Eurfirst Trip to the United KingdomUpdated November 23, 2007
Perhaps the easiest place to start a trip to Europe is in the United Kingdom where you'll find so much history entwined with vibrant cities that host a diverse population from around the world. In London, you'll find great theater, shopping and sightseeing; head toward the country and you'll get a taste of great cheese, ales and lovely farmlands
Your flight from North America will drop you at London's busy Heathrow airport. From there, you can get to the center of London by car, taxi, bus or train, including the famous underground. The most affordable route takes the Picadilly underground on an hour-long ride to the city center.
A typical week in London is spent touring castles and dungeons, watching the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, climbing the tower of London and strolling down the aisle at St. Paul's cathedral. So many of these places are part of our distant history and part of our modern perceptions of England as the news about British royalty and celebrities fills our TV screens.
Though we speak the same language, idioms and accents can sometimes make communication adventurous. Even BBC America recognizes the problem that Americans may face when dealing wiht native English speakers in their current campaign offering closed captioning.
Most Americans start their trip to the United Kingdom in the capital. London is a city filled with history that is familiar to us. It is also a city with great theaters, shopping and a very cosmopolitan selection of dining opportunities. As the dollar continues to drop in value, it is also a place with major sticker shock. You can hold down costs and protect against further devaluation by booking in advance and making certain that you book in US dollars.
You can easily get around the city by public transportation and taxis when you are traveling to distances that are more than a brief walk from your hotel. Unless you are the most devoted driver, a car for time in London is more trouble than it is worth.
A good place to start a walking tour of historic London is by the Tower of London, with the lives of so many political prisoners ended. From the Tower, you should head to the dramatic tower bridge that is one of the iconic images of the city. If the walk across the historic structure inspires you, there is a museum that will tell you more about Britain's most famous bridge, but you may want to save the admission fee to pay for lunch or dinner.
Head west from the Tower Bridge on the south bank of the Thames to City Hall. The modern "glass onion" is a dramatic example of British contemporary architecture that is particularly beautiful when it glows at night. Admission during business hours and on some weekends is free. Head to the viewing gallery where you will can get great photos of many of the city's other attractions.
The next attractions on the walk are a World War II cruiser, the Belfast, moored in the river, and a small stroll away, the Churchill Museum that takes you back to the horror of the Battle of Britain and shows you what life in London was like as Hitler pounded the city. The current cost of the Churchill Museum is about $20, but you can print up at discount coupon that will save each visitor about $3.
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