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Chip NoVaMac
Nov 28, 2005, 10:46 AM
Some may know that I will be doing a trip in late February to Iceland. Was queued in on the fact that Iceland Air allows for stop overs at no charge in Iceland, for trips to Europe on them.

So with the flight to London only being 3 hours from Reykjavik, I am thinking about extending my trip by a few days.

My original plan was to leave the DC area on 2/23, arriving on the morning of 2/24 in Reykjavik. I was planning on three nights at the Baldursba B&B in the embassy row area of Reykjavik, departing back to the on the afternoon of 2/27.

My new thought is to leave for London on the morning of 2/27, with a return back to the US on 3/1. That would give me an afternoon, two nights, and a morning in London before going home.

Unless someone tells me otherwise, I think the Heathrow Express (my flight to/from London would be through LHR - duh:D ) to Paddington Station sounds like the best way into London.

So my questions (keep in mind this is my first international trip):

- How long does it take to get through customs and get through currency exchange lines?

- Given my time in London, what would be the suggested itinerary for a short stay? (Keep in mind I am planning a trip to Dublin for St. Patrick's Day - plans there are to get in to Dublin on the day of 3/16, departing on 3/18 - going back through London on something like Ryanair). So I will have opportunities to catch things on my next trip to London and Europe. Also I love doing night time sight seeing.

- Any suggestions on "reasonable" hotels B&B's near Paddington Station? I don't mind taking the Tube to another area, but would rather my time in the Tube be spent getting around to sights, than my hotel. (I should say that I am not one that needs luxury for a hotel, just something that is clean and safe.

- For the photographers here, how tripod friendly is London? As an example NYC is very tripod unfriendly.

- Timing on getting to the airports. I know that leaving from the US, I should allow at least two hours. What about the trip to Reykjavik to London? And I guess that two hours at LHR back to the states for an afternoon departure should be enough? Just how reliable are the times and travel times listed for the Heathrow Express?

Thanks for the help guys and gals!

Chip

gwuMACaddict
Nov 28, 2005, 10:56 AM
i'll answer what i can...

1. customs is a gamble
2. definitely go to the courthauld meuseam in london, near the covent garden tube stop. fantastic small art exibet- wouldn't take you much time... and then you could walk down to big ben, etc.
3. i think it's a tripod friendly city- much like dc, open spaces

robbieduncan
Nov 28, 2005, 11:06 AM
Don't take the Heathrow Express! It's the most expensive train journey you will ever take! For an authentic experience take the Tube (but allow over an hour to get into London).

Don't change currency at the Airport if there is queue. Buy your Tube/Heathrow Express ticket with a credit card and use your card in the first cash machine you see without a queue.

Applespider
Nov 28, 2005, 11:28 AM
No Heathrow Express is seconded unless you're staying at Paddington (which I can't see the point of doing anyhow!) - it's not particularly easy to get to-from and doesn't have many sights around it. There are a lot of good value hotels around South Kensington (District/Circle and Piccadilly lines - 10-15 minutes into Central London). There's also a reasonably priced TravelLodge/Premier Lodge type affair in Covent Garden which is convenient for lots of central London.

Immigration depends on the time of day you get in at and where other flights arriving at the same time are coming from. Coming from Iceland might not be too bad since it's generally when you end up on 747 with lots of others needing to clear immigration that there's a problem. It shouldn't take more than 20-30 minutes. Either change cash before you travel or just get it out of an ATM when you see one. There are lots of no-commission money changers around Victoria Station which give great rates.

Bits of London are tripod friendly (round the South Bank, Parliament Square etc) but others are most definitely not - where you end up with crowds generally.

As for what to see, check out some of the other London threads and let us know what you're particularly keen on.

Chip NoVaMac
Nov 28, 2005, 11:33 AM
i'll answer what i can...

1. customs is a gamble

How so?

2. definitely go to the courthauld meuseam in london, near the covent garden tube stop. fantastic small art exibet- wouldn't take you much time... and then you could walk down to big ben, etc.
3. i think it's a tripod friendly city- much like dc, open spaces

Thanks for the tips. The museum sounds cool after looking at their website. Being close to Big Ben makes this workable.

Don't take the Heathrow Express! It's the most expensive train journey you will ever take! For an authentic experience take the Tube (but allow over an hour to get into London).

I know that it is expensive, but given the lack of time in London, and that I will probably end up on the Tube a lot during my brief stay.

Also the Tube was not listed as an option for travel from LHR.

Some cities here in the US offer passes that are good for 2 to 7 days for unlimited travel on subways, trollies, and buses. Does London have the same. Sorry, was a bit confused when I went to checkout the Tube website.

Don't change currency at the Airport if there is queue. Buy your Tube/Heathrow Express ticket with a credit card and use your card in the first cash machine you see without a queue.

You have a point. Since I will be spending the day in Baltimore before my departing flight, I could just get the "basic" cash in the local currency that I think I would need at a local bank. I assume that most purchases can be done by credit card. So something like $50-75US a day in each country should be enough IMO (for tips and transit expenses and such).

gwuMACaddict
Nov 28, 2005, 11:47 AM
customs is a gamble... sort of explained above by applespider... you just never know how crowded it will be...

Chip NoVaMac
Nov 28, 2005, 11:58 AM
No Heathrow Express is seconded unless you're staying at Paddington (which I can't see the point of doing anyhow!) - it's not particularly easy to get to-from and doesn't have many sights around it.

Thanks for this tip. Just what I was looking for. Just have heard of Paddington in news and such, so I thought it was a good location to be based out of.

There are a lot of good value hotels around South Kensington (District/Circle and Piccadilly lines - 10-15 minutes into Central London). There's also a reasonably priced TravelLodge/Premier Lodge type affair in Covent Garden which is convenient for lots of central London.

I read about Trinity College there. Hope that I might be able to get a room there during my stay. The Orbitz search said unavailable.

So if I can chew your ear here, just how does one get from LHR to Covent? How long of a trip? Maybe it was the late hour, but I found the Tube site confusing

Immigration depends on the time of day you get in at and where other flights arriving at the same time are coming from. Coming from Iceland might not be too bad since it's generally when you end up on 747 with lots of others needing to clear immigration that there's a problem. It shouldn't take more than 20-30 minutes. Either change cash before you travel or just get it out of an ATM when you see one. There are lots of no-commission money changers around Victoria Station which give great rates.

Thanks. So doing the non-jumbo flights is a better choice then. On a jumbo flight, like the one planned for Dublin, I guess I should plan on an hour then?

Sorry for the novice questions.

About exchange rates. I have seen comments about the right and wrong places to do the exchange. I thought that 1.72GBP was worth $1US (as of today) no matter where you did the exchange (other than black market).

Bits of London are tripod friendly (round the South Bank, Parliament Square etc) but others are most definitely not - where you end up with crowds generally.

I have heard of tripod surcharges in some places in the UK. The tripod is an issue for me since the time of year will find me with lower light levels with my night time sight seeing.

What about monopods? Are they treated the same as tripods? And given the time of year that I am visiting, is the tripod as much of an issue? I would expect many problems during the Sprig and Summer.



I am very open here. As I stated in another thread I regret that that I did not go up the WTC in Spring of 2001. Not trying to be morose, but given my time in London with this planned trip - if I would never return - what should I see? I am thinking Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, The Eye, Piccadilly Circus (and Harrods). I hope for a return trip to catch things that I missed on this trip.

Thanks for the help.

[QUOTE=gwuMACaddict]customs is a gamble... sort of explained above by applespider... you just never know how crowded it will be...

What was your worst experience time wise in getting through customs.

robbieduncan
Nov 28, 2005, 12:04 PM
So if I can chew your ear here, just how does one get from LHR to Covent? How long of a trip? Maybe it was the late hour, but I found the Tube site confusing


Use the TFL Journey Planner (http://journeyplanner.tfl.gov.uk/user/XSLT_TRIP_REQUEST2?language=en)

Put "Heathrow Airport Central" as the start. It says 52 minutes on the tube. Not too bad.

iGav
Nov 28, 2005, 12:12 PM
Put "Heathrow Airport Central" as the start. It says 52 minutes on the tube. Not too bad.

And since when did the tube run on time??? :eek: :p

I'll disagree with robbie and the spider I'm afraid, I say get the Heathrow Express, an hour on the tube is as dull as it gets. ;) and Paddington ain't exactly the sticks. ;)

Iceland 'eh.... nice... ;) f**kin' expensive though!!! :eek: :eek: :eek:

Chip NoVaMac
Nov 28, 2005, 12:56 PM
And since when did the tube run on time??? :eek: :p

I'll disagree with robbie and the spider I'm afraid, I say get the Heathrow Express, an hour on the tube is as dull as it gets. ;) and Paddington ain't exactly the sticks. ;)

Iceland 'eh.... nice... ;) f**kin' expensive though!!! :eek: :eek: :eek:

LOL!!!!!

Your thoughts are what I was thinking of when hearing tails about how reliable the British Rail time schedules are/were.

So from Paddington to Covent on the Tube looks to be about 20 to 40 minutes from Paddington. Taking the Tube from LHR looks to be 50 to 80 minutes depending on connections. Comfort of travel is another thing.

Just what is the Express and First class service on the LHR Express?

Given that I plan on one carryon (thinking of a backpack) and a "personal" item (my camera bag) for my carryon, with a checked bag (mostly empty to be able to fill up with "goodies" on my travels for me and family/friends) I am concerned about Tube transit and walking about to and from the hotel.

So what about the cost difference in staying near Paddington and Covent? Keep in mind it looks like less than 24 hours in London.

Peterkro
Nov 28, 2005, 01:00 PM
I don't know if anyones mentioned this but getting to Dublin for Paddys day could be a problem you'd be as well to sort a ticket earlyish.Keep in mind London is a big city even by US standards.Oh and enjoy.

iGav
Nov 28, 2005, 01:16 PM
So what about the cost difference in staying near Paddington and Covent? Keep in mind it looks like less than 24 hours in London.

You can get the Bakerloo Line from Paddington to Piccadilly Circus, and Convent Garden is a 5 minute walk from Piccadilly Circus so it's not essential that you're based bang in the centre.

Personally I'd get the Heathrow Express to Paddington, find a cheap hotel (and there are a stack of them by the station) and then moochy off into the West End on the Bakerloo Line. ;)

Chip NoVaMac
Nov 28, 2005, 01:26 PM
I don't know if anyones mentioned this but getting to Dublin for Paddys day could be a problem you'd be as well to sort a ticket earlyish.Keep in mind London is a big city even by US standards.Oh and enjoy.

Thanks.

I am looking at doing my bookings this week or next. Looking at Dublin a couple days ago, it seemed cheap enough for flights. I am waiting to here from the "group" that I heard about the weekend there for hotel details.

You can get the Bakerloo Line from Paddington to Piccadilly Circus, and Convent Garden is a 5 minute walk from Piccadilly Circus so it's not essential that you're based bang in the centre.

Personally I'd get the Heathrow Express to Paddington, find a cheap hotel (and there are a stack of them by the station) and then moochy off into the West End on the Bakerloo Line. ;)

Thanks for the help.

Can you give some suggestions on the hotel near Paddington then?

I love walking neighborhoods in strange cities.

gwuMACaddict
Nov 28, 2005, 01:38 PM
What was your worst experience time wise in getting through customs.

hour and a half, coming back to the states...

iGav
Nov 28, 2005, 01:49 PM
Can you give some suggestions on the hotel near Paddington then?

Norfolk Square and around that area has lots... lots and lots. ;) you really won't have any trouble finding one.

Generally you can find some bargins, they're very popular with exchange and visiting students... so don't expect 5 star luxury, but by the sounds of it you're only going to be sleeping there, so they'll probably be ideal for you.

I love walking neighborhoods in strange cities.

in which case... you're also only a couple of stops on the Circle and District lines from Notting Hill and Portobello too. ;)

Applespider
Nov 28, 2005, 02:08 PM
I guess Robbie and I keep that canny Scottish sense of value when it comes to getting to LHR. On the 5 occasions that I've forked out for the Heathrow Express, I continually just miss one at LHR and end up waiting 10-15 minutes for one, it's never yet just taken 15 minutes into town and by the time, I head down into the Underground to get to Piccadilly etc, it's taken the hour or so that the Tube would have anyhow, just with more lugging around bags. £20 for Heathrow Express v £3 for the Tube for the sake of 10 minutes at most, seems good to me. Chip, if you do go for Heathrow Express, don't bother going first class, it's supposed to be a 15 minute journey, at most it's 30.

The exchange rate is $1.72 to the £1 but that's the wholesale rate. You'll see it advertised at 10c either side of that. You'll probably have to buy it at closer to $1.77 to the £ and sell any spare back at $1.65. You may also have to pay commission (1-2%) on the transaction depending on where you change the cash. When I travel, I generally just take it out at an ATM since my bank don't charge me any commission and give me a good rate. I use the moneychangers at Victoria for some quick ready cash.

You can buy an unlimited all day ticket for London Underground for £6? or a 3 day one (£18 to use off peak (after 9.30am) which would also get you from LHR to anywhere in town by Tube. It includes all Tube/bus travel.

Cost difference - have a look on Expedia is the best bet and see what comes in the various areas. They've got a good deal at the Strand Palace (v central) for £70 and a few at Paddington for £50-70. South Kensington seems to be about the same. Check on a map though how close they really are to the station; while you may be happy wandering around neighbourhoods, you don't want to have to hike miles to get to the Tubes etc since London can go from great area to dodgy area in a short space of time.

Paddington doesn't have much in it that you're going to want to visit but it is only 10-15 minutes on the Tube to most places. Covent Garden is very central - 5 minutes walk to Trafalgar Square etc South Kensington is a bit further out (again, you're looking at 10-15 minutes on a Tube) but the museums are close should you want to pop into the V&A. Have a look at Travel Inn site (http://www.premiertravelinn.com/pti/home.do) too. They're about £80 a night including tax. The Travel Lodge (http://www.travelodge.co.uk/) at Covent Garden are £95.

Ugg
Nov 28, 2005, 05:01 PM
I know that it is expensive, but given the lack of time in London, and that I will probably end up on the Tube a lot during my brief stay.

Also the Tube was not listed as an option for travel from LHR.

Some cities here in the US offer passes that are good for 2 to 7 days for unlimited travel on subways, trollies, and buses. Does London have the same. Sorry, was a bit confused when I went to checkout the Tube website.

You have a point. Since I will be spending the day in Baltimore before my departing flight, I could just get the "basic" cash in the local currency that I think I would need at a local bank. I assume that most purchases can be done by credit card. So something like $50-75US a day in each country should be enough IMO (for tips and transit expenses and such).

Heathrow Express is a ripoff. ~USD 24 for a half hour train ride is a lot. The tube from Victoria to Heathrow only took me about 50 minutes. The time saved is not enough to pay an additional $20 for. The Tube does stop at LHR.

You'll pay a premium for exchanging cash, it's much better to use atms. Also, you won't need to have a lot of cash on hand, the tube takes credit/debit cards so all you really need is miscellaneous cash. Use your cards as much as possible as the exchange rate is much better than the cash exchange rate. Also, don't exchange any more than you need because if you do you'll lose money twice when you change it back to dollars..

First class on Heathrow Express isn't enough to justify the cost. Second class is very nice and comfortable. I took the Gatwick Express (same company) as it was my only option for getting to LGW for a 6am flight.

I second the others about immigration, it just depends. I had no wait at all coming into LHR last month. Even at the smaller airports it was fine but as was mentioned, St. Paddy's day going into Dublin may be different.

Megatron
Nov 28, 2005, 07:39 PM
Just curious - are there any good airfare deals to Iceland? Did you just use the normal expedia / orbitz / travelocity / etc. to find the best fare?

LifeIsCheap
Nov 28, 2005, 08:14 PM
They've got a good deal at the Strand Palace (v central) for 70 and a few at Paddington for 50-70.

I've stayed at the Strand Palace. The room was small but liveable and when they say a single room, they mean a single room! I've not slept in a single bed since I was a kid. On the upside, it was cheap (I think I paid AU$100 a night ~US$75) and the location is excellent. You can walk to almost all of the sights.

I've used these guys before for cheap rates: http://www.discountcityhotels.com/

Enjoy!

Chip NoVaMac
Nov 28, 2005, 08:15 PM
Just curious - are there any good airfare deals to Iceland? Did you just use the normal expedia / orbitz / travelocity / etc. to find the best fare?

Actually there was a mention in the Wash Post Travel section about Iceland Air mid week getaways for $400 air and hotel for two nights.

Just did a search on their site last night and found that London can be had for $228US RT plus taxes (get this though, taxes are an extra $232US. More than the airfare!).

I've stayed at the Strand Palace. The room was small but liveable and when they say a single room, they mean a single room! I've not slept in a single bed since I was a kid. On the upside, it was cheap (I think I paid AU$100 a night ~US$75) and the location is excellent. You can walk to almost all of the sights.

I've used these guys before for cheap rates: http://www.discountcityhotels.com/

Enjoy!


Thanks for the site. The strand is "expensive" so far at about $130US a night. But I did find Regent Palace Hotel in the Piccadilly Circus area, sounds pretty good. $170US for two nights with an Ensuite Twin. Could go down to $130US for a shared bath twin. Not sure that I could share a bath, but would add to the European experience though.

Piccadilly sounds like a good stop to lay my head for a couple nights.

LifeIsCheap
Nov 29, 2005, 08:57 PM
Not sure that I could share a bath, but would add to the European experience though.


Depends who you're sharing it with eh?! :D

Chip NoVaMac
Nov 30, 2005, 06:30 AM
Depends who you're sharing it with eh?! :D

LOL! Bad boy you are.:)

Well, I have my hotels booked, next up is my flight.

I found a great B&B at the Hammersmith Tube stop. So easy access to Heathrow and the rest of London.

Things are very much a moving target. In looking around at things to do, I was lead to the Eurostar website. Am now thinking of dropping a day in Iceland in order to do a day trip to Paris on Eurostar. :eek:

I know that I am sounding like a kid in the candy shop. :D But I was thinking that it would be a great way to see the English and French countryside and see a few things in Paris (prime things there would be the Eiffel Tower and a museum or two).

XIII
Nov 30, 2005, 10:52 AM
The Eurostar is great, very fun IMO... :) 1 hr 50 something from London to Paris is pretty special. Also, Waterloo east is easy to get to.. And prices aren't too extornionate at the moment on the Eurostar. Me + family are going to Paris at the start of the Christmas holidays for a day, for just over 100.. Thats 4 people. Special deal in the Telegraph.. ;)

Overall, have a great time.. sure you'll enjoy it. :)

swiftaw
Nov 30, 2005, 11:18 AM
About exchange rates. I have seen comments about the right and wrong places to do the exchange. I thought that 1.72GBP was worth $1US (as of today) no matter where you did the exchange (other than black market).

No, the $1.72 for 1 pound that you saw is what is called the 'mid-market' rate. When you exhange your dollars for pounds, or in other words when you buy pounds the rate you get will be higher than $1.72, probably somewhere in the $1.80's.

When you swap your pounds back to dollars, or in other words, when you sell pounds, the rate you get will be less than $1.72, probably somewhere in the $1.60's.

The difference between the buy and sell rates is how the banks etc. make money from you on currency exchange.

Also, note that not every place will offer you the same buy/sell rates. Currency Exchange in airports always give you far worse rates than the high street. This is the same principle as food in airports costs more than in the high street.

Hope this helps, feel free to ask further questions.

CorvusCamenarum
Nov 30, 2005, 11:45 AM
I don't know if it's been mentioned already or not, but whatever you do, do *not* use the Foreign Exchange. In short, it's a rip. If you know how much cash you're going to be needing, you'd do much better just to go to your local bank before you depart (I'd say 2-3 weeks in advance) and order your foreign currency directly from them. It takes a bit longer, but you won't get hosed with the commissions (they hit you going in and out), you'll get the flat market rate, and with the exception of loose coins, they should be more than happy to buy back whatever you don't use. On top of that, you will also be able to take advantage of any potential weakenings in the foreign currency you'll be needing. My girlfriend and I are planning a trip to the UK sometime next year, so we've been keeping an eye on the . You might also want to double check any credit/bank card agreements to see how they handle purchases abroad. Using credit cards at ATMs are generally treated as cash advances, and you pay through the nose there.

As for customs, my experience the last time I went was about a 2 hour line. 500 people on the jet and only 2 customs agents. Then again, I flew into Gatwick and not Heathrow, so your experience might be different. Just make sure you have plenty of time to catch connecting transportation and you should be fine.

Aother piece of advice - forget hotels and do B&Bs instead. They're a lot cheaper and generally offer a better experience. There were quite a few at which I had the pleasure of staying that the owners would sit down to dinner and/or breakfast with us - much more personal and homey. Typically the food is better as well, unless you were planning on staying somewhere upscale and ritzy with a five star restaurant.

That's about all I can think of at the moment. Hope it helps.

Chip NoVaMac
Nov 30, 2005, 06:55 PM
The Eurostar is great, very fun IMO... :) 1 hr 50 something from London to Paris is pretty special. Also, Waterloo east is easy to get to.. And prices aren't too extornionate at the moment on the Eurostar. Me + family are going to Paris at the start of the Christmas holidays for a day, for just over 100.. Thats 4 people. Special deal in the Telegraph.. ;)

Overall, have a great time.. sure you'll enjoy it. :)

Thanks for making the idea of a day in Paris not sound so crazy. If I can ask, what things are you planning on seeing in Paris during your day there?

No, the $1.72 for 1 pound that you saw is what is called the 'mid-market' rate. When you exhange your dollars for pounds, or in other words when you buy pounds the rate you get will be higher than $1.72, probably somewhere in the $1.80's.

I don't know if it's been mentioned already or not, but whatever you do, do *not* use the Foreign Exchange. In short, it's a rip. If you know how much cash you're going to be needing, you'd do much better just to go to your local bank before you depart

Thanks for the tips. I knew that I should not use a credit card for cash because of the fees

As for customs, my experience the last time I went was about a 2 hour line. 500 people on the jet and only 2 customs agents. Then again, I flew into Gatwick and not Heathrow, so your experience might be different. Just make sure you have plenty of time to catch connecting transportation and you should be fine.

I know that with a three day layover on my outbound, time is not as big of in issue. On my inbound, since I will be tickets and flying on one carrier (with a change of planes in Iceland), that Iceland Air would not offered the flights as a joint option.

Another piece of advice - forget hotels and do B&Bs instead. They're a lot cheaper and generally offer a better experience. <snip>

That's about all I can think of at the moment. Hope it helps.

That is what I have found out so far. Booked myself at two B&B's. The one in London is on the Piccadiily line, so easy in and out to Heathrow - and into the touristy areas of London. The Reykjavik B&B is in the Embassy Row area, so it should be nice.

And both have free wireless DSL, so I may bring my PB with me. Will save on International Phone Calls to my sister!

Thanks for all the help!

geese
Nov 30, 2005, 07:15 PM
If you're on a budget, you can always try http://www.easyhotel.com - based in Kensington (nice area for museums and shops) and its a cheap hotel too.

The Heathrow express is nice in standard class, but hideously expensive. You can always try the slightly cheaper Heathrow Connect http://www.heathrowconnect.com service though. You might as well take the London underground though.

Chip NoVaMac
Nov 30, 2005, 07:26 PM
If you're on a budget, you can always try http://www.easyhotel.com - based in Kensington (nice area for museums and shops) and its a cheap hotel too.

LOL. This was one that I looked at. Seems to be a European version of the Japanese "sleeping tubes" I have heard about. The B&B sounded just a little nicer! But it was a backup if I couldn't find a decent B&B.

BTW. Looked at Tripadvisor.com. After the reports and pics on the Regent Palace in the Piccadilly Circus area that I mentioned in one of my posts above, decided that it was worth it! At least two posters came away with more than they paid for, bed bug bites!:eek: :eek: :eek:

Tripadvisor has become my friend. That is how I found the great place in SF this past summer!

XIII
Dec 1, 2005, 02:14 AM
Thanks for making the idea of a day in Paris not sound so crazy. If I can ask, what things are you planning on seeing in Paris during your day there?

No problem.. do all you can while your in Europe. :D

When we went before, we visited the Pompidou Centre (http://www.cnac-gp.fr/Pompidou/Accueil.nsf/tunnel?OpenForm), The Louvre, and a couple more galleries/museums.. Paris seems to specialize in galleries/art. The Champs-Elises is very cool too, big big shopping street with all the famous arcs nearby or on it. Also, the Eiffel Tower is cool to see.. take a trip up, on a clear day you get very good views of Central Paris. I'm not sure what else.. just walking around doing the French thing.. :p Its a beautiful city. I think a day there would be good, but leave yourself enough time to do all you want to do in London aswell.. you just need to weigh up what you want to be doing most.

Ask if you have any more questions, I'll use my limited knowledge of Paris to answer.. :)

Chip NoVaMac
Dec 2, 2005, 07:40 AM
The flights have been booked, the B&B's reserved. I have decided to hold on the day trip to Paris for this trip. I will spend 3 nights in Iceland, and two nights in London.

Now I will start the look at what I will want to see and do. I amy turn to you all after I have come up with a better schedule of my stay in each place.

Thanks again all.....

nbs2
Dec 2, 2005, 08:28 AM
One last thing - when you visit paris, if you end up in the louvre, be careful. i spent a couple of miserable days in paris, but the louvre was the exception. you might want to check the hours, but there are a couple days a week when they have "extended hours" (i think sun and wed). I showed up when they opened on an extended day and they had to kick me out when they closed. it's amazing.

yellow
Dec 2, 2005, 09:11 AM
Iceland is awesome, have a great time. Last time I went it was in end of Feb-early March. Still had a great time.

CorvusCamenarum
Dec 2, 2005, 09:34 AM
The flights have been booked, the B&B's reserved. I have decided to hold on the day trip to Paris for this trip. I will spend 3 nights in Iceland, and two nights in London.

Now I will start the look at what I will want to see and do. I amy turn to you all after I have come up with a better schedule of my stay in each place.

Thanks again all.....

Go see Stonehenge. Everyone should do it at least once, especially given that you're going to be in the neighboorhood. It's quite awe-inspiring.

Chip NoVaMac
Mar 6, 2006, 07:51 PM
Ok, been back five days and still trying to get a handle on life and all the pictures I took. Spent a better part of the day today in using my "free" Picturemate printer in printing off images for my scrapbook from my trip.

What can I say? My co-workers and customers are asking to see an album from my trip! I may be a week away from from fully being able to post on my adventures.

All in all everything was fine. Never did what I had planned on for the most part. Never saw any other part of Iceland (stayed mostly in Reykjavik); other than what I saw from the flight to London from Keflavik.

Nor did my food poisoning on the flight from Reykjavik to London spoil my stay, though my hurling on the common area of Westminster Tube station may have caused a few an upset. :eek:

Over the next few days I hope to start sharing some images.

ieani
Mar 6, 2006, 08:23 PM
Unless someone tells me otherwise, I think the Heathrow Express (my flight to/from London would be through LHR - duh:D ) to Paddington Station sounds like the best way into London.

You are right on this one. A taxi would be outrageous. The tube is incredibly efficient and quick.

So my questions (keep in mind this is my first international trip):

- How long does it take to get through customs and get through currency exchange lines?

I dodged customs because I flew in from Dublin but to get through customs in Dublin was only about 20 min. Id suggest using an ATM rathern than a currency exchange kiosk, you get the best rate

- Given my time in London, what would be the suggested itinerary for a short stay? (Keep in mind I am planning a trip to Dublin for St. Patrick's Day - plans there are to get in to Dublin on the day of 3/16, departing on 3/18 - going back through London on something like Ryanair). So I will have opportunities to catch things on my next trip to London and Europe. Also I love doing night time sight seeing.

Try and see a show. Phantom of the Opera was my favorite London attraction.

- Any suggestions on "reasonable" hotels B&B's near Paddington Station? I don't mind taking the Tube to another area, but would rather my time in the Tube be spent getting around to sights, than my hotel. (I should say that I am not one that needs luxury for a hotel, just something that is clean and safe.

I stayed at a hostel near Richmond, cannot help you here.

- For the photographers here, how tripod friendly is London? As an example NYC is very tripod unfriendly.

I didnt have a tripod but when I was there I didnt think it to be very crowded at all and would say that it is tripod friendly

- Timing on getting to the airports. I know that leaving from the US, I should allow at least two hours. What about the trip to Reykjavik to London? And I guess that two hours at LHR back to the states for an afternoon departure should be enough? Just how reliable are the times and travel times listed for the Heathrow Express?

They are typically reliable and depart around 5 min of when they should. This is just from my experience with the Stansted Express to Stansted Airport. Also with the express ask people on the train and make sure you are on the right one. I got on one painted stansted express but it was actually for stansted the city, not the airport. Probably not an issue with Heathrow but something to be aware of.

Thanks for the help guys and gals!

Chip

ieani
Mar 6, 2006, 08:23 PM
Ok, been back five days and still trying to get a handle on life and all the pictures I took. Spent a better part of the day today in using my "free" Picturemate printer in printing off images for my scrapbook from my trip.

What can I say? My co-workers and customers are asking to see an album from my trip! I may be a week away from from fully being able to post on my adventures.

All in all everything was fine. Never did what I had planned on for the most part. Never saw any other part of Iceland (stayed mostly in Reykjavik); other than what I saw from the flight to London from Keflavik.

Nor did my food poisoning on the flight from Reykjavik to London spoil my stay, though my hurling on the common area of Westminster Tube station may have caused a few an upset. :eek:

Over the next few days I hope to start sharing some images.


Haha I guess I should read the entire post first!

Chip NoVaMac
Mar 6, 2006, 09:26 PM
Unless someone tells me otherwise, I think the Heathrow Express (my flight to/from London would be through LHR - duh:D ) to Paddington Station sounds like the best way into London.

You are right on this one. A taxi would be outrageous. The tube is incredibly efficient and quick.



Ended up at a B&B in the Hammersmith-Fuller borough right on the Tube and #9 bus (IIRC). So no need for the Heathrow Express. The bonus is that I did not have to go through Terminal 4 for this trip.

So my questions (keep in mind this is my first international trip):

- How long does it take to get through customs and get through currency exchange lines?

I dodged customs because I flew in from Dublin but to get through customs in Dublin was only about 20 min. Id suggest using an ATM rathern than a currency exchange kiosk, you get the best rate

Did the ATM thing when at the various airports.

The passage through Passport Control in Iceland, coming and going, is a breeze. Departure control at Heathrow can be hit or miss from what I am told. At 1PM in the afternoon on a Monday it took me just under 20 minutes.

- Given my time in London, what would be the suggested itinerary for a short stay? (Keep in mind I am planning a trip to Dublin for St. Patrick's Day - plans there are to get in to Dublin on the day of 3/16, departing on 3/18 - going back through London on something like Ryanair). So I will have opportunities to catch things on my next trip to London and Europe. Also I love doing night time sight seeing.

Try and see a show. Phantom of the Opera was my favorite London attraction.

Had planned on seeing "We Will Rock You" on Monday night, but the bad food on my flight over to the UK got in the way.

- Any suggestions on "reasonable" hotels B&B's near Paddington Station? I don't mind taking the Tube to another area, but would rather my time in the Tube be spent getting around to sights, than my hotel. (I should say that I am not one that needs luxury for a hotel, just something that is clean and safe.

I stayed at a hostel near Richmond, cannot help you here.

The B&B I ended up staying at was great. Short ride to most anywhere I would want to go. And Mr. Orlando was very personable.

-- Timing on getting to the airports. I know that leaving from the US, I should allow at least two hours. What about the trip to Reykjavik to London? And I guess that two hours at LHR back to the states for an afternoon departure should be enough? Just how reliable are the times and travel times listed for the Heathrow Express?

They are typically reliable and depart around 5 min of when they should. This is just from my experience with the Stansted Express to Stansted Airport. Also with the express ask people on the train and make sure you are on the right one. I got on one painted stansted express but it was actually for stansted the city, not the airport. Probably not an issue with Heathrow but something to be aware of.

Arrived at Heathrow two hours before my departure time. It allowed me some last minute shopping. :)

Icelandair did board us on time, but we had a 50 minute delay at the gate due to "traffic" issues. Given that I had only a one hour layover in Reykjavik, I had some concern. We ended up holding up the BWI flight by 15 minutes (to Icelandair's credit they did get my bag on my BWI flight).

Unlike my experiences here in the US, the flight attendants could not provide any information on my BWI connection till we were within an hour of Reykjavik

Chip NoVaMac
Mar 6, 2006, 09:27 PM
Haha I guess I should read the entire post first!

LOL, maybe I should have read all of the follow up posts. :D