been to London many times over the years and have
experienced all four of their seasons, each with
its own unique personality. My absolute favorite
time to visit is winter. Yes, it's cold. Yes,
it's damp. But, so what? Being in Britain in January
and February allows you to see the city as it
really is, without the hordes of tourists that
crowd the streets during the other three seasons.
Londoners seem more patient about answering tourists'
questions simply because they aren't being inundated
with loads of questioners. Restaurants and pubs
aren't filled to overflowing in January, wait
staff has more time to chat, the shops are slashing
their pre-Christmas prices and all the airlines
are offering deals for mid-January flights.
year my girlfriend and I booked an excellent five-day
hotel/air package getaway on the internet. Our
goal was to taste some of London's treasures in
the most cost effective way possible. We were
penny pinchers in some areas and extravagant in
others. By journey's end we still had British
Pounds left in our pockets and no regrets about
how we had spent the rest of our money. And the
weather? Pleasant but cool for four days, rain
for one. We were lucky, indeed. Perhaps these
Journeywoman tips will help other travellers save
Pounds and have as much winter fun as we did.
light, light, light...
days is a short time. You really need very
little so take the smallest suitcase you
can. Follow the wear-one, pack one method
with shoes and pants. I packed one pair
of stretch black pants and wore the other
on the plane. Ditto for sturdy walking shoes.
Three light wool long-sleeved sweaters are
adequate and one fleece top is more than
enough. Consider a pair of silk long johns
just in case. Underwear and socks are washable.
Throw in a bright scarf for dress up, wear
your jacket (appropriate for dinner or theatre)
and your lightweight winter coat on to the
plane, pack your umbrella and basic cosmetics
and you're all set. With this manageable
suitcase you can be most mobile and not
reliant on cabs if you don't want them.
can be expensive...
avoided cabs wherever possible. You can
take the tube into London from Heathrow
Airport (inexpensive -- about £5 and
takes about one hour) or the more extravagant
Heathrow Express train that takes 15 minutes
direct to Paddington Train station (£27
return). We opted for the train because
we arrived in the early hours of the morning
and were too tired to contemplate the tube.
We also weren't sure if there were stairs,
or elevators to be negotiated in the tube.
From Paddington it was a five minute shared
cab ride to our hotel. We zipped from airport
to train to cab quickly. Our bags were light
and made it perfectly simple for us to get
the days that we needed public transportation
we bought a day pass (£4.90) that
allowed us to scoot around town via subway
or bus. That was great value as single fares
are £3 each so two trips and our card
was paid for. There are also Oyster
cards available. These are
like a debit card that you fill then simply
swipe as you enter the turnstiles. With
each entry your fare is deducted instantly
and efficiently. When your deposit runs
out just add more cash to your card and
you're on your way again. To learn which
method works best for you visit: http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tube/
you travel overnight you'll be tired when
you arrive. We napped for a couple of hours
and then set out to explore our neighbourhood,
pop into the Tube station to familiarize
ourselves, buy a phone card (rates for calls
from hotels are exorbitant) and pick up
our sightseeing material. We received a
complimentary map and the magazine, 'WHERE
London' from our concierge.
At the neighbourhood newsstand we bought
a copy of 'Time
Out London', a fabulous
magazine listing everything going on in
London for that particular week. It was
invaluable. Now we were ready!
theatre tickets, walking tours and more…