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My SUPER AWESOME British Itinerary

(nb: 'super awesome' is in the eye of the beholder)

Monday:

  1. Fly Icelandair to UK. Remember they don't serve food on this airline. Hope the whole flight doesn't go Donner Party somewhere over Greenland.

  2. Land Heathrow. Deplane. Take Tube to Fulham. Pray that in jetlagged state I don't end up in Bromley.

  3. Take Tube back from Bromley. Arrive at at The Malt House. Time for my first real British experience: 4 pints of bitter plus bangers-and-mash -- the great British working-class lunch!

  4. Kill a few hours staggering around Brompton Cemetery -- home to a lot of dead people, the majority of which are no longer still alive. Go back to The Malt House for dinner, pints, and much-needed sleep.

Tuesday:

  1. The Imperial War Museum (10am-2pm): "We fought World War One in Europe, we fought World War Two in Europe, and goddamnit, if you let us, we'll fight World War THREE in Europe!" -- some American general whose name eludes me at the moment

  2. Churchill War Rooms (3:00-6:00pm): "Aw, c'mon Honey -- it'll be a lot more interesting than high tea or a show!"

  3. Roger Waters: The Wall (8:00pm - 11:00pm): " . . . but constable, it's legal to smoke this in Seattle where I'm from!"

Weds:

  1. The British Museum (all day): I figure this oughta cure me of ever wanting to see another museum as long as I live.

Thurs:

  1. Westminster Abbey (9:30am - 1:30pm): More dead people in higher-class digs.

  2. The Blackfriar Pub (2:00 - . . . ): A proper British lunch: another four pints plus bangers-and-mash. Sadly, not enough time for a proper piss-up.

  3. The Tate Modern ( . . . - 6:00pm): Seriously, I've seen Modern Art before and four pints is the minimum I'm willing to see it again on.

Friday:

  1. OPEN DAY except for one thing: High Tea (BTW, if you -are- from Seattle, don't get your hopes up based on the name). Not sure where to enjoy this, but I promised my wife I'd behave where ever we go.

Saturday:

  1. Blimey -- is that . . . The National Gallery? (10:00-6:00pm): Apparently so! Interspersed with:

  2. Saint Martin in the Fields (12:00 - 1:30): Allegedly a great place for lunch (which is a damnedable lie based on the fact there's neither pints or bangers served there)

Sunday:

  1. Uhh . . . I'm kinda at a loss here. Suggestions? As long as I'm back in time for . . .

  2. ROAST BEEF SUPPER! There'd better be half a bloody cow on my plate coupled with YORKSHIRE PUDDING and lashings of delicious gravy. Also: pints.

Monday:

  1. On to the Eurostar and off to Paris to join my much-anticipated Rick Steves' Best of Paris tour! Yay! I can't wait to meet all my new friends in the City of Romance! And I'm sure they can't wait to meet me!
Posted by
8889 posts

One well good piece of planning. But, are you sure you have allowed enough drinking time?
Bromley isn't even on the tube, its on the suburban network. That's well lost.
Remember which way to look when crossing the road (not easy after > 4 pints). You gain extra points by falling asleep on the tube on your way back from the pub and going past your stop; double points if you again fall asleep when you come back the other way and end up at your starting point.

Posted by
7124 posts

National Gallery ?
St Pauls ?
Tower of London ?

Given your penchant for 'four pints' with every meal I would be very reticent about planning any activity before midday. lol
ENJOY !!

Posted by
1879 posts

Mike,

Give our regards to William, Kate, and the little ones. And, remember, let them extend their hands first when you greet them (yeah, right!!!! :)

No time for the Kew Gardens or the Chelsea Physics Garden? Or the changing of the guard at the palace? Oh, that's right.....you'll be busy with the pints!!! Even better buy one of the Royal Guards a pint at the end of his shift....oh the stories you will (likely) hear.....seriously!!

Try a frozen limoncello at a sidewalk cafe in Paris (even though limoncello is technically Italian). Paris is amazing!!

Have fun! Your wife must be a saint :)
Safe travels.....can't wait to read your trip report upon return.

Margaret

Posted by
1939 posts

I think your plans sound like fun. Do have a great time and enjoy yourselves! I'm just home from 10 days in London-what an amazing City. We have considered The Blackfriar Pub our favorite for quite a few years. Now have introduced all our adult kids (and the youngsters, too) to the place. Didn't see Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese on your itinerary, though.

Posted by
4697 posts

Looks like a great itinerary, not too rushed and plenty of pint time. A few thoughts:

Icelandair does serve food, they just don't serve free food like most of the others. You can buy a meal, which may include some Icelandic treats, or bring your own. So no Donner worries. (Also, I'm sure you can buy beer to get you in the right frame of mind for your vacation.) Selling food is one of the reasons their fares are lower.

Churchill War Rooms and Westminster Abbey are so close together that you could save time (for more pints) by visiting them the same day.

The National Portrait Gallery, right next to National Gallery and St. Martin's, can give you a lot of British history via the portraits of mostly famous people. If you want something to do with your day at Trafalgar Square. Besides pints which I'm sure can be found also.

Your open day could include the Tower and St. Paul's (evensong is nice though it helps to be sober), or a boat trip to Greenwich, or boat/train to Hampton Court, or train to Windsor -- all nearby day trips, all convenient to pubs. Also, perhaps on another day, the London Eye can give you a nice overview if the weather's good and you're able to stand upright while swinging into the sky.

When you get to Paris, you might want to try a drink they have there, made with fermented grapes. They call it vin (pronounced vaaaahn). Not commonly sold in pints but by the glass (verre, pronounced vehr) or small pitcher (pichet, pronounced pee-shay). You could become very popular with your fellow travelers by helping them with these pronunciations.

We will miss you here in the Northwest while you're gone. Be sure to return! Try to use a plane to fly home. ;-)

Posted by
7124 posts

With 6 full days (less hangover time) and lots of eating, drinking and socialising on the horizon, I suggest you organise your afternoons around a few 'biggies'.
1 The Imperial War Museum and London Eye
2 Churchill War Rooms and Westminster Abbey (Houses of Parliament & Big Ben)
3 British Museum
4Tower of London (Tower Bridge)
5 St Pauls and Tate Modern
6 National Gallery (Trafalgar Square & Piccadily Circus)

Posted by
14323 posts

The Churchill War Rooms are great. I could have spent a couple hours just watching all the interviews with people who worked there during the war. Leave the visit open-ended in case you want to spend more time. Read the latest reviews on the Imperial War Museum since it's reopened. (I saw a couple and they weren't encouraging). The quote sounds a lot like Patton :-)

All day in the British Museum sounds like a long time (and I love the museum). The good news is that there are a couple pubs right across the street from the entrance. I've been told that the restaurant does a very good afternoon tea.

The Museum of London is very interesting. Friday morning would be a good time to visit Borough Market. Take a look at London Walks tours. They are excellent. The V&A is a fascinating museum, with lots of variety and only a little art.

Posted by
345 posts

I second the suggestion above to look at London Walks. www.walks.com. Among other things, its a good way to get an initial overview of many of the main museums (I did an excellent 2 hour tour of the British Museum with them a couple of years ago), they also do Westminster Abbey and St Pauls. Pub walks are also available every evening.

Katy

Posted by
6500 posts

I love your schedule. And your wife really MUST be a saint!

Posted by
25732 posts

I don't see the problems you note for Saint Martin-in-the-Field.

They may not have pints but you can have quite a few glasses of the wine that they do serve. It should keep you going, shouldn't it?

Posted by
100 posts

Mike-
First, the obvious. You are funny.

Second, your plan leaves lots of time to add things from Wed-Sun. Imperial War Museum when I saw it pre-renovation...Churchill War Rooms is very good. British Museum is enormous but give it a half day. Westminister Abbey is great but 2-3 hours not 4. I assume your wife wants to go to Tate Modern. Sounds like you won't appreciate any more than I did last month. National Gallery is 1-2 hours.

My suggestions, not knowing your interests:
Tower of London is the best thing in London and takes 4 hours
Changing of Guards is great pageantry, worth getting early for a good viewpoint and waiting
I liked the St Pauls tour very much, climbed to the top of the spire
I very much liked the Royal Mews next to Buckingham Palace
V&A is a decent 90-minute free walk if your nearby

Good day trips: Hampton Court by train, Greenwich by boat, or use Evan Evans for Windsor Castle/Bath/Stonehenge by bus.

And how do you of all people not have the Fullers Brewery tour on your to-do list??!!

And make sure you walk by and take photos of Buckingham Palace, Big Ben/Parliament, Prince Albert Memorial, Trafalgar Square, Picadilly Circus

Enjoy!

Posted by
31289 posts

Mike,

Interesting and somewhat entertaining Itinerary. I just glanced over it but one comment......

"4 pints of bitter plus bangers-and-mash -- the great British working-class lunch!"

Another gourmet item for the British working class lunch is a Bacon Butty / Bacon Sarnie. As I recall, you can choose ketchup or brown sauce (I tend to prefer the brown sauce). Of course, another favourite is the classic English Fish & Chips (perhaps with a pint).

I may have missed it, but when is this trip taking place?

Posted by
2624 posts

Okay, I'm going to save you the misery of being dragged through the Tate Modern (although I like it.). Get your wife to park you right next door to the Tate at one of my favorite pubs in London. The Founder's Arms has a great terrace overlooking the River Thames where you can sip several pints and watch boats drift by on the river, or gaze across the river at St. Paul's and "the City". Great pub, food and view. And you can people-watch, or start a conversation with others at the pub so they can enjoy your witty comments, as we have here.

When your wife is finished with the Tate Modern, she knows where to find you. You owe me one for getting you out of this!

Posted by
378 posts

Hey everyone!

Thanks for your wonderful and insightful replies; sorry I didn't respond sooner, but work is the curse of the drinking class!

Chris F: Certainly, there will be many long, lonesome minutes spent between pints, but if I can do 11 hours on Donner Party Air, I think I can tough 'em out! Also, if I -do- end up in Bromley, I'm promptly blaming you!

Harley: My saint-ish wife thanks you!

djp_syd: I'm worried about The Tower of London as it apparently still sports a "torture room" and I don't need my wife getting any ideas.

Margaret: I'll have you know I'm no longer suffering from scrofula and thus am not in need of a Royal touching me. Do the Royals still go out and randomly poke commoners with a stick for the novelty of it? I believe as an American I'm not legally royally-pokable. I think the Kew Gardens would be a wonderful addition to my schedule, especially as there's plentiful trees to pass out relax under. Also, if my wife were any more saint-ish, we'd be fighting off His Holiness from trying to canonizing her -- and she's still alive!

andi: Did I hear CHEESE? Cheese and PINTS? Oh, THAT one's going on the list for sure!

Dick: I've seen the food Icelandair offers and I think I might just opt for cannibalism. Also, I'm not falling for that fermented grape juice twice! I've tried it before and after a few servings, the devil and all his little imps take up residence in the ol' gray-matter and whisper things that'll seem like -really- good ideas at the time (until the YouTube video shows up); then in the bleary morning, they take turns stabbing that same gray matter mercilessly. Best to stick with beer, which makes men strong, woman fertile and children behave.

Chani: The V&A sounds charming and cultured; as such, there's a 50% chance they'll see me coming and close the doors. That said, I think I'll give it a try, regardless.

Katy: I've heard tell of this "walking" thing before as it generally comes before stumbling and then falling in the gutter to the amusement of others. I'll check into the tour. A good walk clears the head, I'm told: god I hope not!

Kim: We'll see how much of a saint she is about 5 hours into the flight when my ADD kicks in and the amusements I brought run out! And thank you! :)

dgnagle4: Yeah, as much as I love museums, I don't know that I can really do a whole day there. And Fuller's?! THAT Fullers? Home of the ESB and other TLAs that lead to joviality and massive hangovers? Oh boy -- sign me up for that! I'll tell my wife it's like high tea for men.

Ken: There are many British delights that I'm looking forward to taking in: Pizza Hut, McDonalds, that sandwich shop that's apparently on every corner now . . . nah! I'll look for those goodies you suggested. My trip is taking place Sept. 28-Oct 5 -- do you know something I should know about those dates?

David: Careful branding me intelligent as the wife might require me to repeat the performance. Yeah, I like Modern Art mostly because it provides me with prop comedy and a chance to exercise my witty repartee. Museum curators love my running commentary on their acquisitions so much they often introduce me to their favorite piece: the door out!

Despite what Wait, Wait -- Don't Tell Me has taught me about NPR listeners, you're a great group of people and I promise a verbose and an occasionally-accurate journal of my travels when I return!

Take care and happy travels,

-- Mike

Posted by
7124 posts

Look out for these favourites on English pub menus ...

Bangers and mash with onion gravy
Steak and ale (or kidney) pie
Fish and chips
Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding
Shepherds pie
Chicken tikka masala
Lancashire hotpot
Cornish pastie

Posted by
14323 posts

Mike, I doubt you'll have a Donner appetite once you get a look at your fellow passengers . . . unless there's a small tender juicy screaming one. And if you get really antsy and bored, there's always the opportunity to join the mile-high club . . .

I can't decide if I'm glad or sorry you weren't on my RS tours. . . . but I'm sure I'd have enjoyed visiting the Tate Modern with you.

I am now eagerly awaiting your SUPER AWESOME journal.

Posted by
1282 posts

Chani, the Donner appetite is a problem as most airlines employ a 'self clean' policy so this tends to be avoided. That said it is often preferred to the dessert.

Mike, the Royal Family no longer poke commoners, they just point and laugh, and say 'how awful'. However as an American, you may be poked under the Poke an American (Emergency Powers) (London) (and bits of Surrey) Act 1884 as amended.

I must advise however it is only permitted to drink alcohol once the Sun is over the yard arm in one of Her Majesty's Realms and Territories. Ok, that stretches from New Zealand through to Canada, you should be ok, ish.

As long as the beer is not American, that legally counts as a soft drink. At least in Glasgow.

As a place to visit, I would add the Globe in Southwalk and cross back and forth across the bridge that links it with the City with the vista of St Paul's rising above it. I believe there is a public house next to it, but not sure of the quality.

Posted by
908 posts

Mike,
If you haven't seen the now-defunct TV comedy "Outnumbered", episode 3.1 may be required viewing before your trip. While visiting the Tate Modern, the little girl Karen sums up everything many of us would like to say about modern art. And the facial expressions/reactions of the German tourists on the HMS Belfast are priceless.

Posted by
991 posts

Usually I just cringe and move along when the subject of one's post is their itinerary. Yours makes me want to go with you. BTW and since you didn't ask, my favorite pub is The Sherlock Holmes on Northumberland St just off Trafalgar Sq. and my favorite cemetery is Highgate.

Posted by
31289 posts

Mike,

I didn't find the Tate Modern to be all that bad. As I recall, it's in an old thermal generating plant, which gives it a bit of "character" (I used to work in the electrical utility industry, so I like that kind of character). It's right across the Millenium Bridge so be sure to take a spin across that too.

For dining in old blighty, you won't have any trouble finding the usual choices such as McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Burger King or whatever as they're ubiquitous, but I agree with your decision to stick with finer dining options such as a Bangers & Mash or a Bacon Butty.

Posted by
7124 posts

A lot of contemporary art can be seen as a gimmick, a concept, or just an idea in the artist's head.
Modern art, however, stretches way back to the Impressionists. I think there is some confusion here.

Posted by
5629 posts

Substitute Tower of London for British Museum. Go early, beat the crowds. From tower walk up to LeadenHall Market. Wander, appreciate the glass covered market, then head over to http://www.simpsonstavern.co.uk/ for lunch and your pints. Sated, walk over to St. Paul's, climb the steps, enjoy the view. In need of sustinence walk down to my favorite pub, The Blackfriar ( you'd scheduled a visit anyway). The rest of the night is yours to enjoy. The next day, drop the Blackfriar, take Rebecca's advice whilst the other half explores the Tate Modern. That evening see some London theatre. Stop at the Half Price ticket booth , get your tickets and have a fun evening. As far as Sunday stroll through Hyde Park or take the tube to Hampstead, explore the village then enjoy the Heath. Check out the Duke of Hamilton pub to see if the Hampstead rugby teams are playing or have played that day. Always fun to watch! Or enjoy the madness of Camden Lock market and then wander along the adjacent canal. Good way to build up your appetite for your engagement with a Sunday roast. Lastly, forget high tea. Merely have afternoon tea. Fortum and Mason's is nice but the tea I suspect she wants to enjoy will be at The Ritz or Claridges. Pricey and classy.

You itinerary is brilliant BTW. Have a good time!

Posted by
977 posts

Fantastic piece of fiction (me thinks!!!) I presume you have downed 4 pints of British beer before at one sitting?? If not, it will be interesting!!! Lots of choices for High Tea. However, you will probably have to book well in advance. My daughter and I booked High Tea at the Ritz 7 weeks before our arrival in London. Only times available then were 11.30am and 5.30pm.
Enjoy your London experience (hope you remember it!!!)

Posted by
14323 posts

Be outdoors in the mornings, indoors afternoons - with all those luncheon pints, you'll want to have the loo nearby.

Posted by
14323 posts

Americans usually don't know there are various teas - afternoon, sweet, high. They often say high tea because just "tea" sounds odd to them. I don't bother to correct them anymore. We know they don't mean high tea.

Posted by
7124 posts

Afternoon Tea becomes High Tea with the inclusion of savoury items - sandwiches, small quiches etc
You might take Afternoon Tea around 3-4pm, whereas High Tea is more at home around 5-6pm.
Most of the sumptuous affairs offered by the big hotels these days include savoury items.

Posted by
378 posts

Thank you all for the additional replies:

  • Ok, I'm more the edified about the great British tradition of tea now. Who knew -- apart from everyone who isn't me -- that tea could be so complicated? My wife is excited that she has such wonderful options (and that I'm still promising to behave and not make 'witty' comments about the whole thing)

  • Tate Modern: Wait, there's a PUB by the place? Oh, sign me up for that and a lot less "installations" and "art du crap". My wife can enjoy the alleged art and I can enjoy MY favorite pastime as well! Many, many thanks for this information.

  • Four pints a mere fiction? Pshaw, I say. I'm much familiar with the great British exports: Bass, Newkie, Sam Smith's (oh so yummy!), Watney's Red Barrel (which is apparently no longer made) and other consumables of Albion. Saddest thing, 'tho? As I look at pubs, they're serving AMERICAN beer because it's apparently exotic there! Sierra Nevada is ok, but I come from where it's already made! Give me some great British craft ales, hand-pulled and served in a REAL pint glass at 50 degrees F.

  • Quick question: after lodging, is 100GBP per day enough to enjoy London? I'll need money for lunch and dinner, plus other things -- don't wanna be caught skint!

Thanks to all you amazing, wonderful people again!

-- Mike

Posted by
977 posts

High Tea, Low Tea whatever. The Ritz call it high tea. The food which was served delicate sangers, cakes, macaroons etc would be classed as afternoon tea in Oz. Whatever, it was one of the most amazing experiences and worth every cent. At 72 years of age I'm not going to quibble about the cost of anything, especially when travelling. I figure there are no pockets in shrouds!
Mike you sound like a guy who knows how to enjoy himself. Hard not to in a great city like London. Enjoy those 50o pintsF Yuk, too warm for me!!!

Posted by
2624 posts

Mike,
To answer the question in your most recent post:
"Quick question: after lodging, is 100GBP per day enough to enjoy London? I'll need money for lunch and dinner, plus other things."

Quick answer is "yes", but....

It depends on a lot of things. For example, if your hotel or B&B serves a free breakfast, that of course is one less meal you'll be paying for. Lunch can be had for anywhere from 5 pounds to 7 pounds. Many cafes sell Mediterranean salads or sandwiches/gyros in that price range. Lunch can be very expensive at some of the fancy restaurants, like the Gordon Ramsey restaurants. Sixty pounds is not unheard of. So stay clear of those places if you are on a budget.

Dinner is usually the most expensive meal of the day in London. You can get a great inexpensive dinner in a pub (eight to ten pounds) or in a lot of restaurants. Again, there are expensive places where you can spend 100 to 300 pounds for dinner. Check the menu before you are seated in a restaurant. We can all give you suggestions here for medium priced dinner places. You may wish to start a new thread on that subject. You will get many more responses with a new thread/question.

The other thing it depends upon is: will you be doing a lot of free activities? Most of the museums in London are free. You could go to five museums in a day and not pay a dime.

Sights worth paying to see, include the first two:
Tower of London--£24.50 per adult, gate price.
Westminster Abbey--£20 for adults.

You could do a......
Hop On Hop Off Bus tour--£26. bought online. Includes a boat ride on the Thames River.
London Eye--Standard adult ticket bought online w/a discount--£19. Fast track entry--£28.

You start to spend a lot of cash when you do several big-ticket items in one day, like the trip on the London Eye.

But one of the best things to do in London is just to take a walk through Westminster, by Big Ben and Parliament, on over Westminster Bridge, onto the South Bank of the River Thames, walk east by the Globe Theatre, and continue on so you can see the Tower of London and Tower Bridge in the distance. At this point, you will see a pub, so...you'll need refreshment!

You may have a day when you take a trip to see some sights away from central London, such as Windsor Castle.
(Adult tickets, £19.20, Over 60, £17.50. Ticket Prices when the State Apartments are closed: Adult £10.40,
Over 60, £9.40.) And you would want to find out your travel cost to add to that.

"Is 100GBP per day enough to enjoy London?"--Yes.

Posted by
18 posts

I really like your plan, maybe not so many pints as I get really sleepy.

What I am wondering about is the HRP membership. I just ran the numbers and since you say you can't get the membership at Kew, as far as cost goes you'd do better getting paper transit tickets and using the 2 for 1 options. Even if you had the membership for entry to Kew, 2 for 1 would only cost you about $11 more. Since I have considered this myself, the downside, and this is just me, is that depending on the HRP membership to keep costs down locks you into having to do everything you plan to make it cost effective. You're going to use the tube and buses to get around anyway, buying a couple paper tickets isn't such a big deal as they're available at the train stations, which seem to be readily accessible. To my mind it's rather like the Travelcard vs. Oyster card dilemma, if you're really, really sure exactly what you're going to do, maybe. If you leave yourself open to adventure, I tend to wander around breathing and getting lost in the moment, you might want to reconsider.

Posted by
110 posts

Nothing to add except I like your style. Hope you and your liver (and your wife) enjoyed your trip.

Posted by
2624 posts

I'm pretty sure your wife wants Afternoon Tea...scones, finger sandwiches and pastries. High Tea in an evening meal which includes meat.