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Managing Our Trip to London: a summary

Boston...
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Managing Our Trip to London: a summary

We just returned from spending 10 days in London and all in all we had a great time. We visited several tourist sites but by no means all. We used the tube, buses, and our feet but no cabs. We found places to eat but never came in contact with fish and chips. We saw 2 delightful shows, one of which was Jersey Boys. We walked up to the tkts booth in Leicester Square, bought 2 tickets and found ourselves in great seats. We bumped into the National Portrait Gallery quite by accident and found ourselves in front of the official portrait of the Duchess of Cambridge. We had very fine weather but again quite by accident we happened upon James Smith & Sons (umbrellas and walking sticks) wherein I bought a travel umbrella and the most beautiful ladies umbrella in the shop. This - in spite of the fact that Los Angeles is having a drought. The umbrella is a work of art: take my word for it.

In truth I over-researched London having spent a lot of time on TA asking questions, seeking clarifications. But it paid off. We had little if any trouble and wasted very little time (the bane of the tourist). The only glitch we encountered was with London Walks at the Tower of London. We had tickets to a show in the afternoon so we expected the walk to begin at 11am and when the guide was still fooling around at 11:15 with collecting money, etc., we left. We hopped back on the tube and headed for Leicester Square. In the process we tripped over the National Portrait Gallery. We thought it a darn good exchange, but it also soured us on London Walks. Had we not had tickets for an afternoon show things might have been different, but as it was we were pressed for time.

I remember an entry out here on TA saying that no matter what we do, we'll be recognized as tourists. What a hoot! Every other person we saw either had a map or a schematic of the tube! Brits coming into London from the outskirts have no more idea about how to get around in London than we did!! The only tube trip where we felt a bit skittish was the trip out of LHR! To someone from Los Angeles the tube is simply an underground freeway with connections and transfers. The confusing thing about the tube is getting your bearings once you're out on the street. For that I had a compass and it proved to be one of the most important items I packed. I can't remember a single entry on TA that even mentioned taking a compass. How else to get your bearings? No point asking anyone for directions: we quickly learned to rely on our own resources.

So, what did we learn that is worth passing on? First, take a compass. It will prove to be indispensable. Second, use London AZ or some other detailed map book to get around. Do not even bother bringing a map because none of them has enough detail to keep you from getting lost. Third, study the tube map before coming to London and at least learn which tube lines go where and how they interconnect. It struck us as totally crazy but standing outside of Buckingham Palace we were giving directions to tourists who were so discombobulated that they didn't know which way was north. My little compass got them on their way again.

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31. Re: Managing Our Trip to London: a summary

When I first went to New York nearly twenty years ago, I read my guidebook (the Rough Guide - no pictures at all in those days, just intelligent information and maps) before I went and carried it around with me. I had a picture of the city in my head before I went that turned out to be more accurate than I thought it would, and I found myself giving information to quite a few people from out of town who seemed lost. I can well imagine many British people from outside London are also more lost than foreign tourists. I think the reason for this in both cases is that people will often get a guidebook for a city in a foreign country, but rarely bother with a guidebook if it is a city in their own country. We often prepare ourselves better when travelling abroad.

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32. Re: Managing Our Trip to London: a summary

My summary was pretty straight forward and written without guile and without intention to jab anyone in the ribs. Why the comment about using a compass generated so much heat is beyond me. As for some of the other comments (including a new one I won't bother reading) about my observation that out-of-towners were in the same boat as us, that was a pretty harmless observation taken way overboard. I stand by my comment that there is hyper-sensitivity among some of the posters and a degree of snarkiness toward Americans --unless Americans approach TA on bended knee in supplication. In one of my first posts months ago I was told to mind my manners. Say what? Have you all gone mad? I thought so.

My husband, an ex-military guy who knows how to use a compass, thinks the snarkiness (as I interpret it) reflects GB's slackened role in the world (the current business notwithstanding). And also its economic troubles. Brits did not go to the continent this summer because the euro has blasted the pound out of the water. Posters (in contrast to "authorities and experts") to TA may not see themselves as representing GB, hence the snarky remarks, but that's not how we see it. They reflect GB. That being the case, they should mind their manners and particularly not alienate Americans who are coming to spend money and help bolster their sagging economy.

I'm done so don't even bother responding.

London, United...
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33. Re: Managing Our Trip to London: a summary

> I'm done so don't even bother responding.

I agree we can be interpreted as spokespeople for our home country here. I imagine many of our regular American posters, having worked hard to dispel the "ugly American" myth, are cringing at your posts right now.

Ossett, United...
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34. Re: Managing Our Trip to London: a summary

Fascinating.

..... Cut, because I don't know where to start. I do know how to use a compass though. I'm pretty relaxed about Britain's role in the world too. Oh, and.... oops, nearly got on my soapbox.

London, United...
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35. Re: Managing Our Trip to London: a summary

*rolls eyes*

Ex army explains the whole compass thing. Not the average navigational training then and not mentioned in the OP. And most Londoners already know to ask a tourist of they're lost coz they'll most likely have a map.

Sad for the sour ending to an otherwise nice trip report

As for the rest, I'm also secondhand cringing for the regular American posters who know the truth. It's like watching Brits behaving badly abroad on tv...

London
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36. Re: Managing Our Trip to London: a summary

Explains a lot, (not just this thread).

London, United...
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37. Re: Managing Our Trip to London: a summary

plw, don't be so cryptic! What's the goss?

I used to be a very keen hillwalker and backpacker so I'm used to compass work. As per the thread I linked to, sometimes I find it helpful to immediately ascertain my bearings as I tended to memorise journeys before I set out (so didn't carry a map) and knew I'd have to exit a tube station and walk 200m, say, east. Now with gps on phones it's not so necessary.

Stanley, Falkland...
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38. Re: Managing Our Trip to London: a summary

ReadandWeep . I do.

London, United...
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39. Re: Managing Our Trip to London: a summary

Oh dear, arrived late for the old 'set to', seems we upset the OP, seems that he/she then proceeded to upset the apple cart.

Cannot imagine why a compass would be needed in London, would only ever consider one when orienteering in the open countryside, and am a little worried by the OP's parting shot -

"That being the case, they should mind their manners and particularly not alienate Americans who are coming to spend money and help bolster their sagging economy."

Is that really why tourists visit London??

My take on it is that they come to see an historical and beautiful city, seems I have got it wrong though perhaps if our friends across the pond do want to boost our sagging economy they could have a word with their own government who hand-in-glove with the British government have put in motion a wrecking ball that is destroying jobs and people's lives both here and in the US.

As for manners, there may be some members on TALF who have a rather robust way of putting things, have been shot down in flames myself on occasion, but best not to be too 'precious' over this and simply come back with a witty put-down and leave it at that.

London
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40. Re: Managing Our Trip to London: a summary

I'm sorry but I have just a comical mental picture of people earnestly plotting their path with a compass (useless without a map) while the rest of us just crack on and follow a streetmap (or even the map available at most tube stations) for the reasons stated. I can usually quote a FG joke at this point. Sadly nothing comes to mind on this occasion.....

Edited: 03 September 2013, 16:16