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10 days in London - finding new things to do

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10 DAYS IN LONDON: Mid-May to early June, 2024
This trip to England was my typical 3 weeks, with 10 of the nights in London.

I also spent 7 nights in Chichester and 3 nights in Arundel, separately reported:
https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/trip-reports/chichester-a-week-off-the-well-trodden-path
https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/trip-reports/3-perfect-days-in-arundel-england

There has been a lot written about London, so I'll share a few activities and restaurants that might interest someone planning their 2nd or 3rd or 4th visit.

BACKGROUND
I lived in England twice for 3 years total: in 1991, in a small village in Hampshire, about 40 minutes from Stonehenge; and again in 1999, in central London. I have been back many times, for work and vacations.

I have done a lot of the typical sightseeing in central London and nearby. As anyone knows, there is always more to see in London. This visit was about seeing a ballet, going to museums and special exhibits, and exploring new (to me) areas of London.

My London Travel Partner
This trip was also about spending time with my good friend in London, with whom I used to work and travel. Apart from my Mom, she was my first Europe travel partner, taking many trips together in England, Ireland, France, Italy and Greece. She and I have traveled together many times since I lived there, meeting up in England, the US and Europe.

During this trip, she joined me for many of my planned London activities, and suggested a few of our restaurants and activities.

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WHERE I STAYED

I spent my first 2 nights in London:

2N Bailey's Hotel, Cosy Double
My former flat is a 5 minute walk from Gloucester Rd Station, so it was easy to arrive in a familiar neighborhood, with direct access from Heathrow on the Piccadilly line.

Then I spent 10 nights in Chichester and Arundel, before spending another 8 nights back in London:

4N Victoria Clermont
This was an easy hotel for arrival at Victoria Station from Arundel. And it was easy access for some of my planned museums and walks.

4N Bailey's Hotel, Cosy Single
Back to "my neighborhood" and its easy access back to Heathrow. The room was small, and only had a desk, with no bedside table or outlets. I loved its view of the beehive of activity outside the Gloucester Rd Station.

There were several tour groups that passed through during my stay, notably some WWII history tours bound for the D-Day commemorations in Normandy. After I watched (from my room) their buses leave for the day, the breakfast room was tranquil.

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TRANSPORT FOR LONDON

London transit has gotten even easier than when I used my dusty old Oyster cards. I checked their balance at a ticket kiosk: both zero. So I tapped my Visa (no FX fees) to ride buses and the tube everywhere.

Things that worked well:

To reduce risk, my card was in its own tiny wallet (a souvenir from Estonia) with a Keychain and a cord that clipped to my purse for easy access. Easy for me, not so much for pickpockets.

My last 8N of my London stay fortuitously fell on a Monday to Sunday, exactly aligned with the fixed days of the TFL weekly fare caps. So rather than buying a 7 day Travelcard, I let TFL calculate the daily and weekly caps on my credit card. I effectively rode (Zones 1, 2) for free on days 6 and 7.

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SHAKESPEARE AT THE ROYAL OPERA HOUSE
My trip was timed to see the ballet A Winter's Tale at the Royal Opera House. I used to work just around the corner, but never went to a performance. Go figure. The choreographer is one of my favorites and the ballet was absolutely worth planning the trip!

SHAKESPEARE AT THE GLOBE
For more Shakespeare, my London friend and I saw Much Ado About Nothing at the Globe Theater. Fabulous fun! And a couple of standout performers, including Benedick and the Head of the Night Watch.

A funny note about being a tourist, vs living like a local…

The tourist: Knowing the ballet performance dates, I bought my plane tickets in October, 2023 - 7 months ahead. I was up at midnight on the night that tickets were released in March to treat myself to an excellent seat.

The local: I suggested the idea of the play to my friend months ago. She bought our tickets on the day we went, maybe 7 hours ahead. I do NOT recommend this method of "living like a local" as we were a bit lucky to get the excellent seats that we did.

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5 London Walks

I took 5 London Walks, thanks forum! I chose walks that would take me to new areas of London, such as Little Venice and Hampstead Heath. And a cruise on the Thames. Two of the walks created ideal backdrops for my later activities.

Tip: with the 5 walks already scheduled, I bought their £5 loyalty card at the first one and saved £15 after the purchase of the card.

London Walks: How the City Got Rich (relatively new)
https://www.walks.com/our-walks/how-the-city-got-rich/

My recommendation: take this walk before visiting the Tate Britain
The walk created an excellent historical frame in which to view the art of various periods relative to the rise of riches of the patrons and artists due to their profits in trade, shipping, slavery, coffee and tea, etc.
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A LONDON WALK AND A SUNDAY OUT ON HAMPSTEAD HEATH

(Sunday Morning)
London Walks: Hampstead Heath
https://www.walks.com/our-walks/old-hampstead-village-walking-tour/
This was a nice structured way to learn about the history of "saving Hampstead Heath" before my friend took me around that afternoon to Kenwood House and Golders Hill Park

Lunch: Heath Street Kitchen, near Hampstead station.
https://heathstreetkitchen.com/

(Sunday Afternoon)
Kenwood House - I love that they have couches where visitors can sit to enjoy the elegant rooms and the fabulous art. My local friend chuckled that I had bothered to get (free) digital tickets ahead.
https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/kenwood/

Golders Hill Park - this was a lovely afternoon wander. She remembers many visits to the park as a child, strolls around the pergola and the pond, visiting the animals (lemurs, wallabies, a very colorful pheasant, etc.) and walking through the gardens. Thousands of locals were doing the same on the warm and sunny Sunday that we visited, enjoying their picnics and strolls. The Park would be a great place with young travelers.
https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/things-to-do/green-spaces/hampstead-heath/where-to-go-at-hampstead-heath/golders-hill-park

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MUSEUM VISITS

The John Singer "Sargent and Fashion" exhibit at the Tate Britain was fabulous; the negative review I'd read about the clothing/accessory items detracting from the art was, well, poppycock. I had chosen several rooms to visit before the exhibit, and afterwards staged a treasure hunt for Ophelia and took a quick circuit through the Turner/Constable rooms.

Déjà vu?

My London friend suggested we see the collection of plaster casts in the Cast Courts of the Victoria and Albert Museum. While I may have previously seen some of the originals, I still found the room fascinating.

I thought I might have been to the Wallace Collection previously, but decided to return as I love visiting the art collection of a family in their former home or estate.

I had not been to the museum wing of the Churchill War Rooms, which opened in 2005. But when I began the path through the war rooms, it struck me that I had been in that older part, which opened in 1984.
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A MUSEUM AND AN AFTERNOON IN HOXTON

We spent an afternoon near the Museum of the Home. Some of the museum rooms are closed for renovation, but we still enjoyed the exhibits and period rooms. The most fun was seeing young kids picking up a wired telephone handset and asking their parents "what's this?"
https://www.museumofthehome.org.uk/whats-on/rooms-through-time/

We had lunch on the outdoor patio at the Brewhouse Kitchen, immediately across from the museum entrance. My friend chatted with a couple of east enders about how unrecognizable their childhood neighborhoods had become.

After the museum, we took a 5 minute walk into a slightly dodgy college neighborhood and stumbled on to the family owned La Veranda Bakery which I loved. My London friend wasn't a fan of the cottage décor, although they made her a lovely latte. I would go there every week if this place were at home.

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A Day At Bletchley Park

After a pleasant train ride visit and coffee with local forum friends, we visited Bletchley Park, which is effectively the birthplace of my high tech career. Having read 3 books on Bletchley and the wartime impact of its code-cracking staff, I was geeking out on the history and exhibits. We stayed until closing and I could easily spend another entire day.

Our tickets allow for unlimited visits within one year. Tempting!

Ticketing tip: I'd forgotten the 10% discount for buying Bletchley tickets at least the day before your visit; NOT the morning of your visit.

Next trip, I hope to visit the adjacent National Museum of Computing, with its exhibits of the Bletchley era Bombe and Colossus machines.

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Bletchley Park 2 for 1 National Rail Offer

Check for a 2 for 1 offer for Bletchley Park tickets, if you travel by rail.

https://www.daysoutguide.co.uk/bletchley-park

The web page says "Printed paper Voucher Required."

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An Afternoon at Richmond Park

My London friend suggested we pack our raincoats and visit the vast Richmond Park. During one downpour, a deer meandered across our path and we watched each other for 20 minutes before wandering off. My friend tells me it is common to see dozens of deer.

Dinner: Lass o' Richmond Hill Pub, around the corner from the Richmond Gate entrance to the park. They make a nicely presented chicken Kiev that blows my 1990's era memories of pub food out of the water.

https://www.lassorichmondhill.co.uk/

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NOTABLE MEALS

I asked my London friend, who enjoys a dinner splurge, to choose a couple of nice restaurants.

HIGH END RESTAURANTS

In the shadow of the Shard, Champor Champor Thai has exotic décor and flavorful food at reasonable-for-London prices. It's an easy walk from London Bridge Station. Book a few weeks ahead for a weekend table.
https://www.champor-champor.com/

Take a short walk after dinner to the Horseshoe Inn for a drink on their outdoor patios.

Anglo's is a modern British restaurant with an emphasis on "simple, refined dishes" with "seasonal foraged and responsibly farmed produce."

https://www.anglorestaurant.com/
Location: 8 min walk from Farringdon Station

They offer one tasting menu …. only …..which was £95. plus 12.5% service:
https://www.anglorestaurant.com/#menu

The food was superb and interesting (and sometimes exotic) while still seeming very British, with locally sourced dishes such as:

Hampstead Heath elderflower, dill, sourdough, nasturtium, curd, Isle of Wight tomato
Lincolnshire courgette, broad bean, thyme, Hampshire breed pork, gooseberry, broccoli
Suffolk lamb, walnut, New Forest strawberry, Newlyn anchovy, endive
Somerset Montgomery cheddar, Isle of Wight black garlic, hazelnut

SOMETHING DIFFERENT
Canaletes Tapas is a tiny place near Willesden Green station that serves great Portuguese style tapas cooked by the husband and wife owners. Unless you have a friend who lives in the neighborhood (as I do) I'm not sure why you'd be eating in this area.

I had lunch at Trejos Tacos, at the top end of Portobello Rd and after a leisurely stroll through the market, which wasn't as busy on a slightly rainy Friday as I'd feared. The tacos were delicious, and I was ready for a table and an indoor meal. Otherwise, a quick bite from the nearby street food alley looked like a more fun and very flavorful choice.

INDIAN FOOD near Gloucester Rd Station

Bombay Brasserie is next door to Bailey's Hotel, with lovely décor in a beautiful high-ceilinged room. The food was very good, but you are definitely paying for the location, service and atmosphere. We had just as good Indian food at Pravaas, with a more casual setting, for half the price, and just an 8 minute walk from the station.

CASUAL EATS: what does one local think?
We had dinner one evening at Victoria Market Halls, across from my hotel. My London friend scoffed at the "chain of chains" but enjoyed her Black Bear Burger as much as I did mine.

She scoffed again when I told her I grabbed a quick bite one afternoon at a Gail's Bakery, which she described as poncy and overpriced. Ah well, I thought it served its purpose well for a quick and easy bite.

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Museum Cafes

Among "Notable Meals," I was never disappointed with the museum cafes: the Tate Britain, Bletchley Park, Wallace Collection, all were nice meals at fair prices in a setting that helped you recharge and continue your visit.

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COST COMPARISON

Out of (morbid?) curiousity, I'm doing a quick cost comparison of this trip to recent trips. I'm not surprised to see how expensive London is compared to my trips in the last 3 years to Turkey, Bulgaria, Portugal and the Baltics.

England 21N (with flight overnight) trip cost is:

2.6x the cost of my 22N independent trip to Warsaw and the 3 Baltic capitals
1.9x the cost of my 19N independent trip to Portugal (Lisbon, Coimbra, Porto)
1.7x the cost of my 24N trip to Bulgaria, including 1 Rick Steves tour
1.36x the cost of my 22N trip to Turkey, including 2 Rick Steves tours

Comparison is for similar length trips, excludes flights, includes centrally located hotels, food, entertainment, city transit and trains. I may have splurged more on food in London than the other cities, although my regular meals were a similar mix of low-cost casual and mid-range meals. I could do a per-night comparison, but I'm not trying to be that accurate.

This was my first time paying for hotels in London which, after prices in Tallinn, Vilnius, Riga, Sofia, Budapest, Warsaw, etc, the London prices did make me gasp. Although I did splurge on those as well.

I'm not surprised.

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While I didn't go to St Paul's Cathedral, the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey or Parliament, I did see more areas of London than I had when I lived there. And I enjoyed the suggestions from my friend for activities that she has enjoyed since childhood and restaurants that she visits with her friends.

It was good to be back in London!

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2925 posts

Thank you, thank you, thank you. Your trip report CWsocial, was just what I needed today. I’m starting to plan for next June’s England days and was confusing myself about museums (Wallace has been in my go-to list for two years!). Thanks for all the ideas!

I was also getting a little worried about hotel rates, but I sold my horse trailer yesterday so as that era ends, I have more money for hotels and travel. (I can outfit two very well-dressed dressage and hunter horses if anyone is looking for tack. That should just about pay for a nice trip. Webmaster, I’m not advertising, just stating the facts.)

Glad you had a great trip!

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1138 posts

Definitely bookmarking your excellent trip report! Just got back from a 5 night stay in London (my 7th visit) so I’m always looking for alternative things to do. We did 2 London Walks this trip including Hampstead Heath, went to Wallace Collection for the first time and saw 3 shows. My friend who I have dragged to London 3 times previously turned to me and said, “Now I see why you love London so much!” lol it only took 3 trips that I talked her into going to London for her to figure it out.

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Thanks for a great and helpful report. Could you please post the info about the books you read on Bletchley Park? It's on my bucket list for my next trip to London. Thanks.

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Horsewoofie, I was also getting museums mixed up in my head. I was remembering visits to the Courtauld Gallery (pre renovation) but seeing the Wallace Collection.

Sad about your horse trailer, but awesome that it will further enable your travels!!

Claudette, I love that you saw 3 shows! I've been trying to find more theater and arts to anchor my trips. I have had to revise my trip planning to research these before deciding where and when to go. Otherwise I tend to choose destinations by season, which doesn't always put me in a place at the right time for a performance or special exhibit.

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please post the info about the books you read on Bletchley Park

Great suggestion, cala!

I read:

The Rose Code: A Novel
Book by Kate Quinn
A forum recommendation and historical novel that started me on the journey.

"As England prepares to fight the Nazis, three very different women answer the call to mysterious country estate Bletchley Park, where the best minds in Britain train to break German military codes."

The Enigma Girls: How Ten Teenagers Broke Ciphers, Kept Secrets, and Helped Win World War II
Book by Candace Fleming

"the powerful and fascinating story of the brave and dedicated young women who helped turn the tides of World War II for the Allies, with their hard work and determination at Bletchley Park."

Geniuses at War: Bletchley Park, Colossus, and the Dawn of the Digital Age
Book by David A. Price

"To surmount this seemingly impossible challenge, Alan Turing, the Enigma codebreaker, brought in a maverick English working-class engineer named Tommy Flowers who devised the ingenious, daring, and controversial plan to build a machine that would calculate at breathtaking speed and break the code in nearly real time. Together with the pioneering mathematician Max Newman, Flowers and his team produced—against the odds, the clock, and a resistant leadership—Colossus, the world’s first digital electronic computer, the machine that would help bring the war to an end."

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Thank you so much for this TR on London, I very much enjoyed your report on Arundel too. I’ll be in London for 2 weeks in February and working on my plan of action now. Hamstead Heath and the museum are on my list but coupling it with London Walks is brilliant!

Also a question on your ‘wallet’ for your credit card to use on the tube. Did you have to take it in and out to use it to tap or did it stay in the wallet the whole time? Is it a clear plastic type of thing? I have a wallet type case on my phone so using my phone as Apple Pay is awkward and taking my card in and out is workable but every time I’d be telling myself to put it back in the slot securely. And I was only passing through London one day in the spring this year. I need a better system for this next venture.

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Lyndash,

The wallet is a 2 sided credit card holder, with slots on each side for the cards. It has a loop that snaps down on one side, securing the 2 or 3 card slots on that side. When I slipped my card in, the contact point was just visible so that I never removed the card from the slot to tap.

Then the loop has a Keychain, to which I attached a cord that connected to my purse.

I would provide a link except that I bought it at a souvenir stand. I might have seen similar ones at TJ Maxx.

Edit to add: very much like this, and the credit card was the only thing in my little Keychain wallet, which didn't have a zipper compartment. I actually like this one for non travel as well!

https://www.amazon.com/COOLANS-Wristlet-KeyChain-Bracelet-Keyring/dp/B07WRXCC59

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Thinking about that Amazon wallet, my cards slipped in via their short edge, so the tap end was exposed. That wouldn't be the case if the cards slipped in on their long edge, as in the one I linked above.

I don't know if the tap would still work through the case. You could try it at home with any wallet, but I think perhaps not. If not, the search would be for a case where the cards slip in on their shorter edge.

Ah, here's a possibility:

https://www.amazon.com/Minimalist-Ecovision-Blocking-Detachable-D-Shackle/dp/B08H5B79HT/

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509 posts

Thank you for your wonderful post! We are going to London in December. We’ve both been before so we’re looking for new things to see and do. After reading your post I’ve added a day at Bletchley Park. My husband is retired from IT and I think we will both find it very interesting.

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That's great, Sherry!

The Bletchley Park grounds have a lot of buildings, each with their own exhibits. I wanted to read everything and it was hard for me to figure out how to pace myself. At my speed, I'd have needed 2 full days. My friend kept me moving along.

We had lunch in the cafe. Families were picnicking around the lake.

And our timing was without a visit to the next door Museum of Computing. Maybe less keen visitors could do both in a day.

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498 posts

Thanks for the links to examples of your credit card holders. I appreciate it; another question when you mentioned Churchill Museum wing, which museum is it a wing on? I thought you were referring to the Wallace Collection but after checking I don’t think so…….?

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2744 posts

What a great report! It's so well organized and easy to read. Glad you had such a wonderful trip.

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111 posts

Lovely, lovely trip report! And thank you for sharing the book information.

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4950 posts

Thanks, TexasTravelmom, that means a lot coming from you!

Thanks so much, Carroll!

MapLady, thank you and I hope you enjoy some of the books!

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9903 posts

CWSocial, thanks for writing up such a fun-to-read trip report ! Your enthusiasm and good planning really came through.

I am headed to London Friday night and getting excited !

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Kim, thank you and have a great trip! I'm sure you have wonderful things planned for yourself.

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Your trip report is a wish come true! We have a week in London in October and we’ve visited all the top-draws. I had just begun searching for new, interesting spots and restaurants. We’re now well on our way. Thanks so much.

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33339 posts

a trip report that kept me transfixed until the final word (and follow ups).

Great writing.

As I read it I thought, I've done that, I've done that. Thank goodness for all your knowledge and that of your London friend. So many things that a hit-the-high-points visitor would never do, but that locals (or near locals like me) do do. Great. I actually think you have that "living like a local" down pretty well.

Glad that you got to the Museum of the Home. It was the Geffrye Museum before the pandemic when I went. Spent hours there. Did they take you into the house at the far end where you could go upstairs and see what life was really like?

I love Bletchley Park, but despite having been an amateur radio "ham" in a former life and years in computer programming - my wife was too, only a couple of decades longer, all her working life - I was a bit up and down about the National Computing Museum. Probably because I spent too much time in the radio shack. I'll have to go back.

Reading this trip report - just - made me happy.

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797 posts

Absolutely GREAT TR, thanks CWS! Now that I know there's a computing museum next to Bletchley Park, how can we resist?? I'm sending it to some English friends, there's so much to do here I bet they'll enjoy it.

To reduce risk, my card was in its own tiny wallet (a souvenir from Estonia) with a Keychain and a cord that clipped to my purse for easy access. - GREAT idea

And this sounded like a great idea - London Walks: How the City Got Rich (relatively new)
https://www.walks.com/our-walks/how-the-city-got-rich/
My recommendation: take this walk before visiting the Tate Britain
The walk created an excellent historical frame in which to view the art of various periods relative to the rise of riches of the patrons and artists.

I don't know if you'd enjoy this ahead of your visit to Sweden in August, but Uppsala professor Arne Beurling broke another enigma code used by the Germans between embassies, reputedly using only pencil and paper! https://bookstore.ams.org/SWCRY. "The cracking of the code from the Geheimschreiber (G-Schreiber) device is every bit as impressive as the breaking of the Enigma code."

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CW- I try to go to as many shows as I can. We were there on a Sunday as well and the theaters are dark. I was determined to find a show so I just started looking by venues. Much to my delight, the Royal Albert Hall had Pink Martini on! I have heard of them but don’t really listen to their music. But my friend had so we got tickets. It didn’t matter who was playing because RAH has always been on my radar so I couldn’t believe my luck. I was able to secure box seats and felt so posh as the usher had to unlock the door to let us in to our box! I could also see the Royal Box to our right. What an experience that was and Pink Martini was also great.

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3995 posts

Great trip report with something new for many of us. We had our first visit to Bletchley Park in 2022 and totally missed lunch that day trying to see as many interesting exhibits and buildings as we could. I hung on to our one year tickets for 12 more months but alas, we couldn’t fit in a repeat visit.

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4950 posts

Nigel, good thoughts about the National Computing Museum. I'll plan my time accordingly for a 2nd visit to still allocate the better part of my time to Bletchley. There were so many interesting videos. And code breaking Learners were spending a fair amount of time trying to puzzle out the hands-on sample puzzles.

Did they take you into the house at the far end where you could go upstairs and see what life was really like?

I wonder if that is the part of the Museum of the Home that is closed for renovation. We walked along a corridor of period rooms, but I recall a stairway to upstairs as being closed to visitors. I read on their site that "Some of our period rooms (1870 to 1998) are temporarily closed for refurbishment. Years in the making, we’re bringing seven new period rooms to life which will reflect the interconnected histories of our multicultural East London community."

We had decided we were interested enough to go anyway. The gardens through time were open and we enjoyed watching the bees and butterflies, as well as the small wedding party having their reception.

Without a doubt, visiting local friends made a lovely difference to my visit! The train escort was icing on this cake.

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4950 posts

Wanderlust58, I'm so glad to hear it! This wasn't a trip for which I had planned to write a trip report, but comments like yours from London visitors looking for still more to do in such a great city make me glad that I did. Thank you!

Sandancisco, I hope your friends do enjoy the museum. I searched my library and Amazon Kindle for the "Codebreakers Arne Beurling" book. I wonder if I would have luck finding it in a used bookshop in Stockholm. Thanks for the suggestion!

Claudette, you've given me a great idea! I've been to Royal Albert Hall, as a tourist and I think also for a ballroom dance competition - long story from a lifetime ago. I've made a note to check performances there for a future visit. I listened to a few songs from Pink Martini - that must have been a fabulous show, perfect for Royal Albert Hall! I would love to see them. Even more, I'd love to dance to their music. Thanks for bringing them to my attention.

Mona, I completely understand about missing lunch at Bletchley! We did have a lovely lunch in their cafe, perhaps at the expense of taking just a quick run through the timeline display at the end of our visit, or more likely making it possible for me to continue the code breaking journey.

I think I'll add a comment above, I was never disappointed in the museum cafes.

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4950 posts

My list of things to do for my "Next Visit" (which I always start before I even leave) is longer than the list of things I did on this trip :-)

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797 posts

Hey thanks for that book list, I went to the library and found Geniuses at War, perfect for us both.

I was never disappointed in the museum cafes. So true! Hmmmm what is it about those museum cafes, a respite from the utter delights of the museum, perhaps lower sunk costs as the museum is already there, above average standards because hey, it's a museum??

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7031 posts

CW, awesome trip report! I've already bookmarked it for next year. Golders Hill sounds lovely, and I am definitely planning a visit with the two kids to Bletchley Park next year. My grandson loves WWII stuff and I think my granddaughter would be interested in the women's history there.

That's such a good idea about timing your stay with the TFL weekly caps. I'm going to see if I can manage that.

I am curious why you opted to spend 4 nights in two London hotels, rather than one for 8 nights.

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4950 posts

Mardee, that's great that you're taking the grandkids to Bletchley!

I am curious why you opted to spend 4 nights in two London hotels, rather than one for 8 nights.

It was a combination of reasons, none of them compelling.

Mostly I wanted to stay in 2 locations for variety of restaurants and places to walk to: such as Westminster Cathedral vs Kensington Palace and Kensington High Street.

It was a tiny bit easier to come in to Victoria Station from Arundel and stay there. But I wanted to be back at Gloucester Rd towards the end. I told myself that was for simplicity of the Piccadilly Line back to Heathrow. But maybe it was nostalgia to be back in my old neighborhood.

I'm glad I did it for variety, but I wouldn't try to convince anyone else to do it. At least not for hotels so near each other on the tube.

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7031 posts

That makes sense, CW.

Now I just have figure out which neighborhood to stay in with them. :-)

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4950 posts

Bletchley Park 2 for 1 National Rail Offer

I thought I heard mention of a 2 for 1 offer for Bletchley Park tickets, if you travel by rail.

https://www.daysoutguide.co.uk/bletchley-park

The web page says "Printed paper Voucher Required."

I'll add a reference to this up in the Bletchley Park post.

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4950 posts

Now I just have figure out which neighborhood to stay in with them.

Mardee, of the two, Gloucester Rd is by far the calmer location. A much smaller station, though still with very good connections (Piccadilly, District, Circle lines) for Central London. There is a Boots and a Waitrose connected to the station, a Tesco Express across the road and a Gail's and Pret a Manger within a block.

Victoria is large, far busier, and had announcements warning about pickpockets. Though I'm sure you'll set your grandkids up for secure travel. Victoria also has a Marks Simply Food.

Lots of other neighborhoods to choose from, but between just those two, I'd choose the more neighborhood-like atmosphere of Gloucester Rd over the bustle of Victoria.

But then I hate crowds. And you've been to London, you know all of this.

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4950 posts

Alice at the Royal Opera House

Well, "curioser and curioser." The Royal Opera House is staging 2 Alice in Wonderland themed programs, both of which should be great family entertainment!

The Mad Hatter's Tea Party (hip hop dance)
4 –24 SEPTEMBER 2024 @ Linbury Theater
https://www.roh.org.uk/tickets-and-events/the-mad-hatters-tea-party-details
"An energetic remix of Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland by hip hop company ZooNation."

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (ballet)
28 SEPTEMBER 2024 – 6 JULY 2025 @ ROH Main Stage
https://www.roh.org.uk/tickets-and-events/alices-adventures-in-wonderland-details
"Tumble down the rabbit hole in this ballet adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s famous family story."

The ballet (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland) is choreographed by Chistopher Wheeldon, whose work I've seen in Cinderella and just last month in A Winter's Tale. His works are fabulously entertaining, perhaps even for those who might not otherwise enjoy ballet.

Per the ROH website"EVERYONE’S CUP OF TEA":
Christopher Wheeldon’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland burst onto the stage in 2011 in an explosion of colour, stage magic and inventive, sophisticated choreography.... Bob Crowley’s wildly imaginative, eye-popping designs draw on everything from puppetry to projections to make Wonderland wonderfully real. The result shows The Royal Ballet at its best, bringing together world-class dance with enchanting family entertainment and ingenious music and design."

I'm trying to figure out how I can work this in to my 2025 travel schedule. "Have I gone mad?"

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7031 posts

Thanks, CW—I hate crowds, too. :-) I'll think about Gloucester. I used to stay in Bloomsbury back in the 90's but this time, I stayed in South Bank. I like them both but wouldn't mind trying something new. And thanks for the info on Bletchley Park!

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1531 posts

CW. Thanks for another great trip report! I have spent entirely too much time reading this and all the interesting comments :)!

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4950 posts

Hah, Carol, me too! And adding things to my list for next visit!

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939 posts

"Some of our period rooms (1870 to 1998) are temporarily closed for refurbishment. Years in the making, we’re bringing seven new period rooms to life which will reflect the interconnected histories of our multicultural East London community."

Interesting bit of signage. It sort of ties in with what Nigel was saying about it previously being the Geffrye Museum. Named after Robert Geffrye, who you can read about and make your own mind up. Hopefully Diane will see to it that his statue pops off to more suitable location in the near future, especially given its location in a community with many people of afro-caribbean heritage.

a slightly dodgy college neighborhood

Hehe... it amuses me to hear Hoxton described that way. I had never associated Hoxton with learning of any sort. It's not really dodgy, at least not in the daytime :) Hoxton Street is fairly typical of streets in that area, where the council estate and the chicken shop is rubbing up against the cute little bakeries and it's working ok. It's much much safer than it was 20 years ago. You were near the Boundary Estate, which pretty much set the template for social housing in the UK for the century that followed. It's still nice to visit if you enjoy urban history. Hoxton Square is fine now, lots going on, and not half as ropey as it used to be.

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4950 posts

As we looked down the road, before turning the corner to find the cafe, we didn't see much besides a brick wall with graffiti. And no people. We looked at each other and said, should we go down to the corner and have a look? Then we saw the cafe and that's as far as we went. So our impression was that first look down the street, which may not have been the least bit dodgy looking to a guy. Maybe it's only ladies who wonder whether it's a good place to be walking around, even in the daytime. And to be fair, we didn't walk any further than the cafe. So we really didn't see much of the neighborhood, and not another soul except in the cafe, to judge.

On the way back from the cafe, I was in search of a Barclay's ATM that I'd seen on the map, to try out my newly minted Barclay's debit card.

I had never associated Hoxton with learning of any sort.

We found it in a slightly different spot from the map, on the block we'd just walked along to get to the cafe - the block with the "New City College, Hackney" and the "Hackney University Technical College" and the "City of London College." 3 colleges in a block! Though, to your point, perhaps the students all just commute in for classes and it's not really a college neighborhood, in the sense of students living there. But one would hope they are learning there!

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939 posts

My slightly off the wall theory about safety in London is that, as a tourist, you're probably safer in Hoxton than you are in the pickpocket hotspots like Leicester Square or queuing for the London Eye.

In my experience of going to neighbourhoods I don't know is that people are generally minding their own business and not out to commit any crimes.

You make an excellent point about women's safety. I'm a 6'3" bald guy so I'm often in the position of worrying about looking like the scary one when I'm out and about. It's a whole different perception of safety I have to people in general, and especially women.

ETA: Good point about the colleges! I'm not sure where all of them are, but I'm aware of the names of them now you mention them. There is quite a bit of student accomodation around Hoxton and Shoreditch too now you mention that. Student accomodation is a bit of real estate cash cow in the UK and I'm not always convinced by the legitimacy of new developments.

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4950 posts

Hah yes, I wouldn't mind having a 6'3" (bald or not) guy walking along as a bodyguard!

And agreed, I'd walk through there any day, rather than the pickpocket places.

As it was, I loved that little cafe and would go back - even on my own - in a heartbeat!

Seriously, I want that cafe in my town! (My London friend would be rolling her eyes... she didn't think it was anything special.)

ETA: maybe she doesn't think it's anything special because they're all over London and Europe. Whereas my town can't even keep the inside dining area of a Starbucks open to the public, so we are relegated to the drive through.

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3824 posts

Wow, great trip report!
I'm a little late to the party, but enjoying reading this so much!
I must check out your hotel. Sounds like Bailey's Hotel is in a great location for transportation.

I'm glad you took several London Walks. I have thoroughly enjoyed every one I've taken.
How did you like the Little Venice area?
I just love it!!!

Thanks for the mention of restaurants you tried.....I'll definitely be trying some of them.
I must confess, I'm partial to Indian restaurants!

I am so impressed with your organizational skills!
You are the queen of trip planning!!

Museum Cafes--Among "Notable Meals," I was never disappointed with the museum cafes: the Tate Britain, Bletchley Park, Wallace Collection, all were nice meals at fair prices in a setting that helped you recharge and continue your visit.

Next visit, you must visit the V&A Museum (Victoria and Albert) and its fabulous lunchroom. The gold dome is something to see, and the food is excellent.

I have a hotel to recommend for your next visit; right across the street from the V&A, The Science Museum, and the Natural History Museum. Walking distance to Harrod's. Take a look at The Rembrandt (11 Thurloe Place) Excellent clean rooms, decent price, and included breakfast. Many London buses (various routes/numbers) stop just outside the front door or across the street in front of the museums. South Kensington underground station is a five minute walk away.
https://www.sarova-rembrandthotel.com/

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6384 posts

CWsocial, I’m loving this thread. We’re spending some time in London next month, and are looking for new ideas. We also have tickets to see “Much Ado…” so am delighted to hear you enjoyed it. How does the Benedick compare with Kenneth Branagh in the movie?

And thanks for all your help on my “getting to Paddington” thread; invaluable!

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4950 posts

Rebecca,
I really enjoyed the London Walk through Little Venice! My London friend joined me and I think she enjoyed it as well because she signed up for a 2nd walk with me. Now that's saying something! Next trip, I'll allocate some time to wander around Little Venice by myself.

I must confess, I'm partial to Indian restaurants!
Funny you mention that.....before I moved to England, I didn't much care for the Indian food that I had tried ... in Denver. I became hooked on it when my London friend started taking me to her local Indian restaurants.

Thank you for the hotel recommendation! I've started a new section for my "Next Visits" and added The Rembrandt as a hotel. It was easy for this trip to stay in my familiar neighborhood, but next time I'd like to try somewhere new.

Thank you for all of your help for this visit, as I tried to sort through options for where to stay!

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4950 posts

Jane, you're in for such a treat! Well, at least I hope you'll think so. Without daring to say a negative thing against Kenneth Branagh in the movie, I enjoyed the live stage version of Benedick because of his playfulness with the character. And how he engaged with the audience with his performance asides. Something that, of course, you only get in live theater.

I'll be interested to hear what you think of Beatrice and her live character with the live Benedick.

My niece saw Much Ado at the Globe several months before I did. It may have been her first Shakespeare play and she only intended to stay for part of the play. She had tickets in the standing yard and stayed to the end, saying it is "one of her favorite memories ever" - some of which she attributed to the engagement with the audience.

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4950 posts

Rebecca, thanks also for mentioning the cafe at the V&A Museum. We had coffee and a pastry from a little kiosk in the outdoor courtyard. I didn't look for their cafe and missed the gold dome! Another addition for my "next visit." Good thing I'm keeping a list!

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6384 posts

CW, ever since our second visit to London, in 2016, we have made it a regular part of our trip to see a play at the Globe. On our one winter trip, when the Globe is usually dark, we managed to see “The Winter’s Tale,” which they split between the Wanamaker and the Globe. Brilliantly, and effectively, imagined.

And yes, the actors’ interaction with the audience is a major part of the performance, adding immeasurably to the experience.

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4950 posts

Jane, from what you're saying of prior productions, it may become a regular part of my trips as well! Along with the ballet.

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788 posts

I’m back from my trip and just had a chance to read your report. It sounds like a great trip. We spent a week in London in 1999 and hope to return. I’ll be sure to consult your great report if we do return.

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6384 posts

CW, we saw “Much Ado … “ yesterday, and it was delightful. Benedick was indeed engaging, bursting with personality. Beatrice, at least in the earlier part of the show, spoke so quickly and ranged about the stage so much that I had trouble getting into her character. In the last section, after Hero’s disgrace, she — Beatrice — was magnificent. The scene where she and Benedick declare their love had me in tears.

The show was stolen however, by a pigeon who landed on stage just as the Duke was announcing that word had arrived from the frontier about the whereabouts of the miscreant Don John. The timing was perfect, and brought the house down.

Truly a wonderful show.

“Richard III” opens today, and we are sorely tempted to go, but decided that it wouldn’t be a good idea, since we haven’t read the play in probably 35 - 40 years.

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498 posts

Oh Jane, do it, do it! Richard lll is one the most accessible plays Shakespeare wrote I think. Richard starts talking directly to you and, off you go! Completely swept along with this very charming villain and his machinations.

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4950 posts

Jane, I'm so glad that you enjoyed Much Ado!

It also took me a while to warm up to Beatrice. I'm wondering whether that isn't the point; we're supposed to think she's prickly. Maybe it's a sign of how well she portrays the character? I got to lukewarm, at best. I almost hoped they wouldn't end up together, so perhaps too prickly for me to come around to her in the end. I may also have given her short shrift, with my attention always drawn to Benedick.

We did not have the delightful addition of the pigeon. I hope they've signed him on for future performances!!