London - best time to go this autumn, best area to stay close to the British Museum, favorite second-hand clothes stores, favorite museums (of ANY sort), absolute Musts of a non-touristy sort (my boundaries: changing of the guards is OUT, High Tea somewhere lovely is IN).
Bonus: great guided walks.
Bonus bonus: can I get in to the taping of a BBC radio/TV comedy/panel show?
This lifelong Britophile is finally going to spend a week in England this year for her birthday. Huzzah!
Most of my planned activities are easy enough to pick for myself - a few days at the British Museum, an afternoon in Kensington Gardens and/or Regent's Park, a weekend visit to Notting Hill - but for others it would be nice to hear from fellow travellers and locals.
Note: don't need any restaurant recommendations as I'm quite looking forward to noshing on a big bag of groceries from Marks & Sparks, but I would like to indulge in fish and chips in a twist as often as possible.
1. Timing. Luckily my vacation time is after the Olympics are over. I can go either two weeks after the Olympics, or three weeks after. Does a week either way make a difference as long as they're over?
2. Location. I'm leaning towards Bayswater/Paddington as being affordable and within an hour's walk of my three target activities (an hour's walk is a pleasant vacation activity for me). If that's not a great choice, let me know! I also see Bloomsbury/Soho, Victora/Westminster, Hampstead/Camden Town, and Kensington/Earl's Court.
3. Second-hand clothes shops. My favorite kind of souvenirs are second-hand clothes; they've lived a while in the city and remind me of it whenever I wear them. I'll be using the Charity Retail site
and this TimeOut article
to look up shops, but are there any great areas/shops I shouldn't miss? I'm not looking so much for vintage as for everyday stuff.
4. Museums. Britain is home to more museums than I could shake a stick at in a year and I've only got a week. I'm assuming at least 2-3 days of that will be taken up by the British Museum (I am very museumy). Are there any of your favorite beautiful, weird, wonderful, amazing museums that shouldn't be missed? Art, oddities, history, culture, I'm open to pretty much everything.
5. High Tea. There's a lot of choice, but I'd want deliciousness to be the first consideration, and a place where I could be comfortable with a book and respectable but not fancy traveling clothes.
6. Bonus round: Walks! Secret London
has a bounty of do-it-yourself walks, but I'd love to take one or more guided walks. London Walks
has a dizzying variety of choice, even when I look at specific dates - any recommendations? I'd also heard of a walk that goes into the old city buried under London (which may or may not be considered as part of subterranean London
), but I can't seem to find it now. London walks has one that does it from ground level ("Underneath you is something interesting, too bad you can't see it muah-haha!"
), but it's not available when I'm there and I want to actually go down and see the real thing, be it the buried city and/or part of subterranean London.
7. Double Bonus Round! I love all British radio/TV panel shows, comedy shows, literary readings and adaptions - I still listen to Bleak Expectations on a regular basis because it is FANTASTIC, adore QI, Just a Minute, Would I Lie to You.... just everything. How possible would it be to try to get into a live taping of, well, anything? That would really be a fantastic birthday present... the only reason it's low on this list is because it's probably a pipe dream, but you gotta have a dream.