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IndigoScript
06-08-2011, 10:42 PM
Hey!

Since this is an international community for all sorts of lovely people, I hope some of you are from London and can give me some advice.

Me and my girlfriend are going to London on a 5-day trip next week. I'm looking for input on places-you-just-have-to-visit and general tips on how to experience and survive London. If anyone knows the clubs, could you please recommend some good clubs with live rock music?

Cheers!

Maxinquaye
06-08-2011, 10:46 PM
Soho is great for food. Go there and eat. Take the underground to Picadilly, head up toward Old Compton Street, and just find one of the restaurants on the way there. If you're straight, Soho isn't so great for clubbing. :D But I wouldn't know how to advice on clubbing anyway.

Theatre, if that's your thing, is a must. You have everything from Les Miserables to Billy Elliot to Shakespear in West End.

ETA: Och välkommen till AW!

Kitty Pryde
06-08-2011, 11:11 PM
The London Eye may appear cheesy, but it's actually really awesome. St Paul's Cathedral is amazing too, go all the way to the top if you are able.

If you're dorky and you like beer, you might enjoy the Fuller's Brewery Tour. We had a great time, it's a cool spot with all the really old brewing equipment in there still, plus all the modern shiny stuff too. TBH it was worth the price of admission just to enjoy the cranky old fart of a tour guide rant about good beer and bad beer.

If you happen to come into London on the train, they have a promotion where you get two tickets for the price of one on nearly every touristy thing in the city. http://www.daysoutguide.co.uk/2for1-london And TBH, even if you don't come in on a train, if you buy two Megabus train tickets for like 5 pounds total, you can save way way way more than that with all the attractions you go to see.

Get an Oyster Card, instead of paying each individual underground/bus fair--it's guaranteed cheaper and easier, worth the price of the card. Also cheap: all the grocery stores around the city sell rather fresh and decent sandwiches and salads and such for lunch, which I think is nicer than trying to choke down so many heavy restaurant meals on vacation :)

IndigoScript
06-09-2011, 12:22 AM
Thank you both, this is just the kind of advice I'm looking for!

Kitty Pride, I've read up on the Oyster cards but I'm still a little confused; do we pay 20£ for the card and get unlimited access to the Underground for 5 days? We'll arrive at Heathrow and plan to take the tube to South Kensington Station.

Maxinquaye, tack så mycket!

Kitty Pryde
06-09-2011, 12:35 AM
No, you pay 5 pounds to get an Oyster card, then you put money on the oyster card and use that money to pay your underground/bus fares--but the way the Oyster card works, you get the cheapest possible fare. So like if it's cheaper to pay for individual rides on one day, that's what you pay, but if it's cheaper to pay for a day pass for a specific zone, then that's what you pay. It's much easier that way and you don't have to do any math :) It can get confusing with the different zones and peak hour fares and whatnot. You add money to it as you need it (when the turnstile refuses to let you into the station!). I was in London in the spring for only three days, but we still saved money using the Oyster card. You can put any amount of money on the card anytime you want.

Mr Flibble
06-09-2011, 12:51 AM
So, places to go: What are your interests? Any particular historical time you love, or just want a flavour or what do you like? Museums, architecture, galleries?

I would give you reccs for rock clubs, but it's been a while since I've clubbed in London. Camden was always good for live bands. Whether that's still the case I'm not sure.

Chris P
06-09-2011, 12:52 AM
I was there for four days in December, and it was great!

I loved the London Eye, St. Paul's, and the Tower of London. I also watched floor action in the Houses of Lords and Commons (free admission but airport-tight security). The Victoria and Albert museum left me speechless. The Natural History museum had really great exhibits. The Science Museum was great too, especially if you are bringing kids, but there was so much there. I wasn't too thrilled with Tower Bridge or Trafalgar square, but the National Art Gallery was awesome.

I didn't think the underground was too confusing, as it's similar to the DC subway (and others, I'm sure). The trains can be really super crowded (especially during the morning rush) but people take it in stride and I had no problems getting on and off. I was able to walk to most things, except St Pauls and Tower of London (which I could have if it had been warmer), so unless you are going a long way just enjoy the stroll.

I don't go to clubs so I can't help you there.

For currency exchange, you will get a better rate if you go to a bank than change at the airport. Thomas Cook travel agency exchanges US$ to GBP without a fee if you exchange more than a certain amount, dunno about Euros. Eating in pubs, I wasn't accustomed to doing everything at the bar, and waited ages for a waitress (Bloody Americans, expecting to be catered to!).

Okay, I'm envious now. I want to go back!

IndigoScript
06-09-2011, 12:52 AM
That cleared things up for me Kitty Pride, cheers! Me and my gal are really excited now, we're going next Tuesday. We're trying to cram as much as possible into our schedule, but there's so much to experience and so little time. What's your fondest memory of London? :)

IndigoScript
06-09-2011, 01:00 AM
Wow, the tips are rolling in!

IdiotsRUs, we both love the Medieval times, so any tips relating to that. We're really looking for those little 'golden nuggets' of info, like that certain little café where they serve divine scones etc.

Chris P, thanks! I'll look those places up. There seems to be hundreds of art museums in London. I love romanticism, big sweeping landscapes and such, so which museums exhibit those kind of paintings?

Chris P
06-09-2011, 01:06 AM
I've only been to the National Art Gallery off Trafalgar Square, but it had a wide variety of paintings from about 1000 AD to the present. I don't know much about art, but it was what I expected to see in an art gallery. There is a really cool one that when looked at straight on there is some surrealistic shape in the bottom middle, but when looked at from the side the shape forms a skull. It had me speechless.

I was probably most impressed with the Victoria and Albert Museum, though. It had the faces of whole buildings on display, all sorts of gold items, old manuscripts, sculpture from around the world, and was just plain cool as hell. It's right there with the Natural History (dinosaurs!) and science museums. I did all three in a full day (morning, afternoon, and evening), but I was just about running through some of the displays to see them all.

mirandashell
06-09-2011, 01:07 AM
Definitely the National Gallery. Some amazing paintings in there. And I think the Royal Academy are having their Summer Exhibition at the moment. That's worth a visit if you like being surprised.

mirandashell
06-09-2011, 01:10 AM
There is a really cool one that when looked at straight on there is some surrealistic shape in the bottom middle, but when looked at from the side the shape forms a skull. It had me speechless.




The Ambassadors by Hans Holbein. Here's a link:

http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/hans-holbein-the-younger-the-ambassadors

They've also got Marriage-a-la-Mode by William Hogarth.

Chris P
06-09-2011, 01:14 AM
The Ambassadors by Hans Holbein. Here's a link:

http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/hans-holbein-the-younger-the-ambassadors

They've also got The Rake's Progress by William Hogarth.

YES! Thank you! The place was a bit overwhelming and I'd forgotten most of the details of what I'd seen.

Parametric
06-09-2011, 01:17 AM
Entry to museums is free. I'll second the vote for the Natural History Museum - I used to make my dad take me there every year for my birthday. I also loved the Imperial War Museum, which has cool stuff like tanks and rockets and aeroplanes.

It's obligatory for visitors to London to take photos of the Houses of Parliament from Westminster Bridge. I also enjoyed Westminster Abbey, although the ticket price is steep at £20 each.

I would expect that your bags would be searched on entry to most major tourist attractions, fyi. I've never encountered anything stricter, but the bag search is common.

Mr Flibble
06-09-2011, 01:19 AM
Wow, the tips are rolling in!

IdiotsRUs, we both love the Medieval times, so any tips relating to that. We're really looking for those little 'golden nuggets' of info, like that certain little café where they serve divine scones etc.



Well the Tower for sure then. Nothing like seeing 500+ year old graffiti in the cells, some of it quite poetic. Hampton Court is fairly easy to get to (you can take a boat down the Thames IIRC :D) Here's (http://www.britainexpress.com/heritage-travel-article.htm?travel=5352) a link for a few other places.

I don't know about cafes but I can recc a few good pubs lol.

PS Kitty, I saw the pub we were in on the telly the other day (in a Touch of Frost). Recognise that glass etching anywhere!

Parametric
06-09-2011, 01:21 AM
IdiotsRUs, we both love the Medieval times, so any tips relating to that.

You should totally go to the Tower of London! It's a badass freaking castle dating back to the Norman Conquest - that's 1066 for those of you who don't study British history. :tongue It has a moat and an exhibition of the Crown Jewels and an awesome display of weaponry. Pictures from my recent visit: sweet jesus this castle is big (http://twitpic.com/4vzdw0); chapel full of sunshine (http://twitpic.com/4vzea8); steampunk dragon made of weapons (http://twitpic.com/4vzctc). The ticket price is about £20. I loved it. :D

Maxinquaye
06-09-2011, 01:22 AM
British Museum is also worth a look, but you really need to decide beforehand what you want to see because it's going to take days to see it all. And you only have 5 days. :)

Mr Flibble
06-09-2011, 01:24 AM
You should totally go to the Tower of London! It's a badass freaking castle dating back to the Norman Conquest - that's 1066 for those of you who don't study British history. :tongue It has a moat and an exhibition of the Crown Jewels and an awesome display of weaponry. Pictures from my recent visit: sweet jesus this castle is big (http://twitpic.com/4vzdw0); chapel full of sunshine (http://twitpic.com/4vzea8); steampunk dragon made of weapons (http://twitpic.com/4vzctc). The ticket price is about £20. I loved it. :D


No steampunk dragon when I went *sulk* Did have an awesome swordsmanship display though.

mirandashell
06-09-2011, 01:24 AM
The Ambassadors by Hans Holbein. Here's a link:

http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/hans-holbein-the-younger-the-ambassadors

They've also got Marriage-a-la-Mode by William Hogarth.

They've also got 10 paintings by Turner so if you do like big sweeping landscapes, you're in luck!

Parametric
06-09-2011, 01:26 AM
No steampunk dragon when I went *sulk* Did have an awesome swordsmanship display though.

It was awesome! Its toes were made of guns and its fingers were made of bullets! It had evil red staring eyes! I fell in love. :LilLove:

Anne Lyle
06-09-2011, 01:51 AM
Another vote for the Tower if you like medieval stuff - the White Tower (William the Conqueror's bit) has a big exhibition of armour and weapons. Also the Museum of London, which has various bits dug up from the River Thames mud, including leather shoes and stuff. The British Museum has some awesome Anglo-Saxon and Celtic jewellery (gold torcs, and the Sutton Hoo treasure).

I'm afraid I don't know about places to eat, as it's been a long time since I lived in London. But there are generally lots of nice places around the West End (Charing Cross Road/Covent Garden/Chinatown).

Mr Flibble
06-09-2011, 02:50 AM
Addendum: if you have had any beer at all, do not get a takeaway kebab. It always seems like a good idea....

backslashbaby
06-09-2011, 05:52 AM
For a fancy snack, get an appetizer or dessert at the Orangerie at Kensington Palace. OMG, so good. And it's very pretty there!

There is also a really great small French restaurant up the street from there. I forget its name, but just hang a right from the tube stop (across the street from the palace). It's within 2 blocks or so from the palace entrance near the tube.

There is a little boat tour down by the Tower that works well for a bite to eat at evening if you are stuck in The City. The tour is interesting, too! And pretty :) You might check for closing times online, but I know it got dark during ours. Otherwise, it was pretty much Burger King in that area after closing! And no bathrooms nearby, except at Burger King, lol. Hey, that can be more relevant than you think ahead of time ;)

Chris P
06-09-2011, 06:03 AM
Look right first... (not left!) before crossing the street.

Or it might be a short visit.

Or... always cross at the wide white line crosswalks where you have the right-away. Seriously. Be careful. You don't think about the habit you have of checking the other direction first until you almost step out in front of a bus... and then, you never, ever, forget. =)

Haha! This! Also, be sure you look the proper way before getting out of a car. I almost had to buy my friend a new car door. :o

Shakesbear
06-09-2011, 06:26 AM
Places to eat - try Prezzo. Had a really good meal at the St Martin's Lane one a week or so ago. This is just round the corner from the National Gallery and almost opposite the National Portrait Gallery. See here:
http://www.prezzorestaurants.co.uk/ and here
http://www.prezzorestaurants.co.uk/locations/?store=876 the vouchers and buy one course and get another for £1.00 is really good value. Print any vouchers out before you go - and show them to the waiter when you arrive.

Mr Flibble
06-09-2011, 02:54 PM
Do they still do afternoon tea at Harrods? Used to go there a lot. Nothing quite like it. No matter how you're dressed (well as long as you're actually decent lol), the waiters treat like you you're probably an eccentric millionaire.

JimmyB27
06-09-2011, 03:18 PM
Do they still do afternoon tea at Harrods? Used to go there a lot. Nothing quite like it. No matter how you're dressed (well as long as you're actually decent lol), the waiters treat like you you're probably an eccentric millionaire.
I so want to test that to breaking point. Clown costume maybe?

Mr Flibble
06-09-2011, 03:29 PM
We tested it pretty hard the day I went with the bike club.

Not push bikes, I'll note. Lesser places than Harrods had turned us away. The waiters were fine (well, except for calling me madam, but I let them off). Got a few funny looks from the posh ladies in the corner...I suspect they'd never seen a 6'5" hairy biker trying to drink a cup of tea with his little finger sticking out.

seun
06-09-2011, 03:58 PM
Got a few funny looks from the posh ladies in the corner...I suspect they'd never seen a 6'5" hairy biker trying to drink a cup of tea with his little finger sticking out.

You're not 6'5". Or hairy. :D

Years ago, a friend and I found a pub in (or just off) Leicester Square called The Hog's Head. It was a great place. If you find it, give it a go.

Mr Flibble
06-09-2011, 04:14 PM
I'm not. My boyfriend at the time was. :D

Duke of Argyll, Argyll St right by Oxford Circus is a nice pub. Do nice pub grub too, and it's right in the centre for everything.

IndigoScript
06-09-2011, 09:06 PM
Thank you all for your tips, especially the ones about vouchers, they're really appreciated! I'd never find out about them myself. I have a question about Oyster cards (again): are they eligible for the 2 for 1-offer? We'll be using Oyster cards for the London Underground, they're not the same as the National Rail ones correct?

Sounds like you'd need at least a month to scratch the surface of all there is to see in London...

Parametric
06-09-2011, 09:16 PM
Thank you all for your tips, especially the ones about vouchers, they're really appreciated! I'd never find out about them myself. I have a question about Oyster cards (again): are they eligible for the 2 for 1-offer? We'll be using Oyster cards for the London Underground, they're not the same as the National Rail ones correct?

If you want to enter the Tower of London (for example) using a 2-for-1 offer, you need a paper National Rail ticket to the nearest train station. The FAQ says that Oyster cards and other Underground tickets are not eligible.

Maxinquaye
06-09-2011, 09:19 PM
Thank you all for your tips, especially the ones about vouchers, they're really appreciated! I'd never find out about them myself. I have a question about Oyster cards (again): are they eligible for the 2 for 1-offer? We'll be using Oyster cards for the London Underground, they're not the same as the National Rail ones correct?

You need to buy seperate Oystercards. It's like with Tunnelbanan in Stockholm - it's a public company, so you have by buy seperate tickets/cards. National Rail is like our SJ, a completely seperate company that handles regular trains and commuter trains. Like SJ handles the commuter trains in Stockholm, while someone else handles the underground.


Sounds like you'd need at least a month to scratch the surface of all there is to see in London...

Oh, yes. I lived in Epsom, just outside London, for years - and I didn't even scratch the surface. And of course, the surface ripples and changes all the time.

Kitty Pryde
06-09-2011, 09:57 PM
If you want to enter the Tower of London (for example) using a 2-for-1 offer, you need a paper National Rail ticket to the nearest train station. The FAQ says that Oyster cards and other Underground tickets are not eligible.

You just need a ticket to any London train station, actually (at least that was the case in March). (But yeah, not a ticket for the Underground.) And they don't take your ticket, they just look at it, so you can get 2 for 1 at a bunch of different places.

areteus
06-09-2011, 10:00 PM
If visiting the Tower and wanting to see the crown jewels, be aware that there is often a massive line to get into them, certainly during peak times. When we went, we walked past the line, decided it was too long and went to look at Henry VIII's codpiece instead (there was a special exhibition with all his armour on display inside the tower). When we emerged it was about half an hour before closing time for the crown jewels exhibition and there was no line at all so we quickly jumped in and pretty much got a private viewing...

Learning to navigate the tube is a difficult skill to pick up (luckily I was born in the NE and the Metro system is smaller but similar and we survived the Paris underground on our Honeymoon and that while drunk on cheap wine...) but totally worth it in terms of making travel cheap and easy. Not fun if you are a claustrophobe, though. Some of those tunnels are small...

A walk through Hyde park is always a nice and romantic thing to do. You can also do a nice park walk through St Jame's park from the Palace.

mirandashell
06-09-2011, 10:25 PM
But also remember that some Tube stations are quite close to each other. But not on the same line. So it might take you two trains to get to a place that's actually 500 yards away and around the corner.