When I was discussing our European honeymoon my wife and I picked out four cities. My first choice was London. I wanted to visit London after watching BBC shows like Sherlock, Dr. Who and Luther. One of my favorite holiday films is Love Actually, set in London.
We were able to purchase Lebara SIM cards at Heathrow airport for £25. They also had other options in a vending machine but a Lebara representative gave us a good deal. We were able to get 5gb of data and 500 minutes of talk time.
We got into the city on a train from Heathrow to Paddington station. It was about £10 each person. From Paddington we purchased an oyster card to use on the Underground/Tube. We didn’t buy the all day passes and instead opted for a pay as you go. The train and bus system was easy to navigate, especially using the City Mapper app. We would also take Uber rides if we stayed out too late or had to go to a place that was out of the way.
London was the most expensive place for travel. The daily cap for fares were £9.40 but I’m sure I paid more than that in fares based on credit card statements. London is the worst in public transport cost if you’re staying under seven days.
We stayed in North Peckham in the Southwark borough. London has great public transportation and we were able to get to any area of the city fairly quickly using the bus system.
During the planning of the trip, we picked places we had to visit: Buckingham Palace, Tower of London, Big Ben, Westminster Abby and the London Eye. We also strolled through neighborhoods like Soho, Covent Garden and Notting Hill. There were a lot more places but it would be boring to list them.
The Tower of London has a lot of history. The former fortress holds the crown jewels of the monarchy. Crowns of past kings and queens are also on display as well other royal regalia.
We were able to get tickets to the play “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” at Palace Theater. It was my first large theater production and it was a great experience. I’m a fan of the Harry Potter series but I didn’t want to read the screenplay for the Cursed Child. I was hoping they would make it into a movie or I would watch it live. Thankfully, the theater had tickets for sale. We didn’t realize how fortunate we were until we talked to people at the Harry Potter store in Kings Cross Station.
Before heading to London I researched some stores I wanted to visit. Orc’s Nest is a famous game store in London that has a large selection of table top games and accessories. They had a small wargaming section but no Warmachine or Guild Ball models. I wish we had a game store like this back home.
We purchased SIM cards in London, Paris and Rome. We did not purchase SIM cards in Amsterdam, instead we used our previous SIM cards and roamed. This lasted about three days into our trip to Amsterdam which was enough.
Airfare and Transportation
I booked my tickets using Kayak and my train ticket using Eurostar. Each city has a different system for public transportation which we picked up after landing. We also used Uber for a few rides in London and Paris. This was the first time using Uber and it took a few rides to get used to using it and the etiquette when using it. The app didn’t update numbers when switching SIM cards which I found out the hard way. Overall, I had a great experience with Uber and the drivers I interacted with.If you plan on using taxis to get to your accommodation, use a legitimate one. Their will be people asking you if you need a taxi in the airport terminals and some of them are not legitimate. Make sure they have a meter and a taxi sign or licence. They prey on tourists and will overcharge you.
Another great app to download would be City Mapper. This app was a lifesaver on the trip. It requires an internet connection but you can use it offline if you save routes. You pick a starting point or use your GPS location and pick a destination. The app then calculates the quickest route to your destination including all forms of public transportation. It also calculates driving, walking and rider sharing apps like Uber. This made navigating the city that much easier. It doesn’t have all major cities so check the website to see if the one you’re visiting is on there.
Some currency exchanges have commissions and the trading rate was higher than the bank rate. Make sure you inform your bank before traveling. Most banks will lock your account since withdrawals from a foreign country looks suspicious.
My wife and I have a travel friendly credit card. We do not get charge foreign transaction fees and we get the best dollar to euro/pound conversion rate as opposed to cash. The rates are made by Visa which is close to the bank currency exchange rate.