After booking London, the next step was planning out our trip. As I have mentioned countless times here before, I am a super tourist. I never actually think that my trip will be the last time I visit that place, but I try to treat it as if it were my last time there. I try to see it all, and lucky for me so does my friend!
We knew we wanted to see the major sites- Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Parliament, the London Eye, and after that we weren’t sure! We also considered taking a day trip. We have 5 full days, four of which are full enough to see the city, and one day we considered doing a day trip. When we were in Paris my friend and I visited Versailles on a day trip and it was perfection. I like the idea of getting outside the city for a day.
I love a guidebook to a city. Lonely Planet, Fodor’s, and Rick Steve’s are all great choices. Lonely Planet may be my favorite, but Rick Steve’s is especially good for backpackers or people on a budget. Guidebooks are a great place to start. In fact, I found out about a really cool feature of the London Tower called “The Ceremony of the Keys” where you can request (only via snail mail) to get tickets to walk around with the warden while he locks the doors to the London Tower. I did not find this information anywhere but in the guidebook, and I am glad I did because my tickets came in just a few weeks ago- and even better- it’s free!
You can also start scanning London blogs for good tips! I found some great blogs about seeing Stone Henge when I just googled “blogs visiting London” and found ‘A Lady in London.’ It was on her blog that I discovered that you cannot walk right up to the Stone Henge rocks! Good things to know!
In doing our research, I also happened upon a “London Pass”, a pass you can buy for a fixed rate per day to get you into some of London’s biggest attractions. Whenever I tell people I am going to London their first response is, “It’s so expensive.” My reaction is: I know that, and I have a plan! My plan is to pre-buy as many tickets and passes as possible in advance, that way when I arrive, I do not feel like I am giving money out hand over fist. When I went to Paris my friend and I bought a similar pass at Charles De Gaule airport for the attractions in Paris, and I liked having it knowing we could just walk right up to many attractions and get in. This pass we really plotted out our needs and did the math to make sure the London Pass was worth it, and it was! We got it on sale for 10% off, and for a three day pass it only costs about $100.00. If we visit even five of the sights we plan to over the course of three days it will be worth it’s money. With the pass we get into London Tower, Westminster Abbey, St.Paul’s Cathedral, a Thames River Cruise, the Globe Theater, and countless other sites. We really saw the value in it, and I know that when I get there I will be relieved these things are already paid for!
Our only hang up in planning our trip to London is trying to understand the tube lines, which is probably the equivalent of trying to explain the New York subway system to someone from another country. Some metros like Paris, D.C, and Taiwan, are perfectly simple and easy to understand. Then you have cities like New York and London that are impossible to understand! I have gotten much better at planning trips in recent years, but I will still leave the transportation navigation to my dear friend Joey- that one is on you!
That is how planning is coming along so far! Our next plan is to pre-book some more things, maybe the London Eye, practically the only attraction not covered in the London Pass, and look into our day trip! Only a little over a month to go- the time is flying!