jewel Tower, which is almost hidden from view. It is about 900 years old and really fascinating. Definitely go to Piccadilly Circus/Trafalgar Square. There is a wonderful walk you could take from there down thru White Hall and over to the Parliament. I couldn’t find a walk like that on the cards but it is easily done with pub stops on the way. For some reason I always get so thirsty there J. The British Museum is to die for, as is the Victoria and Albert Museum. Better do some reading up to decide which, as you probably can’t do both. I think I’d pick BM.
As far as castles go, I would not go to Buckingham Palace. Instead, take a day trip on the train to Windsor, which is fabulous and gives the flavor of living in a medieval town. If time presents, walk across the river and see Eton. Also take a short tube trip to Hampton Court. In the back of my mind I’m thinking you can’t get there by train. Most of the tube passes are good for bus, so that may be the way to get there. Either way, they are both less than an hour outside London. I’ve never gone to either by boat but think it would be wonderful. I know there is also a night cruise on the Thames in London that sounds wonderfully romantic.
Other day trips out that will suck up more of your time on the train are Oxford, which is more interesting and open to viewing, than Cambridge, which is also further away. Also, Canterbury is fabulous and the town is medieval and wonderful.
Buy yourself a London AZ, which you can find in a 5x8” spiral book at any corner or book store. Well worth the weight and trouble to carry.
Something to remember about England is that it is very hard to get out of your hotel and on the road before 9:30/10. It you stay in a B&B it is harder. However, L never shuts down and lots of tourist places are open later too. It is light in the summer until 9:30 PM so there is lots of light for walking or anything else. Try to save your pub time for dark, except for lunches. All meals should be consumed if possible in the pubs, as that is the cheapest and also has all the atmosphere and the locals to talk to. They adore Americans and will talk to you at will, probably without you initiating the talk. Ask them everything. It is so fun! Don’t even consider pizza as it is always icky, even in Pizza Hut!
I remember you said that you were going to Ireland too. I have been there twice. Once a friend drove me all the way around the coast from Dublin to Shannon. It was breathtakingly beautiful. I don’t remember Dublin being that interesting, although the churches were. If you are more in to the very historic sites near there, you will have to have a car, probably.
If I can offer more advice or answer questions, let me know. I’m sure you are doing your own research and I will want to hear all about your trip. If you can plan a weekend getaway and stay with us, we could talk more before you leave.
Love to you both. I’m so glad you are finally getting the long deserved (and need I say needed) honeymoon.
Happy Holidays to you all,