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Logistics around Edinburgh, London and Paris
February 6, 2012 8:56 AM   Subscribe

Some special snowflake-traveler logistics questions about 12 days in London, Edinburgh and maybe a minute in Paris.

A few years ago I traveled to Basingstoke, UK and asked about what to do there. I'm going back soon and will absolutely eat again at Wellington Arms which was recommended in that thread. So I'm back again with some questions NOT about Basingstoke this time.

We're flying on a Weds night, arrive Thursday morning at Heathrow. Our intent is to get to Edinburgh and stay until Sunday when we'll train to Basingstoke where we will work for the week. What would folks recommend to get to Edinburgh? Land in Heathrow at 7am and just get on a 9am or later flight to Edinburgh or tube to train to Edinburgh? They appear to cost the same. We'll be staying in the Old Town section so I don't know travel-wise which is smarter. Definitely taking the train back because we've never seen any of that part of the UK, even if it is just a glimpse out the train window.

So work all week in Basingstoke and then mid-Friday train to London where we're staying in Camden til Monday when we fly back to the US in the evening. Original intention was the entire weekend in London. Alas someone mentioned the train under the channel.. so since we've been to London before, I'm wondering do we take one day and go to Paris?

I've never been and it blows my mind to imagine getting on an 8am train and being in Paris before noon! The idea was to be there all day and take one of the last trains back (8:45pm). Is this bananas? Has anyone done it just for a day trip?

I appreciate any advice!
posted by jdl to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total)
 
A day trip to Paris is totally feasible, I did it with a 6am train but then there's the tiredness trade off for an extra two hours there. Are you doing the trip in february as the adverse weather may affect the London-Edinburgh leg.
posted by ellieBOA at 9:15 AM on February 6, 2012


I'd vote for flying into Edinburgh, if only because you'll be wonky from jet lag and will probably fall asleep on the train, thus missing the scenery.
posted by rtha at 9:18 AM on February 6, 2012


I've never been and it blows my mind to imagine getting on an 8am train and being in Paris before noon! The idea was to be there all day and take one of the last trains back (8:45pm). Is this bananas? Has anyone done it just for a day trip?

Yeah, its just about 2.5 hours or so each way so it is totally do-able as a day trip. I've known other Londoners who go to Paris for meetings then back.

The cheapest fares are usually on the first train which I think is before 6am - I guess most people cant even get into London that early - but I lived walking distance from St. Pancras. It is early but then you're having breakfast in Paris and also lunch and seeing a few of your well-selected things, then dinner and a train home.
posted by vacapinta at 9:28 AM on February 6, 2012


Another vote for fly to Edinburgh. Dealing with getting into London with luggage during rush hour to get a train up there will be way too much hassle and probably take much longer overall. The only reason I would get a train to Scotland rather than fly is that getting to the airport is a huge pain. You'll already be there so take advantage of that.

And I agree, a day trip to Paris is very doable. I've known quite a few people who have done this.
posted by peanut butter milkshake at 10:13 AM on February 6, 2012


Its definitely doable but when I was traveling a lot for work I'd always try to figure out the ratio of time spent traveling (door to door and back again) to time spent on the ground. I'd say 1:2 is probably reasonable. London-Paris-London would be about 1:1, right?

(Qualifying factors to this rule may include: there's a really compelling need to be in that place at that time; the mode of travel is part of the experience; money; frequent flier points; sex.)
posted by RandlePatrickMcMurphy at 10:30 AM on February 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've done the land in London -> train to Edinburgh thing, and I vote for flying if it will cut time off the trip. I was so strung out from jet lag on the train that I couldn't do simple math in my head (I had a 5£ note and was trying to see if I could get two sandwiches and two drinks out of it) and the restaurant car attendant asked me if I were sick. I couldn't get comfortable enough to sleep, and thus the trip was several hours of living hell. Anything that could shorten that would be good, IMHO.
posted by telophase at 12:17 PM on February 6, 2012


Yeah, if it costs the same, fly. There's no point traipsing all the way over to King's Cross. The bus from Edinbugh airport will drop you by the rail station which is right in the middle of town, between the Old and New Towns (tram works permitting).

And if you're after scenery on the way back, sit on the left hand side of the train. The view's good down as far as Newcastle, with some cracking coastal scenery. Gets a bit flat and boring after that though.

Day trip to Paris is certainly doable. Camden's very handy for St Pancras, too.
posted by ComfySofa at 2:23 PM on February 6, 2012


I've done an overnight train to Scotland from London, and I would not really recommend it- you still have to watch your stuff, you can't really sleep....so nthing flying direct.

And yes, day trip to Paris is very doable! Just be extra wary of any weather conditions that look like they might arise, the Eurostar has not dealt very well with winter in the past. Have fun!
posted by jetlagaddict at 2:39 PM on February 6, 2012


I 've done a daytrip to Paris when there was a specific exhibit I wanted to see.
posted by brujita at 4:09 PM on February 6, 2012


I think I'd fly as well. It takes an hour to get from Heathrow to King's Cross by tube, and by the time you've cleared immigration/customs/baggage reclaim, you'll be hitting central London in the rush hour, and that's no fun, especially with baggage and tiredness. You won't make the 8am train, so you'll be on the 9am one, which arrives at Edinburgh Waverley at 13.25.

The flight from Heathrow to Edinburgh takes about 1.5 hours. Getting into central Edinburgh from the airport is currently a bit of a pain, because of the roadworks caused by the tram project. An hour, maybe 30 minutes if you're lucky with the traffic. But still, if your flight's taking off at 9ish, you'll get into central Edinburgh at about 11.30 at the latest, which gives you a couple of extra hours for tactical snoozing in a proper bed.
posted by HastyDave at 5:06 PM on February 6, 2012


I'd vote for flying into Edinburgh, if only because you'll be wonky from jet lag and will probably fall asleep on the train, thus missing the scenery.

Also, I wouldn't want to navigate the tube while possibly not having slept on the plane, during rush hour. Airports are easier to navigate on minimal sleep than public transit (or even most train stations).
posted by madcaptenor at 5:19 PM on February 6, 2012


Thanks so much everyone. As always, I'd like to mark every answer as the best.

We'll definitely fly. Good reminders about how tired one is when they land. I flew to Ireland (shannon) once, rented a car and drove right to Galway. It was all I could to do not drive on the sidewalks when I was in towns. I had forgotten that experience. So staying in the airport sounds smart.

@ComfySofa, thanks for the left-side of the train tip for the way back.

And we'll do Paris, yay! I looked it up and St Pancras looks almost walking distance from where we'll stay, so maybe the 6am train is doable. Can't believe I'll see Paris. Thanks again, all.
posted by jdl at 9:43 AM on February 7, 2012


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