Best Time To Visit Europe

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Postby c327 » Tue Jan 28, 2014 7:06 am

Mr T wrote:If you visit the UK and are a WWII fan, visit London for the Imperial War Museum and the Tower of London. Then move out of London for a more Historical perspective visit York and move on to Scotland for Edinburgh and Stirling (fabulous Castles). Ireland is nice but very expensive. You will not get the full flavour of the UK in 10 days (like I won't with the US when I visit Vegas). I was stationed in Germany and it is a great country too. Bavaria is particularly nice with a few castles you can visit and beautiful alpine views. I would also recommend Amsterdam in the Netherlands if you go there the Heineken Brewery trip is worth it as is the boat trip round the canals, and for WWII history visit The Anne Frank house.

All in all what ever you decide, I hope you have agreat holiday!


Thank you for those suggestions, I will keep them in mind when planning our trip.
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Postby c327 » Thu Jan 30, 2014 4:34 am

Mr T wrote:If you visit the UK and are a WWII fan, visit London for the Imperial War Museum and the Tower of London. Then move out of London for a more Historical perspective visit York and move on to Scotland for Edinburgh and Stirling (fabulous Castles). Ireland is nice but very expensive. You will not get the full flavour of the UK in 10 days (like I won't with the US when I visit Vegas). I was stationed in Germany and it is a great country too. Bavaria is particularly nice with a few castles you can visit and beautiful alpine views. I would also recommend Amsterdam in the Netherlands if you go there the Heineken Brewery trip is worth it as is the boat trip round the canals, and for WWII history visit The Anne Frank house.

All in all what ever you decide, I hope you have agreat holiday!


Been to Vegas a few times. Like most I made my contribution to many of the casino's with my first visit. The best part of Vegas now for me it the shows. To get tickets to the most popular shows its a good idea to plan way a head and get tickets early because many sell out early.

Food there has gone way up from past years. Granted not really to much to see in a short period of time.
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Postby Karlsweldt » Thu Jan 30, 2014 7:42 am

Many tourist attractions have lost their older glamor and glory.. and now are embellished with "bling" and "glitz". A vacation is supposed to be relaxing.. not 'taxing' to your senses. If you want a really memorable vacation, do your own planning.. and tour itineraries.
One critical need for long-distance travel is to ensure you have had all your inoculation shots at least two weeks before departing. The fabled "Montezuma's Revenge" for travelers can strike without warning. Take time to adjust to water and food provisions in other locations. Aseptic tablets (Aquatabs® or similar) are a good choice for 'unfamiliar' water.
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Postby BrevCampagnolo » Thu Jan 30, 2014 2:24 pm

In the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you up front I am an unabashed Anglophile, and find myself awed by antiquity.

The weather anywhere in the UK is liable to suck at any given moment, regardless what the weatherman is saying. I have had occasion to dress heavier in Scotland in July than in London in January. Seriously.

London is an ancient city with a fabulously rich history, and you'll find a great many links to American history there. You couldn't count all their world-class museums. Every time I visit, I leave with more "must-dos" for the next trip than the last. A lot comes down to what your interests are.

Numero Uno on my London "mustn't miss" list is the British Museum. The Brits have at times (particularly during the reign of old Queen Vic) been the world's most prolific archaeological thieves, and much of their booty is in the British Museum. It is home to the Rosetta Stone (linguistically, probably the most important archaeological find of modern history), many of the greatest works of art from the ancient world, lots of great Egyptian mummies (with accompanying baggage), da Vinci sketch books, and hand-written documents from everyone from Wm Shakespeare to Lennon&McCartney.

#2 is the Tower of London. More than anything, in my mind, the tower is the focus of events surrounding Henry VIII's unrelenting quest for assuring succession by producing a male heir, which culminated with him throwing out the Catholic Church and forming the Church of England. Nobility used to be executed there to spare them the shame of having their heads lopped off to a chorus of jeering Cockneys. The gallows is long since vanished but the spot where it once stood is a mandatory stop on the tours conducted by the Yeoman Warders (AKA Beefeaters). "Beefeaters" historically were the guards who were left behind to safeguard families when the army marched off to war. To reduce the incidence of hanky-panky with the other soldiers' left-behind wives, Yeoman Warders had to be retired soldiers who were married and living with their wives. They currently have to be a retired Warrant Officer, the British equivalent of a US Army Sergeant Major. Their ordinary uniform is blue in color, the iconic scarlet uniform (which weighs about 40 lbs) as depicted on the bottle of gin is reserved for special ceremonies. The tower has a large armory/museum, mostly medieval weapons, also with authentic and absolutely pristine tournament armor that belonged to Henry VIII. For the time, he was a surprisingly large man. And the Crown Jewels are stored there, which are worth seeing just to see what the world's two largest cut diamonds look like.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Natural History Museum, partly because many of their specimens were collected by the same famous "explorers" who filled the British Museum with all the purloined archeological stuff. The have a great many of Charles Darwin's original specimens collected from the Voyage of the Beagle on permanent display, including zillions of his beetles (as well as those collected by his arch-rival, Alfred Russel Wallace) and a stuffed dodo bird. Lots of great dinosaur skeletons, and modern whale skeletons. Worth the trouble, IMO, just to be able to see you've seen a "real" dodo.

If you are of a military bent, the London branch of the Imperial War Museum is a must-see, but it is closed until July for renovations, when it is scheduled to re-open with a WWI centenary celebration. Americans -- especially those not alive during the war -- have no idea how much the English -- and particularly the Londoners -- were impacted by the war. This museum gives you a bit of a sense of that. The building the IWM is housed in formerly was the Bethlehem Insane Asylum. The old looney bin was known colloquially by its Cockney pronunciation, and the word has become synonymous in the English language with chaos: bedlam. It has two 15" naval guns, scavenged from old warships, sitting on the front lawn.

Another military attraction (of the warbird nature) is at the Duxford branch of the Imperial War Museum, which is adjacent RAF Lakenheath airbase. A lot of its content focuses on The Blitz and The Battle of Britain. If you're staying in London, a trip there and back by train will eat up most of a day.

If you're into historic architecture, St Paul's Cathedral is a must-see. Probably its most noteworthy feature is the acoustics of its dome. Standing in the gallery ringing the top, if you whisper against the wall, anyone with their ear to the wall anywhere along the dome (112' in diameter) can clearly hear it. It's also a good excuse to visit the City of London. The City of London (proper) is barely more and 1 square mile within greater London. By tradition, it is a sovereign entity and the Queen herself only can enter with the permission of the Lord Mayor of the City. Even has its own separate police force.

For sake of economizing time, Trafalgar Square makes for a good central point for being the tourist (Charing Cross tube station). From there you can stroll to the National Gallery, Big Ben (which is the name of the bell, not the tower), Houses of Parliament, Downing Street, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, Piccadilly Circus, and many others.

Westminster Abbey is the site for coronations, state funerals and royal weddings. Beyond its state and historic significance, many notable Brits (royals, nobles, statesmen, military heroes, scientists, writer and artists) are buried/entombed there. Usually considered a "must-see" but I think it depends on how keen you are on seeing the graves of Geoffrey Chaucer, Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin, el Al. It used to house the Stone of Scone, the traditional coronation seat of the kings of Alba (now Scotland). It formerly was built in to the seat of the coronation throne, which is still there -- minus the stone -- but the stone had been stolen from the Scots by Edward the Long Shanks, and the English finally relented in the mid-1990s and gave it back. Now you have to go to Edinburgh Castle to see it.

You can't actually get onto Downing Street, but from the gate at its end, you can see the door to the Prime Minister's house (#10), and his neighbors, the Chancellor of the Exchequer (#11), and the Chief Government Whip (#9). Entertaining for about 30 seconds.

The National Gallery has one of the world's great "traditional" collections (Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, etc). If you're into modern art, the Tate probably will be better to your liking.

Piccadilly Circus is more a landmark than anything else, famous for often being mentioned. But it is a London icon.

If you want to watch a "Changing of the Guard," you're in the right place. The biggest/most ostentatious (complete with military band) is at Buckingham Palace at 11:30, every day in the summer and alternating days otherwise. But for my money, it's too crowded (get there an hour early if you want a good spot) and lasts too long, plus, I prefer a more functional (and less well attended) ceremony, like the Horse Guard's Parade. I still haven't figured out how they get that many horses in a confined space for so long without one of them soiling the parade grounds.

Tours of the palace are a fairly recent addition, the Queen's concession to the sour economy. But I don't think they're run on a daily basis. If you're itching to see how the royals really live, Windsor is the better bet. If you want to see a castle castle and not a royal castle, I'd suggest Leeds.

There are "Jack the ripper" tours, if you're into that sort of thing, some conducted by acclaimed authors on the subject. There is a Sherlock Holmes museum at 221B Baker Street, despite the fact that the address itself didn't even exist when Conan Doyle was alive.

If you're a Pink Floyd fan, you have to take some form of above-ground transportation around the decommissioned Battersea power station. It's in central London, now an art gallery, but you'll recognize it from the cover of the "Animals" album. Also featured in the 2006 Clive Owen post-apocalypse movie, Children of Men, complete with flying pig balloons.

Other "touristy" day trips from London, Statford on Avon, Bath, and Stonehenge. Shakespeare left Stratford long before he became famous, so the only things there really connected to him are his birth home and his grave. Shakespeare's Globe (in London) is a modern reproduction of his Globe Theatre, built on the same site as the original (which burned, was rebuilt, then deliberately demolished), and probably more Shakespeare-connected than anything in Stratford. But Shakespeare tourism probably is the largest source of income in Stratford, despite that fact. A lot like the famous Romeo&Juliet balcony in Verona, Italy. It attracts tons of over-romantic tourists, despite the fact the story is completely fictitious, Romeo&Juliet never existed, and Shakespeare picked the city's name out of a hat.

If you've been to Italy, Bath probably will seem like SSDD. But being an antiquities junkie, I couldn't resist. Same with Stonehenge, which AFAIK is the oldest monument in the British Isles. They don't come much more antique than that.

Speaking of Shakespeare's Globe, London has live theater that is second to none. The equal of NYC's but far older. Many shows have been running continuously for years, decades even. Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap has been in production there since 1952, so it must be a pretty good show.

If you are of the intellectual bent, you might want to day trip to the so-called OxBridge cities (Oxford/Cambridge) to rub elbows in the digs once inhabited by the likes of Newton, Rutherford, Faraday, Watson&Crick and Hawking. Think Berkley dressed in tweed and waxed cotton. Plus, all-you-can-eat Gothic architecture. Such a deal!

I also have to confess that my first trip to London, the first thing I did was hop the first train to Inverness. I HAD TO visit Loch Ness. But I fell in love with the whole of Scotland (or at least the Highlands and Islands), which had nothing to do with sea monsters and everything to do with the warmest and most welcoming people I've ever found anywhere.

Well, okay, the whisky might have had a little influence on me arriving at that opinion.

I am a HUGE fan of tourist guide book author Rick Steves. He as a knack for steering you to the attractions that connect you to the local culture without breaking the bank. And Rick himself is a cult figure. I have made many an acquaintance while standing in line for an attraction, reading one of his books, when I make eye contact with another tourist in the same line, also reading one of his books. It's amazing how his passion for travel brings people together. If you don't want to buy them, maybe the local library has some you can take notes from.

Hey, I'm just getting warmed up, but I think this forum has like a 15-million characters per post limit or some such, and besides, it's time for my meds ....
Last edited by BrevCampagnolo on Fri Feb 14, 2014 9:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby BrevCampagnolo » Thu Jan 30, 2014 2:31 pm

BrevCampagnolo wrote:In the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you up front I am an unabashed Anglophile, and find myself awed by antiquity.

The weather anywhere in the UK is liable to suck at any given moment, regardless what the weatherman is saying. I have had occasion to dress heavier in Scotland in July than in London in January. Seriously.

London is an ancient city with a fabulously rich history, and you'll find a great many links to American history there. You couldn't count all their world-class museums. Every time I visit, I leave with more "must-dos" for the next trip than the last. A lot comes down to what your interests are.

Numero Uno on my London "mustn't miss" list is the British Museum. The Brits have at times (particularly during the reign of old Queen Vic) been the world's most prolific archaeological thieves, and much of their booty is in the British Museum. It is home to the Rosetta Stone (linguistically, probably the most important archaeological find of modern history), many of the greatest works of art from the ancient world, lots of great Egyptian mummies (with accompanying baggage), da Vinci sketch books, and hand-written documents from everyone from Wm Shakespeare to Lennon&McCartney.

#2 is the Tower of London. More than anything, in my mind, the tower is the focus of events surrounding Henry VIII's unrelenting quest for a male heir, which culminated with him throwing out the Catholic Church and forming the Church of England. Nobility used to be executed there to spare them the shame of having their heads lopped off to a chorus of jeering Cockneys. The gallows is long since vanished but the spot where it once stood is a mandatory stop on the tours conducted by the Yeoman Warders (AKA Beefeaters). "Beefeaters" historically were the guards who were left behind to safeguard families when the army marched off to war. To reduce the incidence of hanky-panky with the other soldiers' left-behind wives, Yeoman Warders had to be retired soldiers who were married and living with their wives. They currently have to be a retired Warrant Officer, the British equivalent of a US Army Sergeant Major. Their ordinary uniform is blue in color, the iconic scarlet uniform as depicted on the bottle of gin (which weighs about 40 lbs) is reserved for special ceremonies. The tower has a large armory/museum, mostly medieval weapons, also with authentic and absolutely pristine tournament armor that belonged to Henry VIII. For the time, he was a surprisingly large man. And the Crown Jewels are stored there, which are worth seeing just to see what the world's two largest cut diamonds look like.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Natural History Museum, partly because many of their specimens were collected by the same famous "explorers" who filled the British Museum with all the purloined archeological stuff. They have a great many of Charles Darwin's original specimens collected from the Voyage of the Beagle on permanent display, including zillions of his beetles (as well as those collected by his arch-rival, Alfred Russel Wallace) and a stuffed dodo bird. Lots of great dinosaur skeletons, and modern whale skeletons. Worth the trouble, IMO, just to be able to see you've seen a "real" dodo.

If you are of a military bent, the London branch of the Imperial War Museum is a must-see, but it is closed until July for renovations, when it is scheduled to re-open with a WWI centenary celebration. Americans -- especially those not alive during the war -- have no idea how much the English -- and particularly the Londoners -- were impacted by the war. This museum gives you a bit of a sense of that. The building the IWM is housed in formerly was the Bethlehem Insane Asylum. The old looney bin was known colloquially by its Cockney pronunciation, and the word has become synonymous in the English language with chaos: bedlam. It has two 15" naval guns, scavenged from old warships, sitting on the front lawn.

Another military attraction (of the warbird nature) is at the Duxford branch of the Imperial War Museum, which is adjacent RAF Lakenheath airbase. A lot of its content focuses on The Blitz and The Battle of Britain. If you're staying in London, a trip there and back by train will eat up most of a day.

If you're into historic architecture, St Paul's Cathedral is a must-see. Probably its most mentioned feature is the acoustics of its dome. Standing in the gallery ringing the top, if you whisper against the wall, anyone with their ear to the wall anywhere along the dome (112' in diameter) can clearly hear it. It's also a good excuse to visit the City of London. The City of London (proper) is barely more and 1 square mile within greater London. By tradition, it is a sovereign entity and the Queen herself only can enter with the permission of the Lord Mayor of the City. Even has its own separate police force.

For sake of economizing time, Trafalgar Square makes for a good central point for being the tourist (Charing Cross tube station). From there you can stroll to the National Gallery, Big Ben (which is the name of the bell, not the tower), Houses of Parliament, Downing Street, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, Piccadilly Circus, and many others.

Westminster Abbey is the site for coronations, state funerals and royal weddings. Beyond its state and historic significance, many notable Brits (royals, nobles, statesmen, military heroes, scientists, writer and artists) are buried/entombed there. Usually considered a "must-see" but I think it depends on how keen you are on seeing the graves of Geoffrey Chaucer, Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin, el Al. It used to house the Stone of Scone, the traditional coronation seat of the kings of Alba (now Scotland). It formerly was built in to the seat of the coronation throne, which is still there -- minus the stone -- but the stone had been stolen from the Scots by Edward the Long Shanks, and the English finally relented in the mid-1990s and gate it back.

You can't actually get onto Downing Street, but from the gate at its end, you can see the door to the Prime Minister's house (#10), and his neighbors, the Chancellor of the Exchequer (#11), and the Chief Government Whip (#9). Entertaining for about 30 seconds.

The National Gallery has one of the world's great "traditional" collections (Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, etc). If you're into modern art, try the Tate.

Piccadilly Circus is more a landmark than anything else, famous for often being mentioned. But it is a London icon.

If you want to watch a "Changing of the Guard," you're in the right place. The biggest/most ostentatious (complete with military band) is at Buckingham Palace at 11:30, every day in the summer and alternating days otherwise. But for my money, it's too crowded (get there an hour early if you want a good spot) and lasts too long, plus, I prefer a more functional (and less well attended) ceremony, like the Horse Guard's Parade. I still haven't figured out how they get that many horses in a confined space for so long without one of the soiling the parade grounds.

Tours of the palace are a fairly recent addition, the Queen's concession to the sour economy. But I don't think they're run on a daily basis. If you're itching to see how the royals really live, Windsor is the better bet. If you want to see a castle castle and not a royal castle, I'd suggest Leeds.

There are "Jack the ripper" tours, if you're into that sort of thing, some conducted by acclaimed authors on the subject. There is a Sherlock Holmes museum at 221B Baker Street, despite the fact that the address itself didn't even exist when Conan Doyle was alive.

If you're a Pink Floyd fan, you have to take some form of above-ground transportation around the decommissioned Battersea power station. It's in central London, now an art gallery, but you'll recognize it from the cover of the "Animals" album. Also featured in the 2006 Clive Owen post-apocalypse movie, Children of Men, complete with flying pig balloons.

Other "touristy" day trips from London, Statford on Avon, Bath, and Stonehenge. Shakespeare left Stratford long before he became famous, so the only things there really connected to him are his birth home and his grave. Shakespeare's Globe (in London) is a modern reproduction of his Globe Theatre, built on the same site as the original (which burned, was rebuilt, then demolished), and probably more Shakespeare-connected than anything in Stratford. But Shakespeare tourism probably is the largest source of income in Stratford, despite that fact. A lot like the famous Romeo&Juliet balcony in Verona, Italy. It attracts tons of over-romantic tourists, despite the fact the story is completely fictitious, Romeo&Juliet never existed, and Shakespeare picked the city's name out of a hat.

If you've been to Italy, Bath probably will seem like SSDD. But being an antiquities junkie, I couldn't resist. Same with Stonehenge, which AFAIK is the oldest monument in the British Isles. They don't come much more antique than that.

Speaking of Shakespeare's Globe, London has live theater that is second to none. The equal of NYC's but far older. Many shows have been running continuously for years, decades even. Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap has been in production there since 1952, so it must be a pretty good show.

If you are of the intellectual bent, you might want to day trip to the so-called OxBridge cities (Oxford/Cambridge) to rub elbows in the digs once inhabited by the likes of Newton, Rutherford, Faraday, Watson&Crick and Hawking. Think Berkley dressed in tweed and waxed cotton. Plus, all-you-can-eat Gothic architecture. Such a deal!

I also have to confess that my first trip to London, the first thing I did was hop the first train to Inverness. I HAD TO visit Loch Ness. But I fell in love with the whole of Scotland (or at least the Highlands and Islands), which had nothing to do with sea monsters and everything to do with the warmest and most welcoming people I've ever found anywhere.

Well, okay, the whisky might have had a little influence on me arriving at that opinion.

I am a HUGE fan of tourist guide book author Rick Steves. He as a knack for steering you to the attractions that connect you to the local culture without breaking the bank. And Rick himself is a cult figure. I have made many an acquaintance while standing in line for an attraction, reading one of his books, when I make eye contact with another tourist in the same line, also reading one of his books. It's amazing how his passion for travel brings people together. If you don't want to buy them, maybe the local library has some you can take notes from.

Hey, I'm just getting warmed up, but I think this forum has like a 15-million characters per post limit or some such, and besides, it's time for my meds ....
-- Campy

"Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons."
- Popular Mechanics, 1949
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Postby c327 » Thu Jan 30, 2014 6:14 pm

BrevCampagnolo wrote:In the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you up front I am an unabashed Anglophile, and find myself awed by antiquity.

The weather anywhere in the UK is liable to suck at any given moment, regardless what the weatherman is saying. I have had occasion to dress heavier in Scotland in July than in London in January. Seriously.

London is an ancient city with a fabulously rich history, and you'll find a great many links to American history there. You couldn't count all their world-class museums. Every time I visit, I leave with more "must-dos" for the next trip than the last. A lot comes down to what your interests are.

Numero Uno on my London "mustn't miss" list is the British Museum. The Brits have at times (particularly during the reign of old Queen Vic) been the world's most prolific archaeological thieves, and much of their booty is in the British Museum. It is home to the Rosetta Stone (linguistically, probably the most important archaeological find of modern history), many of the greatest works of art from the ancient world, lots of great Egyptian mummies (with accompanying baggage), da Vinci sketch books, and hand-written documents from everyone from Wm Shakespeare to Lennon&McCartney.

#2 is the Tower of London. More than anything, in my mind, the tower is the focus of events surrounding Henry VIII's unrelenting quest for a male heir, which culminated with him throwing out the Catholic Church and forming the Church of England. Nobility used to be executed there to spare them the shame of having their heads lopped off to a chorus of jeering Cockneys. The gallows is long since vanished but the spot where it once stood is a mandatory stop on the tours conducted by the Yeoman Warders (AKA Beefeaters). "Beefeaters" historically were the guards who were left behind to safeguard families when the army marched off to war. To reduce the incidence of hanky-panky with the other soldiers' left-behind wives, Yeoman Warders had to be retired soldiers who were married and living with their wives. They currently have to be a retired Warrant Officer, the British equivalent of a US Army Sergeant Major. Their ordinary uniform is blue in color, the iconic scarlet uniform as depicted on the bottle of gin (which weighs about 40 lbs) is reserved for special ceremonies. The tower has a large armory/museum, mostly medieval weapons, also with authentic and absolutely pristine tournament armor that belonged to Henry VIII. For the time, he was a surprisingly large man. And the Crown Jewels are stored there, which are worth seeing just to see what the world's two largest cut diamonds look like.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Natural History Museum, partly because many of their specimens were collected by the same famous "explorers" who filled the British Museum with all the purloined archeological stuff. The have a great many of Charles Darwin's original specimens collected from the Voyage of the Beagle on permanent display, including zillions of his beetles (as well as those collected by his arch-rival, Alfred Russel Wallace) and a stuffed dodo bird. Lots of great dinosaur skeletons, and modern whale skeletons. Worth the trouble, IMO, just to be able to see you've seen a "real" dodo.

If you are of a military bent, the London branch of the Imperial War Museum is a must-see, but it is closed until July for renovations, when it is scheduled to re-open with a WWI centenary celebration. Americans -- especially those not alive during the war -- have no idea how much the English -- and particularly the Londoners -- were impacted by the war. This museum gives you a bit of a sense of that. The building the IWM is housed in formerly was the Bethlehem Insane Asylum. The old looney bin was known colloquially by its Cockney pronunciation, and the word has become synonymous in the English language with chaos: bedlam. It has two 15" naval guns, scavenged from old warships, sitting on the front lawn.

Another military attraction (of the warbird nature) is at the Duxford branch of the Imperial War Museum, which is adjacent RAF Lakenheath airbase. A lot of its content focuses on The Blitz and The Battle of Britain. If you're staying in London, a trip there and back by train will eat up most of a day.

If you're into historic architecture, St Paul's Cathedral is a must-see. Probably its most mentioned feature is the acoustics of its dome. Standing in the gallery ringing the top, if you whisper against the wall, anyone with their ear to the wall anywhere along the dome (112' in diameter) can clearly hear it. It's also a good excuse to visit the City of London. The City of London (proper) is barely more and 1 square mile within greater London. By tradition, it is a sovereign entity and the Queen herself only can enter with the permission of the Lord Mayor of the City. Even has its own separate police force.

For sake of economizing time, Trafalgar Square makes for a good central point for being the tourist (Charing Cross tube station). From there you can stroll to the National Gallery, Big Ben (which is the name of the bell, not the tower), Houses of Parliament, Downing Street, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, Piccadilly Circus, and many others.

Westminster Abbey is the site for coronations, state funerals and royal weddings. Beyond its state and historic significance, many notable Brits (royals, nobles, statesmen, military heroes, scientists, writer and artists) are buried/entombed there. Usually considered a "must-see" but I think it depends on how keen you are on seeing the graves of Geoffrey Chaucer, Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin, el Al. It used to house the Stone of Scone, the traditional coronation seat of the kings of Alba (now Scotland). It formerly was built in to the seat of the coronation throne, which is still there -- minus the stone -- but the stone had been stolen from the Scots by Edward the Long Shanks, and the English finally relented in the mid-1990s and gate it back.

You can't actually get onto Downing Street, but from the gate at its end, you can see the door to the Prime Minister's house (#10), and his neighbors, the Chancellor of the Exchequer (#11), and the Chief Government Whip (#9). Entertaining for about 30 seconds.

The National Gallery has one of the world's great "traditional" collections (Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, etc). If you're into modern art, try the Tate.

Piccadilly Circus is more a landmark than anything else, famous for often being mentioned. But it is a London icon.

If you want to watch a "Changing of the Guard," you're in the right place. The biggest/most ostentatious (complete with military band) is at Buckingham Palace at 11:30, every day in the summer and alternating days otherwise. But for my money, it's too crowded (get there an hour early if you want a good spot) and lasts too long, plus, I prefer a more functional (and less well attended) ceremony, like the Horse Guard's Parade. I still haven't figured out how they get that many horses in a confined space for so long without one of the soiling the parade grounds.

Tours of the palace are a fairly recent addition, the Queen's concession to the sour economy. But I don't think they're run on a daily basis. If you're itching to see how the royals really live, Windsor is the better bet. If you want to see a castle castle and not a royal castle, I'd suggest Leeds.

There are "Jack the ripper" tours, if you're into that sort of thing, some conducted by acclaimed authors on the subject. There is a Sherlock Holmes museum at 221B Baker Street, despite the fact that the address itself didn't even exist when Conan Doyle was alive.

If you're a Pink Floyd fan, you have to take some form of above-ground transportation around the decommissioned Battersea power station. It's in central London, now an art gallery, but you'll recognize it from the cover of the "Animals" album. Also featured in the 2006 Clive Owen post-apocalypse movie, Children of Men, complete with flying pig balloons.

Other "touristy" day trips from London, Statford on Avon, Bath, and Stonehenge. Shakespeare left Stratford long before he became famous, so the only things there really connected to him are his birth home and his grave. Shakespeare's Globe (in London) is a modern reproduction of his Globe Theatre, built on the same site as the original (which burned, was rebuilt, then demolished), and probably more Shakespeare-connected than anything in Stratford. But Shakespeare tourism probably is the largest source of income in Stratford, despite that fact. A lot like the famous Romeo&Juliet balcony in Verona, Italy. It attracts tons of over-romantic tourists, despite the fact the story is completely fictitious, Romeo&Juliet never existed, and Shakespeare picked the city's name out of a hat.

If you've been to Italy, Bath probably will seem like SSDD. But being an antiquities junkie, I couldn't resist. Same with Stonehenge, which AFAIK is the oldest monument in the British Isles. They don't come much more antique than that.

Speaking of Shakespeare's Globe, London has live theater that is second to none. The equal of NYC's but far older. Many shows have been running continuously for years, decades even. Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap has been in production there since 1952, so it must be a pretty good show.

If you are of the intellectual bent, you might want to day trip to the so-called OxBridge cities (Oxford/Cambridge) to rub elbows in the digs once inhabited by the likes of Newton, Rutherford, Faraday, Watson&Crick and Hawking. Think Berkley dressed in tweed and waxed cotton. Plus, all-you-can-eat Gothic architecture. Such a deal!

I also have to confess that my first trip to London, the first thing I did was hop the first train to Inverness. I HAD TO visit Loch Ness. But I fell in love with the whole of Scotland (or at least the Highlands and Islands), which had nothing to do with sea monsters and everything to do with the warmest and most welcoming people I've ever found anywhere.

Well, okay, the whisky might have had a little influence on me arriving at that opinion.

I am a HUGE fan of tourist guide book author Rick Steves. He as a knack for steering you to the attractions that connect you to the local culture without breaking the bank. And Rick himself is a cult figure. I have made many an acquaintance while standing in line for an attraction, reading one of his books, when I make eye contact with another tourist in the same line, also reading one of his books. It's amazing how his passion for travel brings people together. If you don't want to buy them, maybe the local library has some you can take notes from.

Hey, I'm just getting warmed up, but I think this forum has like a 15-million characters per post limit or some such, and besides, it's time for my meds ....


Thank you for all this fine information....
“Respect cannot be learned, purchased or acquired - it can only be earned” "Pay It Forward"
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Postby Roach412 » Thu Jan 30, 2014 7:53 pm

Rick Steves

+1

Buy/rent/borrow his books...read them and make some decisions. they're fantastic.

-Roach
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