The TravelPod London Starter Kit Travel Blogs
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| MoreFrom Londinium to London, this place has it all. Monuments and museums, galleries and ghettoes, parks are everywhere. Whatever you need to find, London has it allThis starter kit isn’t meant to replace a guide book. It’s a collection of top tips and frequently asked questions about the region. If you are headed to London, make sure to have a glance.
Contribute if you can by replying to this post!Tips and Frequently Asked QuestionsDress Sense
London is a city of extremes. Sunny one moment, pouring rain with the next! And this is in the summer. It gets cold in the winter, and if you are lucky, it might just snow one day of the year, so whenever you go, always pack an umbrellaBlogging
Internet access is everywhere. All computers at Internet café’s have USB ports which you can use to upload photos from your camera to your blog. The majority of PC’s are running Windows XP, so there is no problem either uploading your photos or burning them onto a CD.
Taking a laptop is not a challenge, the people are very trustworthy and friendly and a lot of cafes are now set up to let you plug your laptop into their network via Wifi or Ethernet. There are also coffee shops everywhere which do offer free Wifi. You can buy access through companies like BT
Keep notes in your paper journal then write your entries when you get to a café.
If you would like to write your entries outside of a café, consider getting a small and sturdy PDA (handheld PC) or the like with a fold out keyboard.Security
London, like any capital city in the world can be dangerous in the wrong place and time. There are good and bad places all over the city.
Keep your passport and valuables in a hidden money belt and never take it out when outside.
Walk with assurance, don’t look lost, even if you are.
When arriving in a new city from your home country, try to book your first night’s stay before you arrive.
Don’t draw attention to yourself, hide all of your expensive goodies.
Remove or obscure big name labels on bags and cameras.
If your day pack has a rain cover, use it when in cramped spaces to keep quick hands from opening zips.
Travel Insurance is a good idea and is generally cheap, make sure that it covers the types of activities you plan to do. TravelPod offers Adventure Travel Insurance
You will need a visa to enter the country, unless you have a valid EU passport. Visas are generally granted at the customs gate upon arrival once you have satisfied the immigration officer. If wanting to work in the UK, you will require a working visa which must be applied before entering the UKLondon Sights
The majority of sites in London are found in the West End. The list is endless, but I will supply a fair few
Buckingham Palace, St James Palace, Westminster Abbey, Westminster Cathedral, House of Lords, St Stephens Tower (Big Ben), Number 10 Downing St (Home of the Prime Minister), Horse Guards, Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus, Regent St, Oxford St, Hyde Park, The Globe Theatre, The London Eye, The Tower of London, Tower Bridge, St Paul’s Cathedral, Brick Lane, Covent Garden. Yes it does sound like a Monopoly board, but hey, this is London !!!Shopping
Oxford St is the main shopping street in London. Always packed with people. Regent St and New Bond St are classier. London also has loads of markets. The largest market is in Camden. It has everything there and is spread out over the whole place. For antiques, go to Portobello road. General household goods can be found in Petticoat Lane and Leather Lane markets. For a proper East End experience, get down to Brick Lane early on a Sunday morning. Some say, that if your house was broken in on the Saturday, you can find and re-buy all your possessions here on the Sunday !!! Then there is Harrods. The local rumor here is that if you want something, and you want it badly, you will find it at Harrods. This place is located in Knightsbridge. Just around the corner from Harrods is the Kings Road. If you want to be seen, this is the place for youParks
If just hanging out, taking the sun in, when it is around, is your thing, London, has more parklands than the majority of capital cities in the world. From the centre of the west end, you can practically walk all the way to Kensington. St James Park to Hyde Park to Kensington Park. A little further out of the city is Richmond Park, where there are deer that run free. There are also loads of commons everywhere, including Clapham, Wandsworth, Hampstead Heath and WimbledonSporting Events
The average Londoner is Soccer mad. Some of the biggest clubs in the Premiership are based in London. Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham are a few. There are more. Getting tickets can be hard and they are not cheap. There are other clubs in the lower divisions. Every year in June, tennis is the game. Barons Court for the Queens Stella Artois Championship is the lead up to Wimbledon. Both of these venues are serviced by the tubes. Tickets for Wimbledon can be purchased on the day. If you do want good tickets, you will need to line up early, maybe even sleep the night. Cricket is served by two grounds. Lords, which is in St Johns Wood, and has an excellent museum and tour guide service and the Oval, which is in Kennington. Tickets for tests are impossible for Lords, but the Oval matches, can be bought on the web. If worse comes to worse for all sporting events, there are always scalpersEating
Whether you are rich or poor, there is something for everyone. As there is a huge West Indian community, you can get your curried goat. In Brick Lane, there are a multitude of Bangladeshi curry houses. Remember that curried anything is the number one English dish !!! There are also loads of Thai, Chinese, Nepali, Japanese restaurants, or you can just go down to the local Chippy for a hit of fish and chips. Museums and Galleries
The majority of the Museums and Art Galleries are free in London, unless there is a special show being shown at the time. In South Kensington, you could spend days in the Science, History and V & A Museums. The National Art Gallery and Portrait Gallery are located just off of Trafalgar Square. There are also the Tate Modern on the Southbank and the Tate Millbank which is just down from the House of Lords. The magnificent British Museum is so impressive and worth a full day on it’s own. For a look at how Churchill survived the war, head to the Cabinet War Rooms. Once WW2 had finished, the Government packed up and left everything how it is. To see more of WW2, there is also the Imperial War Museum. All through London, there are many little galleries and museums to be foundShows
From Piccadilly to Covent Garden, there are stage shows everywhere. Practically all of Lloyd-Webbers are on show. There is always Ballet and theatre being shown somewhere, and if street performers are more your scene. All over Covent Garden during the day, there are buskers everywhereTraveling Around LondonBuses
There are buses to everywhere in London. You can buy tickets on the bus, but if you are in the centre, you will be required to buy a ticket from a machine before you get on the bus. To get around this, if you are there for up to three days, buy a three day travel card, between whatever zones that you require. If you are going to be there longer, you are better off getting an Oyster card. With this, you can get a weekly or put money on the card and when you use it, your journeys are far cheaper. There is also a huge Bus station in Victoria. These long distance buses are cheaper than the trains.Trains and Tubes
There are tube lines to nearly everywhere, and where there are not, there are the trains. Tubes run often during the daytime, and less in the night. It takes around three minutes per station, but beware, in the summer, the heating goes on, and in the winter, what is heating? They can be heavily overcrowded and uncomfortable, but you will still catch them. Watch out for tube rage. For tickets, do the same as the buses, because the day card, three day card or Oyster card is valid on the tubes as well.
As for overground trains, there are quite a few main train stations. Waterloo for Paris. Victoria for Gatwick and South East. Kings Cross and Euston go North. Liverpool Street for North East. Paddington for North as well. There are other stations dotted around London as wellTaxis
There are two types of taxis. Your traditional and the mini-cab. Taxis are not cheap. And after 10pm, the normal taxis are hard to find. This is when the minicab comes along. These are not registered as a taxi and if you do go in one, you will pay an outrageous amount. Also, single women have been molested in the past, so my advice is to stay away.Airports
Eventually, you will need to take a flight, either into London or out. There are the two main airports and three smaller airports.
Heathrow, which has currently four terminals and a fifth being built. They do all long haul flights to everywhere. They also do short haul and internal flights. There are no budget airlines flying out of Heathrow. There is a tube connected directly to the airport. For more money, you can catch the Heathrow Express to Paddington
Gatwick, which is actually in Sussex does get long haul flights but not as many. They do mainly charter flights mid distance and they also fly to the states. Both Easyjet and Ryanair fly from here. There is the Gartwick Express to Victoria or slower overground trains to Victoria as well
London City in the middle of Docklands has flights to Thailand and the States. Planes also fly into Europe from here. You can get the Docklands Light Railway to this airport
Stanstead is based in Essex, is the main airport for Ryanair. Easyjet fly from here as well as numerous cheap airlines. They fly all over Europe. You can catch a train, but the buses are far better and cheaper
Luton in Hertfordshire is the smallest of all the London airports. Both Easyjet and Ryanair fly from/to here. The bus is again the best way to and from this airportDrinks
There are pubs everywhere in London. They sell everything. The local beer is known as bitter and is served without gas and is room temperature. If this is not for you, there is also lager for you to drink. There are also a multitude of coffee shops everywhere Money
The official currency is the British Pound. Changing money is easy. There are banks that take cards, you can change travelers cheques very easily as there are exchange booths everywhere, but you are better off using a bank. There are also cash machines everywhereAnd Finally
London, rags, riches and royalty. All in one square mile. Yes it is expensive, but it is a great city. So much to do, so much to see, you will be back. Trust me. I've been here over ten years and I still haven't seen it all!!!