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Second and Third Leg of 30th Anniversary Trip help

It's me again. After considering your input on our trip to Edinburgh, we have decided the following itinerary:
June 3-Arrive in Edinburgh from San Francisco around 7:50 a.m., pick up a rental car at the airport and drive to Ballater.
June 3-9 Stay in Ballater as our home base.
Second Leg of our trip:
June 9-leave in the morning for York, England via rail after dropping off our car in Aberdeen and stay overnight in York. Staying at the Hilton York which is close to the Clifford Tower. Traveling to London via rail.
June 10-13 Stay in London.
Third Leg of our trip:
June 13-Leave for Paris via Eurorail, stay two nights
June 15-Leave for San Francisco

Both my husband and I are avid photographers. Although we want to see a lot, (my husband will want to go, go, go, but I, on the other hand, want to see as much as we can but to be able to still relax and not have to have another vacation after our vacation).

So the help, I would like to ask is:
1. Is this itinerary realistic?
2. What are the safer, not too expensive, not too far from attractions (Kensington Palace, etc.), easily accessible parts of London to stay at?
3. What are the safer, not too expensive, not too far from attractions (Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Louvre Museum) easily accessible parts of Paris to stay at? We will be leaving from the Charles de Gaulle Airport CDG in Paris on June 15th.

Thank you for your valuable input!
Cecille

Posted by
2564 posts

Since your second and third legs are in London and Paris respectively, you'd probably get better advice if you posted your questions on the England and Franc forums. But to your first question -- is this itinerary realistic? -- it wouldn't be my choice, but only you can judge if it's what you want.

I'm curious why you chose Ballater as the base for your entire Scotland stay. Also, there's a pretty strong consensus that driving while jetlagged on the "wrong" side of the road is dangerous, not just for you but for others. Would you consider spending your first night in Edinburgh? Or taking the train to, say, Perth or Dundee and picking up your car there next morning?

Allowing yourselves such a short time in London and even more so in Paris, you'll barely be checked into your hotel before it's time to leave. Are there certain photo scenes you want to capture in each city -- is that why you're going there? What are your priorities?

Posted by
506 posts
  1. Is this itinerary realistic?
    You can visit all the places you've mentioned, but it's definitely more "go go go" than "relax and appreciate." You will not be able to photograph everything at dawn and sunset (if that matters to you) and it may rain some days.

  2. What are the safer, not too expensive, not too far from attractions (Kensington Palace, etc.), easily accessible parts of London to stay at?
    Rick used to say "safe, convenient, inexpensive: pick two" about London accommodations. Lately in the England forum I've seen posts recommending Premier Inn. Search the England forum for specifics.

  3. What are the safer, not too expensive, not too far from attractions (Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Louvre Museum) easily accessible parts of Paris to stay at? We will be leaving from the Charles de Gaulle Airport CDG in Paris on June 15th.

You'll get better answers to this France forum.

Posted by
3978 posts

Sorry, I lost interest in your itinerary after you propose driving 3+ hours with jet lag to Ballater. Even if you don’t care about yourself, please be considerate to other road users and don’t do it. Thank you.

Posted by
15 posts

Thank you epltd and Marty. It is the suggestions and advice like you have given that helps us first timers with our planning and that is why I am on this forum. I have actually added a day to our trip, leaving SF on the 1st of June and staying in Edinburgh overnight so that we can rest after the long flight. We are a responsible, caring people, and would never want any harm to befall on anyone including us. Thinking of also just staying in London for the second leg of our anniversary trip. We can visit Paris the next time around. That way, we can take our time and really enjoy our vacation. Thanks again.

Posted by
3978 posts

Glad to hear that you are adding another night.

Ballater to Aberdeen is over an hours drive and the rail journey is 5.5 hours. Driving to Dundee or Perth will take another 30-40 minutes, but the rail journey is an hour shorter.

There are many beautiful spots to photograph in the Cairngorms, but at that time of year, sunset will be late in the day for the golden hour.

If you get a chance, the Rail Museum in York is worth seeing (free entry) plus the Minster and the old city walls. Buy rail tickets 11 weeks in advance.

Posted by
80 posts

Looking at your itinerary the obvious question that comes up is why not fly to Aberdeen? Aberdeen has reasonable size airport and is well connected into other European hub airports like london-heathrow Amsterdam and Paris. You're going to have to change plans to get from SFO to Edinburgh anyway so why not flight Aberdeen instead - you should be able to get reasonable one stop itinerary. This will don't save you having to waste a day laying up and also save you having to drive so far. I wouldn't generally recommend driving on your arrival day but if you're only talking about an hour from Aberdeen airport to somewhere close by in Aberdeenshire it might be ok.

I strongly agree with thoseso it's not worth going to London or Paris just for 2 days you'll not have time to see anything. Looking to just London is a good idea.

Additionally from your itinerary you're going to have virtually no time in York to see anything so it's questionable whether it's worthwhile visiting. at the time you drive to Aberdeen and back your car take the train to York you will not arrive there till late in the afternoon and then you're heading off to London the next day.

Posted by
9411 posts

Happy to see you have decided to skip Paris on this trip! It is a fair bit of expense and time to go there for what amounts to one full day of sightseeing. You’ll be glad for the extra time in London.

We have stayed in several different areas of London — SOHO, near St. Paul’s, Westminster — and enjoyed them all. No one location is perfect as London’s sights are spread out. None of the locations we chose were inconvenient, either, as transportation by bus and tube is great. For budget accommodations, look at Premier Inns. They are all over town. Rick’s guide lists a number of smaller properties and B&Bs. Do you have his London guide?

Posted by
15 posts

Thanks, Jennifer, Outshined78, and Laurel for your great input. I'm adding two days in York instead of just an overnighter. This will take us up to June 12. Then head closer to London and stay there June 12-14. Find a hotel by Heathrow airport the night of the 14th so we don't have to rush to the airport on the 15th for our trip back to the U.S. I have not really thought of which sights we are choosing, cause I wanted to take care of these bigger details first. I will get Rick Steves' book.

Posted by
1 posts

My daughter and I spent a week in London last year. We stayed at the Rembrandt. Its a fairly large hotel, not a quaint B&B, but the price and location were great. It's right across the street from the Victoria and Albert Museums and a short walk to the tube. Harrods and shopping is a few blocks away the other direction. Kew Gardens is a tube ride away and would be a fabulous place for your photography. They also have an excellent cafe. I hope you enjoy your visit!

Posted by
5397 posts

You need to put your questions for London and Paris in the England and France forums, respectively, where people will see and answer questions about them.

I am glad you have decided not to drive to Ballater directly upon arrival at Edinburgh airport, times a million if you're coming all the way from the West Coast.

I would personally stay more than two nights in London, but maybe you've been there before . . . ?? I go two or three times a year and stay usually at least three nights even if it's “just” a quick weekend visit!!