'ello, govnah! Care for a spot of tea?! (Going to London!)

Sorry for the horrible accent.

Anyway.. -clears throat-

Sweet Mother Jesus and Her Bouncing Bonnet. I was just accepted to go to the Richmond campus in London from June 6th to the 28th to study abroad. I'm only taking one class, and it's an elective. I don't care, SINCE I'M FINALLY GETTING OUT OF MARYLAND AND THE UNITED STATES.

Let me say that again: I'm going to freaking England this summer.

I did it. I actually did this all by myself using my own hard work, money, time, and effort AND I was successful.

You have no idea just how happy I am right now.

Nothing can stop me. Except a bullet.

London, and in general England, is a pretty awesome place to explore. I went there for two weeks when I was in college.

Obvious places to visit in London:

St. Paul's Cathedral (It's pretty, but less-impressive to me than the medieval cathedrals out in the countryside, like Salisbury and Canterbury. Canterbury isn't that far away from London by train, if you're interested in exploring a walled-town. Salisbury cathedral was my favorite, though. It was epic, and it was a slow day when I went there, so there were volunteer tour guides just looking for something to do, and one guy took me around the WHOLE PLACE, just me, and showed me every little point of interest there. Only thing is, there isn't a train to Salisbury as easily as there is one to Canterbury.)

The Globe Theater - We were there in the winter, so unfortunately, they weren't putting on any plays, but for heaven's sake, if you can get tickets, go see something there. I saw The Merchant of Venice in Stratford upon Avon when we were there in a globe-style modern theater, and it was pretty awesome.

The Tower of London (And since it's right there, the Tower bridge) - The tower is pretty cool, especially if you can get one of the Beefeaters to show you around.

Trafalgar Square - Besides the large monument to Lord Nelson, there are numerous museums in this area, and one of the churches, St. Martin's I believe, puts on a free concert fairly regularly. I don't remember specifically, but I believe it was orchestral classical music.

Not-so-obvious things to do:

The Criterion Theater in Piccadilly Circus used to have regular shows of The Reduced Shakespeare Company, which puts on hilarious abridged versions of many mainstream staples. I don't know if they still have shows there, but if they do, get tickets and go to one. You will laugh all night, and not want it to end.

Explore on the London Underground - Unlike American subways, the Underground has some interesting sights to see in and of itself. Some of the stations are practically art galleries. Plus, it's just a great way to get around the city. I've not seen its equal in any of the cities I've been to state-side. Even NYC.

Eat Indian Food - The Indian restaurants in London are quite good. You're usually pretty safe here, and I had the best Chicken Curry I've ever had.

Eat English Food - The Stockpot, a common British restaurant, is a good place to get a sampling of traditional British fare. That is not to say I recommend it. But, for an authentic experience, there's no better place. Trust me, after that dinner, you'll only be eating there once.

Eat at My Old Dutch - This is a pancake place, but it sure isn't IHOP. It's much better. They serve gourmet pancakes on platters the size of wheels on a car. Just about anything you could imagine, from dinner to dessert, they've got it. And these are actually more like crepes than pancakes, but not quite as thin.

Eat at a pub - I had lunch at a pub one day. Good atmosphere, decent food, and all around fun. I'm sure you'll do more than eat there, though.

Awesome Vrikk, congrats on getting accepted over there for your studies!

I'm taking notes here, since I'm actually leaving for London THIS THURSDAY! A bunch of us are meeting over there for a Starfury Convention where we'll get to meet and greet some BSG and Firefly cast. But really, the con was just an excuse to go and visit London. I cannot wait to have a pint in an English pub!

Sweet, thanks for the ideas so far.

Are any of the European Goodjers close enough for me to visit on a student's bank account?

V, I'm in London three or four days a week for work, so I'm happy to buy you lunch/dinner and a pint or two one day when I'm in.

Richmond's a lovely little town. You'll be a ways out of the center of the city, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

I'll agree with some of Mike's points, but English food is much better than you can get at a Wetherspoon's or a Hungry Horse. Just like there's alot more to the country than Trafalgar Square and St. Martin-in-the-Fields. PM me with your email and I'll give you the skinny. Or call me out and I'll post it here.

PM'd. I like the idea of free foreign food and booze

Oh, and I mentioned Salisbury cathedral... If you have any plans of going to hit up Stonehenge, Salisbury, and the cathedral, are only about 8 miles away. And it is an impressive cathedral.

From above

And one of my photos:


I'll be in London with my gf from 14th to 17th June, incidentally. Not sure about the program so far, but no problem going for a pint (or five) on my side (we visit London every year, so we're in no rush to see everything).

Recommended visits:

The galleries:
National Gallery. Is on Trafalgar Square and is free. Their collection is massive and you are sure to find whatever you like (Raphael? Tizian? Impressionists? Fauvists? The Dutch painters? Van Gogh? You name it.) Take a floor plan and design your own route.
Tate Modern. Nice approach over walking bridge and the exhibitions are great. It is mostly free, some exhibitions are paid. last year there was an exhibition about urban growth over the world and it was just fascinating.

The musei:
British Museum. Free, again. A huge collection of everything the British brought over from the colonies and digs. Roman, Greek, Egyptian, Korean, Japanese, Chinese stuff. Again, if you're interested in at least some ancient cultures, you will find it there. The new atrium is also a great place.
Natural History Museum, Science Museum. They're close to each other and basically depend on your interests. They are free as well. You won't be disappointed by Science Museum, it's the place to play, touch and explore. We had great fun with my brother there two years ago. He studies chemistry and physics and I literally couldn't drag him away.

Visit the parks and gardens. Hyde Park, Covent Garden are great to just stroll around.

If you want a good view of the city centre, climb Monument (tube stop: Monument). It costs two pounds, it's tall and after you climb down you'll get a certificate that you have climbed its 200 or so steps. It's not as tall as The London Eye, but there is usually no queue and you can take your time.

Other than that, just enjoy, walk along Thames and breathe in the atmosphere. If you have time and money, visit Bath (old Roman baths and quite an interesting town in itself) or Oxford (there's a ride that shows you history of Oxford Uni, including JRR Tolkien, yay!).

Things to possibly avoid:
The London Eye - not really worth the wait and money in my book, but you can try it just in case. Nice to observe though. The wheel itself is more than 100 meters tall and doesn't have spikes, but hangs on steel ropes instead. Most interesting.
Madame Tussaud's - I never really understood why are people so eager to queue just to see wax models of people. Again, choice is of course yours, just count on waiting in a queue and pay through your nose (22.50 pounds for a ticket, an hour before closing drops to 12.50).

England is sooooooo overrated!

Have fun!! It is a nice country
And it is the country of Monty Python!!!

London IS awesome... But I'm biased.

If you want a good proper pub you've really got to get out of London, but there are always some good ones around pretty much every corner. I heartily recommend the Sailsbury (I think that's its name) right by the Noel Coward Theatre.

As for visit spots - really try to get to the British museum if you're even remotely into history/architecture and the Tate modern if you dig art. If you're swinging by the Tower and Bridge, head to St Katherines docks and a market nearby called Borough market - incredible food. Best days for Borough are Friday, Sat, Sun.

If you want a quieter/nature day, get to Kew gardens, just amazing.

Whatever you get up to in London I guarantee you'll stuggle to get everywhere... So compile a list!

Trocadero arcade off Piccadilli Sq. A huge-ass, kick-ass multi-story arcade.

I'd recommend taking in a Premier League match while you're out there. It's a lot different than watching a sporting event in the states. Maybe one of the locals can recommend a good match with available tickets.

Vrikk - unfortunately I think you'll be in London during the offseason.

If you like walking, you can take the tube to Island Gardens and walk around there, then head through the Greenwich Foot Tunnel to Greenwich. It runs under the river and it's a mildly disturbing experience, especially if you're alone in there. It's like being in 28 Days Later. Then in Greenwich you can walk around and see the sights. I think the Cutty Sark is still being repaired, but that's OK, Greenwich is still full of history: Naval Museum, Royal Observatory, etc. If you're into nautical/math/history stuff (Nelson, Pepys, longitude) it's a must see. I was in London a little while ago, spent two whole days walking around Greenwich and still didn't see everything.

So, there's alot of stuff to do in London. All the stuff that Wanderingtaoist said is good. You'll want to soak up the atmosphere and avoid Madame Tussaud's. Though I would disagree about the Eye. Its particularly impressive if you go up around the time the sun sets.

London's as diverse a place as there is in the world. As Samuel Johnson said, ""Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford."
In my mind, London's defined by its neighborhoods and while that's a fairly rough divide, it tends to work pretty well. So here are the neighborhoods you might want to know:

City of London - Center of law & business for the city. Also known as the Square Mile. Lots of law firms and banks. Home of the St. Paul's Cathedral. Erotic Gherkin. When you see it, you'll know what I mean.
Westminster - While the City of Westminster is actually bigger than this, its heart is around the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey and Whitehall road.
Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square - Full of tourists and overpriced restaurants, but Soho is north of Piccadilly, Chinatown is just north of Leicester, and the theater district borders them on the east, so you should at least see them to say you've seen them.
Covent Garden - Again, touristy, but less so. Lots of theaters in the area, street performers, hip shops and restaurants.
Oxford Street - Centered on the tube station of Oxford Circus, its the main shopping thoroughfare in the city. Lots of big department stores and just down the street off Tottenham Court Road are the big electronic shops.
Charing Cross Road - There's a concentration of book stores on Charing Cross road. Personally, I like Foyles. Its an independent, but has a wide enough selection to cover just about anything. There are a couple more classy bookshops scattered around greater London, but you can find pretty much everything here.
Kensington & Chelsea - This is the money of London. Lots of expensive restaurants and stores. Harrods is here, which you should definitely see, but if you're like me, you can't actually afford to buy anything.
Notting Hill - Its become trendy in the past ten years, which means expensive. Its still worth going to see the Market and Portabello Road.
The South Bank - Along the South Bank of the river, you can walk from Westminster to Tower Bridge and Butler's Wharf, with plenty of neat sights in between. Butler's Wharf is quite cool, and its sortof off the beaten track.

That should give you a rough idea and you can find out the rest for yourself.

London has the Tube, but its also the train transport hub for the country, so it has overland railways radiating out from it. Particular stations will serve different parts of the country. Richmond is on Southwest Trains which runs into Waterloo, which is convenient. Its central and its easy to get just about anywhere in the city from there. Its my train station too, so I can vouch for how busy it can be.
So, this map is your friend. Its got all the national rail lines and what stations they head into, as well as the Tube lines and how they intersect with the overground trains.
There are also buses. They are fairly cheap, and can be great if you're not under any kind of time pressure.

If you want to get out of the Big Smoke, or if you'd prefer to use the train to get in, you'll use National Rail for tickets, usually. Or you can buy from the ticket office in Richmond. Buy as early as possible to get the cheapest fare. Sometimes you can get a cheaper rate at the station in advance or if you buy two singles (specifying particular trains).
Get a Young Person's rail card if you expect to take the train around. Its £24, but you'll get 1/3rd off every train ticket, and if you're traveling alot during the month, then it'll pay for itself on one or two trips. That might, in fact, make it cheaper to get in to the center of the city than taking the Tube every time. I haven't done the math.

If you want to go somewhere else in Europe for the weekend, there are a couple cheap airlines: Ryanair and Easyjet are pretty straightforward.

British food can be great, or it can be awful. Pies, pasties, fish & chips, kebabs, bangers & mash, they're all only as good as the place you go to eat. They can be damn delicious.

Going out for a curry is an institution in the UK. Brick Lane is the home of Indian food in London, and until recently, Chicken Tikka Masala was the national dish of Britain.

Wagamama is a great chain that's just spread to the US. Delicious noodle bar that's scattered throughout London and the UK.

I love beer. So this comes from the heart - Britain has beautiful beer.
Try as many as you can while you're here.
Ales: Abbott, Spitfire, Eden (I love them all.)
Lagers: Staropramen, Carling, Budvar
Bitters: Boddingtons, John Smith's, Tetleys

Pubs are part of the heart and soul of British people. They're going to be different from block to block, county to county, one end of the country to t'other. Try and get a good spread of experiences, and you won't regret it.


Trophy Husband wrote:

I'd recommend taking in a Premier League match while you're out there.
unfortunately I think you'll be in London during the offseason.

But you won't be there in the offseason for everything else. In fact, the sport calendar for June is pretty full. The highlights will be New Zealand in rugby and cricket. As you're just down the road from Twickenham, you should go to the museum of rugby that they have there, but unfortunately there's not much on besides that. Jon Bon Jovi is playing the night before you leave. No?

You've got better luck with the cricket, though. You're on the same train line as Vauxhall, which is the station for the Brit Oval - international test venue and home of Surrey CC.

So, that's all the practicalities. I'll have a think about days out of London for you and maybe do another post.

I may be able to pop down to the capital for a visit....

However, I view our green and pleasant land in a different light. Central London is nicely done for the tourists and you can't go very wrong. Hyde Park for example on a sunny day is fantastic.

however the east and south edges of London are far less nice. I know from experience of the likes of Canning Town, and East Ham for instance that you can feel very much at unease. Just be careful, and I would imagine like everyone else you shouldn't run into problems.

Just get an Oyster card for the public transport so you will save a lot of money.

Lucky you! Have a blast.

1) Take LOTS of Money
2) Do go to the Science Museum (and see the way cool re-constructed/newly built Babbadge Calculating Engines). I DRAGGED my partner there three years ago and he really got into it.
3) Go to the Victoria & Albert Museum (literally across the road from the Science Museum), BUT pick two or three galleries at most and stick to them- otherwise you'll wear yourself out and get cranky
4) I thought the London Eye was terrific; with the caveat that we found out when sunset occurred, so timed our visit to coincide with it. Lights coming on across London was neat
5)If you go up to Royal Botanical Gardens (Kew Gardens) go up by the Tube, then come back by boat down the Thames, going under all the bridges. Nice.
6)Buy a Transit Pass- it's costly, but it gets you access all the time and you won't have to be constantly looking for money, adding money yo a card, etc., and takes the worry out of using the Tubes.
7)Marks & Spencer mini-groceries (as well as Tescos) are your FRIEND- relatively cheap food that is also good.
8) LOVED, LOVED Pret a Manger and Wagamama
9) The Borough Market on the South side of London Bridge Saturday mornings. Great artisanal breads and cheeses, pastries, preserves...I could go on. Worth every penny.

I live in London - happy to hook up for a beer or three. Or nine.

GWJ meetup?

Happy Dave wrote:

I live in London - happy to hook up for a beer or three. Or nine.

GWJ meetup?

I'm all up for it.

Remembered some more nice stuff: Camden Town and Notting Hill on Saturdays. There's a lot of flea-marketing going on and is basically nice to soak up on atmosphere. Gets crowded though.

I second the advice to take lots of money. The dollar is so very, very weak and I think London is sort of pricey as cities go.

I'm in London! Jetlag is killing me (woo no sleep!), and I'm hating the English keyboard, but besides that this place rocks. I am, however, already ridiculously lost and I've not even stepped outside on my own yet. I'm staying at the Atlantic House, which is in the Royal Borough of -mumblemumble-. It's near or in the Central London area.

(And remember: "Mind the gap!")

Welcome to the British summer!
Glad the flight went well. Stay up all today and go to sleep as late as possible tonight. That'll help get you on to British time.

Atlantic House? Do you have a tube stop near you? Or a postcode?

Haakon, apparently I'm in one of the rich parts of the city. I'm near the embassies, as well as Gloucester Street... and I've already been invited to The Gloucester Arm pub for a pint or two. I'm excited just to say "Pint, please."

Ahhh, I see. You're in Kensington, just south of Hyde Park.
You are in a nice part of town! Well done you. Make the most of Hyde Park while you're there!

Yup, Hyde Park. I wandered around aimlessly a bit last night and had fun. I live right next to the French embassy, which I find hilarious.

I'm thinking Hyde Park is going to be seeing a lot of me in the next few days, most likely passed out with a book over my face.

If you take a trip up to York at some point, give me a shout. Enjoy either way!

I lived where you are for 4 years during college. I went to Imperial College, which is next to the Science Museum, across the road from the Royal Albert Hall. Just walk down Exhibition Road from Hyde Park and you'll pass it on the right.

What school are you going to be attending?

I highly recommend going to the Royal Albert Hall for an event. Go to the box office and see what's coming up. Full disclosure: I worked the bars there.

Don't forget to pop into Harrods. It's a few minutes walk away and worth the experience - especially the food halls.

You'll find the tube exceptionally useful and South Kensington is on the Piccadilly, Circle and District lines (Purple, Yellow and Green). Piccadilly Circus is just a few stops up the Piccadilly line. Or you could walk it in about 30 minutes.

On a really hot day, i recommend taking a Thames boat ride. One way takes you all the way to Greenwich (of GMT fame). Another way takes you to the Thames Flood barrier. Both are worth a trip and the view of London (along with the guide's patter) interesting.

An now that you've seen them ...

London girls, right? Right? Damn!

Haakon7 wrote:

Most informative post of the year


Nyles wrote:

An now that you've seen them ...

London girls, right? Right? Damn!

What I want to know is, where can I find the golden snitch(sp)!?

nsmike wrote:

Eat Indian Food - The Indian restaurants in London are quite good. You're usually pretty safe here, and I had the best Chicken Curry I've ever had.

I second this piece of advice. The Indian food in England is excellent. Also, try to stop in at a Chinese restaurant. Talking to a Chinaman with an English accent is an experience I'll not soon forget.

You crack me up, Yoyoson.