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Please critique my March/April London travel plans!

I'm in the final stages of planning a trip to London (and Paris/not listed here) with my adult daughter (25) and would welcome any feedback you might have. Be gentle please!

I had to do some re-arranging in this last week, as I became aware of things being offered at only certain times (Triforium tour at St. Paul's for example), or not offered after a certain day (certain 2-4-1 offers), so certain tourist sites for each day might not necessarily be optimally located next to each other. We can deal. We have no problem taking the tube or buses as needed. So here's our plan as it stands now.

Wed, Mar 25 - flight from US leaves 20:30 (8:30p)

Thur, Mar 26 - flight lands 7:35 a;
-customs (sorry, passport check), luggage, shower/breakfast arrivals lounge
-Piccadilly line to Earl’s Court hotel; drop luggage off at hotel
-lunch and touring Borough Market (10-5)
-possible Globe Theater tour?? (9:30-6)
-supper at ??
-early bed

Fri, Mar 27 -
-swing by Victoria Station early to buy rail (paper) travelcards for 2-4-1 offers
-Westminster Abbey: 9:30a entrance
-verger tour hopefully for 10:20a
-Queens Diamond Jubilee Gallery timed ticket for 11:30-13:30
-lunch: at Abbey
-V&A museum (10-10); late night here
-supper at V&A

Sat, Mar 28 -
-Tower of London when opens at 9a (pix of Tower Bridge, too)
-lunch inside Tower
-visit All Hallows Church near bridge.
-House of Parliament 4p tour (1.5 hour long)
-supper:?
-possible London Walks tour (still deciding on ones we might like)

Sun, Mar 29 - DAYLIGHT SAVINGS
-Tate Britain in am (10-6)
-lunch at Tate B
-Nat’l Gallery in pm (10-6), taking time to walk through Trafalgar Square/pix
-Walk to Picadilly for pix
-possible Mina Lima store or Royal Mews (if time) (10-5)
-supper:??
-Sky Garden (20 Fenchurch St.) 8p

Mon, Mar 30 -
-get to St. Paul’s Cathedral first thing/8:30a; self-tour until
-guided tour 11a-12:30p (included in price); then
-Triforium Tour at 2p
-lunch: at St. Paul's after guided tour
-more Borough Market if time
-supper:

-another London Walks tour or Sky Garden (10-6) if not Sunday

Tues, Mar 31-Thurs, April 2-
-Eurostar to/from Paris with two overnights

Fri, Apr 3 -
-walk to British Library from King’s Cross; get there at opening (9:30a) and see Sir John Ritblat ("treasures") Room; (1 hour?)
-British Museum (10-8:30)
-reserve tea upon entering museum (4pm? runs from 3-5:30p)
-early/lite lunch, then more touring until tea/early supper, then more touring until we can't any longer (although we have
been here before, there was so much we didn't get to see, that we figured it deserved the bulk of a day to re-visit)

Sat, Apr 4 -
-Harry Potter studio tour
-take 7:48a train from West Brompton to Watford Junction (£2.90/ea one way, off-peak, use Oyster cards/already purchased) for
9:30a entrance time (have tix)
-shuttle bus is £3/pp cash only
-lunch at HP
-supper near theater then, Les Mis show 7:30p; tix at will call (Sondheim)

Sun, Apr 5 -
-check out of hotel and leave bags
-possibly Museum of London (10-6) from 10-11:30a
-restaurant near Earl's Court for Sunday roast (noon - 1:30)
-pick up bags at hotel
-get to airport by 14:15 (2:15) or 15:15 (since we have business class) for 5:15 flight
-flight 5:15p lands 8:10p

Posted by
1064 posts

For Saturday night, pick a London Walls pub tour. You’ll be data dumped into exhaustion with the Tower and Houses of Parliament.

Two art museums in one day is a lot. You can sub a London walk for one of them if you get Museum burnout, especially if museums are in the Paris agenda. I wouldn’t eliminate either Tate Britain or the National Gallery but maybe do them different days.

Have a pint at St Stephens Tavern across the street from the Houses of Parliament, it’s full of UK political history.

By Earl’s Court, you could get a selfie at the TARDIS even if you’re not a Doctor Who fan. Free and takes time.

Posted by
122 posts

Dale,
Thanks for the quick reply!

We are pretty good at absorbing facts, etc., but I like the idea of a pub tour after our Parliament tour. Getting back to the hotel afterwards, though, hmmmm . . . :)

The two art museums are mostly for my graphic design daughter, but I'm up for the challenge as well. I told her I would last as long as she does, but I will need plenty of breaks in there. We have no problem shifting one of them to another day, if we have time. It's just that those are on her must see list, and I don't want to disappoint.

Thanks for the tip on St Stephens Tavern. I like that idea, if we don't have enough stamina to do a pub tour that night.

I think we are up to about 50 selfies now by the Tardis (son and husband included), from previous trips. It's part of the reason why Earl's Court remains one of our favorite tube stops!! Haven't ever been able to catch sight of the Doctor there yet, though. Maybe we'll spot her there this time??

Posted by
5817 posts

Firstly don’t underestimate how long it takes to travel around town. You should add 25% to any journeyplanner times. Also don’t underestimate how tiring it can be over the course of a day

Friday, I wouldn’t want to do Westminster Abbey and the V&A in the same day unless you just want to see a few targeted galleries the V&A. Similarly trying to do the Tower, a Church, the Houses of Parliament and a walking tour would be way too much for me. Give yourself time to actually appreciate what you are seeing otherwise it will just be a blur or Route March.

If you want a change from museum food there is a nice pub, the Morpeth Arms, right by the Tate. It has an interesting history nd a nice river view. You can also look out for spies who work in the area.
The 87 bus goes from by the Tate to Trafalgar Square in about 10minutes. Save your legs.
When you say “Piccadilly” I presume you mean Piccadilly Circus? It’s really not that interesting!

It would make much more sense to go to the Museum of London on the same day as St Paul’s Cathedral, they are right by each other.

If you have a reasonable sized breakfast you really won’t want lunch and afternoon tea. An entire day in the British museum would exhaust me. So much stuff, so many people. Maybe use that day to go on a London Walks tour for a chance of pace?

Sorry but I think the Sunday you return is a really bad plan. Checking out, trekking across the city, dash round a museum to trek back for a large but rushed lunch?. I don’t actually think what you plan is even possible without a time machine and if you can do it you will have indigestion.:-)

Sorry if these sound a bit negative, just trying to help.:-)

Posted by
122 posts

Emma,

Thanks for your reply, and I don't think you're being negative, just cautionary. But we travel and sightsee very well. The last time we were in London, about a week earlier in March than this visit, we did a lot more, and ended up feeling like we had a bit too much down time. I guess everyone travels differently, but I'm glad for the warning.

Besides, we're not gluttons for punishment. If we need to, we will take down time. It's hard to be too specific in a post like this, without writing a book, but we actually tend to space things out quite well. For example, you mentioned Westminster Abbey and the V&A maybe being too much for one day. This is why I picked the day the V&A was open late, to visit it. Specifically, our goal is to see the Abbey until early afternoon (our last planned tour ends 1:30p-ish), have a sit down lunch somewhere, go back to the hotel if we need a rest, then head back out late afternoon to the V&A (open until 10p). I feel confident we can see what we want there in say four or so hours. Would it be so different than touring St. Paul's Cathedral in the morning and visiting the Museum of London in the afternoon?

Thanks for the Morpeth Arms tip. I like the idea of spying on MI6!! Love these pubs that have tons of history attached! Will definitely consider that place. And Picadilly Circus (I keep forgetting NOT to abbreviate!) is for my DD. We've been to NYC Times Square, so she has to compare. (Plus they show it in the opening scenes of BBC's "Sherlock." Total fangirl. The things we do for our kids!)

As for the British Museum, we were there last time for six hours and didn't even feel like we saw half of what was there. If we poop out, so be it, but we're going to give the same respect that we did last time. And, yes, if we have a good breakfast, we certainly won't need lunch. It was just one of those "breakfast here, lunch here, dinner here" things I tend to insert in my planning without being aware of it. Thanks for pointing that out!! By the time we're done, though, I doubt our legs will want to do anymore walking for the day!!!!

And we're still working on our last day. We found several places that serve Sunday roast near our hotel, so it wouldn't be a huge trip back there after lunch for our bags. Do you really think it will take more than an hour and a half to eat? I'm hoping that if we get there right when they start serving, we won't have to wait long to be served.

Posted by
5817 posts

Well I wouldn’t do St Paul’s and the Museum of London on the same day either :-) but the Museum is smaller and easier to take in than the V&A so to me it feels more doable.

On theSunday you travel back remember to factor in travel time. It would be 45min/1 hour each way between Earls Court and the Museum of London, especially on a Sunday. It’s potentially 2 hours travel to spend not enough time in a museum. It might make more sense to do the V&A that day when it’s a much shorter hop back to get your bags.
A Sunday roast is a big meal that isn’t usually rushed. The expectation is that you take your time eating it. You certainly could rush it down if you wanted to but it’s not really the point. I also wouldn’t want to travel after such a heavy meal.

Posted by
122 posts

Emma,

Isn't it interesting how coming from two different backgrounds, we can have two different viewpoints on matters? I think that's one of the things that make travel so interesting! For we Americans and British, I think my British colleague summed it up perfectly when she said "Americans think 100 years is a long time. The British think 100 miles is a long distance."

I will certainly keep your words in mind for our last day, but I think we will keep things as they are for now and play the whole day by ear. We're good with spur of the moment decisions, and if it looks like things are too busy, of course we will change our plans. And thanks for your advice!

Posted by
1524 posts

Hi Cathy!
I don’t have anything to add, just wanted to say I can’t wait to see your scrapbook! This will be your second trip to UK right?

Posted by
122 posts

Hi Tammy!!

Did you ever get my emails about your last trip? I seemed to be having problems replying to your emails. If you didn't, I just wanted to say I loved your scrapbook from Greece!!!

Yep, this is another trip for us to London, but just me and DD this time. And no pressure making another scrapbook, huh? ;) Actually, it will be fun to do, since it is just the two of us, with more emphasis on art stuff this time (for dd). And a quick, little three day trip over to France. We're very excited!

Of course, I will try to post a trip report as soon as possible once we're back. Keep sending me your scrapbooks! I love reading them.

Posted by
63 posts

What a fun list of things to enjoy in London! There's so much to see and do in London, it is easy to have a long list. In one of your responses you commented "if we need to, we will take down time" - that's good. I also encourage you to be open to unplanned experiences and taking the time to enjoy those as well, even if you don't see everything on your list. A chance conversation with an amicable stranger may allow you to discover some wonderful spaces.

Anticipation is a joyful part of the journey. And if for some reason you don't see all the places on the list, you and your daughter can always return! Good wishes for you both,

Garrison

Posted by
1524 posts

Cathy, DH and I are doing the RS Paris & The Heart Of France tour at the end of April. I can’t decide which is more fun, the anticipation and research and planning, the actual trip or scrapping the trip! I love it all!

Posted by
122 posts

Garrison,

Thank you so much for your post! That is exactly the attitude we are striving to follow on our trip! I'm a planner by nature, and used to plan things down to the minute. Then, about fourteen years ago, the whole family was on a trip to Disney World and we all got sick one night!! The entire next day's schedule was scrapped and we lounged on a beach the whole day. Best day of the entire trip! From then on, I still make detailed plans, so I know what's available to do, but we're very much go with the flow now. And I'm sure we will be back again!!

Posted by
122 posts

Tammy,
I'm with you there. It's ALL part of the fun and anticipation!! Can't wait to see your next book - we can compare notes on Paris! :)

Posted by
5817 posts

It's not that " The British think 100 miles is a long distance" its that public transport in London can really mess up your plans, especially on a Sunday. 25+ years of TFL use speaking here:-)
Check that the tube lines you want to use are running on the weekend you want to use them. They can be taken out of service for repairs.
Before you head out check there aren't problems on the line. They have been replacing signals on some lines recently and they have been causing havoc, especially on the Metropolitan, Circle and District lines. The Piccadilly has got better but it still has it's moments.
Always allow extra time. If I need to get anywhere with a time pressure I will always allow an extra 20minutes minimum, and I need it more often than not!

Posted by
1056 posts

I also agree that the Museum of London needs more than an hour and a half.
The other thing is that you plan to visit it on a Sunday, and buses are less frequent then.
Emma is right when she says add 25% more time to each planned journey.
Looks like a great trip overall!

Posted by
13930 posts

Thurs - Borough Market. It gets very crowded at lunch time when the locals come by. If you can get there before then, fine. Otherwise, better to wait till later. You'll get lots of offers to taste at the various stalls, so don't eat lunch first.

Mon - I'd think once is enough for Borough Market. Also, check how many of the vendors are there. Mon-Wed is usually pretty light, with many only there from Thurs.
4 hours for St. Paul's sounds like a lot to me.

Last day - Museum of London needs more than and hour and a half, especially when you are on pins and needles to get to the airport. Either do it on another day when you have the time and the mindset, or leave it for your next visit.

Posted by
40 posts

We live now in London and I go into the city a lot with an art history class. I don't agree that there are lots of issues with the Tubes and buses. However if there is rain, then things just tend to get very very crowded! London is such an easy city to walk around as well, and I just use Google maps to help navigate. Sometimes I want to see more on a bus vs getting there quickly by Tube.

I would just add some other ideas...Perhaps a side trip to see Hampton Court Palace if you haven't gone and enjoy history and gardens. I also took some fun walking tours of London where you just show up and pay £10 per person. I also love the Portrait Gallery, though I know they are closing soon for refurbishment. Even with crowds, BM is fun to check out, but also see the lists from EATER. They have some fun restaurant suggestions that take you to different parts of the city. See Greenwich is worth a trip, especially if you take the boat down and see London from the river. Just hop on the DLR on the way back. Try to find some local farmer markets, walk Hampstead Heath, and stroll along the hidden canal from Camden to Maide a Vale. So pretty and never crowded!

Have a fun trip!

Posted by
122 posts

Emma,
I will certainly check out the tube lines before going out each day! (I have this website to use: tfl.gov.uk. Will this work for that?) I'm one who likes to arrive places early anyway, so that won't be a problem. Thanks for the tip on weekend work, also.

SJ,
Hmmm. I'm definitely getting the feeling we should just skip the Museum of London that last day, and try and squeeze it in another time. But even if we don't get to it this trip, I'm guessing there will be more London trips in our future, so we can save it for next time.

Chani,
We will definitely try and get to Borough Market as early as possible. Thanks for the tip on samples from the various stalls. Of course, I'm sure we're going to want to try everything, so we will just have to pick and choose! :)
As for St. Paul's Cathedral, do you think we would have to wait in line long at that time of year if we didn't get there right at opening? Maybe more like 10am? It's a bit of a concern, since we will be using 2-4-1 tix. And I'm also concerned that if we didn't show up early enough, we wouldn't be able to get with a guided tour that day. Unfortunately, the tour we are most looking forward to - the Triforium tour - is only at 2pm, only that day, so we are a bit limited. Can you enter, leave, then re-enter on the same day, on the same ticket, without having to re-purchase? That might make it easier.

Posted by
122 posts

Benowitzea,
So many good places to visit - I had some of your suggestions on our list, but we seem to have run out of days to visit them! I am definitely going to keep all of your suggestions on our "maybe" list, though, so that if one thing falls through, we might be able to do a quick turnaround and go someplace else. Always good to have options!

We're planning on using Google maps, too, and also the Citymapper app, something DH and DS did on their last trip with resounding success. We have TMobile phone service, so usage isn't a problem, and they were getting at least 3G the whole time they were there.

Thanks for your response!