Archive for the ‘itineraries’ Tag

London – Bad Food, Worse Weather

 

London City AttractionsRandom Observation/Comment #137: Whenever I think of London, I think of Shanghai Knights with Owen Wilson and Jackie Chan.  I’m always afraid that I’ll meet a very good looking girl with ugly teeth there.  Do they just have bad dental plans? *shutters* Poor dental hygiene is a deal breaker.  I’ve also learned from this movie that I should never touch those red coat guards with the beavers on their head.  I hope they get to shoot something after they switch shifts – I know I would if I had to deal with those annoying tourists.  Even though I’m sympathetic for their pent up rage, I will probably take a lot of funny pictures and harass the crap out of them.

General Research:

  • Currency: GBP = approx. 1.47 USD (2/8/2009)
  • Transportation
    • London Underground/Tube
    • Bus – sure, but living in Long Island, I’ve gotten the sensation that if you take a bus, you’re automatically poor. Experience from NYC shows that the bus is for the more experienced commuters.  I rather just “subway it” or walk everywhere.
  • Main attractions
    • Free museums (suggested donations)
      • Tate Modern
      • Tate Britain
      • British Museum
      • National Gallery
      • National Portrait Gallery
    • Free/popular Parks
      • St James Park* – nice pictures posted
      • Hyde Park
    • Westminster Abbey
      • Big Ben
      • House of Parliament
    • Buckingham Palace* – make fun of guards
    • Trafalgar Square* – quick place to drop by and take a picture
    • London Eye* – observation wheel for pictures, but 15 GBP and usually requires 1-3 hour queue.  Better to buy tickets online for discount and avoid lines.  Specific times are assigned
    • Tower Bridge
    • Tower of London
    • St. Paul’s Cathedral
    • Regent’s Park* – Royal park
    • Hyde Park* – another recommended royal park
    • Piccadilly Circus* – The Times Square of London
  • Shopping areas
    • Covent Garden
    • Soho
    • Oxford Street
  • Pubs and Bars – see the bar crawl map from Frommers

Optimized Days:

  • Day 1: Westminster Landmarks
    • Take Tube to Knightsbridge station from Piccadilly line
    • Change of guards at Buckingham Palace at 11:30AM
    • St. James’ Park (head East)
    • Imperial War Museum – Cabinet War Rooms
    • Westminster Abbey, Houses of Parliament, and “Big Ben”
    • Cross Westminster Bridge to the Waterloo station
  • Day 2: London Eye and Museums
    • Take train to Russell Square
    • British Museum
    • Walk South to National Gallery
    • Piccadilly Circus (in afternoon) to the West in Trafalgar Square
    • See Westminster Bridge at night
    • British Airways London Eye (think about reserving online)
  • Day 3
    • Tate Modern near Southwark station (walk North)
    • St Paul’s Cathedral (continue North)
    • Tower of London (walk East)
    • Tower Bridge
    • Walk West towards Tower Bridge Station
  • Day 4
    • Kensington Palace and garden from High St. Kensington stop
    • St George’s Chapel
    • Hyde Park (head East)
    • Head west to Victoria and Albert Museum
    • Royal Albert Hall
    • Walk East
    • Bulgrave Square
    • Piccadilly Circus (at night)
  • Day 5 – Window-shopping?
    • Oxford Street
    • New & Old Bond Streets
    • Burlington Arcade
  • Day 6
    • Petticoat Lane
    • Camden Market
    • Shopping on Portobello Road
    • Beauchamp Place for window-shopping

Resources:

~See Lemons go to London

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Anal itinerary planning

 

 

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Hey, Spot 🙂

Random Observation/Comment #136: I think I have a severe case of OCD to the point where I am obsessed about not showing how obsessed I am about a plethora* of different topics.  In a sense, this level of obsession cancels all other compulsive actions and forces me to act normally.  My brain is a mess.

 

I’ve decided to post the results of my research in a series of blog entries (I’ve already done so much work, so why not?).  These entries will give my first impressions of the cities based on the research.  The results of these entries could then be compared to my first-hand experience after I reach these locations.  I will list all of the places that are popular, and then narrow down to the places I’d personally like see.  The last filter will be the places that I have time to see and how I will be able to fit these places into a detailed itinerary.  I would effectively be doubling the size of this blog if I completely do this, so I’ll try to keep it as bullet-pointed as possible.

The subsequent entries will cover the following cities, going in order of my visits:

  • London – Bad Food, Worse Weather
  • Hamburg – The Long Island of New York
  • Munich – From Drinking to Drunk
  • Lucerne – Skiing and Beautiful Girls
  • Interlaken – The Center of Extreme Sports
  • Berlin – Hopefully it can be deemed “the City”
  • Prague – Suggested favorite with high alcohol consumption
  • Amsterdam – Legal Drugs
  • Cologne – A Famous Castle and some roads
  • Heidelberg – A Famous University and some roads
  • Brussels, Ghent, and Brugge – Beer and Chocolate
  • Luxembourg – More Castles
  • Paris – Could it be anybody? I need somebody to Love.
  • Nice – Wine and beaches
  • Dublin – Guinness (period)

Each of these blogs will be separated into the following sections:

  • Random Observation/Comment – hopefully relating to the location
  • General Research – main places that people have recommended with my opinion for the must-sees.  I will separate these by Regions.
  • Optimized Days – places I will hopefully go – resources will be given for maps, itineraries, and general information

Although I like writing, this planning was purely from my hours of reading blogs and copying and pasting ideas.  I like to be thorough.  Hopefully, this will act as a good summary for those who consider similar travel plans.

~See Lemons with First Impressions

*”… I got bling up the ying; A plethora of Porsches; I say anything ‘cause my mouth is remorseless; Even the Source says my hip-hops a vortex; Leave horse heads on doorsteps, my mic-checks cost Corvettes; …MC Chris owns; I want to go to an MC Chris show; but he doesn’t tour so in the mean time; I’m gonna memorize all of his rhymes”

Like, really knowing your destination

 

Zen moment.

Zen moment.

Random Observation/Comment #135: This has nothing to do with the entry’s topic; hence, random.  I have been listening to a few Terry Pratchett audio books read by Nigel Planar (thick British accent with a perfect aural rendition of the character Death).  Recently, I’ve put on this soothing reading before I sleep, but I always pass out before the chapter finishes – these books have been taking forever to finish.  Anyway, I’ve noticed that the British narrative I hear while I’m falling in and out of consciousness has given me the most bizarre dreams.  The best dreams I’ve had so far is with “Interesting Times” as a part of the Wizard series in the Discworld book set.  At some point towards the end, there’s an epic battle between 8 old barbarians and a million soldiers.  I’m never really sure what happens, but my dreams play it out with a lot of violence and hilarity.

 

 I started my research about two months ago, but it seems I keep finding better searches in Google, travbuddy , tripwolf, Yahoo!Travel, wikitravel.org, random travel blogs, and other sites to help me create an optimal itinerary.  I started by just Google-ing “Things to do in <city>,” “<city> suggested itineraries,” or “<city> attractions.”  The top results helped me find the main websites represented by the government or tour-businesses in these major cities (i.e., [dot]gov or [dot]info sites).  For the most part, the descriptions were all very factual, but the purpose of the websites was all to pull the user into paying for the tour. 

What I wanted was a resource to get some general background information, so travelwiki provided a nice guideline covering “How to get there,” “Things to see,” “Things to do,” “Local transportation,” “Places to eat,” “Sleep,” and a few other major topics.  This a great start, but doesn’t necessarily help map your locations.  Looking through all of these major sites, you will be able to filter the “Must-sees” in the area, but what’s important is how your day unfolds to include all of these “Must-sees” efficiently.  To help me understand some very nicely written user reviews and blogs, I looked to Yahoo!Travel.  This site basically created a database of major sight-seeing attractions combined with a map and an easy-to-use travel blog.  The purpose of your blog could be to write detailed accounts of your travel days, or to simply just pick the places you’ve visited that day as a reminder of your location. 

What I applaud about this site is the main connection between the place you’re researching and the existing blogs that include these places.  This means that when I search for main attractions of a city, I will see a list of most popular viewed blogs that include this person’s full itinerary and recollections of their trips.  Some people may use this to vicariously live their lives through people’s memories, but I’ve found it a great resource to search for a plausible solution for the Traveling Salesman problem.  I’m sure Frommer’s guide has a great set of optimized itineraries, but you can’t just suggest one itinerary for all the different types of people in the world.  My taste may very well fit a fellow users’ writing styles and passions in modern art, so if they ‘highly recommend’ specific stops, I will include these into my itinerary. 

It’s interesting how I’ve performed the same information gathering technique when engaging in conversations with adults that have traveled in Europe or around the world.  I speak to them about random topics that I enjoy, and then weigh their responses to suggested destinations based on our matching tastes.  If we have interests in the same things, I would most probably like what they liked to see.  I guess if I say, “I’ll add that to my itinerary,” I’m assuming we have similar interests.  I feel like Frommer lacks in this department, although it’s not their fault because they can’t possibly write all of the itineraries for every location and type of person in this world. 

It’s true that my method of research will take a bulk of your time because I tried every single technique possible to absorb information about the world.  I chose to obsess over people’s pictures and read countless blogs just emphasizing their reflections of each sight.  So does this work for me?  I honestly feel like I’ve spent a very large amount of time reading and not enough time sitting down and planning where I will stay, how I will arrive to the first stop, where I will walk, what I will see along the way, what I can eat (local specialties), and how much money I will spend.  If I were to do this all over again from the beginning, I would probably focus on these main issues because no matter how much you read, there will always be places that just don’t live up to your expectations.

At the end of the day, I think the most efficient way for a photographer who enjoys nature and a few museums to plan their trip are to use one of the traveling social networks I listed in the beginning, and review your location’s pictures.  Sometimes you’ll pass by a photo that just makes you say, “Wow, I’m definitely going there.”  In retrospect, the trip will be worth it if you have a handful of those moments when you think, “Wow, I’m so glad I’m here.”

~See Lemons Research Endlessly