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Thread: Trip to London

  1. Default Trip to London

    I know that lots of Brits frequent this board in search of information about trips to America . . . I'd like to take advantage of so many of you being on this board, and I'd like to turn the tables on you . . .

    My daughter's scout troop is interested in a trip to London. They're thinking of staying somewhere in Central London, seeing some sites in the city, and taking some day trips out into the countryside (yet returning to the same hotel each evening). Is this a realistic plan? Any suggestions on where to stay? Budget is our middle name.

    The Girl Scouts have an international hostel called Pax Lodge, but -- having never been to London -- I have no idea where it's located. Does anyone know whether it's a reasonable place to stay, and whether it's in a good location? Good, in this case meaning both safe and close to easy transportation.

    What sites would you recommend for a group of 17-18 year old scouts? I teach British literature, and I know what I would like to see . . . but this is about THEM.

    Finally, when's the best time of year for such a trip? I"d like to find a compromise between good weather and reasonable prices. They'll graduate in June 2012, so immediately after graduation is the obvious choice; however, we'd also consider Spring Break (the week after Easter) in 2012. Or early August before they all head out to separate colleges.

    Thanks so much for any help you can provide.

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    Imagine asking the same question of New York. Most of the answers are the same. I have lived in London all my life and it's an amazing city. Its relatively safe, it's much cheaper for you now the pound has crashed! And if the sun shines it's the most beautiful place in the world. To answer your questions:

    1. Pax Lodge is in Hampstead. A nice area in it's own right - a bit like Brooklyn I guess. However it isn't in the middle of town so it will probably take you 20 minutes or so to get into the city on the tube. Check out other hostels nearer the city at depending on numbers you might get a group discount. All the central locations are relatively safe and well located. I would avoid hotels. If the group was older and budget was higher than there are some great cheap hotels but there's some fun in slumming it when you're 18!!

    2. Sites - there are 100s!! the London eye is a good place to start and expect they can give you a group discount. I would also suggest the Natural History, Science and V & A museums. They're all next to each other so easy to navigate. Also for some local history the Museum of London is fantastic. It's also located in a cool place called the Barbican which also has several theatres. A guide that is indispensable is Time Out. It also has a weekly magazine giving details of what's on and festivals etc. A local Londoner's bible! You might also want to try a walking tour. This is the best I've been on several and they're fascinating - as long as the weather is nice!

    3. 2012 could be a nightmare - it's when London hosts the Olympics. Most of the events will be in East London but the city will be packed between mid July and late August. I also suggest avoiding the Easter period as it's prime tourist time. If you can be here when nobody else has a holiday then it'll help with queues and reservations. I guess that leaves post grad in June. A great time to come weather wise. If the sun is shining then take a boat trip. Here's an insider tip - show your travelcard/oyster card (its a day ticket for public transport) and you'll get a 33% discount.

    Finally - take the bus! Most people use the tube but you don't see anything. The bus is much more fun, safer and interesting. However make sure you buy Oyster cards in advance as you can't pay on board. Take the heritage route 9 from Trafalgar Square to the Albert Hall past Harrods and Hyde Park. You'll travel on an old Routemaster bus from the 1960s - for the same price as a regular fare!

    Also - expect cold wet foggy weather whenever you go. That way when the sun shines you'll be delighted!!

    Have fun!


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    Hi, June is not a bad time I'd say, our Schools dont break until late July so all our lot will still be in the Classroom, and the weather (should) be good by then. Also, the Olympic Games don't start until July so that should make life easier. I dont know about places to stay but I'd agree with hammar's comment about the Museums, (national ones are Free but some of the smaller private ones will charge an entrance fee). A trip to Buckingham Palace has got to be done, St James' Park is right in front of it, and Horse Guards Parade is within about 10 minutes walking distance where the Troop would inevitably aim to have their photo taken alongside one of our Guardsmen, complete with bearskin hat! The thing to remember is that things like Hyde park, Buckingham Palace, Horse Guards Parade, St James' Park, Trafalgar Square, Houses of Parliament, etc, are all within walking distance of one another, (or a short hop on the bus if you want). The Oyster card that hammar mentions does mean that the fare you pay is cheaper than the regular fare, but if you're roaming around London for the day it may be best to get a Travelcard which allows for unlimited travel for the day on the tubes & buses. If you get an 'off -peak' one it's a lot cheaper but you can only start your travels after 9:30 am. 'Transport for london' has a website you may find useful:-

    Tower Bridge can be a must do trip & even if you don't pay to go on the tour you can still walk across it for nowt! Right next door to the Tower of London on the North side of the river with the London Mayor's office on the South side, there's always loads going on around there. The following link can give you a brief insight:-

    For places outside of London in the Countryside I'd consider going to Hampton Court. The Palace there was the home of King Henry VIII and is a good day out, & if you haven't the money for the entrance fee just pop across the road into Bushey Park. It's where Henry VIII used to hunt Deer & they still roam free there today. It's right on the River Thames so things like boat trips are also available, for a fee of course. Richmond Park is similar and is right on the outskirts of London so not far to travel at all. You can take a peek here:-

    If they fancy a trip to the Coast Brighton might be the place to go, loads going on and fast rail links to london Victoria station. A bit brash for my tastes but probably ok for a group of Teenagers!

    And of course, I'm sure they may event want to try the greatest British institution of all, the Pub! Too bad if they're only 17 though, you have to be 18 over here! One's in London do tend to cater for the tourist trade & can be a bit pricey and 'plastic'. That said if they seek out the Wetherspoons chain of pubs they provide better value than many (there's one in Leicester Square if that helps - it's called The Moon Under Water). Best pubs tend to be out in areas where they have to do that little bit more to get their customers. Personally I'd suggest a day trip into Canterbury in the Kent countryside. It's an ancient Roman walled Town and is but a few miles from the Shepherd Neame brewery in Faversham. Find a Shepherd Neame pub & enjoy a tipple there after doing the sights of the Town (expect to go home in a wheelbarrow though!!!).

    Oxford St is the place to shop, but as in any large City where people congregate make sure they look after their purse/ wallets/ cash etc. It saddens me when I see people wandering around with these little backpacks on with their money in. In busy places these are easily zipped open & the contents removed before you even know it. That said, provided you don't act & look like a victim you're unlikley to become one. I've spent years up there & never had any issues but I know it goes on & especially so with people who aren't taking care.

    All in all, I'm sure they'll have not enough time or money to do all the things they'd like, but as many of the areas/attractions are free they should find enough to keep them occupied.

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    I am from London and I am happy to note that a road trip is being organized to my country. Regarding Pax Lodge I would like to inform him that it is located in Olave centre. Their address is 12c Lyndhurst Road, London City NW3 5PQ, 020 7435 2202. If he wants more information about the lodge then I would request him to PM me.

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