A July 2003 trip
to London by karameister
Quote: London is a great starting point for Americans unfamiliar with Europe. It eases you into the culture without throwing you all the way in right away.
I was excited to step onto London soil. Besides Canada, I had never been outside the United States. It was everything I hoped for - I heard fantastic accents immediately!
London is a fantastic place to start a trip, for Americans and Canadians who have never been to Europe before. You get to experience tons of new culture without an immediate language barrier!
Some of the best times we had were sitting in local pubs, taking in the atmosphere and conversations. We also quite enjoyed walking around the different squares and shopping. Leicester Square and Trafalgar Square are the highlights, but you can find many smaller ones as well.
The Underground is the cheapest and most effect method of transportation. You can buy a 1-day pass based on what "zones" you will be traveling through that day. Sometimes it may seem scary, but if you stick to the well-lit areas, there's nothing to worry about!
A car rental is not only expensive, but gas is expensive, too. The buses are nice for tours, but not for practical purposes. And walking is simply not an option to get everywhere, as London is just too large!
Hotel | "The Generator"
The Generator can be big and scary. It's a huge building, and most of the rooms seem to be 8-14 people in a room. It's also fairly noisy at any hour of the day, just because there are so many people around.
The perks: You get a locker, the bathrooms are clean, and there's a free drink in the bar with your stay. The bar located in the hostel is reasonably priced and open late. The staff has a wealth of travel information, from brochures to their own recommendations.
The downfalls: It's always buzzing with activity. The rooms have a lot of guests in each of them, so it is hard to find a quiet place.
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on June 22, 2005
The London Generator
37 Tavistock Place
020 7388 7666
Hotel | "2 Hyde Park Square"
After getting off the plane in London and wandering through Hyde Park attempting to find our lodgings, we finally arrived at 2 Hyde Park Square. My travel companion and I were scuzzy and smelly, but were treated as royalty.
2 Hyde Park Square is beautiful and comfortable. We had a superior studio for 3 nights, which was cleaned daily. It had a small fridge, television, and small balcony. We also had large windows looking out onto the street and two comfortable beds.
Even though 2 Hyde park Square is a bit pricey, they know how to accommodate a budget traveler. The front desk offers inexpensive laundry service, can get you to the Tube with ease, and can also recommend inexpensive attractions.
Even though it is out of the way of many major sights, this cute hotel is great for either a short or extended stay! There are several pubs and small restaurants within a few minutes walk, as well as a grocer.
Visit the 2 Hyde Park Square website for photos and reservations.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 17, 2005
Two Hyde Park Square
2 Hyde Park Square
London, England W2 2JY
Attraction | "Madame Tussaud's Museum"
You can't go to London without visiting Madame Tussaud's wax museum. It's cheesy, it's crowded, and it's overpriced, but that's why you're traveling, right?
Madame Tussaud's features a myriad of wax statues resembling celebrities and historical figures. You will find everyone from The Beatles to William Shakespeare to Madonna. They always have a featured statue, too, and when I was there, it was a giant Hulk - the movie had recently been released.
Expect to wait in line for a long time and pay quite a hefty entrance fee (around £20). There is no student discount.
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on June 24, 2005
London, England NW1 5LR
44 (870) 999 0046
If there was one piece of London I feel like I could have skipped, this it it. Everyone says you have to go see the Changing or you're missing out, but I disagree.
The main problem with the Changing of the Guard is the crowd. There is simply no way to properly view the ceremony unless you arrive an hour or more early. And since it takes place at 11:30am, you are spending some of the most valuable parts of your day just waiting.
The ceremony itself is quite impressive. There is music and a flurry of organized movement. I was impressed with the ceremony itself, even if I was only wondering how they keep cool in their uniforms. If you've got other places to be in London, though, skip the Changing of the Guard.
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on July 1, 2005
Changing of the Guard
London, England SW1A 1AA
+44 (20) 7839 137
Attraction | "The Original Tour"
The Original Tour gives you everything: a 24-hour pass to ride their buses, a cruise along the Thames River, and for an extra 3 pounds, a meal at your choice of several kitschy tourist destinations. That being said, they also give you a fantastic tour of London, too.
Depending on where you jump on and off, the Original Tour will take you past many important sights in London. If you stay on for the entire ride, you will go past Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Marble Arch, the Globe Theatre, St. Paul's Cathedral, and over the Tower Bridge. Those are just a few of the sights you get to see!
Your trip experience probably depends heavily on your tour guide. Our first guide was fantastic - witty and charming, and threw in tons of tidbits (he knew where the Gringotts scenes from Harry Potter were filmed, for example). Our second guide was still informative, but did not quite have as much personality, so it wasn't as much fun. If you don't like your guide, hop off and stroll around, and wait for the next bus to come by!
Overall, this was a great way to get an overview of London. The buses are easy to spot - who can miss a giant red double-decker? The stops are also easy to spot, as they have their own signs posted.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 16, 2005
Original London Sightseeing Tour
London, England SW18 1TB
+44 (20) 8877 1722
Penguins and giraffes and meerkats…oh my! Zoos are fun anywhere, but the London Zoo is great because it’s surrounded by the city and easily accessible. London’s zoo does have the usual lions, tigers, and bears, plus a plethora of other exciting creatures.
The London Zoo is located on the northeast side of Regent’s Park, which gave us a pleasant walk from the Tube station. I’d recommend getting of at the Baker Street station and walking through the park–-a two-for-one deal! The zoo itself is shaped like a large triangle, And if you follow the paths, it make a convenient exit.
The buildings and greenery at the London Zoo are fantastic. Giant aquariums give fantastic views of both fish and reptiles, from komodo dragons to tiny seahorses. There were no children pushing or shoving here, because everyone had enough room to view all of the animals. Most of the exhibits are outdoors, and the flowers and trees spread throughout make walking through a pleasant experience.
The two most fascinating exhibits to me were the penguins and the meerkats. The penguin exhibit was set up so you could look at it from three sides, and they had plenty of toys and slides to play with. The meerkats were just incredibly active and kept popping in and out of their houses. The London Zoo also house many other great animals, like tapirs, gorillas, hippopotamus, and macaws.
The ticket-sellers will try to push you to purchase a guidebooks, but it is expensive and not worth it. Simply visit the London Zoo website for all of the information you need!
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on September 16, 2005
London, England NW1 4RY
+44 20 7722 3333
Saint Paul, Minnesota