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Old 02-20-2008, 02:32 PM   #1 (permalink)
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SecretMethod70 & Onodrim. London. Cardiff. August.

It's not official, but Onodrim and I are intending to visit the UK in August. The dates aren't set, but the earliest we'd get there is the 13th, and the latest we'd leave is the 27th.

The motivation for this trip is to see the Royal Shakespeare Company's Hamlet, with David Tennant as Hamlet and Patrick Stewart as Claudius. Ideally, we'll start in London, stay there for a few days, go to Stratford-upon-Avon, where the show is, for a day or two, and then go to Cardiff for a few days before returning home.

So, there are three questions I have for you folk at TFP:

1) For those of you who are familiar with London, Stratford-upon-Avon, or Cardiff...what suggestions do you have? We can't exactly throw money around, so we're equally interested in expensive and inexpensive options. Inexpensive is best, but if something is really worth it then exceptions can be made. What are must-sees and must-dos? Any highly recommended restaurants? What neighborhoods provide a good balance of location and price in terms of finding a hotel? Basically, any info that you think would be useful to people going there for the first time is welcome.

2) I know there aren't too many people from the UK here, but we have at least a couple prominent members. Any interest in meeting up?

3) This one is a long shot, but it can't hurt to ask: anyone here live in either of those three cities and willing to host a couple friendly moderators for 1-4 nights? Any opportunity not to have to pay for a night in a hotel is welcome
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Old 02-20-2008, 02:58 PM   #2 (permalink)
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All I really have to say is...wow, I am so incredibly jealous. David Tennant and Patrick Stewart together in Hamlet, no less. That is like my wildest daydream come true.

On the helpful side--if you're planning on taking the tube a lot in London, just buy a pass--they sell them 1 day, 3 day, 5 day, I believe. The tube has a zone system, which can make things overly complicated, and it's just easier to buy a pass if you're going to be using it as your main mode of transportation while in London (and you most likely will). Plus, by buying a pass, you avoid making the mistake I made while there, which was buying a wrong ticket and going too far--I then had to pay a 10 pound fine ($15 at the time). When you're on a budget, that hurts.
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Old 02-20-2008, 03:29 PM   #3 (permalink)
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wow... very jealous. I want to see Patrick Stewart in Hamlet since I heard he was doing it. We were trying to get tickets to see Othello with Ewan McGregor, but with tickets in excess of $400 and the weak dollar, it didn't make any sense. Skogafoss will just have to be content with Ewan as Sky Masters in Guys And Dolls.
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Old 02-20-2008, 03:39 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Cynthetiq
wow... very jealous. I want to see Patrick Stewart in Hamlet since I heard he was doing it. We were trying to get tickets to see Othello with Ewan McGregor, but with tickets in excess of $400 and the weak dollar, it didn't make any sense. Skogafoss will just have to be content with Ewan as Sky Masters in Guys And Dolls.
I wonder why those tickets were so expensive. Was it in London? Perhaps that location is more expensive. The tickets we got for Hamlet were only £26 each. We bought them early though - almost right after we found out about it, a year in advance - so maybe that's why.
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Old 02-20-2008, 03:48 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by SecretMethod70
I wonder why those tickets were so expensive. Was it in London? Perhaps that location is more expensive. The tickets we got for Hamlet were only £26 each. We bought them early though - almost right after we found out about it, a year in advance - so maybe that's why.
We tried, but couldn't the face value of them was I believe $70 but because it was a limited engagement and a very small company/theater it was very sought after. I dunno maybe it was the Chiwetel Ejiofor & Ewan McGregor combination.

which reminds me... I need to find Kinky Boots...
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Old 02-20-2008, 04:04 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by onesnowyowl
On the helpful side--if you're planning on taking the tube a lot in London, just buy a pass--they sell them 1 day, 3 day, 5 day, I believe. The tube has a zone system, which can make things overly complicated, and it's just easier to buy a pass if you're going to be using it as your main mode of transportation while in London (and you most likely will). Plus, by buying a pass, you avoid making the mistake I made while there, which was buying a wrong ticket and going too far--I then had to pay a 10 pound fine ($15 at the time). When you're on a budget, that hurts.
1 day, 3 day, 7 day. Full list of fares available on the London Transport website (http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tickets/). If you are arriving in Heathrow and staying for longer than 5 days, just buy the one-week Travelcard and you won't have to worry about travel costs. Cabs are expensive and you will find it fairly easy to navigate using a tourist map which you can buy for a couple quid at most tube stations.

I recommend going on the London Eye while you are here if you can, preferably towards the end of your stay AFTER you have seen the London sights (because it's amazing to see where they are from an aerial perspective). I lived in London for several years before going on the Eye and was blown away!

Also, I think that with careful route planning, you can see most of the interesting sights without shelling out for a "bus tour". Those are very expensive and take you around the usual stereotypical "London" tourist sites, but you could find them yourself for a lot less money and get to see them up close rather than from a bus with a bored tour guide reading from a script. Having said that, if you just want to catch a glimpse of those things, a tour bus will take all the planning out of your hands which may be an advantage.

Check the timetable for the Globe theatre, it's fun to stand and watch a Shakespeare play in an authentic reconstruction of the original theatre.

I'd love to put you up but unfortunately I rent a room and it is only just about big enough for me.
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Old 02-20-2008, 04:20 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Yeah, I don't think we'd really be interested in stuff like a bus tour anyway. I think I'd rather see fewer places and get to experience them in depth...no matter what, I'm going to leave wishing I could have stayed longer and seen more, so might as well make the most out of what we do see.

I probably wouldn't have thought of waiting to go on the London Eye, so thanks for that recommendation too!

Oh, here's something that should (hopefully) get some interesting responses:

In your opinion (anyone, not just allaboutmusic), if we could only do/see 5 things in London, what would you tell us they should be?
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Old 02-20-2008, 04:25 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by SecretMethod70
In your opinion (anyone, not just allaboutmusic), if we could only do/see 5 things in London, what would you tell us they should be?
What would you say are your main interests? Sorry, I don't know you all that well yet.
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Old 02-20-2008, 04:33 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Might be a no-brainer, but I'd recommend the [url=http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/]National Art Gallery[/b]. I really dug it when I was passing through many years ago. I didn't actually see much of the sights...I was passing through on educational/business related stuff and really just didn't plan ahead much....had a much better time in Ireland, but I feel I really sold London short. I'd love to go back through Europe now that I've got disposable money...but now I don't have disposable time. Go figure. Have a great trip.
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Old 02-20-2008, 04:34 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I have no advice since I've never been there, but I am SO jealous you're going to Cardiff....think of me while you're there lol
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Old 02-20-2008, 04:36 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Apparently there's a new Police Box outside the Earl's Court underground station. You should try and take a photo.

Also, go into a toy shop and buy some sweet Doctor Who stuff.
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Old 02-20-2008, 04:38 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Well, onodrim and I can be pretty diverse in our interests, so I figure if a handful of people list their top 5 things, we can then look at those lists and decide what actually sounds interesting to us.

It's hard to say what my main interests would be. I can be quite interested in art and architecture for one thing. Museums...bits of history...these are interesting too. Natural sights are also compelling. One of my favorite pictures from a previous trip to Europe is a shot looking down a street in Innsbruck, with the buildings framing a mountain in the Alps. I guess it'd be fair to say that I'd like a mixture of three things: an appreciation for the history of the place I'm visiting, experiencing the culture of the place I'm visiting, and seeing the sights of the place I'm visiting. These things can be achieved through simple means, like shopping in a Tesco (), or through more touristy means, such as taking a guided tour of Buckingham Palace.

This would be the first time I've been to another country on my own as a tourist. Both other times I've been to Europe (mainly Austria), it involved staying with someone else around my age (I was in HS at the time) and hanging out with them. Sometimes we did things like take a tour of a palace, but then other times we'd hang out at the bar at night with the other Austrian students. I think both experiences were equally interesting in their own ways.

One thing that just occurred to me, I'm interested in hearing what crime is like in London, if there are any areas to stay away from, etc. In Austria, my friends and I made a habit of getting semi-lost and wandering around, and we found some really interesting things that way, even at 3am. Is it safe enough to do that in London, or are there areas we'd need to be more careful of?
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Old 02-20-2008, 05:06 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I say it every time someone asks but Gordon's Wine Bar is one of my favourite places in London to sit and have a drink (the building in which it is located was one inhabited by Samuel Pepys and later by Rudyard Kiping).

I would also highly recommend visiting Borough Market and check out the farmer's market. Also visit Neal's Yard Dairy, which is located there. One of the best cheese shops I've ever been to.

The Tate Modern and the Tate are both excellent galleries.

I second a visit to the eye, but if you don't want to spend the money you can also climb to the top of St. Paul's Cathedral.

If you've read Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle, there are all sorts of places along the Strand, Threadneedle, etc. that are kind of cool to visit just because they are so prominent in the books.

London is full of little surprises and I find that the best way to tackle it is on foot.
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Old 02-20-2008, 05:17 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by allaboutmusic
What would you say are your main interests? Sorry, I don't know you all that well yet.
Secret pretty much covered the general ideas. History and culture are high on the list, and with my degree and career in the fine arts, I'm always open to anything in that area.

Frankly, for me, just hearing/seeing "Mind the Gap" will be enough to make me happy. (I've read too much Neil Gaiman lately)

Quote:
Originally Posted by fresnelly
Apparently there's a new Police Box outside the Earl's Court underground station. You should try and take a photo.
Fantastic idea!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlatan
I second a visit to the eye, but if you don't want to spend the money you can also climb to the top of St. Paul's Cathedral.

If you've read Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle, there are all sorts of places along the Strand, Threadneedle, etc. that are kind of cool to visit just because they are so prominent in the books.

London is full of little surprises and I find that the best way to tackle it is on foot.
Climbing to the top of St. Stephansdom in Vienna was an incredible experience, so that's a great suggestion, thanks.

I'm looking forward to the same effect with a different Neil I previously mentioned.

Agreed that just walking around can sometimes be the best experience.
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Old 02-20-2008, 05:55 PM   #15 (permalink)
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When I went to London and Cardiff, I did the typical touristy stuff...Tower of London (my favorite of the things I did in London), Westminster Abbey, watched a change of the guards at Buckingham Palace...and I also wandered around the neighborhood my hotel was situated in, which was great fun.

I only spent one day in Cardiff...I went to the castle (which was my favorite part of the entire trip) and to the museum there...it had a lot of artwork but I don't know the specific name.

I also felt quite safe there. I didn't do anything stupid (I went solo), but I never felt like I was in danger or anything.

I hope you two have a great trip!
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Old 02-20-2008, 06:02 PM   #16 (permalink)
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I'd like to visit the London Transport museum: http://www.ltmuseum.co.uk/

If you're a Neil Gaiman fan and you've read Neverwhere, you'll want to keep an eye out for abandoned Underground stations. There are a even a number of websites dedicated to what's visible.
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Old 02-20-2008, 06:19 PM   #17 (permalink)
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The Aldwych Station is right along the Strand. You can do the Tate Modern, walk across the footbridge to St. Paul's, along Fleet to the Strand, stopping to visit the Templar's Temple (featured in the Davinci Code), on to Covent Garden and then down to Embankment for a drink at Gordon's...
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Old 02-20-2008, 06:22 PM   #18 (permalink)
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GO SEE THE ROYAL OBSERVATORY. It kicks ass. It's in Greenwich (as in "Mean time"--and that's not a coincidence). You can straddle the prime meridian, with one foot in either hemisphere. You can see all sorts of great scientific and geeky things. It's basically like a museum of history and science. When I was there several years ago, there was an exhibition of very early timepieces that were made to hold up to the movement of a ship at sea--time measurement being crucial to the measurement of longitude.

When you walk down the bottom of the hill, have fish and chips in the first shop you see. I can't remember its name, but it was freaking awesome.
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Old 02-21-2008, 12:53 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Some great suggestions here.

Borough market is definitely a must see - the brownies there are world famous. Portobello market is kind of fun too (it's where Notting Hill was filmed) and Camden Market is a good visit too, it will be fully reopened after the recent fire by the time you come in August.

The Tate Modern is one of my favourite galleries, free to enter (optional donation) and I particularly like their Dali works. Lots of the museums and art places in London are free or very cheap which is a bonus.

I recommend looking up London walks especially during summer - there are scheduled times when a guide will take you on a walk which passes interesting historical areas. The guides are typically people who are fascinated with the history of the places themselves so you can get great insight on quirky landmarks. Doesn't cost much, and it's much better value and more fun than the tourist buses.

As for crime, most of the dangerous places are ones you wouldn't see many interesting spots anyway (Hackney, Brixton, Aldgate). I'd recommend general "staying safe" procedures: don't look like a tourist. Don't wear a "fanny pack", carry large amounts of tourist maps, cash, dress outlandishly, talk loudly in an American accent etc. American tourists tend to attract a lot of attention and in London it's generally best not to attract attention. Do those things and you will stay out of trouble.

Send me a PM just before you come over, I may have some time free to hang out and take you around. I always like exploring London when I can, it's so easy to take it for granted when you actually live here.
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Old 02-21-2008, 01:56 AM   #20 (permalink)
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The brownies in Borough Market... worth the trip.

Sunday morning walks through, Spitalfields, Brick Land and the Columbia Road flower market are pretty cool as well.

As for safety, just think big urban centre (like Chicago) and you will have it right. My friend lived in Hackney (and later Brixton) and we never had any trouble.
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Old 02-29-2008, 10:50 PM   #21 (permalink)
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It's official...we got tickets today (for only $621/person!) for Aug 12-23!

Keep the suggestions/advice/information coming!
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Old 03-01-2008, 02:55 AM   #22 (permalink)
 
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It's already been said, but I highly recommend the Tate Modern, the Globe Theatre (I saw Twelfth Night there, with groundling tickets, and it was AWESOME), Westminster Abbey, perhaps a side trip out to Oxford if you have time (it's only an hour by bus)...

And can you tell me how long the Hamlet play is running? If I can get a decent ticket from Iceland to London, damn... I would love to see it.
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Old 03-01-2008, 04:38 AM   #23 (permalink)
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I would be glad to take you to stay, but i just moved away from london, and my temporary pad in swansea (just up the road from cardiff) is the size of a matchbox.

Go to the london eye and the london aquarium (they're exactly 7.2454658 and three halfs of an inche away from one another). They're also just over the river (walking distance) from parliment, and a lesurily stroll from tower bridge and st.pauls.

If in cardiff you can rent a car, drive to swansea and go a little further to find a place called 'three cliffs bay'. I'm pretty sure it won the best beach in Britain a few years back, i'll see if i can find a linky. It should take less than an hour to get there from cardiff.
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Old 03-01-2008, 09:53 AM   #24 (permalink)
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It's already been said, but I highly recommend the Tate Modern, the Globe Theatre (I saw Twelfth Night there, with groundling tickets, and it was AWESOME), Westminster Abbey, perhaps a side trip out to Oxford if you have time (it's only an hour by bus)...

And can you tell me how long the Hamlet play is running? If I can get a decent ticket from Iceland to London, damn... I would love to see it.
From what I understand, there aren't many seats left (we got our tickets months ago), but this link should take you to the page with dates that still have seats available.

Quote:
Originally Posted by stevie667
I would be glad to take you to stay, but i just moved away from london, and my temporary pad in swansea (just up the road from cardiff) is the size of a matchbox.

Go to the london eye and the london aquarium (they're exactly 7.2454658 and three halfs of an inche away from one another). They're also just over the river (walking distance) from parliment, and a lesurily stroll from tower bridge and st.pauls.

If in cardiff you can rent a car, drive to swansea and go a little further to find a place called 'three cliffs bay'. I'm pretty sure it won the best beach in Britain a few years back, i'll see if i can find a linky. It should take less than an hour to get there from cardiff.
Interesting, that might be pretty cool (three cliffs bay). Looked at what it would likely cost to rent a car for our whole trip and it's somewhat cost prohibitive, but maybe for a day or two it wouldn't be a bad idea
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Old 03-01-2008, 10:19 AM   #25 (permalink)
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From Cardiff, you're not far by car or train from Bath, Gloucster and Bristol, all of which I'd classify as more interesting than Cardiff, at least if you are into history and architecture.
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Old 03-01-2008, 10:31 AM   #26 (permalink)
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The London Eye is hideous and made me sick.
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Old 03-01-2008, 11:34 AM   #27 (permalink)
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From Cardiff, you're not far by car or train from Bath, Gloucster and Bristol, all of which I'd classify as more interesting than Cardiff, at least if you are into history and architecture.
Yup, those are also so good suggestions Not sure what's in Gloucster or Bristol to be honest (other than that I know of them), but Bath is another place I know will be considered. Still, those places may be more interesting... but do they film Doctor Who and Torchwood? :P

What we're going to end up doing is flying in and out of London, so we'll probably only spend a day or so in most of these other places. It's all *very* tentative right now, and the only certainties are that we'll be in London Aug 13, Stratford-upon-Avon Aug 19, and London Aug 23. How many days we spend in various places and when is yet to be decided. One possibility is that we stay in London through the 18th or 19th, then go to Stratford for the play, and on the morning of the 20th go to Cardiff for a day or so and then visit other places such as Bath and Stonehenge as we make our way back to London.

Or, maybe we'll just stay in London all 11 days. Who knows.

I looked into the Chunnel last night on a whim, wondering how much it'd cost to take a day to visit Paris, but it was (understandably) much more expensive than a normal train trip.
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Old 03-01-2008, 11:48 AM   #28 (permalink)
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Ive only been to Cardiff a couple of times, but its a nice place... but there isnt a massive amount to see. Its a pretty small place for a capital city. if I were you I'd stick in London and Stratford on Avon, or if youre in that reigion check out Oxford, Bath, Brighton or Cambridge... Cardiff is a good place for a night out, but it isnt soaked in culture and interesting things.

You can get across the channel a lot more easily by ferry rather than train: but if you want to use the tunnel you need to book into a coach trip and they take you on a fright train, the passenger trains are pretty pricey.

I dont live that near London, 75 miles away, but if you get together a meet up in London I'd be up for it.

And I'd recomend the National Gallery, The Natural History Museum, The Science Museum and both Tate galleries - they all should be free and you can easily take two days to just do those.
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Old 03-01-2008, 12:05 PM   #29 (permalink)
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Ive only been to Cardiff a couple of times, but its a nice place... but there isnt a massive amount to see. Its a pretty small place for a capital city. ... Cardiff is a good place for a night out, but it isnt soaked in culture and interesting things.
Yeah, I suspect we'd only stay a night or two if we go there. It'd be neat to see Cardiff Castle, and pretty cool to hang out in that place (I forget the name) that they feature so prominently in Torchwood, but other than that it'd just be a matter of experiencing the city (and all the crazy Welsh words ). Sometimes it's great to "do" lots of things, but other times it's nice to be in a place where there may not be that much to do. Both times I went to Austria, we spent I think 3 or 4 days in Kitzbühel, and I think after two days I had walked around the entire city (it's a small ski town). Yet, I don't think I ever really got bored of it, because it was an interesting experience. That said, it's good to know that about Cardiff because it makes me feel less bad about the possibility of only spending a day or two there.

Quote:
You can get across the channel a lot more easily by ferry rather than train: but if you want to use the tunnel you need to book into a coach trip and they take you on a fright train, the passenger trains are pretty pricey.
Good point, I hadn't thought of going by ferry. How long does that take though? And how do you ride on a freight train?

Quote:
I dont live that near London, 75 miles away, but if you get together a meet up in London I'd be up for it.
Cool...that's one...anyone else?

Some people have mentioned places like Oxford and Cambridge...aside for having world-famous universities, what's special about those places? (Forgive my ignorance.)
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Old 03-01-2008, 12:39 PM   #30 (permalink)
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The ferry runs Dover to Calais, and takes about 60 mins. You then have to get from Calais to Paris of course.


If you use the tunnel, its best to get a coach. The coaches (or cars) pull into special carriages on the freight trains - the coach can go straight onto Paris as well. I did a quick search on National Express and they'll take you from Victoria to Paris for £44 each single - I reckon you could get a better price looking around. (it takes 8 hours though)... or you can get the train... but its probably more expensive.

Im sure it wont ever come to it, but when you come over I'll give you my cell just in case you get totally stranded or stuck.

Oxford and Cambridge just have a lot of nice architecture, Brighton is a really cool place and about 30 mins from London: youre also close to Cantebury (sic) and the cathedaral is something to see.
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Old 03-01-2008, 01:26 PM   #31 (permalink)
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Yup, those are also so good suggestions Not sure what's in Gloucster or Bristol to be honest (other than that I know of them), but Bath is another place I know will be considered. Still, those places may be more interesting... but do they film Doctor Who and Torchwood? :P
No, no Doctor Who, but huge cathedrals, Roman ruins, iron age hill forts, a very scenic view in Bristol and lots of maritime history (Bristol was a huge port at one point).
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Old 03-02-2008, 05:49 AM   #32 (permalink)
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Heres a link for the campsite they have at the top of the cliffs at 3 cliffs bay, but you can park a little bit closer to the beach. Worth a visit for anyone in the UK.

http://www.threecliffsbay.com/gallery.html
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Old 08-02-2008, 07:12 PM   #33 (permalink)
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OK, I could use some quick input from folks here...

Onodrim and I would like to see Stonehenge, Avebury, and Salisbury (particularly Salisbury Cathedral). Unfortunately, due to time constraints, we cannot see all three, but can see any two.

Which would you pick, and why?
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Old 08-02-2008, 07:27 PM   #34 (permalink)
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I would go to Stonehenge just to get a photo of me posing with one of those stones as my penis.
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Old 08-02-2008, 07:31 PM   #35 (permalink)
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lol, well I should say that Stonehenge is pretty much a definite. It's deciding between Avebury and Salisbury that's proving difficult.
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Old 08-03-2008, 11:07 AM   #36 (permalink)
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Go to the British Museum (British Museum). There are artifacts from all over the world in that place. Don't miss it.

Spend time aimlessly wandering the city with no real agenda or destination. I always do this in European cities. You'll find places and see things you never expected and will never forget.
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Old 08-04-2008, 03:23 AM   #37 (permalink)
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If I went to London right now, here's a few things I'd do:

1 - Tate Modern - not to be missed for sure! Right now they have the H-Box, an exhibition of Cy Twombly's work, and a show with 6 street artists

2 - Visit the O2 for the Tutankhamun exhibition

3 - See a Musical - I'd recommend Les Misérables or for something more current, Hairspray

4 - Spencer House - a visit to an 18th century private palace complete with a secret garden

5 - See the Freeze 20 exhibition - a show of the original YBA's, a group of artists who were the catalysts for radical changes in the way the public relate to art in the UK

6 - Visit a London Market - Portobello road is one of the best

7 - Eat fish and chips while meandering around Soho and looking at the quirky stores

Couldn't keep it to 5...London is awesome. I love visiting there.
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Old 08-04-2008, 09:55 AM   #38 (permalink)
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lol, well I should say that Stonehenge is pretty much a definite. It's deciding between Avebury and Salisbury that's proving difficult.
Salisbury, if for nothing else than the Cathederal. That thing will open your eyes.
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Old 08-05-2008, 01:10 AM   #39 (permalink)
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One of my favourite places to visit in London, is Highgate Cemetery. The final resting place of Karl Marx and several other prominent figures.


Although not that old, the western section opened in 1839, is very overgown, atmospheric, and has been described as the victorian valhalla. With all it's gothic tombs and vaults, it's no wonder it's been used as a location for old horror films!

A really beautiful place to visit.


The nearest tube station is Archway, and to visit the western section, you'll need to take a guided tour. Well worth taking the time out to visit though.

Have fun.
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Old 08-05-2008, 07:34 AM   #40 (permalink)
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OK, I could use some quick input from folks here...

Onodrim and I would like to see Stonehenge, Avebury, and Salisbury (particularly Salisbury Cathedral). Unfortunately, due to time constraints, we cannot see all three, but can see any two.

Which would you pick, and why?
Salisbury, easily. It is an amazing piece of architecture in a nice town.
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