Monday, November 18, 2013

TIps and To-Dos--London

So, I know I said I wouldn't use this as anything but a transcription of my journal...yeah, I wanted to do more than just "read" my journey to you guys. Now, I am NOT an expert by any means. This feature is for very basic tips and tricks and my favorite to-dos in each city. Everyone is different, everyone has different likes and dislikes and ways of doing things so don't take my word as law is all I'm sayin'. 

London. One of my absolute FAVORITE cities in the world. I have now been there twice and have a plan to go back in June with my sister who has been dying to go there forever! There is so much rich history and culture. The West End holds the theater district and it is just incredible. You could easily spend 2 weeks there doing something everyday and there will STILL be things you haven't done. My goal the next time I go is to get out to Wales and Oxford. I wanted to go this year and we just didn't have time! Plus there was a wind issue--eep. Ok, here we go.

1. Get an Underground map and buy your Oyster card. 
London is massive and you just cannot walk everywhere you need to go. The Underground is also massive and the system can be confusing but DON'T FREAK OUT. Calmly look at the lines and connections. Or ASK FOR HELP. Once you get the hang of the Underground, you can get anywhere. The world is your oyster...see what I did there?

London is SUCH an expensive city and don't be fooled by thinking the British pound is equal to the American dollar (if you are American and reading this, if you are from another country, sorry. However, the conversion still won't be the same...anyway). Every attraction you want to go to will cost money. Food is expensive. Shows are also expensive (see next tip). Just make sure you really look into your finances and save as much as you can before you go because London is the most expensive city I've been to. Of course, it is also where there is EVERYTHING I want to do.

3. Love the theater? Want to see a show? 
Research into the show's Day Tickets.
 I went to see Let It Be and We Will Rock You when I was just there and because I bought my tickets the day of the show during a certain time, I got AMAZING seats at a very cheap price. Grab brochures for shows you want or inquire at the box office. You will save yourself a ton of money buying the day of. Of course, not every show will have this, just do your research. 

4. Don't overestimate yourself and the concept of time. 
Because there is SO much to do you might think you can get in all 3 attractions you want to go to. Don't overreach. Traveling via Underground takes more time than you will probably think, especially if there isn't good service on the line. Don't get frustrated with crowds either. It is a huge tourist city so lots of people want the best experience. Give yourself more time than you think to get around and get to your destinations.

5. Do a hop on-hop off tour.
I would recommend this in any city. If you are traveling along and not with a tour group, it might be overwhelming to know what are the best things to see in each city. With London, there are too many things to see unless you move there. Doing a hop on-hop off tour will get you around to at least SEE all the major palaces and churches. You might not have time to go in all of them but at least you can say that you've seen it. London, again, is huge. Get a feel for it by getting on a bus tour. They usually run about 2 hours if you stay on for the whole tour. It also is a good way to get around during the day. Hop off at the Tower, hop back on and it will eventually get you to Buckingham Palace. Efficient.

6. Research your accommodation site. 
Do a little research into where you are staying. Make sure it is near a Tube station and, if at all possible, a popular one. 

Must See!
The Tower of London
Lots of history. Site of executions. Crown Jewels. What's not to love?

The Making of Harry Potter
Uh...need I really explain?

Buckingham Palace
Quick stop. Take some pictures. See the change of the guard--check the schedule. Off season they only change the guard every other day. Peak season (summertime) they do it every day.

Westminster Abbey
See where Kate and Will got married! The cathedral is beautiful on the outside and my number one goal my next trip is to get inside! It was closed when I went :(

Hampton Court Palace
SO underrated! This place is outside of London so you will have to take a train, takes about 30 minutes, but it is so worth it. I swear, the gardens inspired Lewis Carroll. Home of Henry VIII, it is a must see for me, if you love history, it will be for you, too. 

You Can Skip

Shakespeare's Globe
I was so disappointed in this. Small exhibition. Nothing really to see. If you LOVE Shakespeare, go to say you've been there, if you're not, you can definitely skip this. 

Abbey Road
Don't be fooled by the Underground stop labeled Abbey Road. I learned the hard way it is NOT the infamous Beatles site. That is much more centrally located in London. Do your research. I would tell you myself but I can't remember either!

Hope this can help you guys in some planning! I'm always available via Twitter or email if you want more details, have questions about my experience, or just want to talk traveling! 

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