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Travel newbies on a budget in the UK

Hi there! My fiance and I will be going to the UK in October of this year. I'm terribly excited, because this is our first real vacation together, as well as our first time going out of the country.

First, we'll be spending 5 days in London in Victoria. We'll be on a bit of a budget - no 5 start restaurants for us, haha! Can anyone recommend some good, inexpensive places around London to eat? Breakfast will be provided by our hotel, so I just need some ideas for lunch and dinner. I plan on eating fish and chips at least once!

After London, we'll be going to Portmeirion in Wales, then Aberdeen in Scotland. Are there any places around those areas that we shouldn't miss seeing?

Thanks for your help!

Posted by
8700 posts

As stated above, advanced fares can be very cheap. I did a timetable and fare search at www.nationalrail.co.uk using 23 July as the date and found a London-Bangor fare for 15.50 GBP and a Bangor-Aberdeen fare for 19.00 GBP. Note: To book advanced fares you may have to give a UK postal code when registering. Use the postal code for your hotel in London.

Posted by
658 posts

Fish and chips are good, filling and low cost. Eat them in the wrapping paper as you walk down the street. Pizza is a good low cost way to eat, so is buying sandwiches from supermarkets. Look for '2 for the price of 1' offers on food served in pubs and be aware that these offers often have time of day restrictions.

If you're going to Portmeirion you MUST visit the grounds of the hotel where the 1960s TV series 'The Prisoner' was filmed.

Posted by
9 posts

If yo do want a sit down meal in a restaurant rather than a takeaway try: www.squaremeal.co.uk or www.toptable.co.uk. They are restaurant booking websites and range from cheap to expense account excessive. You can search by the area of London (or the UK) you want and type of food and price.

If you want to try a more adventurous takeaway try a curry. It's Britains most popular takeout food according to polls, even more so than fish and chips.

Posted by
4 posts

I'll definitely keep an eye out for food at stores, and I'll take a look at those websites. Having a site where I can search for places based on cost and location would be a major help. Curry is also on my list of foods to try!

Al: Funny you mention that - the reason we're going to Portmeirion is because he and I are both huge fans of "The Prisoner". :) We're staying in the village for two nights.

Posted by
3580 posts

two suggestions: 1-make train reservations for further travel as soon as you can in London. It's cheaper that way. The agent will usually help you find the cheapest rate. 2-check out pubs for lunch. People at your hotel might help you choose a good one. Another inexpensive lunch is found in a pastie take-out place. These things are full meals in themselves and make a great picnic. Rick has some good suggestions in his books.

Posted by
764 posts

Hi, Fish and Chips.. belong to the north.
With a sea view ,http://www.anstrutherfishbar.co.uk/
The other half of the shop is an ice cream bar...
The Linn Of Dee and Braemar could be part of the trip up to Aberdeen, and its highly likely there will still be snow patches left on the Cairngorms,and you get that view on the way to the Linn
Regards Richard

Posted by
4 posts

Swan: Are train reservations necessary if we purchase a BritRail pass? We're planning on getting one because the cost seems cheaper than purchasing tickets from London to Bangor, then Bangor to Aberdeen.

Posted by
764 posts

The cheapest fares are usually 12 weeks before travel, but even booking before the day before , gives good savings.Just looked at transportdirect ,and that gives the journey Bangor , to Aberdeen(mid July) at £36 at the lowest.If you are just doing set trips ,not touring, might work out cheaper than a pass. The website of moneysaving expert, has a good forum on the best deals. I've sent you a private message too.

Posted by
3420 posts

If you have a Britrail pass- no reservations needed!!! In Victoria try the Shakespear pub. It is directly across from the station. My husband loves their fish and chips and I love their "pies"... shepphards pie, beef and ale, etc. just thingking about it ... yummmmm. We haven't been to Portmeirion, but Cardiff is a cool city. Great shopping and wonderful resturants.

Posted by
505 posts

Greetings
However, I doubt the Britrail Pass guarantees you a seat. And it's not unknown for trains to be sold out, especially when track works or bad weather cause last minute cancellations or when there's a big football/cricket/rugby game on somewhere.

Thus, if you are taking a long trip, are traveling at peak times, during track works or would not be comfortable standing for long periods, I would make sure to get a specific seat reservation. Otherwise you will have to take your chances that seats will be available - many times there are plenty, othertimes trains can be packed. You can check networkrail.co.uk for pre-planned trackwork announcements.

Kate

Posted by
1 posts

If I recall correctly, you can make seat reservations on the BritRail Website in advance for a fee. You can also do it for free at any train station in the U.K. In general there are seats available (rush hour periods, and Fridays and Sundays in the summer are more difficult), but we've had times where having a reserved seat was essential in taking the train we wanted. In the past we've printed out a copy of the train schedule for the day we wanted to travel and taken it with us to the ticket window so that we could request specific trains (keeping transfer times, departure and arrival times easily at hand) when we reserved seats. We did this toward the beginning of our trip and then had everything secured for the rest of our travels.

If you wanted to purchase tickets for specific journeys rather than a BritRail pass, I think the hang-up in buying them over the Internet is the lack of a British postcode for credit card confirmation, though you could buy in advance at the station.

Posted by
970 posts

Traveling on a train packed with happy or sad football fans is something you want to avoid. It will not be a sober environment, so to speak. Shouldn't be a problem unless you have really bad lluck, but I think it's worth working around if you, in fact, know you'll be on a train leaving from a city with a just completed match.

London is packed with all kinds of food shops and restaurants. Many post menus outside, so you can check those. Otherwise, don't be afraid to ask to see a menu before you are seated. I'd assume prices will be twice the U.S. equivalent, or more. Pubs are often great places to eat, especially if they have a real cook instead of a microwave. Be wary of any pub that smacks of an American sports bar: Video, loud music, brass and ferns. That's not what you went to the UK to see.

Check the expected weather before you pack. Temps will likely be in the 50's during the day, cooler at night. Your room may not be toasty warm at night. Warm pj's might be useful.

Posted by
3580 posts

My food favorites: pasties for a take-away meal, and Chinese food for sit-down occasions. The Trafalgar and theatre area are full of inexpensive eateries. I like to walk around a neighborhood and see what is available, then decide where to eat. I almost never use recommendations; I don't like to put a lot of effort into finding places that way.

Posted by
97 posts

If your hotel is providing a big English breakfast, you may not want much in the way of lunch! But if you do, my favorite thing is to grab a sandwich to go at Pret A Manger and eat in the nearest park, weather permitting.

Also tasty and cheap: Wagamama for big bowls of Japanese noodles, Cafe in the Crypt under St. Martin-in-the-Fields for soup and sandwiches (it's closed for renovations right now but their website says they'll be open by October), Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese (off Fleet St.) for pub food and really good beer in one of the oldest pubs in London.

Posted by
1455 posts

A lot of the restaurants have the prefixed meals if you go early. Also Chinatown has inexpensive restaurants. They may look like hole in the walls, but you can get a big bowl of won ton with roast duck noodle soup for cheap.

Posted by
196 posts

Pub dinners are almost always good and far less expensive than a restaurant. Shepherd's pie and Guinness stew are tasty and filling. For a light lunch, try a ploughman's plate---usually cheeses,severeal types of pickle (relish to us Yanks) and bread. Geales's (pronounced jillys) near Notting Hill Gate Tube station in London for great fish 'n chips---recommended by a Brit Rail day trip guide.