A Long Weekend in London
When traveling to another country there are many things that one must understand before arriving. In England you will be arriving most likely at one of the two London airports and leaving from them as well. All of the days are separate and are interchangeable with one another. All of the monetary amounts will be in English pounds which currently has a higher value than the US dollar so be prepared to spend a little more than you would be expecting. This itinerary does not include the price of all meals and hotel accommodation as well as rental car prices.
Overall England relatively hassle free place to visit. There are no shots to get, so special requests to make, the only thing you need is a passport, and flight/boat ride, and travel money (the currency is the pound and pence, there are 100 pences to a pound). Hotels in London are around 100 pounds a night so plan according.
Southern England has a mild climate with mean temperature around 11°C (52°F). The summer highs are in July with London at 22.5°C (73°F) and the coast at 20°C (68°F). The winter lows are in January with London at 3°C (37°F) and the coast at 0.5°C (33°F). IF you’re planning your trip in the winter, late fall or early spring it may be best to avoid the shore line, due to low temperatures and the sea breeze that seems to lower the temperatures of the area.
Once in London you can get maps, sign up for tours and having any question answered at the Britain and London visitor Centre, at 1 Lower Regent St., London SW1 4XT. (tel. 08701/ 566-366) It is open year round Mondays 9:30-6 and Tuesday-Friday 9pm-6pm and Saturday and Sunday 9am-4pm. Through April and September, it stays open a half an hour later on the weekdays.
There are two major airports in London, Heathrow and Gatwick both have shuttles traveling to London running every 15 minutes. You can also arrive via boat from either France or Ireland. As well as take the tunnel by car from France.
Getting around London it’s self is extremely easy using public transit(best to get a underground pass vs. buying a pass everyday), however if you are venturing out of the city you may want to rent a car. It is possible to get around the countryside without a car (except for visiting Stonehenge) it will just take a significant about of time longer then if you had your own wheels.
On your trip in if you choose to fly there is a slight threat of deep vein thrombosis. Which is a condition of blood clots form. This mostly occurs if there is a history of blood clots in your family or if you are in cramped conditions for several hours. To avoid this keep moving, get up for short walks on the flight to keep legs moving, also avoid alcohol and sleeping pills and drink plenty of water (this will help with getting in those short walks on the plane).
While in London if is best to take the usual precautions that you would in any large city. Always look before crossing the street; do not flaunt money or valuables and never enter an unregistered cab/tour (especially if you are alone).
While in London it is uncommon to see rallies and protests by the capital building. When they do occur they rarely ever turn violent so if one is to form or you see one do not be alarmed. To avoid any trouble be it by the rally it’s self or the congestion it will cause simply turn around and walk in the opposite direction.
A Morning at Stonehenge
Beginning early in the morning wake up and enjoy a hearty breakfast in the center of London just by the London Eye at Bill's for around twenty pounds one can get breakfast (with drinks and service) for two. Being out of the city by ten will allow you to reach Stonehenge before noon. Taking A4 out of the city then follow the road to A316. Eventually reach and take A303 then follow the road to A344 which will have Stonehenge on the left after several minutes.
While at Stonehenge certain days allow you to walk among the stones however if you are interested in doing this it is important to make a reservation months in advance; however, if you just want to see the stones then you can go any day and see the stones from distance of about 20 to 40 feet. I found that just going and seeing Stonehenge and not walking among the stones still is a great experience in itself. You are able to get a pass to see the stones for 7.5 pounds for adults, 4.5 pounds for child, and 19.5 pounds for a family of 2 adults and 3 children. You might want to spend about an hour here and get some ice cream at the stand that is just outside of the gates. Now begin the drive back to London following the same roads that it took to go to Stonehenge.
Once arriving back in London, it is time for an early dinner, at Vincent Rooms, which is located in Victoria Centre, Vincent Square in Westminster. This restaurant serves a three course dinner for about 22 pounds. End the evening with a stroll around Vincent Square. As the sunsets drive back to your hotel and take the underground into the city, and make your way to Westminster Station. When you reach bridge street take a left and walk across the bridge, and about half way across the bridge turn and look at the Paralment Building and Big Ben, don't be afraid to take a few pictures of the lit up tower (you are a tourist after all). Continue across the bridge and as soon as you reach the end of the bridge take the walking path just on the left and follow down till you reach Jubilee Gardens.
Now that you have reached Jubilee Gardens the London Eye will be on your left. If you want you could take the thirty minute ride for 18.9 pounds for adults and children of 9.9 pounds (family 2 adults, 2 children for 57.6 pounds). The London Eye with a few exceptions, closes every night at 9 p.m. the London Eye also is closed every January 7- January 20 for maintenance. After your ride you can spend the evening wandering your way back to your hotel, however the closest underground station is the Westminster Station that you arrived in earlier that evening.
London DayIn the morning wake up bright and early and make your way to the Underground station of Charing Cross which is by The Mall. Once you make it to the station you will see a long stretch of road that will lead to the palace. As you walk down this road admire the trees that line the pavement and the park to your left. If the morning fog has lifted you will begin to see the palace in the distance. As you make your way towards the palace there will be at least one of the Queen's Guard standing guard at the gate. If you happen to be late this morning and are there around 11a.m. you might be able to see the Changing of the Guard, but fair warning if you are there for the Changing of the Guard there will be a lot of tourists.
After you visit Buckingham Palace make your way to Harrods, one of the largest shopping centers in London. Return to Charing Cross and travel on the brown line to Piccadilly Circus then get off the brown line and switch to the blue line going towards Knightsbridge Station. As you exit the station Harrods will be insight. Spend the afternoon "getting lost in Harrods" make sure you go up to the higher floors where you can find anything from sporting equipment to perfume. Highly recommended is Cafe Godiva, it is on the second floor, it has everything a chocolate lover would crave, from chocolate drinks to fondue. After the novelty of being in Harrods has faded, you can make your way to the west end using the Piccadilly Line( or the blue line) to Leicester Square. If you want you can attend a show in the west end, just make sure you get tickets prior to arriving at the show, probably from your hotel or online ahead of time. After the show make your way back to your hotel.
A Day at The White Cliffs of Dover
First things first you’re going to have to get there. If you are driving it will take about an hour and 45 minutes. You must get onto the M2 towards Canterbury; next take A2 until you arrive in Dover. There is parking available in Dover however you will have to pay around 7.50 pounds for up to 9 hours. If you are traveling by train there is a new high-speed rail link that takes you from London to Dover in just over an hour.
Once in Dover one of the best ways to experience the cliffs and the town is to get a guided tour by a greeter (you must set this up two weeks in advance). The greeters can offer anything from guided tours of the area to historical information. If you would rather go it alone, stopping at the visitor’s center would be a great idea. There you can pick up maps and talk to locals about the area.
Before you heading out on your adventure of your choosing it would be best to get something to eat so you won’t be hungry. There are many great restaurants in Dover one of which being The Marquis at Alkham where you can get an affordable lunch with a great atmosphere. Once you’re full and refreshed it’s time to get out to those cliffs and do some exploring.
The cliffs themselves other some amazing views from the trials that run along the tops. These are highly recommended and you can spend the whole day walking along the tops and taking in the sweet sea breeze. The trials range from one to six miles, you can start these at the National Trust Visitor Centre or the Dover’s Western Heights. If you still have some daylight left after your walks you can explore the beach or go to one of the many museums around the area.
Take public transit to either airports/ferries or drive out via the tunnel.