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Old May 24 2010, 04:00 AM   #1
Shikarnov
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Questions for Londoners

Greetings,

A friend of mine is an English teacher at the state university in Rostov na Danu, Russia. She and her class will be visiting London soon, and asked me if I could find out some information for her. Unfortunately, being an American, I'm ill equipped to answer her questions. I'm hoping you guys here can help:

  • Should they be carrying Euros or Pounds? Or are both accepted?
  • What are some traditional foods that must be tried? Any restaurant recommendations?
  • Are there any shops at which souvenirs (or authentic cultural products that are less cliche than a model of Big Ben) can be purchased at reasonable prices?
  • If you had only a week in London, as they do, what places would you visit? (In prioritized order just in case there's not enough time to do it all)
Thanks in advance!

ZS
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Old May 24 2010, 04:07 AM   #2
trampledamage
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Re: Questions for Londoners

Can't help with the details about where to go in London particularly - but they need to take pounds rather than Euros. Some of the bigger stores might be dual currency, but they shouldn't assume it, and if they want to buy things from market stalls, they'll definitely need Sterling.
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Old May 24 2010, 04:28 AM   #3
Goliath
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Re: Questions for Londoners

Shikarnov wrote: View Post
Should they be carrying Euros or Pounds? Or are both accepted?
Pounds.

What are some traditional foods that must be tried? Any restaurant recommendations?
Chicken tikka masala.

I don't eat out much in London, so I can't help you with restaurants. Sorry.

Are there any shops at which souvenirs (or authentic cultural products that are less cliche than a model of Big Ben) can be purchased at reasonable prices?
None that I've noticed. There are lots of souvenir shops in the city centre, but from what I've seen, they all sell the same mass-produced crap. Though you might want to have a look in antique shops.

The first time I visited Britain and Ireland, the only souvenirs I took home were some seashells I picked up on the Irish coast, just north of Dublin. I find things like that are much more meaningful than any manufactured "souvenir."

If you had only a week in London, as they do, what places would you visit? (In prioritized order just in case there's not enough time to do it all)
This really depends on what they like. London is a huge city, and even the tourist-friendly city centre offers a wide variety of things to do and see.

If your friend enjoys art, for example, I would recommend seeing the National Gallery, the Tate Britain, and (my personal favourite) the Tate Modern.

If they want to see the picture-postcard stuff, then I recommend starting at Trafalgar Square, walking down Whitehall to the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey, then turning right and heading up to Buckingham Palace, then turning right again and going back to Trafalgar Square.

If they like museums, then the British Museum is an absolute must. It's huge--you could easily spend the whole day in there.

If they like live theatre, there's lots of that. An English teacher might even be interested in seeing a performance at Shakespeare's Globe, which is a reconstruction of the original theatre.

But these recommendations don't even scratch the surface. Personally, I enjoy just walking along the south bank of the Thames.
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Old May 24 2010, 08:09 AM   #4
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Re: Questions for Londoners

Shikarnov wrote: View Post
Should they be carrying Euros or Pounds? Or are both accepted?
Some places may take Euros but the pound is universally accepted.

If you had only a week in London, as they do, what places would you visit? (In prioritized order just in case there's not enough time to do it all)
I can't really prioritise but try the Imperial War Museum and the Cabinet War Rooms.

Oh, and one other small bit of advice - learn how to behave on the Tube before you go. Your time will be a lot more pleasant if you do. Though at the same time, if you can - WALK. I can't stress this enough. You'll miss so much of this city if you just sit in a dark, cramped box underground to get everywhere.
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Old May 24 2010, 09:42 AM   #5
Niorah
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Re: Questions for Londoners

^ Agreed, walk wherever you can.

You'll find that a lot of places that are of interest to tourists are actually quite close to each other. Namely: The British Museum, Covent Garden, Trafalgar Square, the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery, The Strand, The South Bank (where the Houses of Parliament, the Big Ben, the London Eye and the London Aquarium are) and Westminster Abbey.

Museums are free, so definitely go see the British Museum and the National Gallery, you won't regret it.
Westminster Abbey is beautiful, but you have to pay to visit it, I think it's around £15.
If you want to take the metro anywhere, go visit the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew (also more commonly known as Kew Gardens), again you'll have to pay to enter, but it will be a lovely experience.

As for eating out, if you want a very traditional, very high class, very special lunch, go to Simpson's in the Strand. It's quite expensive but they do make a Sunday roast that is difficult to beat, and you will feel like a proper Lord.

As for everyday eating, you'll find restaurant chains like Nando's which are not expensive and have good, tasty food. There's also a pub chain, called J.D. Wetherspoon, where they serve a mean mixed grill (if you're a meat eater like me you'll love it).
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Old May 24 2010, 10:41 AM   #6
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Re: Questions for Londoners

For souvenir shopping, I would try Harrods in Knightsbridge, or Fortnum and Mason on Piccadilly. They are both large department stores, and they can be rather pricey, but their food halls are very reasonable, with traditional teas, biscuits, alcoholic beverages and such, which make very good gifts.

I would also recommend a boat ride on the Thames - a picturesque experience in the summertime, and if you want that trip to have an interesting destination, the Greenwich observatory (to see the first meridian) is a great trip, they have a planetarium, and the Maritime museum is also there. And it's all set on lovely green lawns and great hilltop views.

As to restaurant recommendations, I would eat at the Dining Rooms in the National gallery, they have great views overlooking Trafalgar square, the food is excellent and very British, and the service is faultless. A very elegant dining experience for a very reasonable price. One of the best eating establishments in London, in my view.
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Old May 24 2010, 12:40 PM   #7
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Re: Questions for Londoners

Shikarnov wrote: View Post
Should they be carrying Euros or Pounds? Or are both accepted?
Rubles all the way; all other currency should be debauched. It is the only way of defeating the bourgeoisie.

What are some traditional foods that must be tried? Any restaurant recommendations?
In Leningrad, it is traditional to symbolize friendship by sharing the foods of bread and salt. Remember that a Bolshevik is a Bolshevik forever, no matter where he/she goes.

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Old May 24 2010, 06:25 PM   #8
Shikarnov
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Re: Questions for Londoners

Thank you all for your replies, advice, and recommendations. I have no doubt that it will all be quite valuable to my friend and her students.

Hermiod wrote: View Post
Oh, and one other small bit of advice - learn how to behave on the Tube before you go. Your time will be a lot more pleasant if you do.
If I sent this link to them for more information, would that suffice?
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Old May 24 2010, 11:36 PM   #9
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Re: Questions for Londoners

Jadzia wrote: View Post
Shikarnov wrote: View Post
Should they be carrying Euros or Pounds? Or are both accepted?
Rubles all the way; all other currency should be debauched. It is the only way of defeating the bourgeoisie.

What are some traditional foods that must be tried? Any restaurant recommendations?
In Leningrad, it is traditional to symbolize friendship by sharing the foods of bread and salt. Remember that a Bolshevik is a Bolshevik forever, no matter where he/she goes.

You do realise Ken Livingstone's no longer the Mayor, yes?
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Old May 25 2010, 03:59 AM   #10
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Re: Questions for Londoners

Just a week in London? What a poor experience. I spent a month there, and I'm still struck by the brevity of the visit.
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Old May 25 2010, 06:44 AM   #11
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Re: Questions for Londoners

Should they be carrying Euros or Pounds? Or are both accepted?

Well, since Sterling is our currency, they should be using that.
  • What are some traditional foods that must be tried? Any restaurant recommendations?
Fish and chips; Sunday roast (also referred to as a carvery); curry; full English breakfast (also referred to as "a full English").
  • Are there any shops at which souvenirs (or authentic cultural products that are less cliche than a model of Big Ben) can be purchased at reasonable prices?
Depends what you're looking for in the way of souvenirs. If the group are staying in central London, then check out the big stores there.
  • If you had only a week in London, as they do, what places would you visit? (In prioritized order just in case there's not enough time to do it all)
Shakespeare's Globe; Houses of Parliament and Westminter; London Eye; Buckingham Palace; Tate Modern; British Museum, oh, there's too many to mention.

And one day they should try to get out of London for a day trip to somewhere within day communting distance. My vote would be for the Westcountry. It's less than a 3 hour train journey. You can get from Paddington into the heart of Devon (Exeter) to see a provincial city with vast history, and then back to London within the day. Plan the train tickets ahead and it won't cost a fortune, either.
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Old May 25 2010, 06:56 AM   #12
Hermiod
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Re: Questions for Londoners

Shikarnov wrote: View Post
Hermiod wrote: View Post
Oh, and one other small bit of advice - learn how to behave on the Tube before you go. Your time will be a lot more pleasant if you do.
If I sent this link to them for more information, would that suffice?
I don't have a Facebook account so I can't dig much further in to that but there doesn't seem to be a lot of advice on there.

Just some simple tips.

- On the escalators, stand on the right, walk on the left. Don't swap these around unless you want to end up a crumpled heap at the bottom.

- Let people off the train first, don't try to get on until everyone is off.

- Try not to carry too much luggage around with you. Tube trains are cramped enough as it is. Obviously, there's not much you can do if you're going to the airport but backpackers on the Tube are annoying.

- On top of that, don't put your bags on the seats. Seats are for people, not bags. Bags go on the floor.

- Move down the platform. Don't just go through the entrance and stand there.

- Don't start randomly talking to strangers. Nobody talks on the Tube.

- Don't play music unless you've got headphones. Nobody else wants to listen to Lady Gaga on your mobile phone's crappy little mono speaker.
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Old May 25 2010, 06:59 AM   #13
clint g
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Re: Questions for Londoners

Hermiod wrote: View Post
Shikarnov wrote: View Post
Hermiod wrote: View Post
Oh, and one other small bit of advice - learn how to behave on the Tube before you go. Your time will be a lot more pleasant if you do.
If I sent this link to them for more information, would that suffice?
I don't have a Facebook account so I can't dig much further in to that but there doesn't seem to be a lot of advice on there.

Just some simple tips.

- On the escalators, stand on the right, walk on the left. Don't swap these around unless you want to end up a crumpled heap at the bottom.

- Let people off the train first, don't try to get on until everyone is off.

- Try not to carry too much luggage around with you. Tube trains are cramped enough as it is. Obviously, there's not much you can do if you're going to the airport but backpackers on the Tube are annoying.

- On top of that, don't put your bags on the seats. Seats are for people, not bags. Bags go on the floor.

- Move down the platform. Don't just go through the entrance and stand there.

- Don't start randomly talking to strangers. Nobody talks on the Tube.

- Don't play music unless you've got headphones. Nobody else wants to listen to Lady Gaga on your mobile phone's crappy little mono speaker.
These rules sound alot like New York City rules

NOTHING pisses me of more than when tourists block the damn escalator
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Old May 25 2010, 09:46 AM   #14
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Re: Questions for Londoners

In all fairness they're not rules universally followed by London denizens.
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Old May 25 2010, 12:18 PM   #15
Hermiod
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Re: Questions for Londoners

StolenThunder wrote: View Post
In all fairness they're not rules universally followed by London denizens.
No, definitely not. Londoners break them more often than tourists.
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