YOU ARE A TERRORIST.Oops! I meant ‘You are a Tourist! See how easy that mistake was to make? Well the Metropolitan Police in their infinite wisdom have decided that you may want to report ‘Odd picture taking’. Let’s see. You see someone taking pictures of their food, bus stops, train stations and major landmarks. It’s a Virtual Tourist Member working on their tips! Or is it? Consider yourself a suspect.
I have included 2 pictures that I have been warned verbally about.
Picture 1) The Police Poster and telephone number
Picture 2) People making Sushi. A policeman made me show him my pictures and warned me not to do in anymore. This is a Sushi place inside Victoria Station in London
Picture 3) A poster in a HSBC bank in London. An employee came running out and said I could not take this photo. The poster says ‘Welcome to the UK’. Hardly.
I am all for vigilance and security. I am against stupidity. See what you think.
BBC NEWS STORY
Unique Suggestions: Carry your new VT cards and practice this phrase: “I know my rights and I want to telephone my Mum”.
On my visit to the beautiful Hyde Park, late in the afternoon and after several hours of walking in the city, I saw some really confortable chairs just lying there.
It felt lke paradise, except that there was fee involved if you sit on them. of course there is no visible information about this.
Only after you sit down, a man comes to charge you a ticket. The fee was 1,5 pounds.
Fun Alternatives: If you don't want to pay just for sitting down, walk some more and choose one of the public benches around the Park, or if the weather is nice, just sit on the grass.
“You are not welcome here Johnny Foreigner”! Well, they might as well put up a sign in the baggage claim area at Gatwick. I just recently returned to Gatwick from outside the EU and went to go use one of the free baggage trolleys for the bags in the baggage claim area. Problem is, they are not quite free anymore. In fact, it’s worse than that. You have to have a British One Pound Coin to free the chained trolleys. What do you mean you don’t have British One Pound coins in your pocket you Tourist from abroad? Oh well, you can use a 1 Euro Coin or a 25 Cent US Coin. Rest of the world – tough. Of course there is NO way to get said coins in this secure area. So you are stuffed. Welcome to Britain, go get some coins. Of course you cannot return to this area once you leave!
What genius thought this was a good idea? Did this person or person work on Heathrow Terminal 5 as well?
Well, if you do have a one pound coin, you can return the trolley somewhere and get your pound back. I have this feeling that it is not even remotely near your car.
Fun Alternatives: Get baggage that rolls easily and practice pulling it for huge distances to toughen up your muscles. It’s a good idea in general. Alternatively get someone who lives in the UK to send you a coin. Do not ask me for one either any freeloaders out there. I bet you didn’t even rate this tip yet.
So St. Paul's and Westminster Abby, along with several of the other big churches in London I'm sure, charge around 10 pounds just to explore the cathedrals. My buddy and I (on a student budget) with no foreseeable student discounts, decided to get creative.
One option is evening song or a similar service, which all those churches host everyday around 5:30 if I remember correctly, free of charge. We got to see Westminster for free and without any crowds! St. Paul's you can walk in and you have to pay a quarter of the way into the sanctuary, so you can actually see a lot of the stuff from the ticket purchase counter and feel like you've kind of "done" St. Paul's (other than climbing the dome, but it was closed when we were there)
We were on the street by Liverpool station right after 5 pm. There are a zillion people getting of work at that time. We were stunned. We couldn't find a seat or a place to get a beer. Plus the lines for the buses or the trains was crazy too. It was a real zoo. Don't get caught up in that.
Need a telephone number in Britain? That’s going to cost you! A few years ago the Directory Enquiries number ‘192’ was privatised and now there are over 100 options. Some will cost you more than £1 for a phone number! I recommend not using 118 118. They do the most marketing, but they certainly are not cheap. They charge you 49p for answering the phone and 9 pence a minute to actually talk to you.
Unique Suggestions: Use 0800 100 100. It's FREE. The catch is you have to listen to advertising. So what.
If you really want to pay, try 118 848. They charge a flat 27 pence and will give you 3 numbers.
Look here to compare tariffs:
....but a funny street artist like you can see a lot of them in bigger cities like Barcelona, Prague and on many street festivals, like in my hometown Ghent during the "Gentsche Fieste"... see my pages
Unique Suggestions: Give him some british pounds, or some euro's at the same rate ive paid in 2008
Fun Alternatives: none
I can hardly believe I'm writing this, but my most recent visit to Kew Gardens left me feeling both terribly disappointed and as though I had been completely ripped off. What was once a delight and part and parcel of my daily life left me feeling so let down I honestly could not - as I once did - tell anyone visiting London that a trip to Kew was a must.
I lived for four years in a flat by Kew Green, and walked home from the station through the Gardens almost every day. It was the perfect way to unwind after a day's teaching. We were still living there when our first child was born, and the Gardens were our favourite place as he progressed from pram to playful toddler. I've walked every path and every secret corner, visited every greenhouse and quirky folly. I know the look of Kew though every season, and I loved it.
So what's gone wrong? It wasn't just the cost - though that was a shock. 13GBP entry plus another 5 to visit Kew Palace made for an expensive outing!. If we'd wanted to take the hop on/hop off Kew Explorer around - that was another fiver (winter - Nov 1 to Jan 31 - sees that drop to 2GBP, but we were there in summer).
There was nothing at the gate to tell us the lift to the much-feted new tree-top walk was out of order, the rose garden had been dug up for re-planting, the Marianne North Gallery was closed for refurbishment ...... we found each of these things out as we arrived on the spot.
The cafe was scruffy, the plants in many of the greenhouses looked in need of more than a little TLC. We weren't the only ones who were disappointed - the place seemed full of disconsolate folk wandering aimlessly.
Of course, there were some lovely things to see - the Lavender Walk was beautiful, the giant waterlilies were blooming , the new Shirley Shirwood Botanic Art Gallery is very handsome. Retail addicts will have a field day in the shop. However ....
I have to say that Kew is no longer on my London Things to Do agenda and I do feel it has become a tourist trap.
Unique Suggestions: Check the website before you go to see just what is and isn't open around the gardens. If there's anything you are particularly interested in, ask at the entrance - information won't be volunteered and you can find you arrive at your special spot only to find it's closed, being replanted (our roses!) or a mass of dead heads (the fuschias in the Temperate House on the day we were there).
Take a picnic with you and avoid the cafe - or visit the Maids of Honour Tearoom outside the grounds in Kew Road - it is quite expensive but the cakes are all made on the premises - as are their wonderful pies - and both are quite delicious. Otherwise, try one of the pubs around the Green. You can get a passout from the gate attendant.
If you're interested in taking one of the free guided walks, (11am and 2pm) arrive early and book straight away - they take a maximum of 15 people and there's no back-up guide for extra people.
Fun Alternatives: Take trip to Guildford and visit the exquisite Royal Horticultural Society Gardens at Wisley or make your way to Virginia Water to see the equally beautiful Royal Savill Gardens
leave the whole city! waste of time and especially money!
Unique Suggestions: Tower of London tour, its worth the $17 quid unlike most other things in the city.
Fun Alternatives: Brightons not far and has a great beach and trendy music scene. Bath is also not far and is much nicer than just another scummy city too!@
Many people come here to the British Museum excited about seeing the Magna Carta. So you get off at a far away Tube Station, walk a long way through hoareds of people and then find out - ITS NOT HERE!
Stay and have a look!
BRITISH MUSEUM WEBSITE
The staff will give you a map and tell you it is at the BRITISH LIBRARY! The British Library is remarkable and worth a quick visit in its own right. They have lots to see including:
• Two copies of the Magna Carta (1215)
• Two Gutenberg Bibles
• The only surviving manuscript of the poem Beowulf
• The Diamond Sutra - the world's oldest dated printed book
• The Lindisfarne Gospels (from the North East of England)
• The Codex Arundel - a notebook written by Leonardo da Vinci
• Working manuscripts by Composers Bach & Mozart
BRITSH LIBRARY WEBSITE
The famous Crystal Skull is between 5000 and 30,000 years old and was hand carved by ancient Mayans or Aztecs in Mexico. A Spanish colonial officer hid the skull in his possessions when he returned to Spain in the 1800’s. He wanted to smuggle the treasure to his homeland before the French occupied the area. It was old to a mysterious English collector and then acquired by a French antiques dealer Eugène Boban. The lucky Frenchman realised the value of this ancient artefact and sold it to Tiffany and Co. of New York. It was then secured for the British Museum to take its rightful place as a priceless and ancient artefact from pre-history.
Unique Suggestions: You really believe that rubbish? The only true part is that Eugène Boban sold it for a fortune. He was a filthy criminal and conman. The skulls, and several like it, were made in Europe with modern jeweller’s equipment less than 200 years ago. This is a cheap paperweight and complete fake. Oh well, take some pictures while you are here.
Yes, Harrod's! Oh it's a lovely department store and you can get pretty much anything you want there. But it's VERY expensive. The food halls are an attraction but Fortnum and Mason has just as good. The cafes are pricey (but, ok, the food is pretty good). The whole store is so big and it's difficult to find things with various different escalators and lifts around corners and then walking through many departments to get to the one you want or to a cafe.
Unique Suggestions: They do have some lesser priced items like their own brand tea and coffee and they have some reasonably priced Christmas decorations in the fall. The food halls are interesting to look through, the Egyptian escalator are is worth a look as well though it does also have the Diana/Dodi memorial shrine at the bottom.
Fun Alternatives: Fortnum and Mason's on Piccadilly is an equally nice (and expensive) department store with a good food hall and nice cafes and far less crowded. Fortnum's was founded in 1707, more than 150 years before Harrod's. F&M also supplies the Royal Household by Royal Warrant which Harrod's does not have anymore so if it's prestige you want, it's there too. You can also order goods online at Fortnum's just as you can Harrod's so you aren't losing out there either.
There are a few attractions in London that are *very* highly priced. Some of the highest tickets are for the Tower of London, Madame Toussauds, st. Paul's, London Eye, London Dungeons, Hampton Court, Kensington Palace, all starting from 10 pounds and up. That really adds up! Most of the major musuems and galleries are now free for the regular exhibits, with a fee for special and temporary exhibitions. Some, like the Dungeon are out and out rip offs. The London Aquarium has higher prices during school holidays and summer. Most have cheaper prices for children, students and seniors.
Having said that, i still found the Tower worth the entrance fee as well as Hampton Court (but remember there is transportation costs involved getting there as well)
Unique Suggestions: The London Pass
is a good idea if you are going to cram in a lot of sightseeing in a day. A one day pass at present is £19 for an adult and if you buy it online ahead of your trip, it comes with a one day central zone travel card, more savings!
You can buy a combination ticket to both the Tower and Hampton Court which will save you a little money.
Fun Alternatives: See the tip on Free Stuff (General Tips) for a list of things to do that won't cost you a penny!
No, it’s not always raining! In fact, in the summer temperatures frequently exceed 30 degrees Celsius – perfect for discovering our fantastic beaches and coastline. And although rain is not uncommon, periods of fine weather occur all year round in Britain.
Want to drive here? Will, it’s going to be expensive. Let’s just start with the fact that fuel can be as much as $8.60 a gallon (US). That’s enough to put you off drive thrus at MacDonald’s for life right there. It gets much worse. Then there’s traffic. Roads designed for 10,000 people with horses are now 8 million with vehicles. Then you try and park. Wrong place – wrong time - $200! I once got a ticket at 9:58 pm! 2 minutes to freedom! So what’s wrong? The Parking Attendants get paid by private companies for PRODUCTIVITY. That means they get paid for inflicting more misery on you. The worse you holiday here – the bigger their bonus and pension fund. The Spanish Inquisition never had productivity payments. Oh, and the attendants hide and wait. Try and talk to them and they become deaf, blind, stupid and start grunting. Hell, I would too if you paid me to ruin your day. This isn’t the law – it’s blood sport.
Unique Suggestions: Pay the fine today by telephone with a credit card. You only pay $100 you lucky bastard. Then dispute the charges when you get home.
Fun Alternatives: Public transport is much cheaper.
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