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Planning trip to London--advice please

Been to someplace of historical interest? Planning a trip? Have a question? Post here!
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Alisha Marie Klapheke
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Planning trip to London--advice please

Post by Alisha Marie Klapheke » Mon January 2nd, 2012, 4:55 pm

Hello all! Hope your holidays were fun!

My husband and I are planning a trip to the UK--specifically London, Bath and anywhere else we can fit into our schedule of only eight days.

What must I absolutely see?

What tips can you give me? I've travelled abroad two times already so I know the basics.

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Madeleine
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Post by Madeleine » Mon January 2nd, 2012, 5:03 pm

What time of year are you planning to visit? Best to avoid the Olympic period unless you're interested in that event. Bath is well worth a visit, also Oxford - which could be combined with Bath as they're not too far apart - and Cambridge, possibly Brighton for the coast; all these places are within around 1.5 hours train ride from London.
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Post by Ash » Tue January 3rd, 2012, 12:28 am

You might want to do a search while you are waiting for responses here - someone went to England last year and I remember there being a ton of suggestions!

Edited - realized you have eight days for England, not London! If this is your first trip, you might want to base yourself in London, see the sights, and then take day trips to Cantebury, Dover, Winchester, Bath, Portsmouth, Salisbury. I second either Oxford or Cambridge; I tend to favor the latter.

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Post by fljustice » Tue January 3rd, 2012, 4:50 pm

Ah, London, what a treat! You can't go wrong with the museums (most are free!) The British Museum is a favorite of mine and I could spend days there. I went to the Museum of London when there last and was quite impressed. Victoria and Albert is all about design. We visited the War Rooms last time and found that fascinating. Art galleries galore with tons of famous work. Architecture. Cathedrals. The West End plays were a bit of a disappointment last time we were there (seemed to be the same stuff as on Broadway.) During nice weather visit the parks and gardens. Whatever your favorite activities, you can find it in London.

One of my favorite things to do, is to pick up a copy of Time Out (or look it up on line) and go on walking tours. They have neighborhood, literary, and history tours; ghost walks and pub crawls (also haunted pub crawls.) Just go to the tube stop at the time listed and pay the tour guide there. Usually it's quite cheap. The best way to get around is by tube and bus. It seems every time we go there is a new "scheme." The most recent is the Oyster Card - similar to the Metro Card here in NYC. Add money when you purchase it and it's debited (at the lowest possible rate) when you use it. You can add more money at the machines. Turn it in before you leave and get your deposit and any extra money back.

Have a wonderful trip!
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Post by SGM » Tue January 3rd, 2012, 6:40 pm

Gosh, Oyster cards are so much a part of my life now I feel like they have been here forever. I remember its first day because a journalist from French TV tried to interview me about it but I had to get on my bus so that didn't happen.

If you will be spending a lot of time in London, by far the most cost-effective way to use an Oyster Card is to get a weekly ticket which you can do by zones, ie Zone 1, Zones 1-2 etc etc. Obviously the fewer zones you use the smaller the cost and you can get ones that let you use bus, tube (and some overground lines) or one that just lets you use buses (all five zones) and these are the cheapest of all. But the price went up today (or yesterday) so I am not sure how much the weekly ones are now. Remember that paying by Oyster on a trip by trip basis, you do get charged more during peak hours and those peak hours are 6am to 6pm. For instance, travelling through five zones on the tube during the peak at weekends costs £4.40 (probably slightly more with today's price increase) but on a Saturday, it only costs £2.20. There is, however, a daily maximum you will be debited but that depends on how many zones you are travelling through.

it's strange really because if you ask a Brit which is their favourite museum most will say the Natural History Museum in Kensington but, of course, that is a different type of history. But we all as English school kids do at least one school trip there. But I am also very fond of the V&A.

I would second the suggestion that you avoid the Olympic period, because there will be gazillions of extra people milling about London and I know people trying to book hotels here during that period (for reasons completely unrelated to visiting the Games) are finding the prices astromonical. And don't forget that before the Olympics start, we also have the Queen's Jubilee which is likely to increase the crowds hugely and London is crowded enough as it is. Make sure you plan your travel around London outside the rush-hour.

I was born in London, although I grew up on the south-coast, and having been living back here for decades so I take my London pleasures rather differently than visitors but if the weather is likely to be warm for your trip, do thngs that are rather more enjoyable out-of-doors, like taking the boat to Hampton Court or Greenwich etc etc. But I also love the Tower of London and even if you only see it from the river, do try to take in a view of it. I personally think the bus tours are over-priced and miss out some really quite important features but, then again, that depends on your priorities. However, the view of London from the London Eye (the wheel) is really great, particularly at night. We need to make the most of it because I think the French want it next.
And, of course, a trip to the Globe is wonderful. I am very attached to the Thames and find a jaunt along the Southbank pleasurable even without the Globe and you can always drop in at the Hayword Gallery or take in a play at the National. They are all roughly in the same area which is quite handy because travelling around London can take a devilish amount of time -- believe me, I known.

Enjoy.
Last edited by SGM on Tue January 3rd, 2012, 7:13 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by Madeleine » Wed January 4th, 2012, 9:56 am

I second SGM's suggestion about trying to avoid the Olympic period - not sure when you're planning to visit but think the Games are on from the end of July to about mid-August. Everyone I know who works in London is dreading it!

Good advice about the Oystercard and various zones but a lot of that would depend on where you stay, the further outside Central London you stay, then the more expensive fares into the Centre will be.
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Post by SGM » Wed January 4th, 2012, 7:59 pm

The details of the Jubilee celebrations are here.

http://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/uk/ ... nd-jubilee

Good job I looked because I hadn't realised they were giving us an extra bank holiday or moving the traditional late May one as well.
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Post by parthianbow » Wed January 4th, 2012, 9:04 pm

Glad you are coming to Bath. The Roman baths there are the most incredible thing to see. I live nearby,and go at least once a year.
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Post by Tanzanite » Wed January 4th, 2012, 10:45 pm

Not sure how far you are wanting to drive, but on our last trip one of our favorite places was Corfe Castle. It's about two and a half hours southwest from London and in addition to a very cool castle ruin is the village of the same name which I thought won the "cutest village ever" award hands down!

We also really liked the town of Salisbury (and the cathedral there as well)

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Post by Alisha Marie Klapheke » Thu January 5th, 2012, 4:28 am

Okay. First, you all are so sweet to give me such great tips! Thanks!

I spoke with the family member who will care for my kids while we're abroad, and I'm going to have to rethink this bc she's only available during the summer. I do not wish to be anywhere near the Olympic crowd. I need to research those dates...

If I do have to go in the summer--we will avoid London--we might hit Edinburgh, York, perhaps. Maybe even Ireland...any thoughts on those locales?

Once again, thanks!

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