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Great British Rail Deals to London from the Southwest UK

eebee's picture

My daughter wants to show her American friend some of the London sights, so we just went and bought our tickets in advance for tomorrow's journey. From the South West of England you can get a weekend deal for four adults at £20 each (I hope the pound sign showed up!), and two children between 5 and 15 years old for £1 each. So the whole thing for all 6 of us costs about $160. This includes up to zone 6 for the tube (London underground), plus any bus ride in London, as well as buy one get one free entrance to various tourist spots, e.g. Tower of London, Greenwich (as in Meantime) Maritime Museum, various shows, Shakespeare's Globe Theater, Hampton Court. We catch the train at Poole or Branksome and about two hours later arrive at Waterloo Station in London. This is all with South West Trains

My brother-in-law just told me he fills his car up once a month. I think I'm going to cry.


United States
51° 28' 40.6632" N, 0° 6' 55.2816" W


eebee's picture

Red Bull Air Race, London Aug 2 & 3, 2008

Not sure if we'll get a glimpse of any of it but the Red Bull Air Race is taking place over the Thames tomorrow (London) somewhere around the bend in the river near the Greenwich Peninsula. Sounds exciting. Standing room tickets along the Thames are sold out. Maybe we'll be able to peer around some buildings somewhere.
roadskater's picture

That's Funny

What you said about crying about the car fill-ups is funny. Yeah we don't have a viable train system, even where we have passenger trains, for the most part. New York City area is an exception. There's a fitful start but it is not practical unless by coincidence here in North Carolina, and even options to go to Atlanta and back force difficult choices and relatively high prices compared to flying, often.
eebee's picture


Thanks for fixing my accidental duplicate post!

I do wish those behind Amtrak would figure out a way to make train travel financially interesting, but as long as it's not electrical, how could it ever be?




eebee's picture

London: Thoughts & Impressions

It's been at least twenty years since I went sight-seeing in London. It's more stunning to me now than when I was a bored teenager visiting the War Museum :-).

The American group (me, two seventeen year old girls and my 13 year old son) and the British group (my sister's husband and their 11 year old son) caught the 7am train from Branksome near Poole, Dorset - way early for a Sunday - and arrived at Waterloo station 2.5 hrs later. The yanks and the brits split up and the brits took the tube to Greenwich to visit various museums and otherwise learn about clocks, and play at being either east or west of the line at Greenwich Meantime. A big part of me really wanted to do that instead of the usual sight-seeing.

So here's what the American group did: Left Waterloo, walked past the London Eye (big, slow-moving ferris-wheel like contraption), eyed the prices and kept walking (£35 a pop), turned left at the Eye and the Thames and oggled Big Ben, catching the 10am chimes (minus the 'News at Ten' headlines that accompany those bells in my memory), took a billion photos of the adjacent Houses of Parliament, tried not to get run over by a bus or rowdy pedestrian tour groups, took a billion photos of Westminster Abbey snuggled behind Parliament, took another photo of Big Ben from a different angle, headed towards Horse Guard Parade square where they do the Trooping of the Colour each year, saw Nelson's Column at the end of the street and headed for Trafalgar Square, which is right beneath it, took another photo of Big Ben, stopped at a small street Cafe for a Traditional English Breakfast  served by a French girl, bought souvenirs from Lambert's Souvenir shop, hopped on over to the Trafalgar Square fountains and lions, thought it looked oddly different from 20 years ago (found out later it has been changed: traffic re-routed, steps added, bird-poop majorly cleaned up from poor old Nelson's head and shoulders), took yet another alternative angled photo of Big Ben, spied Buck House (palace) from Trafalgar Square and headed down the now pedestrian-zoned Pall Mall - my kids delighting in all the English Monopoly board names they'd learned in a 4 hour game a few days earlier - witnessed a royal guard marching band in front of Queen Victoria's statue by the Palace, tried to take pics of the Palace amidst thousands of tourists, remembered what it was like when cars were allowed in Central London, saw the guards change, walked through St. James's Park to get to Piccadilly and wow what is that really ornate building - oh it's the Ritz: you mean the Ritz?! Stop to put in my 3rd memory card (800 photos later), saw Eros at Piccadilly Circus, explained to bewildered son why there are no clowns and elephants, took the tube to St. Paul's and stopped in the Cathedral for a peaceful Sunday moment, lit some candles and headed out again into a beautiful rain shower, stupidly walking towards Tower Bridge instead of taking the tube, noting the Tate Gallery and Shakespeare Globe Theater across the river on the other side of a funky-looking bridge, got to the Tower of London and listened to my 17 year old and her friend enthuse about the "Other Boleyn Girl" movie, recoiled at the heaving crowds and opted for more English junkfood of Thai Curry and Coriander potato chips plus jelly babies in a cafe under Tower Bridge (the blue and gold one they run across during the London Marathon), sat and people-watched for 45 mins and climbed steps up onto Tower Bridge, which incidentally is made up partly of Portland Stone from Dorset's Jurassic Coast, saw the bridge and road drawn up very quickly to let a tall yet sparsely built ship pass through, pushed and elbowed our way through the crowds back to a tube station and tried to consider how to fill our remaining hour and a half, so squashed ourselves in sardine-style to several tube cars hoping not to either get stuck in the doors or pickpocketed, stood cramped up against sweaty strangers on the tube and watched my 17 year old companions' eyes get bigger and bigger with disgust, made it back to the Piccadilly Circus station and headed off up Regent Street (yet another Monopoly property) to find the old 1980s hippie trinket haven Carnaby Street, which has calmed down now into surfer dude stores and restaurants, and hey that shy little building says "Palladium" on it, I wonder if it's the Palladium?! Strode back off up Regent Street to the Oxford Circus underground and with remarkable ease ended up 4 stops later at Waterloo to meet up with the British team.


What I love about London, Bournemouth and other larger UK cities is the 'anything goes' type of fashion. People wear whatever they want to and the only folk dressed remotely alike are employees in a uniform. I've seen women in bell bottoms, skinny jeans, short shorts, long skirts, dresses, shorts with black hose underneath and bright pink calf boots. If you're dressed safely you stand out like a sore thumb. I find this exciting and extremely liberating. Same goes for hairstyles and color. Now I remember why I used to walk ten miles a day in fashion boots as a young adult, draping multicolored scarves over any type of outfit. Maybe that's why I skate: it's an excuse to wear mismatched extreme clothing in the South :-)


roadskater's picture

That Trip to London Sounds Totally Fun: Forerunner 305?

What a great harried hurried excited report that was! I'm hoping you had the Forerunner 305 on so we can look at your route? Probably too much to ask with all the other things to remember and carry! A Google Earth Thumbnail map would be incredible though. I'll be hoping to carry mine the next time I go touroning, perhaps to replace the "lost" photos of Washington DC I've never located on my computers...among some others. When I lose photos or geo or heart data, it's like I don't get "credit" for it ever happening. Regarding the "uniform," one thing really troubling high schoolers and younger in anonymous essays I've graded over the past few years, from varying states of the USA, is the pressure to wear Abercrombie & Fitch or Hollister or whatever is the latest (apparently Nike custom shoes and clothes DIY style are catching on). There were two general kinds of district-influenced responses...maybe three...one, where students thought how horrible it was to be judged by your clothes; two, where students were worried about getting shot for various reasons, or stabbed, largely based on clothing identifiers red and blue, but other gang-related markers. A third group were made of students apparently so blessed or cursed with fortune and isolation that I wondered how they'd fare if they ever took a bad turn literally or figuratively and landed on the streets. I say just start wearing clothes like you're in London and let people get over it! I can't always do it myself of course, as I have a basic unimpressive uniform that involves a dry-fit type shirt and some shorter than fashionable but not like 1976 shorts, unless after skating, where I'll be in the Tour to Tanglewood lycra under same dry-fit or maybe even a skate jersey. I'm too old for youngsters to care except to make fun and giggle, which is fine by me, and most others have enough stress in their faces that their opinion wouldn't have much weight for me even were I to know it! No use hiding in a grey Tour de Lions shirt unless skating alone at some remote park I say. Yes thank goodness for skating and cycling jerseys. Otherwise guys in the USA would in the greatest majority would only wear limited boring notches of the full spectrum of the CMYK gamut! When mocha brown is a "hot" new color, you know you're on dead street...even if it looks good venturing "so far" from shades of grey (which is better than gray I say, despite my being from the US of America...too much reading of English literature perhaps?). My USA spell checker still doesn't like grey. Tell us more! What was the trip on the train like, and the train? How fast? Clean? Crowded? Closed-in or open? Bumpy or smooth ride? Sounds fun! See any skaters much and if so were they coneheads, stairmasters, commuters, fitnessites, speedmongers?
eebee's picture

nothing so smart!

GPS? No. I blew a fuse while packing to come over and couldn't handle whether to bring my forerunner gps or not, so I left it in the US. T'would have been great to see how many miles we wandered, dodged and darted in London yesterday.

Funny! A guy got on our bus today wearing a T-shirt that said "Grey is the new black". I hope not.

I forgot to gush about the trains! Wow, what an improvement over 20 years ago. The South West Trains are spanky new, clean, roomy and so quiet!! My brother in law explained that they have updated the trains, which don't even make the ker-chunk ker-chunk noise any more as they roll over the tracks. I didn't get any photos of the train! The nice, clean-smelling train cabin has orange colored, velvety seats and grey tables & walls. We were even sat in a 'quiet' zone. Laptop outlets available - just stay away from Mr. Bean and his cappuccino. Gracias.

The train journey stayed mostly pleasant and rural through Winchester, until the glamorous Clapham Junction, where the scenery took on a more reality-check haggard appearance, and eventually when nearing Waterloo, the view became more glossy with big-money buildings.

timv's picture

People so busy, makes me feel dizzy, taxi light shines so bright

A Brit-rock reference in every reply...:

Terry meets Julie, Waterloo Station, every Friday night
But I am so lazy, don't want to wander, I stay at home at night
But I don't feel afraid
As long as I gaze on Waterloo sunset, I am in paradise

Once again it's a pleasure reading your reports and enjoying a bit of your visit vicariously.

Regarding colorful clothing, I've noticed that the multicolored running shorts I've always worn now only seem to be available on eBay, and that the auction listings all have a word such as "sexy" or "gay" in their titles. Not that there's anything wrong with being either of those things (as Seinfeld would say) but I never felt burdened with having to embrace or reject such associations in the past.

Judging from what's available in local sporting goods stores, dark grayish red is the new red, dark grayish blue is the new blue, dark grayish green is the new green, etc.


eebee's picture

My my

"A Brit-rock reference in every reply...". Yes! And possibly Swedish Cheese. I had a nice medley of ABBA's Waterloo plus Ray Davies' wobbly voice and blurry lyrics (since I don't actually know the words) of Waterloo Sunset circling round my head the whole way around London. Thanks for posting some of them. I even attempted to take a photo of a boundary fence around some construction (possibly for the future Eurostar facilities - some fast train link to the continent via the Chunnel), which listed however many thousand trains, x million travelers, and something like 4,253 Waterloo Sunsets. But the photos I took disappeared. Ya had ta be there.

Brit mop-top reference: we passed a cafe today in Bournemouth called Norwegian Wood.

Bill Wyman reference & back to London: at Trafalgar Square I had "Si si, je suis un rock star" blaring in my brain - as in: said she came from Rio, lived on a mountain, I met 'er in Trafalgar Square, she was sittin' in the fountain, she took off 'er 'at, and she 'ad lovely 'air...

eebee's picture


Some things are incorrect in my London report: We did not go through St. James' Park but through Green Park instead, to get to Piccadilly. St. James' Park is the other side of the Palace. We did not go down Pall Mall but simply The Mall, which was closed to traffic as we were there on a Sunday. Pall Mall is one street across. I believe traffic is therefore still allowed to circle Queen Victoria ad nauseam outside Buckingham Palace during the week. We did not pass Go, and neither did we collect 200 pounds (no pound sign key any more). :-(

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