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An Experienced Journeywoman Helps You Prepare For London
Journeywoman Claudia Eastman is a 25 year veteran film and television location manager and scout. Photography and travel are her passions. A native Californian. she was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area and now resides in LA. She has worked on Criminal Minds, Game of Thrones, Fast and Furious and BOSCH. Claudia loves the city of London and tries to spend a few weeks there every year.

I've returned to London more than a half dozen times. Things change but never my appreciation of London. My enjoyment revolves around the city's ability to continually evolve yet remain the same. It is never boring as old and new meld together, always providing new discoveries to savor. London isn't cheap but it can be done practically. I don't travel on a shoe string nor do I stay in 5-star hotels. I'm an older adventuress who travels solo. Here are my insights for London travel...

First Time Visitors
London can be daunting. It's noisy, crowded, and expensive. Weather can be temperamental. Don't let that deter you. It's one of the planet's greatest cities! Do your research. Planning ahead will hopefully lower your costs and add to your enjoyment...

Google Satellite Street View
Leave it to Big Brother to provide the best travel resource since laminated maps. Use it to discover how close or far iconic London sites are from you accommodation. With the exact address of where you plan to stay you can find the closest tube stop, Bank ATM, market, coffeeshop, etc.

The Heathrow Airport Experience
This International hub is huge and busy, busy, busy. If it's your first visit you'll discover it's a bit of a walk from your arrival gate to immigration.. There are people movers and escalators. Think of it as a good way to stretch your legs after your flight.

Immigration
Lines can be long and tiresome. Be patient. Have your passport handy and be ready to answer simple questions about why you are traveling to London.

Stairs
Ever wonder why 89 year Queen Elizabeth and 94 year old Prince Phillip can stand for hours at attention? I've concluded it's because they have legs of steel from climbing stairs all their lives. Stairs are everywhere in London. Steep stairs in BnB's, tube stations, museums, pubs, etc. Elevators and escalators exist but stairs are a fact of life. You want to see London from the dome of St Paul's. You'll climb nearly 530 steps to do so. Start practicing now and keep your luggage light.

Traffic Flow
London traffic flows exactly opposite of what most of the world is used to. That reality necessitates a complete readjustment of your brain. Simple solution is to WAIT for the light at a cross walk. Look at the curb beneath your feet. HUGE lettering will remind you which way traffic is flowing. Pay attention. DON'T jaywalk. You will also find out that on escalators and stairs it's proper to stand on the right.

Something new
As I mentioned at the start of this post, things change and apparently Underground riders are being asked to try something new. Click here to inform yourself.

Language
Yes it's English but not everyone there speaks like the cast of Downton Abbey. Practice the art of listening carefully. You'll also need to understand some translation differences. When searching for a restroom, ask where the loo or toilet is.
Biscuit is a cracker.
Brolly an umbrella.
Chips are friesChemist a drugstore.
Chips are french fries.
Crisps are potato chips.
Flannel is a washcloth.
Fags are cigarettes.
Ground floor is first floor.
Jumper a sweater.
Nappy a diaper.

The Beauty of Pubs
Though alcohol is served, pubs are a traditional communal meeting place. In most pubs prior to 9pm you may see families with babies, children and dogs. Single woman of all ages should feel comfortable in pubs. You'll find it easy to have a drink, some food, pleasant conversation and you can sit for hours reading and relaxing. I'm a huge fan of pub grub as my main late afternoon meal. Enjoying a pint with an early dinner is an excellent respite after walking around the city.

Walking
I adore the London Underground and riding buses but my preferred mode of transport in London are my own two feet. It's the best way to locate hidden gems down alleyways, enjoy strolls along the Thames path or on parks trails. There are guided walks which are informative and inexpensive. Highly recommend www.walks.com.

Travel in November
This is my favorite time. Weather is quite pleasant. Yes, a coat, scarf and gloves are often needed but rainfall is minimal. Gorgeous sun filled blue skies can also occur. Accommodations are a bit cheaper and if your travel dates are close to Thanksgiving you'll enjoy watching London's Christmas preparation begin. You will also find that at some sites crowds are minimal. Other than a group of school children I had Hampton Court Palace all to myself last November. It was bliss. If you do travel in Winter or Fall be aware that the daylight hours are shorter with the sun starting to set around 4pm. Plan your day accordingly.

Airfare Savings
Research, research, research. Sign up for airfare alerts on websites such as Kayak and Skyscanner. If you prefer a specific airline sign up for their alerts. Be persistent. Use miles if you have them.

Accommodations
Here are some options I've tried and enjoyed. Vancouver Studio Apartments in Bayswater. Vibrant neighborhood, option of two tube stations, plentiful restaurants, cafes, close to Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park and a 20 minute walk to Portobello Market. Fair price, safe and secure building. There's good water pressure, flat screen tv's, comfortable beds, free wifi, small refrigerator and kitchenette, complete with plates, cutlery, mugs and glasses. vancouverstudios.co.uk/en/home People with mobility issues beware of stairs. Steep stairs.


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