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so confused, too many options

by atltracy Online Now Feb 18, 2013 at 5:16 PM

my husband has to be in london in early may for work. we were going to go early and see some sites together and maybe go to paris too. if we have just one week, would you try to do a few days in london and a few days in paris or just focus on one city? also, when booking a trip, is it better to book a package or just book airfare and hotels separately? i get so overwhelmed with all this information that part of me says forget it!

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27 Answers
  • TexasDave's Profile Photo

    Re: so confused, too many options

    by TexasDave Online Now Feb 18, 2013 at 5:49 PM

    Well there really is a lot to see in London, much depends on what type of things you want to see- museums, churches, neighborhoods. Fortunately the London for tourists is relatively compact, with an unlimited use transportation card the tube and/or bus system will get you to things quite quickly. Personally i would advise against visiting Paris or any other city during that relatively short time, you'll lose 1 whole day just traveling there and back again. Of course if you're certain you'll never get back to Europe again including it might make sense. As for doing a package or not, I never have, but you could experiment a little and see what works out best for you. Have a look around members London pages and see what we have recommended.

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  • colin_bramso's Profile Photo

    Re: so confused, too many options

    by colin_bramso Online Now Feb 18, 2013 at 6:09 PM

    You say you'll go early before your business week in London, but whether you can fit in Paris really depends how much time you have available. There's so much to see in both cities that you really need a few days minimum in each.

    Tour or do-it-yourself depends on what you're most comfortable with. personally, I prefer to book flights and accommodation myself, then sometimes book local tours when we're at the destination.

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  • Dabs's Profile Photo

    Re: so confused, too many options

    by Dabs Online Now Feb 18, 2013 at 6:13 PM

    It's a hard question to answer because I love both cities but I tend to agree with staying in London as there is so much to see and do that you can easily spend the week there. There are a ton of daytrips, you can go to Bath, York, Windsor, Hampton Court etc. On the other hand, London to Paris is only 2 1/4 hours away by Eurostar, if you plan the trains right you aren't even really missing part of the day. I don't know that I would go to Paris just for a day but you could go for a couple of days. If you think this might be the only time getting there, I might do both and get a taste of both cities.

    I book my air and hotel separate when I go to London but you might try a website like Expedia that packages the two together to see if there is any savings. I wouldn't do an escorted tour though, far too easy to get around in London for that.

    What I wouldn't do is skip the trip because the options seem a bit overwhelming, once you book your airfare, come back and we can help you select a hotel and give you some ideas on what to do

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  • robine's Profile Photo

    Re: so confused, too many options

    by robine Online Now Feb 18, 2013 at 6:40 PM

    One's enough, and I'd book tkts and accom separately, for likely better value.

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  • rexvaughan's Profile Photo

    Re: so confused, too many options

    by rexvaughan Online Now Feb 18, 2013 at 7:06 PM

    I would second staying in and around London. I think it will give you a better feel for the city and you can start planning your visit to Paris when you get home. I tend to avoid tours although many like them. It is easy to do things on your own and London is easy to navigate via tube or bus. Give it a go and come back here if there are questions. We have tons of experts on London who love to help. Some of them have already chipped in.

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  • MandeeJC's Profile Photo

    Re: so confused, too many options

    by MandeeJC Online Now Feb 18, 2013 at 7:08 PM

    If you have time to devote to travel, I would recommend both. As mentioned above, travelling by train (Eurostar) is very quick and relatively affordable. Another option is RyanAir which is cheap as well; however, they fly just outside of Paris (the trip to the city is not all that long and relatively easy to navigate via taxi or bus and train. I love both cities and think that they both have a lot to offer. Do you expect that you will end up over the pond again in the future? This is the real question! If not, then DEFINITELY do both. There are some tour packages as well that offer an 8 day split between the 2 cities. Accommodations are typically included in these as well as some meals (usually continental breakfast). If you expect to be back in Europe again, then I would encourage you to focus on one city.

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  • Dabs's Profile Photo

    Re: so confused, too many options

    by Dabs Online Now Feb 18, 2013 at 7:36 PM

    If you do decide to do both, I much prefer the Eurostar over flying as you go city center to city center and the security checkin time is not nearly as long with the train as it is with a flight. All of the airports involved are quite a distance from the city centers.

    If you want a way to get acclimated to London without a guided tour, they have hop on hop off buses (HOHO) that will take you by all the major sites, you can get off and visit places or just stay on for a guided ride through London

    I'm taking my niece later this year to both and I did the same thing a few years back with a different niece. We had slightly more time than a week but I'm glad I took the 1st one to both but I'm an experienced traveler, you might find it a little less daunting to focus on one city.

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  • Beausoleil's Profile Photo

    Re: so confused, too many options

    by Beausoleil Online Now Feb 18, 2013 at 8:24 PM

    Paris is my favorite city, but if I only had a week and needed to be in London, I think I'd spend the full week in London. Either book your flight and accommodations or have a trusted travel agent do it. The rest is easy. If you use the full week, you'll be able to see a lot and not overdo it. Check member travel pages here for London transportation options. The suggestion above to use the hop-on hop-off bus to get oriented is a great idea. You will quickly discover how easy it is to get around.

    If you decide you want to do both cities, think about flying in to London and flying home from Paris. That way you could spend a few days in Paris and not have to worry about getting back to London.

    Whatever you decide, have a great trip.

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  • davidjo's Profile Photo

    Re: so confused, too many options

    by davidjo Online Now Feb 18, 2013 at 8:26 PM

    Definitely stay in London as it is an amazing city with hundreds of attractions. I was recntly there for 3 months and saw places that i never knew existed before. There are several site with walking routes in central London which are well marked and take you past all the major attractions. I walked many of the walks and i was delighted with what i saw. I am just trying to find the particular site i used but this wil give you an idea. tfl.gov.uk/gettingaround/wal...

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  • mccalpin's Profile Photo

    Re: so confused, too many options

    by mccalpin Online Now Feb 18, 2013 at 8:27 PM

    Well, other things being equal, here's a vote for 5 days London, 2 days Paris (i.e., one night). Go to Paris on an early Eurostar, check into a hotel, then start roaming the city before lunch. You'll have all afternoon, evening, night, and much of the next day before you have to return.

    As noted, the Eurostar is extremely convenient as well as comfortable: London to Paris is a lot more fun on the train than on the dreaded cigar tube, er, airplane.

    On the other hand, the Eurostar can be surprisingly expensive, because business travelers find it much more convenient, too. You can get substantial discounts, but only if you buy weeks or months in advance, which limits your flexibility. Please DON'T walk up at the last minute and buy a ticket, unless you already know that you're OK with the price.

    But, of course, other things may not be equal. You may be strong Anglophiles. You may want to avoid eating snails (OK, this is a joke - it's easy to avoid snails in France), You may be intimidated by foreign languages - in which case, don't go to Northern England or Scotland - ouch! ouch! I'm sorry, I'm bad ;-)

    There are indeed 45,000,000 places to go in the UK alone, and with 7 days, you two can have a relaxed time visiting things and still feel like you got your money's worth without wanting to kill each other...

    So, it really depends on how much you want to see Paris. If you really want to, it's perfectly doable...

    Bill

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  • davidjo's Profile Photo

    Re: so confused, too many options

    by davidjo Online Now Feb 18, 2013 at 8:30 PM

    londonforfree.net/walks/inde...

    Here is another good site but still unable to find the one i used.

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  • toonsarah's Profile Photo

    by toonsarah Online Now Feb 19, 2013 at 1:28 AM

    If you only have a week I would definitely stick to just London. There's so much to see and so much variety! As for package v booking separately, it's often a question of price v convenience. Since you're finding planning the trip so confusing you might want to consider the package option but generally I would advise booking separately as being usually cheaper and more flexible.

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  • anilpradhanshillong's Profile Photo

    Re: so confused, too many options

    by anilpradhanshillong Online Now Feb 19, 2013 at 3:40 AM

    I vote for London only, if you have only a week. It's a rich city, replete with history, culture and quaint sites. You just won't get bored. I suggest a day-by-day activity list, based on geographical closeness of the sites. Like suggested above, a walking tour, done alone, may well turn out to be a thoroughly exhilirating experience.

    Here's a link for cards for a walking tour, a few of which I used:

    amazon.com/City-Walks-London...

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  • goodfish's Profile Photo

    Re: so confused, too many options

    by goodfish Online Now Feb 19, 2013 at 3:58 AM

    I love Paris too but will also vote for bunking down in London as both cities are more than deserving of a week apiece. This will also help you to not feel so overwhelmed. :O)

    No, you don't need to book packages although sometimes attractively priced air/hotel packages can be found. Many of us here use booking.com or Venere.com for hotels and both are easy and reliable sites for comparing prices and reviews. A good travel agent can also line up an air/hotel package if booking looks a bit too intimidating for you - but you'd want to compare some prices if budget is a big consideration for you.

    And as also recommended, it's entirely possible to take a day trip from London to Windsor, Bath, Hampton Court or some other interesting locations just a short train ride away.

    We spent a week in London some years ago and never ran out of things to do and see: fascinating city with tons of history, free museums and wonderful architecture!

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  • davidjo's Profile Photo

    Re: so confused, too many options

    by davidjo Online Now Feb 19, 2013 at 4:15 AM

    Yes, do visit Hampton Court Palace and afterwards take the rear exit and head across Home Park which will take you to Kingston. It is a beautiful walk, and if you are feeling energetic proceed along the Thames Walk to Richmond and beyond ending up at Kew Bridge (or gardens). I can really recommend this but it will take you a full day!!!

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  • Re: so confused, too many options

    by atltracy Online Now Feb 19, 2013 at 6:26 AM

    thank you all for your very informative input! i really appreciate it. it does make sense to just focus on london but i don't know when or if we'll get back to europe so that is why i thought we should see paris too. here's another option too--husband has to work in rome in mid-july so i could accompany him on that trip too(one or the other). so, any opinions on seeing rome vs. london??

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  • Dabs's Profile Photo

    Re: so confused, too many options

    by Dabs Online Now Feb 19, 2013 at 6:38 AM

    What you are going to get from these answers is personal preference, I would visit London or Paris over Rome, some of the people on here are going to say Rome over London or Paris. All are wonderful cities. One advantage that London has over either is that everything will be in English, museum signage, bus stop signs, menus, etc. It's not as big of a deal as perhaps it once was, you can always find someone that speaks English in big cities but if you will be traveling on your own in what sounds like your 1st time in Europe, that might be a consideration. Another consideration is crowds, early May is slightly off season, July in Rome will be peak season and more crowded.

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  • goodfish's Profile Photo

    Re: so confused, too many options

    by goodfish Online Now Feb 19, 2013 at 6:50 AM

    >husband has to work in rome in mid-july so i could accompany him on that trip too(one or the other). Lucky you! there really no choosing one over the other as they're completely different cities: it's like comparing apples to oranges. If there is any way you can swing doing both of them, that's what I would suggest. And just as with London, you can easily spend a week in Rome without running out of things to do. You don't need to worry about a language problem either as the Italian service industry in this heavily visited city is well used to dealing with English-speaking tourists. 

    Yes, it will be hot and crowded in July but all the more excuse to take a lot of wine breaks and eat tons of gelato! HA! We can also recommend ways to ease frustrating waits in queues to some of the major attractions, and many free attractions to stretch your budget: very easy to do in Rome!  

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  • mccalpin's Profile Photo

    Re: so confused, too many options

    by mccalpin Online Now Feb 19, 2013 at 6:57 AM

    Tell you what...you go to London and Paris, and let a bunch of us go to Rome with your husband...we'll send you postcards!!!

    Bill

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  • goodfish's Profile Photo

    Re: so confused, too many options

    by goodfish Online Now Feb 19, 2013 at 7:03 AM

    Apologies for the many typos in my previous post. We've just undergone a rather large overhaul of our system here and my eyes (and head) have not adjusted just yet!

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  • Re: so confused, too many options

    by atltracy Online Now Feb 19, 2013 at 8:51 AM

    okay, i think i will stick w/ the london trip. hot and crowded does not appeal to me. now trying to get an idea of cost for this trip. budgeting $150/night for hotels--does that seem fair? i don't need anything fancy, just clean and great location. thinking of arriving on a wednesday morning in paris, then taking the eurostar saturday morning to london, i fly home on that wednesday, he stays to work. basically it would be about 3 full days in each city. worth it??

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  • Dabs's Profile Photo

    Re: so confused, too many options

    by Dabs Online Now Feb 19, 2013 at 9:50 AM

    I've been researching hotels in London and $150 per night is doable. There are a couple of chains you might look at, Premier Inn is a good brand and they have hotels in convenient areas. I've stayed at the one in Earl's Court and it is nice (for my stay with a guaranteed rate it was $119 per night). Ibis is another brand, I stayed at the Ibis Budget in Whitechapel for around $90 per night but it is very basic and the shower opens out into the room. I'm looking at the Ibis in Euston right now, it is $118 per night. I'm also eyeing a few other places, there's a Millennium hotel in the Gloucester Road area that is about $135 per night and the Copthorne Tara near High Street Kensington is about the same. The reason I'm looking at the Ibis Euston is that it is close to St. Pancras where the Eurostar is leaving from. There is also a couple of Premier Inns up that way, for my stay they are more expensive

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  • TexasDave's Profile Photo

    Re: so confused, too many options

    by TexasDave Online Now Feb 19, 2013 at 10:11 AM

    Definitely worth it, 3 days in both cities will only scratch the surface but you'll get to see many of the highlights. Remember to book your eurostar tickets as soon as possible. I don't know if its still the same but a couple of years ago they opened bookings 120 out and from there prices go higher and higher as tickets get bought up.

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  • Dabs's Profile Photo

    Re: so confused, too many options

    by Dabs Online Now Feb 19, 2013 at 10:35 AM

    Actually for US residents it's earlier than 120 days, some weird thing about the trains not being guaranteed at the time posted but they'll still sell them to you, but in any event I already bought mine for late May at the cheapest rate but the Sunday trains were slim pickings at the lowest rate. Book as soon as you are sure you are going and do not wait until you get there to try and book tickets, they will be very expensive

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  • Dabs's Profile Photo

    Re: so confused, too many options

    by Dabs Online Now Feb 19, 2013 at 10:37 AM

    Sorry, I should have said booking on the US site opens before the 120 days, I booked on the UK site so I'm guessing Non US residents can book on the US site.

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  • Beausoleil's Profile Photo

    Re: so confused, too many options

    by Beausoleil Online Now Feb 19, 2013 at 1:02 PM

    I'd say your plan sounds terrific for the time you have. Good choice and I hope you enjoy all of it.

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  • goodfish's Profile Photo

    Re: so confused, too many options

    by goodfish Online Now Feb 19, 2013 at 1:08 PM

    Looks good. You know you won't see everything in either that you could have in a week but you'll get a very nice taste!

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