Jun 19, 2012

London, England Travel Information

We took a night flight to England in the middle of May.  Navigated through customs and baggage reclaim in a semi-sleepy state.  We purchased an oyster card for our public transportation in London and then used it to get on the tube, lugging our large suitcases behind.  Again, I promised to bring a backpack on my next European trip and travel light.  But I won't.
(Travel Advice:  use a backpack suitcase, get the oyster card if you're using public transportation, take a raincoat and umbrella, convert your currency before you go - at TravelEx you can get prepaid international debit cards with the chip in them - a lot of Europe won't accept credit/debit cards without the chip.  You can convert money at any AAA office as well as get an international driver's permit there as well - required if you drive in Europe)
We took the Picadilly line to......
 the District line to the Turnham Green stop in Chiswick.  Easy, peasy. (except for carrying that suitcase up and down subway stairs)

Chiswick is a great suburb of London.  Stay there if you can.  Bakeries, cafe's, flower shops and fruit stands with a few quirky stores in between.  Some green space.  The river Thames.  Safe.  Nice.  Happy.

Thank goodness the streets are painted "Look Left" and "Look Right" at pedestrian crossings!  Seriously.  Those words are painted on the streets in front of the curb.  Being from the U.S., we tended to look the wrong way and nearly stepped out in front of a double decker red bus, adorable things, but probably lethal.

We strolled around Chiswick in a light drizzle.  There's a wonderful little takeout deli sandwiched in between the two Starbucks (I know, right!!?), called Gregg's.  Stop in here for some terrific sandwiches.  Sandwiches you will dream about when you get back home.  And the pasties?  To die for.  The fresh bread in Europe is fantastic. When you go to Gregg's, try the Pretzel Crown. 1/2 pretzel, 1/2 fresh roll. I had several while I was in London.

We took our sammys to Starbucks, got our beverages and had a seat to relax. We needed to figure out how to get to our apartment.  On this trip, I had rented rooms or whole apartments through airbnb instead of staying at motels or couch surfing.  A very good experience that I will do again on future travels.
(Travel Advice:  Stay with Sasha at Chiswick Hadley Studios.  Out of all the places we stayed in Europe, Sasha's was my favorite and he is a wonderful host, extremely helpful.  When staying with airbnb, please note:
  1. some places require you to bring your own towels
  2. they aren't hotels, nobody is at your beck and call to wait on you - locks can be difficult to use, lightbulbs may flicker and go out, homeowner might be taking a shower at the moment you wanted to take yours, etc.
  3. take some toilet paper, shampoo and soap
  4. take a mini flashlight
make sure you know exactly how to get there!  I can't stress this enough.  The house/apartment does not have a sign like a motel does.  We had trouble finding the places at least three times.)
We used the Starbucks wifi for emails and maps and eagerly headed out to find our home away from home.  We strolled up and down the street.  And again. Several times, in fact.  We asked the mailman for help.  We used his cell to call Sasha (no answer).  We knocked on strangers' doors asking if they knew Sasha and where he lived.  Finally, one lady was able to point out his place.  From that point on, our stay with Sasha was perfect.  Well.  Until I knocked out all the power on our floor with a tiny electrical mishap.  (I've found outlets in England and Switzerland to be different than the rest of Europe.  You need different adapters.)

We unpacked, rested a bit and then hit the street for a perfect evening in London which included a little sum-somethin' like this:

The London Eye
a must-do in London
get skip-the-line tickets ahead of time

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