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Trip Report and ALL that we were able to cover!

Michigan, USA
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Trip Report and ALL that we were able to cover!

Just returned from our London/Paris trip March 12th-March 21st, this is a trip report for our London portion. We were able to cover a lot of ground on this trip with a little planning and a 7 day travel card which was invaluable for getting around and saving a lot of walking. Took tube right to hotel, was very easy.

Arrived at hotel - Millennium Gloucester (reviewed separately) at around 3:00pm on Wednesday the 12th after an overnight flight from Detroit, Michigan. Dropped our bags, freshened up a bit and hit the ground running. Went to Harrods and did some shopping, then stopped at a little restaurant across the street for a late lunch. Headed over to the London Eye for my 5:30pm flight (just me, hubby doesn’t like heights!). Was an exceptional way to start my trip by seeing everything across the city in such a lovely way. I pre-bought my tickets on-line and walked right on, like a 2 minute wait! After this we called it a day.

Started Thursday with full English breakfast bought through Groupon. Then off to the Tower of London (really enjoyed this), then did the Tower Bridge Exhibit (very interesting), then we went on the HMS Belfast (hubby really liked this and I even found it interesting a little), on to the London Bridge Experience (this sucked! for me anyhow.. thought it was very stupid). Then we made our way to the Monument. Stopped here and had lunch with great views of the monument. Then we went to Parliament and photographed it, Big Ben, and the outside of Westminster Abbey. Finally, to finish the evening out we had dinner down the street at the Wildwood restaurant (food was OK, and prices mediocre).

Friday we went into Pau’ls Cathedral, then made our way to the changing of the guard. Be prepared… it is packed with people for this! We took a spot across the street and were able to get great photos of the precession in and out of the gates. Then we went into Westminster Abbey. After this we went to the Churchill War Rooms (again for my husband’s sake, but I still found it kind of interesting). We ended our day by having dinner in the restaurant at the Thistle Marble Arch Hotel (great restaurant and steak dinner! Bought a Groupon for this before we left).

Saturday we started our day at the Jewel Tower (be advised walked past Westminster Abbey on the way and line was around the block! I would avoid it on Saturday!). Then we moved onto the Household Calvary Museum and saw all the coaches and cars used by the Royals. Also got to see the changing of the Guard Ceremony here too. Then we went to Trafalgar Square and saw Nelson’s Column, and then went to Ben Franklins House. Stopped for Lunch at London Fish and Chips (had a Groupon for this), and had Fish and Chips. We then went on to Kensington Palace and did the tour here. After leaving we decided to talk a walk through the parks from Kensington Palace all the way to Wellington Arch. Went up to the top of the Arch and enjoyed the views. Got a quick dinner at Burger King by the hotel as we wanted to relax a little before heading out for the Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London. This was totally cool! If you have the opportunity try to attend!

We were able to do all of the above with our 3 Day London Pass we purchased in advance. I know there is much debate about if the card is worth it or not… for us it was. Bought it before we left and just walked into everything by showing the card.

Sunday we took a bus tour with Golden Tours (great tour by the way!). We went to Stonehenge, Salisbury, and Bath. Saw Stonehenge and then got to see the Cathedral in Salisbury and the Magna Carta and had a lovely Sunday full Chicken Dinner for lunch in the Cathedral Restaurant. Finally we ended the day in Bath and went into the Roman baths and walked the town a little and shopped and had a great Gelato!

Monday we headed for the Tower docks and took the boat to Greenwich, enjoyed a lovely hot chocolate on the ride and the great views and narration. In Greenwich we went to the observatory and enjoyed seeing all the interesting information here and standing with one foot on each side of the Prime Meridian! Then we went on the Cutty Sark and hubby really liked this, and I thought it was kind of neat too. Was going to ride the boat all the way back to Westminster dock on our way back but tide was too high and had to get off at Tower docks instead. I had pre-bought all our tickets for the boat and admission online for all these things. Made an early day of it and had a GREAT late lunch at the Green Door restaurant down the street from the hotel.

Tuesday we headed to the train station and off to Paris!

Suggestions, I really liked having my 7 day travel card and London Pass in hand in advance and for us was totally worth it! Tube was very easy to use with good map. Used DK Eyewitness Guide for our travel book. Having the Groupons was nice bonus too. We did not wait more than 5 minutes to get into any site following the schedule above and having the London Pass. Used the Tesco across the street from hotel to get fresh fruit and pastries for a quick breakfast a number of days, and for drinks and snacks for the night. Bought post cards from our travels and mailed them home from hotel as mementos of our trip. Several of the card made it home before we did!

We were able to do the above schedule by starting at approximately 8-9am each morning and were back in the room by 6-7pm each night (except the one night for the Ceremony of the Keys when we went back out for this). I had a loose itinerary before we left to make sure we could see all we wanted to and new opening times for everything. We followed this generally speaking, but found we were able to rearrange a few items based on location and also were able to add several items with extra time we had.

Edited: 23 March 2014, 10:38
Old Royal Naval College
Historic Sites, Architectural Buildings, Churches & Cathedrals
Westminster Cathedral
Sacred & Religious Sites, Churches & Cathedrals
Temple Church
Churches & Cathedrals
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11. Re: Trip Report and ALL that we were able to cover!

I enjoyed reading your trip report. The Mr. & I typically start our days early and 'go go go' too. Tiring yes, but we always get to see so much! :D

Last night PBS aired a special called "Secrets of the Tower of London" which the Mr. & I enjoyed tremendously and was a great preview of what we will see when we tour it in June. It hadn't even occurred to me to visit the Tower Bridge, but the bit on the special did intrigue me and now that I've read about your experiences, I really must add it. :D

Thanks for sharing your trip with us. Fingers crossed that you wrote a trip report for Paris as we will visit both too!

Edited: 24 March 2014, 12:37
London, United...
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12. Re: Trip Report and ALL that we were able to cover!

Wow! You saw so many interesting places and touristic attractions in only a few days. This was a truly cultural marathon. I am glad that you have enjoyed London and its surroundings so much.

Michigan, USA
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13. Re: Trip Report and ALL that we were able to cover!

I do believe I missed two questions I will try to answer. Ben Franklins house was OK, could be skipped without missing much IMHO though. The tour we did was a bit quick in each place. You have to know that a full day tour to 3 places like this is going to be more of a highlights than in depth.

We had enough time at Stonehenge to walk around the entire site and take lots of pictures, and then maybe 1/2 hour in the museum there before we left again. In Salisbury we followed our guide and had a very informative narration of the church and saw the Magna Carta, plus we had a nice sit down Sunday lunch, finally in Bath we saw the entire Roman Bath site, plus had maybe another 45 minutes to walk around the city and shop a bit.

Edited: 24 March 2014, 19:07
Los Angeles
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14. Re: Trip Report and ALL that we were able to cover!

Great report. You fit a lot in and did it your way.

New York City, NY
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15. Re: Trip Report and ALL that we were able to cover!

Has anyone purchased the 7 day Travelcard voucher in advance? I think it's around 31 pounds...I'm wondering if it's best to purchase it in advance, making it quicker to pick up the card and discount book at a rail station. Or should we not bother and just buy it once we get there? thank you

London, United...
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16. Re: Trip Report and ALL that we were able to cover!

Fantastic report.

Phoenix, Arizona
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17. Re: Trip Report and ALL that we were able to cover!

I really enjoyed your trip report. I am planning on doing things very similar, but I'm going to take it a bit slower in 8 days. Also, just like you, I bought everything online prior to leaving, this way I'm paying over time instead of all at once. My aim is when I get to London, my only expense would be food, eating out. I will buy the travel card when I arrive at LHR since I can load it on an oyster instead of a separate paper ticket. I'm also glad to hear the London Pass has helped because I bought mine for 6 days, but later read very negative reviews here about it. So glad to hear it wasn't a waste after all. I do have a question about Groupon. I've heard the term used, but not sure how to take advantage of these deals? Can you provide more info how you got the Groupons? Thanks again for the nice report.

Teacher91' the time is getting close and closer. 3 months for you, 4 months for me!!!!!

Upland, California
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18. Re: Trip Report and ALL that we were able to cover!

What an inspiring report!!! My family and I are going to London,Paris and Utrecht June1-16 and I am looking to plan out everything we will be doing ahead of time like you did. Tripadvisor is such a great resource!!! Is there a special link on groupon for London or Paris? I'm so excited to go after reading your report! Thanks!!!

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19. Re: Trip Report and ALL that we were able to cover!

Thanks for this post! I'm also planning for my trip much later this year and was really wondering about the Stonehenge/Bath/Somewhere else trip. I was thinking of doing the Windsor Castle trip with this one but I want to spend some time in Bath, including visiting the Jane Austen Museum. Can you say how much time you had in Bath after going to two other places earlier on?

I'm on the same boat, we may never have a chance to come back so I want to see as much as I can. I can be tired on my way home lol :)

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20. Re: Trip Report and ALL that we were able to cover!

Yes it was a very late lunch on Thursday


About 4pm by your timings.