Help me confirm logistics for my London (& side trip to Paris and Belgium) trip: money, phones, maps, tickets. Bonus question on finding fountain pens.
After getting some very good substantive advice
on my trip, I have a number of logistical questions. I've done my Googling and reading other forums, but answers are often contradictory and many of those threads are old. I've ironed out most of the logistics but wanted to confirm the following.
(1) (Where) is there a Barclays ATM in Heathrow Terminal 3 and a BNP Paribas ATM in Paris Gare du Nord?
(2) I am planning on purchasing an Oyster with a 7-day travelcard (£29.20) for Zones 1-2, and PAYG for a zone 2-6 roundtrip (Heathrow>Hammersmith, £2.60 off peak one-way). Does the travelcard "kick into effect" on my first zone 1-2 trip? Do you have to tell it to start? And did I interpret the TFL fare chart correctly?
(3) I will be transferring Eurostar > RER at Paris Nord and Thalys > SNCB (Belgian local train) at Brussels Midi. I assume RER and SNCB tickets are not sold on Eurostar/Thalys, respectively and I'd have to purchase these at the station?
Phones and maps
(4) I am figuring out options for a mobile phone in the UK. Normally I wouldn't go to the hassle, but I am staying with a friend, and it will help tremendously to be able to contact her. I plan to text mainly; data is not necessary. In the US, I have an iPhone 4S with Verizon. It looks like I have three options:
(a) Based on the website, if I use the GSM roaming per minute it will cost $0.05 to receive an SMS/text and $0.50 to send.
(b) Purchase a super cheap, as bare bones as possible pay-as-you-go phone with just texting and voice. How much would this be? I did this in China, but clearly the UK and China have wildly different costs of living.
(c) I can also try to do the Verizon "international unlock" and get a local SIM card (in which case I might be able to get data), but for personal reasons I might not be able to do this.
Which would be best in terms of pricing and hassle? (4a) and (4b) are definite options, and I'm curious how much a local SIM card for (4c) would cost if I could do it.
(5) Are there any iPhone London map apps (paid is fine) you would recommend? Roaming data on my iPhone would be $20.48/MB
...so don't want to pay for data just to check maps.
Random: the fountain pen
(6) I had a friend, a student, from Germany who gave me a cheap fountain pen and I was enchanted. Are there these mid-range fountain pens, marketed towards students for instance, in the UK? If so, where can I find them?
Thank you! I'm very excited.