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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.

Indianapolis...
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51. Re: Managing Our Trip to London: a summary

Like, Hoogoo, I found it hard to know what direction I was going in when leaving a tube station, and the traffic travelling on the other side of the road than what I'm used to threw me even more. I found a compass works well for me. It clips onto my watch band.

Thanks for the trip report.

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

I read the bit about London Walks interestingly.

I'm glad you enjoyed striking out on your own and had a good time anyway. I'm just curious why you planned two paid activities that didn't have 15 minutes leeway? Or why you didn't start the walk but leave early if needed?

This thread has been amusing. Right up there with the 'where can I buy medicinal marijuana' thread that got closed on the Las Vegas forum yesterday :-)

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

If it were up to me, tube station exits would have compass roses designs in their floors and in the sidewalks outside.

Seattle
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54. Re: Managing Our Trip to London: a summary

What a great post! I am leaving for London Sept 17 and although I have been there many times. who ever thought of taking a compass? I will definitely do so. I will be introducing London to my adult daughter and wonder if anyone has any ideas for a "must see" for a middle aged boomer who is still a Beatles fan?

Philadelphia...
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55. Re: Managing Our Trip to London: a summary

Obviously, I feel dumb asking this question but what does London AZ booket/map stand for?

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

The London AtoZ is a (definitive) streetmap in book(let) form. Handier than a compass for many reasons and like any decent map, laid out in NSEW format anyway....

London, UK
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57. Re: Managing Our Trip to London: a summary

A to Z. Because it lists all the streets. You can buy a copy in any bookshop, many newsagents and corner shops. It's really useful.

Edited: 04 September 2013, 18:36
Vancouver, Canada
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58. Re: Managing Our Trip to London: a summary

A to Z rather than AZ. Still my street atlas of choice. http://www.az.co.uk/?nid=31&iid=10004

London, UK
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59. Re: Managing Our Trip to London: a summary

If you're interested, there's a great (imo) book about the woman who walked around London plotting the maps amazon.co.uk/Mrs-Ps-Journey-Remarkable-Story…

Sadly out of print now but available. I'm afraid I can't recall whether she carried a compass or not.

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

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