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July 22, 2011 4:27 AM   Subscribe

Travel rec's!!! I have a ten hour layover in Reykjavik - what should I do??? Also - I have a getaway weekend in London - where should I go???

Hi there- I'm a 34yo female from Chicago and am going to London to take a hat-making class, because why wouldn't you, right? I'm fairly well-traveled, but have not seen much of Europe.

Reykjavik: I, in no way, speak Icelandish (?). I will be getting there very early on Saturday, August 6. I was thinking of just going to downtown and walking around - what do you suggest???

London getaway: Really - it's overwhelming because there's so much there!!! I'm there two weeks, my boyfriend is coming at the end and we're planning on going to Bath, Stonehenge & Oxford together before we venture up to Scotland. I was thinking of going to see the King Arthur stuff in Cornwall or the Shakespeare stuff in Stratford-on-Avon. I could also do something totally different and be totally satisfied. I really like old, historical-type, cute towns and I don't want to get too far away from London.

Can't wait to hear your thoughts!!!
posted by ashtabula to opelika to Travel & Transportation (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
For London, I recommend you pick up the Lonely Planet London Encounter Guide. I have lived in central London (Bloomsbury) for years. A guest of ours brought this guide with them and I thought it was very well organized with great recommendations.

There's plenty of cute historical stuff in London. I'd recommend this London Guided Walk. Yes, its focused on legal London but its one of the more interesting and overlooked parts of London in my book. And hasn't changed too much since Dickens.

Cornwall is really far from London. You can use this website to get an idea how long a trainride is.

Bath is a gorgeous town. I wouldn't miss it. Stonehenge is a dissapointment since its all fenced off and overcrowded.
posted by vacapinta at 4:41 AM on July 22, 2011


It's quite a journey from the airport all the way into town, and downtown is small, but if you're keen there are a few interesting museums to visit. However, I highly recommend the Blue Lagoon spa which is closer and also has a bus service to/from the airport. I wouldn't worry about the language barrier, many people there speak at least some English.
posted by Cuppatea at 4:42 AM on July 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


(Sorry, should have mentioned above answer about Reykjavik!)

Re: Cornwall, agree with Vacapinta that it's pretty far from London. But if you *do* get to Tintagel, it is so worth it. Bristol and Bath are a lot closer, and have some of the distinctive southwest feel/culture (esp Stokes Croft in Bristol).
posted by Cuppatea at 4:44 AM on July 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Reykjavik: Hmm the airport is quite a drive from the central city. about an hour or more i think.

There is a bus you can take that goes to the Blue Lagoon spa and City. If I had 10 hours in Iceland I'd probably just go hang out at the Blue lagoon and try and get a serving of Harkarl+ Brenivinn in the smaller village neat the Airport.
posted by mary8nne at 5:06 AM on July 22, 2011


If I had a ten hour layover in Reykjavik, I'd make sure to get some króna (the Icelandic currency) and a shotglass that said Iceland (or Reykjavik) on it. Then again, that's what I do in every country I go to.

Then again, I know I've seen at least a couple of MeFites who are from Iceland. Perhaps you could arrange an impromptu meetup for a drink or two?
posted by AMSBoethius at 5:36 AM on July 22, 2011


The language is called Icelandic. Don't worry, most people have a good conversational grasp of English.

The Blue Lagoon is a good recommendation. Downtown is small but lovely, especially if the weather is nice. If you like museums, there are a bunch downtown, almost all within about fifteen minutes' walk of each other. Since you'll be there on little sleep, I recommend getting coffee. Kaffismiðjan, Kaffifélagið and Café Haïti are your best bets, though most places have good coffee. The local English-language biweekly magazine recently published a Best of Reykjavík issue and its a pretty good guide (disclaimer: I was one of the people who took part in selecting various best-ofs).
posted by Kattullus at 5:37 AM on July 22, 2011


Blue Lagoon is a good plan. You should be able to get there and back and spend a nice amount of time there. And they have the crazy hotdogs with everything on them (and ice cream) as well as a nicer restaurant (if I remember correctly).

There are tour companies pretty much dedicated to Blue Lagoon trips from airport.
posted by countrymod at 5:39 AM on July 22, 2011


Iceland: Depending on what time you get in, but generally: Pile out and go in to Reykjavik, about an hour on the bus, enough time to pop up to the Cathedral, wander back down the hill and walk along the sea front, pick up some cofeee and cake on the main street and have a general wander around, then bus to the Blue Lagoon, relax for a couple of hours and get the bus back to the airport.

Cornwall: Tintagel is up there with Newquay as one of the least attractive places in Cornwall - horribly over-touristed, covered in crappy Merlin's crystal grotto shop garbage. Not too far away is Port Isaac, which despite featuring in a tv show is still lovely. Padstow and St Ives are also nice on the north coast. There are a number of also very lovely towns and villages along the south coast of Cornwall, see here for examples on both coasts. Plus the Minack theatre at Porthcurno. It takes at least 4 hours London to Cornwall (add another hour to go to west Cornwall), either driving or on the train, and the train is pretty pricey. If you drive from London to Cornwall consider going via the M3 and then A303 as this will take you right past Stonehenge.
posted by biffa at 6:16 AM on July 22, 2011


the Blue Lagoon is a tourist trap, and totally worth the time and money. It's a hair ridiculous, but it's also lovely and extremely relaxing and convenient and rad.
posted by entropone at 6:46 AM on July 22, 2011


In Iceland, rent a car for the 10 hours and drive around. The country is absolutely breathtakingly beautiful and because it's small you can see a lot on 10 hours.
posted by LZel at 6:46 AM on July 22, 2011


But yeah, you can't really go wrong just walking around in Reykjavik. Plenty of people speak English, so no worries. Go to the top of Hallgrimskirkja. Walk around Laugavager (sp?). Hang out in a cafe. Check out the waterfront.
posted by entropone at 6:47 AM on July 22, 2011


For cutesy towns in Great Britain the Cotswalds would be a good bet and since you are traveling north to Scotland why not stop by the Lake District in England. Some of these are a little touristy but depending on when you are going might fit the bill. London- just walk around I believe the National Gallery and the British Museum are both free to enter with good audio tours available for a few pounds. Enjoy the trip.
posted by Odinhead at 10:31 AM on July 22, 2011


Just returned from a week in London and did not see all of the historic stuff I would have liked to. The museums are great and free - add the Tate Modern as well. If you don't mind spending some money, I truly enjoyed Westminister Abbey and Jeremy Irons narrates! Hyde Park is a wonderful place to wile away the day - be sure and find Princess Diana's memorial.
posted by JXBeach at 11:01 AM on July 22, 2011


Second LZel. Rent a car and drive around. Reykjavik is nice, but the countryside is spectacular. There is a short circular route that loops off the main road to the airport that will take you past the southern coast, lava fields, hot springs, a glacial lake and a horse farm. Take 41 east, turn south on 43 past the Blue Lagoon to Grindavik. At Grindvik you can get breakfast and go down to the ocean. From there take 427 east along the coast. Turn north on 42 and it will eventually put you back on 41. It's about a 2 hour drive plus whatever stops you might want to make along the way. You should still have time to stop at the Blue Lagoon or swing around the west end of the peninsula if you want. My wife and I have driven that route twice in tiny econo cars, but it's mostly gravel so, if you decide to go that way, you might want something a little bigger.
posted by chrisulonic at 11:02 AM on July 22, 2011


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