Well my first trip to London was wonderful thanks mostly in part by the great TALFers, second by our wonderful hosts at the B&B we stayed at and third by mother nature by providing the nicest and warmest weather London had seen in history. We were 3 middle-aged women in London for the first time. Our flight on Air France from LAX was uneventful but cheap - we paid $430. RT! Since we were staying in Balham and we were women with luggage we hired a car (or the Coachhouse hired a car for us) to take us to our new home for the next week. "Long John" our driver was quite amusing as he drove us to our rental. The Coachhouse (www.chslondon.com) was wonderful. Two bedroom, 2 bath with kitchen, a lovely garden - everything you could possibly want but the best part were the hosts Harley and Meena. Meena made us a full English breakfast every morning starting with the most delicious porrage and continuing with eggs, sausage, bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes, etc. They were wonderful hosts and it was one of my favorite parts of the trip talking to them every morning. Although it was in Balham, it was only a 6 minute walk to the Tube/Rail which made it handy for our days when we trained to Windsor and Hampton Court Palace. I would highly recommend them and it was pretty inexpensive - comparitively speaking 810 pnds for the week including breakfast every morning.
First day - we bought our paper travelcard at the Balham railroad station so that we could use the 2 for 1 offers. I had printed out all of the 2 for 1 offers from home prior to leaving because I knew my itinerary. Since we planned on going to Windsor and Hampton Court we got it for zones 1-6 which costs 44 pnds. We went to Victoria Station and went on a HOHO bus (The Original Tour 1 with live guide was best) which was 20 pnds. We rode around for hours seeing the sights. We got off and got on our free river cruise (free from HOHO bus) and took it all the way to Greenwich. It was such a beautiful day I got a sunburn. After, we went to the Tate Modern (free) for several hours until it closed. We had dinner at Rules which was wonderful and pricey but worth it. I had my very first Pimm's Cup and it was delicious.
Second day - Tubed to Westminster Abbey (used 2 for 1 10 pnds) and toured. An amazing and beautiful place. Afterwards we tubed it to Hyde Park and walked around a bit and then headed up Park Lane to the Dorchester for High Tea which was fabulous. Our waiter was as handsome and charming as could be and the three of us giggled like school girls. Since it was turning out to be a throughly girly day, afterwards we walked down Knightsbridge to Harrods for some hardcore window shopping and oodling at the food court. They had Beluga Cavier for 1295 pnds which would be $2400 USD!!! OMG Then we headed upstairs to the shoes and purses and I cried that the Jimmy Choos weren't coming home with me.
Third day - took the train from Clapham Junction to Windsor Castle for a day at Windsor. The queen's flag was flying but she didn't come out and say hi :) It was a lovely day, in a lovely place. It was really weird to be in St. George's Chapel and look down and there lies King Henry VIII. Almost surreal.
Fourth day - took the train from Clapham Junction to Hampton Court Palace (used 2 for 1 14 pnds). The grounds of this place are too beautiful for words. It's good to be king. This took a full day to enjoy and I'm glad we didn't rush it - thank you TALF for the info because I had only planned on staying 2 hours.
Fifth day - St. Paul's Cathedral (used 2 for 1 10 pnds - paid extra 3 pnds for supertour) - Take supertour with a docent as you get to go behind the scenes - worth every penny. Then to the Tower of London (used 2 for 1 16.50 pnds). I really enjoyed the Beefeater tour but the crown jewels were worth the price of admission - I guess it's good to be queen! We had planned The Tower Bridge and Shakespeare Globe for today also but ran out of time. We possibly could have done the bridge but after taking the cruise and the HOHO bus and seeing it so many times we all agreed to forego it.
Sixth day - last day - Still time for one more thing - We tubed over to the British Musuem (free) for a quick and I mean quick run through. I didn't want to go to London without going to the Museum but we just ran out of time and since our plane didn't leave until 5:00p we had some time to kill. I now have to go back and just spend a week at the museum.
I'm sorry we didn't get a chance for a pub meet as it would have been nice to meet some of the friendly folks that helped me plan this vacation. Thank you very much for all your wisdom Trip Advisor London Forum!