Traveling to London
Hey there TB folks!
Taking a major (for us) trip to London this November. Traveling with teenagers and a senior fwiw.
Could anyone suggest what Restaurants, Pubs, Attractions to visit?
I want to check out MusicGround. Are there better places to check out?
I would appreciate any input/advice you could suggest.
First of all, when you get here, get an Oyster card for the trains, tubes and buses. Then get a copy of the London Underground tube map and get familiar with it. Then pick up a copy of Time Out when you get here - more or less everything interesting that happens in London is in there.
So, as far as tourist-y stuff goes, here's a few suggestions.
Go to all the usual landmarks (Buckingham Palace, Houses of Parliament, Piccadilly Circus, etc) - they're all pretty close to each other.
Go to the Tower of London and get the guided tour - best historical tour in London. Then walk along Tower Bridge.
Spend a few hours walking around Covent Garden.
Get a riverboat from Westminster to Greenwich, when you get to Greenwich go and see the Cutty Sark and the Royal Observatory (and ride a pedallo in the park).
Go to all the amazing (and free) museums, and make sure to include the V&A and the Imperial War Museum.
Go to a West End show.
Catch a gig at Ronnie Scotts, The Jazz Cafe or the 100 Club.
Get out of London for a day and go to the seaside in Brighton.
Try and score some tickets for a Chelsea, Arsenal or West Ham football game.
Go to Camden Town and explore. And make sure to check out the market. And The Gallery (see below).
Then go to Highgate and visit the cemetery - lots of well-known names buried there, from Douglas Adams and Malcolm McLaren to Karl Marx and Michael Faraday.
Go on the London Eye.
And, if you like views, go to the observation floor in The Shard (London's tallest building).
Go to Notting Hill and check out the Portobello Road market.
There's good food everywhere, and lots of surprisingly good street food. If all else fails we have all the usual fast food chains and coffee shops.
On the subject of food, go to Brick Lane in East London (nearest tube is Aldgate East) for an awesome curry.
Go to the Globe Theatre on the South Bank and see a Shakespeare play.
Go to the Brooklands Museum in Weybridge (about a 40 minute train ride out of London) and see lots of old racing cars, WWII planes and a Concorde.
While you're on the South Bank, go to the Tate Modern.
Pubs - they're everywhere. We do like to drink! Most of them do really good, reasonably priced food too - this is the home of the gastropub, after all.
As far as bass interest goes, there's plenty. First and foremost is The Gallery in Camden - the best bass shop in the UK, bar none. In Denmark St (aka Tin Pan Alley) there's a few good shops - Wunjo's Bass Centre is good (far better than the old Bass Cellar that used to occupy the same shop), there's Music Ground, and several others. If you're feeling brave and want to get out of London, GAK in Brighton is good, as is Anderton's in Guildford. We don't really have any big "chain" music stores like Guitar Center/Sam Ash though.
A few tips for you, from a Brit who used to live in America:
Don't dress like an American tourist - ie, brown khaki shorts, white shoes with white socks, loud T-shirt and baseball cap. You'll stand out a mile.
Us Brits think all American politicians, with the exception of Obama and Clinton, are foaming-dog insane, so don't talk politics with a Brit. Or guns. We despise guns.
Tipping is mostly optional here, but a cabbie or waiter always appreciates a small tip.
Look the other way when crossing the road. We drive on the left.
Brits are quite dry and sarcastic, and we love to "take the piss" (make fun) - it's all in good humour though.
We swear far more creatively than anyone else.
Given that, we're also somewhat quieter than people in the US, so turn the volume down a bit.
On an escalator, stand on the right, walk on the left.
Remember to mind the gap.
Cab drivers in London have to pass a ridiculously strenuous test of London's road network called The Knowledge. You'll never see a London cabbie using a GPS.
In fact, this blog post sums most of it up for you:
And remember, when in Rome... or Londinium. :)
The beer isn't warm, it's beer temperature.
^What he said!
(And by 'he', I meant RustyChainsaw - but the beer coment stands true as well)
I'm a Brit. I've just spent the last couple of days showing a couple of tourists friends around.
If you don't have someone to show you around, your first acquisition should be a tube map. You can pick these up in various places and some are free. There are a lot online. The Underground is a wonderful system but knowing how to navigate it is the tricky part.
We have a number of lines. Each of these lines has two options, 'Eastbound and Westbound' or 'Northbound and Southbound'. It's self-explanatory but look on the map which direction you're heading, on which line and you should be good to go - the stations are very well signposted throughout.
Remember to bring an umbrella. Or at least a waterproof jacket. The old clichés about rain in London are absolutely true and it can turn quickly.
If you're averse to foul language, then stay the &^(* out of London!
Also, many pubs serve meals at lunch time and not dinner. And, you can look forward to drinking real beer. If you want to experience real British cuisine, ask if they serve Spotted Dick for desert. One of the more interesting names for a dish.
Looking to the right when stepping out in the street cannot be emphasized enough. It's real easy to get nailed my a bus.
Carnaby street has some 60's history to it. There's the Clink prison on the south bank of the Thames, from which the expression, "Getting tossed in the Clink" came from. Shakespeare's Globe Theatre is also on the south bank, as well as the Tate Museum. The museum's in London are fabulous.
And always remember to mind the gap. :p
If you go to the Tower of London (Tower Hill Eastbound) on the District Line - really mind the gap. That is the largest single gap that I've come across!
Remember that you'll need to wear a whistle to get in some places, but you don't have to just to go to the win and loser.
Definitely make sure you get a Ruby Murray while you're there, it will be different to what you usually get from the trouble and strife. But be careful when you go for a Brad the next day or you could end up with a bad case of the Chalfonts.
Don't plan on spending too long on the dog and bone as it always costs me a load of Becks to talk to septics.
Your plates can really give you grief after a long ball of chalk around the West End, so make sure you take some sensible ones and twos.
Watch out for people on the rocker as they may try to tap you up, but don't kick 'em in the orchestras as that could get you banged up by the old bill.
And be sure to take the usual precautions if you get the chance of a Melvyn.
A few other things:
King's Cross station does actually have a Platform 9 3/4, but you can't run through the pillars...
You'll hear more accents and languages walking 100 yards along a London street that you would in a year of travelling to other cities.
Britain has more different accents per square mile than anywhere else on Earth. There's no such thing as a single "English accent". For example, listen to the differences between Scousers and Mancunians - Liverpool and Manchester are only about 40 miles apart. And Yorkshire (yet another quite different accent) is only 50 miles from Manchester. And Wales (not just a different accent, but a whole other language) is right next to Manchester and Liverpool! And more or less every corner of London has its own accent.
On that note, if there's a spare couple of days in the schedule, get properly out of London and get on a train up to York to see a different side of Britain. Lots of great stuff to see up there - York Minster is magnificent and more than a match for St. Paul's in London and the Jorvik Viking museum is fascinating.
If you like Middle Eastern food, there are a few great restaurants at Edgeware Road, near the northeast corner of Hyde Park and Oxford.
There is great Indian Food in London. I mean GREAT.
Harrod's food court in the basement of Harrod's, not far from Buckingham Palace, is a real kick. Fun place to check out, either to sit down and eat or to simple walk through. Harrod's is a great place to buy Christmas pudding for the holidays. Don't worry about refrigerating it or packing it in your luggage. It's best made in the fall to be eaten at Christmas.
If you like Smarties or M&M's, grab some Galaxy Minstrel's. I always grab a half dozen packages when I transit Heathrow.
If you like Thai food, there's a great restaurant off of Oxford Street at 22 St.Christopher Place, called Chaopraya Eat Thai. Simply delicious. Order a cold German Reisling white wine, if they have it on the menu. Cold and refreshing that is a match made in heaven Thai food.
One of my favorite pubs in the London area - http://thewhitecrossrichmond.com/
If you're able to get tickets to the Ceremony of the Keys, I highly recommend it.
If you go to the museum in Greenwich (produced gren-itch), ask for Glen. Tell him Brian from Geneva says hi, and ask him for suggestions for good live music. Glen plays bass and guitar and we've gigged together a few times. PM for his last name if interested.
If you're interested in the history of the monarchy and royal line, Windsor Castle is a must-see. So much history and artifacts, mind boggling really. You want to know what constitutes a real superpower? Visit Windsor. Makes our White House/Mall pale in comparison.
Near the reconstructed Globe is a small square with an ancient pub. It is said Shakespeare and his troupes would put on improvs there and drink in that very pub. I hoisted several pints in there. Sorry, can't remember the name.
Rusty Chainsaw's suggestions are excellent, I've seen and done much of that, but we always had a guide to at least help us with our intinerary, scheduling, scoring tickets, and using public transport (the Tube is a piece of cake, most efficient public transportation on earth), some do's and don'ts. That helped us see the maximum possible in the shortest amount of time. With the teens, you'll want to practice a little discretion of course.
Good luck, have a blast. London is one of the most amazing cities ever.
Not much to add, other than a shout out for the Natural History and Science museums.
The South Bank is great to just chill out and people-watch, but its more fun when the weathers warmer.
Try and catch a show, too. I recently watched Tim Minchin's 'Matilda' at the Cambridge Theatre and was yet again blown away.
Even though I live up north, I visit London a couple of times a year...either with mates for a beer and gig weekend or with the family. This pic was recently taken outside the NH museum...my most favourite building in the city.
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