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Keep Calm and Go to London

Updated: Dec 29, 2022

What a week to visit London, England! It was Gay Pride Week, the British voted to leave the European Union, the Scots voted to stay, then Donald Trump came to visit! But even without all the hoopla London would have been just as exciting!

If you love history, if you love food, if you love entertainment, if you love beer, if you love walking tours based on serial killers and Rock-n-Roll history, if you love life, go to London.

Here are my travel suggestions:

1. If you are an employee of a police force (civilian or police officer) join the International Police Association. You will get lots of travel discounts. Membership is $35 a year. My membership entitled me to stay at the historic Union Jack Club. Now it’s not the Ritz Carlton but it is a good sized, clean room for a discounted Price.

2. Order the British Oyster Card and The London Pass. If you are landing in Gatwick Airport order your Gatwick Express.

The London Pass: The London Pass® is a sightseeing city card which gives you entry to a choice of over 60 popular tourist attractions in the city. Available for either 1, 2, 3, 6 or 10 consecutive days, it makes sightseeing easy and affordable by giving you access to top sights in the city with one card. It also gives you a fast pass into some attractions so you don’t have to wait in line. It saves you time and a lot of money.

Oyster Card: Gives you unlimited travel in central London. Get The London Pass + Oyster Travel card for the cheapest way to travel around the city. The Oyster Travel card covers journeys on London’s public transport network including underground, buses, overground trains and the DLR - any time of day, any day of the week!

The Gatwick Express: The Gatwick Express is a non-stop train between London Victoria train station, which is in the heart of Central London and London Gatwick Airport. It takes only 30 minutes - perfect for a quick and easy journey to catch your flight or if you’re looking to start your London adventure as soon as possible. You will save money and spend less time at the station by booking your tickets online. This is the easiest way to get from the airport to your hotel. There are lots of people at the station that will help you find your way. Don’t get a taxi it can cost your over a $100 British pounds.

3. Go to a West End Show. I went to see Wicked and it was wicked! London’s West End is on par with New York’s Broadway. You have to see one of these award winning shows to enhance your experience of London. After all London is all about culture. Experience it.

4. Watch TV. Why would you pay all that money to travel to London just to watch TV? Because it is funny. It’s actually beyond funny. It’s hysterical. After a day of running from attraction to attraction put your feet up and turn on the telly. British humour is the best. I spent a good two to three hours every night watching British reality shows ("On Benefits: Life on the Dole") or mock newscasts to the real news. You will love the reporters in Britain. Catch the morning news before you head out. These reporters are vicious. When they ask questions they demand answers. I loved them.

5. Fashion is huge! I have never seen a population of men so smartly dressed. No I didn’t mean women. Walking through London I was gobsmacked by how handsomely dressed the men were. They all wear blue suits and ties with walking cane umbrellas and closely cropped hair styles. Picture hundreds of Benedict Cumberbatchs walking toward you as you cross the London Bridge. The women also hold their own. Whether you’re touring the Tower of London or walking through the shopping district, the ladies are dressed to kill. If you are going out for the evening for dinner or a show, be prepared to dress up! Even the kids are fabulous. England still has school uniforms and they are stunning. Students of all ages are smartly dressed in blazers, skirts, ties and black leather shoes. It’s like Harry Potter came to life.

6. Do the touristy stuff. Here are the top 10 things to do in London. Try to do as many as you can.

7. Getting around: London is the easiest city in the world to get around in. Don’t rent a car. It’s hard enough to drive on the other side of the car on the other side of the road but driving in London is crazy! Leave it to the taxi and bus drivers. But why would you want to? The tube and bus system is the easiest thing to use. Put your destination in on Google Maps on your phone and it will tell you what bus or tube to take and how long to get there. It is intimidating at first but by day two you will be an expert.

8. Order afternoon tea and fish & chips. Most restaurants will offer an afternoon tea and fish & chips on the menu. Order it just for fun. Afternoon tea is three trays of finger sandwiches, raison tea buns, cookies & cupcakes and of course a big pot of English tea. It really is nice. Before ordering the fish & chips ask if the skin is left on the fish and if it is deboned. Twice I ordered it and found the bone was left in and the skin was left on.

9. The British Pound compared to the Canadian dollar is ridiculous! I confess, I did not buy a lot. I mostly picked up souvenirs and caved at the end to get this amazing red leather jacket. I did not buy one pair of shoes! First time ever. Right now one Pound is worth $1.80 Canadian. So when you spend 10 Pounds at a pub for a sandwich, it will be $18 on your credit card statement. One 100 Pound purse will be $180 on your credit card statement. Why buy when you can go home and order on line in Canadian dollars? Get your souvenirs and if you see something you know you can’t buy anywhere else, go for it. Other than that. Watch your money.

10. Talk to people. The British are very nice and polite. Here’s a scenario for you. A Canadian bumps into a Brit on the London Bridge. They eventually exhaust themselves from saying “I am sorry”, “No I am sorry”, “No it was my fault”, “I think it was my fault”, “But even if it is your fault, I will apologise”, “I couldn’t have you do that, I apologize.” You get my point. The British are more polite than Canadians. Everywhere we went people thought our Newfoundland accent was from Northern Ireland. Whenever we asked someone for help they were eager to offer assistance. Tell them you are from Canada and they will tell you about their relative who lives somewhere in our country or they will tell you about their service during the war and how they served alongside a Canadian.

11. Go see the making of Harry Potter We loved this tour. It’s a must if you are visiting London with teenagers. It will take up a full day but well worth the money.

12. Last thing to do, drink beer in a pub. It’s the national pass time. It’s a great way to end a long day or start one.

Cheerio! Enjoy your trip to London.

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