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London

 

telephone booth London

A 8 days stay in February 2009

Transportation

From Grenoble, the choice is fairly simple : train or plane.
I choose plane instead of train because of the last miscellaneous trouble SNCF has encountered.
For flying, I prefered taking a regular line from Lyon St Exupéry to Heathrow instead of a low cost as EasyJet from Grenoble St Geoirs. Cost 300 euros for 2 persons with British Airways. Go and return on Tuesady.

Lodging

London is a very expensive city, even though at this time money exchange rate was attractive.

I booked up an hotel by Ratestogo. Many special offers are displayed as customers comments.
I found out Queen's Park Hotel close to Hyde Park for an affordable price.
The nearest tube station is Queensway on Central Line, and Bayswater on Circle Line as well.

Bus line 390 brings you to Oxford Circus. To return, get off at Porcester Gate close to the hotel. PortoBello Market is about one mile from there.
Concerning meals, there are many restaurants in Queensway.
Be aware of rip-off from italian restaurants : 2 course for high bill and low meals !
Let me recommend a pakistani restaurant opened 7 days a week : Khans at 13 Westbourne Grove North from station Bayswater.

Since my stay was 8 days, I took a one day Travelcard to go from Heathrow (zone 6) towards Bayswater (zone 1) then hanging around to downtown.
The day after, I bought a one week travelcard just for zones 1-2. The last day, I paid an excess fare to get back to Heathrow.
But don't buy a ticket to take the Heathrow Express train to Paddington station : too expensive ! ... unless you are on a rush.

Moving

From Queensway, you 'll get to Oxford Circus, Tottenham Court, ... using Central Line.
Be aware of which way you want to take : many different directions at the same platform. In Paris, it's more simple.

In bus, it 's more pleasant, even it takes more time; but there is no hurry .... But what a drag to find out the good bus stop.
Going to Greenwich market in bus is very nice; many things and shops to find out.

My feelings

Covent garden, Soho, ChinaTown for atmosphere. Regent street and Oxford street for shopping.
Luxury rag trade in Monmouth street (between Oxford Circus and Covent Garden stations).

If you wish to feel bad , let's get to Harrod's close to Knightsbridge ( prices !!!). By a curious coincidence, I met Mohamed Al-Fayed, the owner, on a landing in his store.

If you want to custom your blazer with a beautiful sewed badge, get to
Benson & Clegg.

I especially love the diversity of the front houses, and cranked mixing smart wearing.

Big museums are free : British Musueum, Natural History Museum, National gallery, ... Nothing to see with Paris : expensive admission fees required !

A website that can't be ignored : London for free.

Markets to visit : Portobello on Saturday morning (get early either it doesn't worth a penny!), Greenwich, Covent garden, Borough, Camden, Spitalfields, Leadenhall, Leather Lane.

Walking in Hyde Park is bracing. Weather was fine (just some drops of rain at 5 pm).

JI knew London for a while but I only made a one day journey. I enjoyed this 8 days stay. I 'll be back during January sales.

carnaby street ye olde london

London bridge Chinatown London

Chinatown London Comptons London

Portobello market London Speaker corner Hyde Park London

Natural History Museum London Buckingham London


February 2010

Transport

What an headache ! Once again I took a flight Lyon-Heathrow with British Airways. And Heathrow is an airport very overloaded. 40 min turning over before landing.
When I got back to France, 55 min waiting on Runway. (same trouble when coming from USA via Heathrow).

During my stay, I read that Eurostar had severe breakdowns. I also read that BA staff 'll go on strike
It's all the luck of the draw.

To get to terminal 5 of Heathrow, you need to take Picadilly line Underground, but be sure to take the good one. Watch out notice boards : Terminal 1,2,3 & 5. Not Terminal 1,2,3 & 4.

Lodging

I went back to the same hotel ( Queen's Park Hotel ) , booking by RatesToGo. Big mistake. This hotel is useless : small room, broken wardrobe, defective TV (B&W instead of colors), little choices for breakfast. Staff not cheerful. The icing on the cake was to pay £1 a luggage stored after freeing the room. Obviously this wasn't mentioned anywhere. When I saw the number of luggages stored, I thank many people were ripping off.

My preferences

Here are some addresses :

  • high-class secondhand clothes : The Loft, 35 Monmouth street. Metro : Tottenham Court Road. and in Earlham street close to Cambridge theater.
  • cheap internet : Mocha café, 61 Charing Cross road. 1h free. free Wifi gratuite with your own laptop.
  • Tea : The tea house, 15 Neal street, Covent Garden. Station : Tottenham Court Road
  • Guitars : Denmark street. Coming from Charing Cross road close to Shaftesbury Av.
  • Chinatown : The nearest station : Leicester square.
    A good restaurant : New China 48 Gerrard Street, close to Charing Cross road.

I saw many street events during Chinese New Year celebration.

Chinatown Leicester square London Chinatown Leicester square London

Charing Cross road Chinatown London Charing Cross road Chinatown London

Change

Close to Queensway station, some little shops offer a good rate (£1 = €1.17).

If you wish to buy some gifts, pay using your credit card because trading change will apply
(£1 = €1.148).

If you wish to have a Thames cruise, show your Travelcard to get a 33% rebate and pay with your credit card :
( 19€ for 2 / Return Westminster-Greenwich ).


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