Posted: 6/17/2019 11:31:00 PM EDT
Apologies in advance for the wall of text.
Looking at a good deal from an airline on a holiday package to the UK with airfare and car rental for the last couple of weeks of July for my 10 year old daughter and I.
My background: I have traveled to nearly 40 countries throughout the world. Last visit to the UK was almost 20 years ago. Traveled all over back then: London, Cotswolds, Bath, Lake District, Scotland, York, etc. Feel comfortable driving in Britain. Feel comfortable in most situations traveling throughout the world in general but am used to doing it alone and not with my daughter, of whom I am pretty protective. Looking at flying into LHR and driving around the south of England this time around. So.....a few questions.
1. You hear all kinds of things on both sides of the pond through the media and are led to believe that everything is going to hell. I know that this does not reflect reality....neither here in America nor in the UK. So my questions: What is the reality on the ground there? Outside of London and taking the usual precautions to avoid bad places, things and people.....are there any particular dangers? Any worries about driving around mostly rural areas of southern England and seeing the sights with a 10 year old? Do we need to prepare our respective anguses or is there no need to worry about the hordes of newly arrived Mohammedans reported to now occupy every square inch of Britain?
2. As part of the package, we pick up the car at LHR on day of arrival. I don't really want to spend a lot of time in/around London and I damn sure am not about to drive a car there but I think it would be nice for my daughter to see the highlights of London on a day trip so I am thinking it might not be a bad idea to pick up the rental car, drive to a nearby town/city on the first day, spend the night and travel by train into London for a whirlwind one day trip on Day 2 to hit the highlights. Is this a good idea? If so, what's a good option? I was initially thinking that Windsor might be a good option for this, but on closer inspection it looks like it will probably be mobbed with tourists that time of year? What about Reading? I know it has good transport links with London....is that too far away? Oxford? Other places?
What are the absolute must see/do things if one were to have 1 day in London?
3. Have the knife laws really gotten as retarded there as it is made to seem? I'm really not even looking at carrying a knife for self-defense but more for utility. Am I OK discretely carrying a Swiss Army knife? How about a small folder?
4. Any general recommendations for 9-10 days? I really liked the Cotswalds, Bath, Glastonbury, Avebury, Lake District last time around but it was a really hectic schedule and it felt like I was driving all of the damn time. Would like a relaxed tour this time.....any recs? We like WWII history, pubs, castles, cathedrals, museums, historical sites, walks/hikes and I want my daughter to get a good general feel for British culture. I am 49 but in very good physical condition. Planning to make lodging arrangements as we travel with possible exceptions of pre-booking 1st and last nights. No objections to seeing a bit of Wales or other areas further afield if its worth it. What do?
5. Lastly, good options on where to spend the last night with rental car prior to early afternoon departure from Heathrow? Reading, Windsor, other? Maybe just stay near LHR in a motel?
Many thanks from this Yank.
[Last Edit: Scope-eye]
1. Keeping out of the dodgy areas (you'll know just by driving through) and you'll be fine. Out of the main cities I doubt you'll have any trouble at all unless very unlucky (just like anywhere in the World really).
2. It might be better to stay in one of the airport hotels for the night and get the Heathrow Express underground in to the centre of London. From there you can get an open topped bus tour, a great way to see a lot very easily, and/or travel around the tube to the various sites - Buckinham Palace, Trafalgar Sq, Parliament, Piccadilly Circus (these all are within a few minutes walk of each other). You can get an oyster card or tube ticket that allows unlimited travel around the tube network for a day at a reasonable price, the hotel should be able to help with that. A trip up the Thames on the river taxi is nice too, you can get that from near Westminster Bridge (Parliament) and you can get off at the Tower of London (a day in itself if you want to see the Jewels).
3. You can carry a small folder BUT NOT FOR DEFENCE. As long as you are not brandishing it around it won't be an issue, but you don't really need one unless you are thinking of wild camping or some serious macramé whilst waiting for a train.
4. South Coast is great and all the places you mention. The Lakes are a good day's drive north, but in the S there the Imperial War Museum at Duxford near Cambridge, the Tank Museum at Bovingdon on the south coast (and a great historical abandoned town of Tyneham in the tank firing ranges to visit if they're not shooting). The south coast is stunning countryside and the cliffs are full of fossils just waiting to be found. Portland (a small island/peninsular on the south coast) has a great small US D-Day museum that is hands-on. Stonehenge is a bit of a let down, you can drive by and see it, job done (unless you really want to see something very old up close that is)
5. Depends what time your flight leaves. If late then you can travel in to drop the car but if it is early you might want to be nearer the airport. Windsor is a lovely place, the castle is recommended to visit so staying there is not far from the airport but will be a bit more pricey than other places just out of town.
Enjoy your stay and I hope the weather will be kind to you. There is so much to see and do that it can get hard to fit it in and the temptation is to do too much in one day and not really relax and enjoy the place. You can always come back next year and visit again.
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