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3rd time in London&#59; 8 hours

I'll be in London on a day trip from Paris on Oct.15. I've been to the major tourist sites ( eg. British Museum, Mme.Tussaud's,Thames Cruise,Tower of London,Greenwich,London Eye, LondonWalks Jack the Ripper tour) on previous trips but would like to re-visit the Museum of London. I'd also like to go to Kensington Palace for the Queen Victoria exhibition and possibly have tea at Fortnum and Mason (or just buy the teabags they don't import to the U.S...can these be bought at any other location?). I'll enter London from the Eurostar at St.Pancras station at 11:45 a.m. and leave on the 20:00 train to Paris. My question is this: how to get from place to place in the most time-expedient way. I have already bought the London Pass for transportation. I have little idea of where my sites of interest are in relation to St.Pancras and I don't want to waste time trying to figure out the best route around town. I'm also open to suggestions as to what else might be fun to do given my time constraints. I'm more interested in history than I am in the current Royal Family. Also...how necessary is it to have cash? I'd really prefer to stick to using my Visa card rather than having to buy pounds. It has been 12 years since my last visit and I'm really looking forward to it.
Thanks for any and all information.

Posted by
5757 posts

Not sure why you purchased the pass. Museum of London is free. Excellent galleries. Was there last year. The Kensington Palace ticket is about $24.(given the present currency conversation rates). Could be wrong but might have been cheaper to have gotten a one day travel card. As far as transport the tube will get to all of the places you want. Kensington and the Museum of London are the furthest from each other with Fortnum and Mason in between. If you want to use your Visa card and pay the foreign transaction fees you'll be charged then do so. Personally so much easier is to use a debit card at an ATM in St. Pancras and take out some pounds, but each to their own. You might enjoy the Sir John C. Ritblatt Gallery at the British Library. Start the day at Kensington, over to Fortnum and Mason, off to British Library and end the afternoon at the Museum of London, then back to St. Pancras. When you arrive at St. Pancras get a small pocket size tube map to carry with you. Easy to plot your routes. Before you go use Google Maps satellite view to see where each spot is and what's the closest
tube stop. For example from the train station you'd take the Victoria Line to Oxford Circus, transfer to the Central Line to the Queensway stop, exit and walk to the palace. Buses are great but traffic can be horrific.

Posted by
1986 posts

Your time is limited and you have a lot of "wishes" on your list- take the Tube it doesnt get held up by road traffic. Get a good map of London and plot each sight on the map- some wil be lustered while others are spraed out- Greenwich is furthest out of town (east), resasonably near there is the Tower of London and London Museum; kensigton Palace is the furthest west. You are going to have to set priorities- there is no way you are going to be able to see half of what you have listed in the time allowed.

Posted by
19 posts

Thanks all. I guess I wasn't clear: I've been to London twice, the last time being 12 years ago. I hit most of the major tourist sites on those trips, those being the ones I mentioned at the beginning of my post. However... I didn't get enough time at the Museum of London, so that's why I'd like to re-visit it. Kensington Palace is the "new" spot on my itinerary because of the Queen Victoria exhibit, and Fortnum and Mason is a "maybe" because what I really want is to just buy those teabags they no longer export to the U.S. I had high tea there in 1998,so unless it's changed a lot, no need to repeat. That all being said: The pass I bought is strictly for transit within the city.No museums are included and that's fine, given that the MofL is free. I'd rather not buy pounds simply because I'll only be around for a few hours and will probably only need to pay for an entrance fee at KP and whatever food. My bank charges fees for withdrawing from ATMs and I'll have already done so for needed euros in France. What I'm trying to figure out is a good itinerary that would probably only have time to include the MofL and KP. I don't know the geography of the city, nor do I know timings from getting place to place, so I'd like suggestions for a little itinerary. One of you said that F/M lies between KP and MofL.Which is the farthest from St.Pancras? I should probably start wherever that is and then work my way back. There are so many sites for maps that in the pursuit of clarity there is only more confusion!
Again, thanks to all who answered and will answer!

Posted by
5757 posts

As previously noted use Google Maps with the satellite view on your computer. Type in St. Pancras International Station London United Kingdom. When the map appears click on the satellite option and you'll have a bird's eye view.you can zoom in and out. The tear drop with the letter A is the train station. On the left side of the map you have the Directions option. Click on that, type in Museum of London City of London and click on the bus logo. Click again for directions. Looks like the Metropolitan Line from Kings Cross/St Pancras to Barbican and then walking to the Museum from there. Once you've finished with the Museum walk down St. Martins Le Grand to the St. Paul's Tube station (A staff member can direct you) and hop on the Central Line to Queensway, disembark, cross over Bayswater Road, walk into Hyde Park and over to Kensington Palace and Gardens. Looks like the best option is to take the #9 bus from Kensington Rd. to the Green Park stop on Piccadilly. Disembark and walk the 5 blocks to the Fortnum and Mason store. After shopping walk back to the Green Park Stop, take the Victoria line to the train station. The pocket size tube map which you'll find near a manned ticket window helps. Get one at St.Pancras.

Posted by
4566 posts

It should be quite easy. The closest stop to Museum of London is Barbican. It is just 2 stops from Kings Cross/St Pancras on the Circle, Hammersmith & City, or Metropolitan line. After you are done with the Museum of London, you can take the Circle Line to High Street Kensington and walk to Kensington Palace from there. Alternatively, you could walk from the Museum down to St Pauls and take the central line to Queensway. After Kensington Palace, walk back down to the Kensington High Street (Kensington Road) and find a stop for the #9 bus. Take the #9 bus to Green Park. From Green Park, you can walk along Piccadilly to Fortnum and Mason. Alternatively, you could take the tube but you'd need to transfer at Earls Court to the Piccadilly line. You can get a tube map on tfl.gov.uk As far as credit card, you can probably get by. You may not be able to use it for a small purchase as some vendors have a minimum to accept a card. Personally, I like to always have cash on me so I can make small purchases like buying a coffee or a soft drink.

Posted by
19 posts

Excellent! Thanks so very much for this extremely helpful information!

Posted by
26373 posts

joanna Others have given you good information about getting around London and trying to get to some of your desired locations. I do agree about getting a decent map so you can see where you need to be. You need some way to get you from where you come out of the hole in the earth at a Tube station to the place you are trying to get to. Most people use maps, and in London they are priceless. You seem to be saying that the various internet maps are confusing - that is why I suggest a real paper map. If you can't get one and study it before you leave Paris - although it is really easy to get a good map of London before you leave Paris - then you should get one in St Pancras Station at either the Foyles bookshop or the WH Smiths newsagents. Better you get it in Paris and make use of the time on the Eurostar. I don't see a Eurostar which arrives in London at the time you say on a Monday. I do see train 9019 which arrives at St Pancras at 11:39. If that's the one, it leaves Gare du Nord at 10:13. That's a pretty late start for a daytrip to London, I observe. Can I strongly suggest that you are in the queue to check in upstairs at Gare du Nord no later than 9:15. You absolutely positively must have your ticket read by the machine no later than 30 minutes prior to the scheduled departure or you will not travel. That deadline is very strictly enforced - only if you are on a super expensive Business Premier ticket can you check in later. When I recently rode the train the queue just to get to the check in machines was over 30 minutes. A similar caveat applies for that train 9054, the 20:01 from London. I hope you have a really good time on your trip....

Posted by
19 posts

Thanks! I'm taking the first after-commuter train ie the less expensive one. I know it's a "late start" but I'm going for very particular reasons and don't need the whole day. The journey itself is part of the experience this time around.
I absolutely appreciate the information about getting there early. I have a paper ticket. Does it need to be "composted" as some tickets do in France? The tickets I have for interior travel in France do not need "composting" (that word has such a different meaning here in the States!) so that's why I ask. I'll definitely be at the station in plenty of time, on both ends of the trip. Great advice. I'm going to get a good street map of London before I leave New Jersey. Normally speaking I don't like to be seen whipping out a map and prefer nowadays to use my iphone, but maybe this time I'll relent. I'll need my glasses to see either of them!

Posted by
26373 posts

I have a paper ticket. Does it need to be "composted" as some tickets do in France? The Eurostar check-in is much like checking-in at an airport. The first step is to line up for the ticket check. Most people have a card ticket with a magnetic stripe on the back, maybe 8 inches long and 3 inches wide which has to be read through a ticket reader, self-service. If you don't have one of those you will need to seek human help as you reach the barriers and the that person can check you in. Then you go to security where you go through various scanners and your luggage and outer coats and handbag go through the x-ray machine. You then go to a departure lounge and wait for for your train to be called. Your ticket will have a carriage number on it and an assigned seat. In Paris you go down to the train, in London you go up a moving walkway to it. Settle in, and end enjoy the ride!!

Posted by
26373 posts

I don't like to be seen whipping out a map and prefer nowadays to use my iphone If you do that in London (or Paris) you will likely be using data. If you haven't got a plan for data use in the UK or France expect a big bill when you return. When I am in a new place people know I am a tourist regardless of looking at a map. Looking at an iPhone when misplaced may be more tempting to a thief than looking at a map. Full disclosure - I use both an iPhone and maps. When I was in an part of London yesterday that I hadn't been in before I used both. I also don't have to pay for data.

Posted by
3565 posts

Your bank's credit card also probably imposes an extra fee for every foreign-exchange purchase you charge. Some don't but many do. Plus you still have to pay the retail cost of pounds just as if you had bought them over the counter, either in person or at an ATM. (Banks sell foreign currency at a rate that is higher than the rate you can read in newspapers or on the Internet, and buy them back at a lower rate; they make a profit in either direction, and that's fairly true about credit as well as debit cards. Private moneychangers are likely to inflate both their commission and the exchange rates.) No merchant in any country is happy about a credit card purchase of one cup of coffee. So yes, you can get by for a day and the extra fees won't break you, but these little extras do add up across a vacation.

Posted by
19 posts

Thanks Nigel and Southam. All good points. I'll probably break down and go to the first ATM I see in London. My bank's ATM fees aren't exorbitant but I don't want to get stuck with pounds I won't be using again for who knows how long. Then again, this day trip may just encourage me to make a 4th trip to London, one that's a little longer than just a day! Who knows. I'm so grateful for the level of detail in everyone's responses. This is exactly what I was hoping for... so thanks to all. If the collective "you" (a friend calls it "hivemind")can think of anything else to add, I'm listening.

Posted by
41 posts

Why don't you just change the pounds to euros when you get back to Paris?