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First Trip to the UK: A Fortnight in London or Diversify?

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Atlanta, Georgia
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First Trip to the UK: A Fortnight in London or Diversify?

Hi All, Thanks for making these forums a great place! I would appreciate your help with the following question. I am planning my first trip to the UK (from the US) and can either spend a fortnight in London or diversify a bit by spending 4-7 nights in London and then 7-10 nights in perhaps 2 or 3 of the following cities:

Manchester, Newcastle, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Cardiff, or Birmingham...

My main interests for this trip are in developing a pretty significant insight into the day-to-day life of the locals and I plan to spend much of my time visiting markets, restaurants, car boot sales, music venues, and the like... I'm not terribly interested in spending more than a few hours in the countryside and I strongly prefer wandering well-paved larger cities.

Given the sheer size of London's population and land mass, I am sure I can keep myself quite occupied there over the course of 14 nights... The question is, given my specific interests would you stay in London the entire 14 nights or diversify a bit?

Thank you! Djyas

Birmingham, Alabama
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1. Re: First Trip to the UK: A Fortnight in London or Diversify?

I would stay in London. Maybe take a day trip out. But you can spend weeks exploring just Central London. There are plenty of places to venture out for the day and experience "real" life. I have spent three holidays there plus countless weekends during work trips and still have so many places to explore!

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2. Re: First Trip to the UK: A Fortnight in London or Diversify?

Personally, I always opt to spend a couple of weeks in one city, maybe doing one day trip. I do this because I like to experience as much of one place as possible rather than scratching the surface of a number of different places. I would even apply this to a relatively small city such as Prague (where I could happily have spent a month), so it would apply all the more to London. Honestly, you could spend years here and still leave something yet undone. Given your specific interests, bear in mind that as you travel around London you find great diversity in many different ways, but especially economically and ethnically. You would probably find it interesting to travel around seeing areas with large concentrations of Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, West Indians, Nigerians, Somalians, Poles, Irish, Russians, Arabs, Jews, and so on, as well, of course, as traditional white working-class communities, notably, I think, Bermondsey, and surviving pockets of old Cockney communities in the East End, as well as those that have migrated into the easterly suburbs. I was thinking today as I walked through Smithfield what an amazing place this is. The meat market there is one of the largest in the world and has been operating for over eight hundred years. Trading begins at 3 o'clock in the morning, and local public houses are licensed to open early to provide somewhere for the workers to go for a drink after they have worked through the night and the early hours of the morning. What makes this all the more remarkable is that all this activity takes place in the middle of the world's most important financial centre and within a stone's throw of the Central Criminal Court.

Atlanta, Georgia
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3. Re: First Trip to the UK: A Fortnight in London or Diversify?

Thank you so much konagirl! I definitely don't want to short-change London and was hoping that some of TA's well informed contributors would indeed concur with spending all 14 days in London! Thanks again!

Atlanta, Georgia
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4. Re: First Trip to the UK: A Fortnight in London or Diversify?

Thank you jonathanquinn! I really appreciate your great insights and your suggestions suit me well! Thanks again!

East Sussex, United...
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5. Re: First Trip to the UK: A Fortnight in London or Diversify?

I would diversify. Just because you can fill 2 weeks in London doesn't mean you have to !

It seems a shame to come all this way and not see more of the UK. For one thing, "locals" are not as common as you might think in Central London, it's all commuters and tourists. Head to Cardiff or Norwich, say, and that problem is solved immediately you get off the train.

I won't try and persuade you on the countryside thing, although to me, that also seems an opportunity missed.

So - get out and about ! Enjoy your trip.


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6. Re: First Trip to the UK: A Fortnight in London or Diversify?

I agree with argyle mikey. To get a better idea of England, you need to see at least one place apart from London. London is a fantastic place but it is completely untypical of the country. I also think you should spend a few days in your other place, if you go for a day trip you will just pass through and get no feel for life in the place. My suggestion would be that you go to one of the smaller cities, perhaps somewhere a bit gritty like Portsmouth, rather than another large city. But not a twee tourist destination like Bath or Canterbury!

Wherever you go, have fun

7. Re: First Trip to the UK: A Fortnight in London or Diversify?

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8. Re: First Trip to the UK: A Fortnight in London or Diversify?

I agree with Mike. Get out of London for at least half (if not more of your time in the UK).

The transport system is usually quite excellent. You could base yourself in Yorkshire in little over two hours journey time from London and see a different side to English life.

Why travel all the way here and just base yourself in one place?

Groomsport, United...
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9. Re: First Trip to the UK: A Fortnight in London or Diversify?

A good proportion of London's daily multitude commute in from their little pieces of `countryside'...which are mainly suburban sprawls...There is always much debate about tthe `North/South' divide in the UK...the North always claiming to be `poorer'. I still haven't visited a number of the cities you mention but would suggest that visits to Newcastle and Edinburgh would give you a much better flavour of `local life' than staying in London.. Also, don't forget that Northern Ireland is part of the UK (I'm currently based there!!) and Belfast would give you that special `tingle in your toes'.

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10. Re: First Trip to the UK: A Fortnight in London or Diversify?

I'd be interested to know how you define "the locals" ... as has already been said London is an extremely ethnically diverse place with some areas having a large percentage of people from a particular background (Bangladeshi, Indian, Jewish, etc etc) and most areas having a very mixed population (Eritrean, Polish, Chinese, Nigerian, Turkish, etc etc, you name it, we've got it !!) ... this makes London interesting but hardly representative of the UK as a whole

I agree you could easily spend two weeks in London and barely scratch the surface (I've lived here 40 years and there's areas I've never visited) but whether you should venture to some other city or town as well rather depends on what it is you're looking for