EOS Travel and Tours, Inc.

One of my all-time favorite pastimes is planning trips. I adore buying guide books (yes, I know, I can do it all online today), I love reading up on what to see, then beyond, I love mapping out the day by day events.

Now, to be honest, on really big adventures when we go for weeks (think Alaska, South America and Southeast Asia), we’ve hired a tour company to plan our itinerary, to have at hand tour guides to get us through red tape and be our interpreters. We’ve laughed many times that if we hadn’t had a guide with us in Vietnam, we’d still be at the Phu Bai airport in Hue. Not kidding.

For our autumn adventure across the Atlantic on the Queen Mary 2, no planning needs to happen. None whatsoever, other than packing. We show up, find our deck chairs, and let the merriment begin.

queenmary2

We tossed around a million ideas of what to do after the voyage – Barcelona was the dreamy destination, Paris, Rome – but in the long run, for convenience sake (and pocketbook too), we’ve decided to stay right in jolly old England and be ugly American tourists in London. We have four-and-a-half days, which should be plenty of time for the key things on the list.

3409369009

I bought three highly recommended books for London. First, Rick Steve’s Pocket London
(oddly, I never watch his TV show nor do I care for where he stays etc) but his book is superb, compact, easy to read, easy to stash in a pocket or handbag, and lays out tons of good tours and tips.

Out of the back of his book I tore the map and have circled all the places we hope to get to. It’s an ambitious four+ days which will mean up and out early and gone all day, but we’re hearty tourists and in the autumn, the weather should be far more amenable to long days than it is now in peak summer.

The other two books I bought are the NatGeo Walking London* and The London Map Guide, both as portable as Rick Steve’s book, easy to put in the day bag while walking.
[*The Walking London book is the one open on the left of the photo above. Excellent detailed street maps, laid out in grid form, with Tube stations etc]

We’re hitting the basics – Tower of London and Tower Bridge, that whole area of London the first day, including a cathedral or two and maybe lunch or dinner in the Old Spitalfields market.  A cruise down the Thames for sure, on a totally touristy boat and end the day with the London Eye, or as locals call it The London Eyesore.

Day two and three are jam-packed – Westminster Abbey, Big Ben (which I hear will be all draped in scaffolding when we arrive), Houses of Parliament, Churchill’s War Room, and a one hour walk in Rick Steve’s book called the Westminster Walk.

Of course, Buckingham Palace, Horse Guard Parade, Changing of the Guard, Queen’s Gallery, St. James Church, high tea somewhere fancy, like Fortnum and Mason, Trafalgar Square, Serpentine Gallery, and dinner at a pub (I’ve gotten lots of suggestions of good local places).

Day Four, Greenwich. The Observatory and straddling the Meridian. Then out to Dulwich, the college and to see The James Caird, the wooden boat that Earnest Shackleton sailed for 800 miles and 16 days, from Elephant Island to South Georgia Island, after his ship Endurance was crushed by the ice in Antarctica. Miraculously, Shackleton and all his men survived. I’m sure there are plenty of pubs in a college town to enjoy.

There are other things on the list that’ll fill a half-day- Borough Market, walking through SoHo and Chelsea, but we are skipping all big museums – no Tate, no British Museum, no Victoria and Albert…

As always, feel free to throw us suggestions – real pubs, hidden gems to see, people to follow on Instagram or Twitter who might be helpful…my go to of late has been Wendy Perrin – she and her family were just in London and her IG feed was very helpful, giving us more food for thought. She also has a great travel blog. 

One question: Should we take the time to go to Oxford?

PS: It’s a a STUNNINGLY gorgeous day today. The a/c is finally off – all the windows and doors are wide open. I feel like a human being. Aaah.

21 thoughts on “EOS Travel and Tours, Inc.

  1. I think you have it pretty well covered. A few thoughts: It’s afternoon tea – not high tea. High Tea is more like a cross between tea and dinner (may also be an Australian thing, not sure about that)!! Fortnums or the Ritz. Tends to be more northern than southern. Dont miss the Whispering Gallery in St Pauls. Walk though Covent Garden if you can. It was the old fruit and veg market and has been completely redone. A bit touristy but worth a walk through. it runs parallel to the Strand. Did you book the london eye, dont just show up you may have a long wait. The walk along the south bank from the Eye to Westminster in front of the old GLC (Greater London Council) building is worth doing. That has been completely redone over the years. How about the Millenium bridge – havn’t done that one.

    It might be tough to do Oxford as well, maybe save that for another visit.

    You are making me quite homesick, but am going over in October.

    Enjoy

    1. Love the suggestions! Whispering Gallery. Duly added. Covent Garden was on List A. Not sure why it didn’t make List B. Will go back and see what we can tweak.

      And thanks for the correction re tea. I’m just a schlub NY.

      I finished the second revision of our itinerary. It still needs a Mr. EOS stamp of approval before getting tickets. We do plan to get as many tickets to things ahead of time, and Oyster cards too. Not quite there.

      Great minds think alike. London in October. 🙂

  2. It has been a few years since I’ve been in London but I used to take short breaks there when fares were reasonable and easy to book last minute.
    Harrods was always on the agenda. The food halls, musical instruments, pet department and appliances. Appliances both small and large often showed great design. Those departments were perfect for window shopping because it isn’t simple to bring that stuff home. Stroll down Bond St and check out the tiaras. Burlington Arcade. I find shopping a real chore and hate to do it but London has such interesting shops that I found it fun there.
    I think I’d skip Soho and keep Chelsea.
    The Maritime Museum at Greenwich is wonderful.
    You might consider dining at Rules unless it has become too touristy.
    My favorite guide books are the ones by DK Eyewitness series.

    1. Ha, shopping. I was going to make up a fake London itinerary of all shopping – from Harrods to flea markets to arcades to Chelsea and present it to Mr. EOS as the real deal….just to get his reaction. 🙂 He hates to shop, hates going through shops, so I’ve tried to weight the visit to more things he might like since I’ve been to London more than he.

      We have lots on our Greenwich itinerary – most definitely the Maritime Museum. Thanks for adding your opinion that it is worth a visit.

      High on our try to have a meal at list is Nopi, from the owner of Ottolenghi. I don’t know Rules so I’ll go and look it up. Always appreciate suggestions. Otherwise, I imagine most of our meals will be low key, catch as catch can, preferring to spend more money o n sightseeing then eating, although I can’t not hav some good fish and chips and ale.

      I love DK guide books but they are just too heavy this trip. We’re going totally light during the day, me with a over-the-body pocketbook, that’s it.

    1. Thanks. We gave it a lot of thought, staying for the game, but we figured we could see games at home and that wasn’t our first reason for going to London anyway. You’ll have to live blog for us.

  3. Get a popout city map for London. Amazon has them. They’re really small and ridiculously useful. And, a Time Out London magazine as you get nearer sailing.
    I read a few recent reviews of Rules and it doesn’t look all that great these days. The Guinea might be worth a stop. There was a good review of it in the Guardian last spring. I’ve eaten there and enjoyed it quite a bit. It’s a bit hidden off a Mayfair square.
    We bought the winning tickets for tonight and tomorrow so we may see you in London….

  4. I spent about 6 months in London in 2001 and my favorite pub was the Churchill Arms, recommended by my co-workers. Don’t know if it still has the same busy but low key vibe these days, and I’m disappointed their website says something about celebrities. Maybe they were there then also, since I couldn’t be bothered or pick most of these people out of a lineup. If you do go, hoist a pint of London Pride for me and report back. It is on my list to revisit. They still have their Thai restaurant, which was an odd touch. It was very good and cheap.

    http://www.churchillarmskensington.co.uk/

    I don’t know the pub recommended by Mr85Broad, but I love that area around the South Kensington tube station. Had a heavy French influence, and was a good area to find good coffee and food, both of which were then harder to find than probably now. I will check out that pub myself, given the opportunity.

    1. I love having readers who are so well-traveled and knowledgeable. It sure makes my planning easier. Thanks. I have saved to my favorites bar both Angelsea and Churchill Arms. Maybe we skip the sightseeing and make the four+ days a pub tour and report back on pints consumed??

      We looked at hotels in South Kensington and although there were many listed as 4 and 5 star, none appealed to us. Very trendy (not us). One hotel showcased a tub in the bedroom, under the window. If you guys know anything about me from FWIW, I detest tubs in places other than in the bathroom and never at or under a window.

      null

  5. You have an ambitious itinerary! Having done a similar trip in April 2015, my best advice is to purchase your entrance tickets to places like Tower of London and St. Paul’s on-line the night before your visit. The price will be discounted and you won’t need to wait in any lines at the venue to get your ticket. You simply show the bar code on your phone or iPad, get your pass and walk in. This saved us boatloads of time and kept my 11 year old from getting grumpy. I admit to skipping a tour of Westminster Abbey because the price has gotten quite steep and my daughter doesn’t have enough history under her belt yet to really get something out of it. It will wait for another trip.

    We enjoyed our trip to the Royal Observatory, Greenwich (yes, the other one!) and straddling the prime meridian. The parks were beautiful; April ’15 was warm and all the flowers were blooming ahead of things at home. Agree with Swanton about the Maritime Museum being worth the trip. From Greenwich, we took the touristy boat ride back up the Thames to London Bridge.

    My daughter refused to consider the London Eye (the height freaked her out) but I cajoled her into climbing to the top of St. Paul’s. Thank goodness for the encouraging docents in the Whispering Gallery who convinced her she wouldn’t fall off the dome or I never would have gotten her up those steps! St. Paul’s audio tour was terrific; don’t skip that.

    1. I have indeed created an ambitious itinerary but thankfully, what I put on paper is simply a suggested list- mapping out what we want to TRYand see. What we actually get done will be what we feel like getting done but I do hope we hit many on the list, if not all. Like we might skip Dulwich and spent more time in Greenwich and take the boat back instead of the train.

      The London Eye is the least important on the list and if it doesn’t happen, I don’t care. I would like to go up though.

      Thanks for the tips on when and how to buy tickets. The other aspect I can’t forget is making sure one of us has an iPhone data plan for England before we set out.

      1. You don’t need the data plan for London for this kind of stuff. Simply book online and you’ll get the tickets emailed to you. Download the email in the hotel with wifi on to your phone (or iPad, in my case). Show the email at the pick up window. Free! (I didn’t own a smartphone in 2015. Call me a Luddite. )

        1. Thanks for that tip but as a blogger, Tweeter and IG user, I expect to heavily use my phone so I will investigate the plans beyond hotel wi-fi. If I want to post a photo on the fly to my blog and not wait until back in the hotel room, I want to make sure I don’t come home to a $2000 cell phone bill.

      2. While it’s been years since we went to London, we booked our Tower of London and London Eye tickets while still at home in the US. Go to the Tower of London 1st thing in the morning, it’s great to be 1st in the door and walk by the long cue and breeze right in. Go to the Tate late for an evening view out the window, and the Saatchi Gallery, King’s Rd is different and worth just seeing the building.

    1. It’s the only place the Queen has dined? How sad she never steps out and beyond her castles. I wonder who picked up the tab. I don’t imagine the Queen carries plastic in her ubiquitous purse.

      I’ve added your recommendation to the list. Thanks.

Comment 100% Anonymously. No email address required.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s