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Whether your a first time traveler or seasoned veteran, any trip across
the Atlantic should include a stop in London if you have the time. United,
British Air and American Airlines all have direct flights to London from any
number of U.S cities so getting there is easy. Once you arrive though, getting
into town can take a while. There is railway service from Heathrow and Gatwick
airports which connect to the subway system, and while this is probably the most
affordable way to get downtown, it can be a bit much if you have baggage.
Alternatively, you can take a bus or taxi. We like to take a taxi because it's
quicker than the bus and you'll find that most of the time the taxi driver provides a
wealth of information.
Once in the city you can get around very easily via the subway. If you are
going to be there for a few days, check into buying a weekly pass that gets you
unlimited travel on the subway and buses for a fixed rate. Taxi's are also
plentiful, but you'll find that a lot of the sites are within walking distance
if you get a centrally located hotel.
There is a wide variety of hotels available in
ranging from inexpensive youth hostels to the luxurious suites at the Ritz. We like to stay at the Royal Horseguard, which is ideally located in Whitehall, on the banks of the Thames, within walking distance of most sites. It's located in a 150 year-old government building on a quiet street and some of the rooms have balconies overlooking the river. There's no health club, but both banks of the river are just steps away and ideal for running.
If you've just arrived from the U.S. you'll probably be feeling tired and be tempted to go to sleep. To avoid the effects of jet-lag, unpack and then force yourself to get out. If you are too tired, take a one or two hour nap and then force yourself to get up and go out for a walk. From the hotel, you can walk out the front door and turn to the right to get to the river. If you walk straight, you'll find yourself at Trafalger square where you can stop and visit the Museum of Art. If you keep walking North you'll get to Covent Garden which is filled with a variety of shops.
London is a great place to explore on foot. If you don't mind a little exercise, we suggest you spend your first day getting oriented by walking from Buckingham Palace to the Tower of London. It's a hike and you can certainly take a taxi part of the way, but you really get to see a lot of the city if you can make it on foot.
Begin your day by getting up early and arriving at Buckingham Palace early enough for the Changing of the Guard. Sure it's a bit "touristy" but hey, your a tourist. After the ceremony, walk East towards the Trafalger square, it's a nice place to stop and take a break. Continue walking along the Strand past the theaters towards St. Paul's Cathedral.
After visiting this beautiful, historic church, stop by one of the many pubs for a quick lunch and a pint of Ale. After lunch continue towards the tower of London and see the Crown Jewels. Along the way, if you explore the side streets you'll be surprised to find lots of interesting shops, restaurants and bars you might want to note for future reference.
Other great day trips while you're in London, include a visit to the Imperial War Museum and the
Museum in Greenwich. You can catch a boat to the Maritime Museum from either the dock in front of the Tower of London or the one in front of the Houses of Parliament. If you do stay at the Royal Horseguards, you should probably walk around the corner to the Sherlock Holmes pub and grab a snack or a drink.
For additional information about London and the rest of England visit this page.
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