Tuesday, April 26, 2011

We Sure Do Love London!

When we last discussed travel, we were enjoying Vienna, and promising to do some impulse or holiday trips to London and Paris. As a frugal traveler, I am usually keeping my eye out for the vacation bargain. Our first effort at this was an impulse trip with our grown children to London over Thanksgiving.

In late October and early November the airlines often put many of their European flights on sale due to most people going home to grandmas’ instead of thinking about a travel experience. When I spotted these sales, I got thinking about how much fun it would be in London for a long Thanksgiving weekend. Even flying out of Seattle the price round trip was impossible to pass up. The per person flight price was just over $200. To check out a future son-in-law, we also took him along to see whether he would be compatible with the “traveling Warren family.” All five of us made it to London for just over $1100 total.

Well, that sounds good, but what about the room costs in very pricey London? When browsing the travel section of a bookstore, I came across a book titled “Sandra Gustafson’s Great Sleeps London” (Chronicle Books 2002). This was just what the frugal guy needed! This book gives you district by district low priced suggestions that can just fit the pocket book. Most offerings also include a full English breakfast which further saves on a third of the meal costs. We needed some special housing to fit three women, and two males. We surely wouldn’t want the young unmarried’s sleeping together! Thus we needed a room for three and one for two, so I could reside with my future son-in-law. Great Sleeps gives you hundreds of options and valuable information as to the nearby underground stations, bus stops, and nearby visitor sites. The newest version of the book also lists the web sites and e-mail addresses of most of the hotels and B & B’s in the book. Recently, I used the most recent edition and was able to book the room I needed on the internet.

So now we have covered the transportation and lodging. What about the outrageous cost of meals, especially if you have your whole family along? Again, Sandra Gustafson helps out with her book “Sandra Gustafson’s Great Eats London.” The book lists restaurants in every neighborhood and every type of cuisine at very reasonable prices. I would also suggest that because of the many great public parks in London, you might put together a lunch picnic on occasion. London is a very easy city to get around because of their terrific transportation system. You can buy bus and underground day or week passes and save a lot of money when criss-crossing the city. To select your sightseeing selections many of the greatest tourist venues are free of charge, such as the British Museum, British Library, the National Gallery of Art, the Tate Art Gallery, and the National Portrait Gallery.

Finally, you can’t visit London without experiencing live theater. We always try to figure out how to see a play or musical every night we are there. (This also cuts down on buying dinners!) To keep the cost of theater tickets reasonable, we most often visit the half-price ticket booth in Leicester Square. All but the hottest shows will usually have half-price day of performance tickets available. You can visit the half-price ticket facility in advance at www.officiallondontheatre.co.uk .

Well, I guess we didn’t get to France on this visit because of having too much fun in London. Next time we will visit Paris, or maybe Prague and Bud
apest. You will just have to wait and see!
(Published in the Fall 2002 ABA Judicial Division Record)

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