A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, and the lawn mower is broken. - James Dent
Question #4729 posted on 04/05/2004 midnight
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

This summer my parents are letting me go to Europe for 3 weeks. I want to spend two of those weeks in Norway. Where should I spend the last week? I was thinking maybe Paris 3 days, London 3 days. What is a good itinerary? Also, whats a ballpark estimate of how much roundtrip airfare will cost from california?

Thumb E. Lina

A: Thumb E. Lina,
Cool for you. I'm going to London for 2 1/2 days on the last leg of a Europe trip in May. I'm so thrilled.

For airfare. Now, you didn't say where you are flying from in California. That could change some things. But are you flying to all of these locations or taking trains? Trains are sometimes cheaper, but it depends how much you'll be traveling. For an example, let's try traveling from San Francisco, California, to Oslo, Norway, and also for the sake of the example we'll say that you're traveling from mid-May to mid-June, and you're not flying anywhere else. If you are a student, you can get a ticket on studentuniverse.com for $821. If you are not a student, well, it's going to be a lot more than that. And it will be more if you decide to fly to London and/or Paris. But try Ryanair.com, where the flights are a pound, or a few euros. Then they add tax and flight fees, but the entire trip is still dirt cheap. The only catch is that little airlines such as Ryanair fly to less-than-prestigious airports, so you'll have to compensate the cheap flight by taking another bus to get to/from the airport, etc. I don't know about Paris, but London Stanstead is an hour outside London, so you'll have to ride a bus to get from their to The City.

Anyway, my favorite part: travel sights. There is no way in the world you can do London in three days. But I'll throw out the top sights to see, and you'll just have to decide what interests you the most, but I'll put them in the order of things that I would recommend.

LONDON

Westminster Abbey--go on the tour. It's about $10 but it's ABSOLUTELY worth the money. GO HERE if you don't go anywhere else. (Circle Line, Westminster station)

The Houses of Parliament--only view from the outside unless you're a huge architecture buff. Besides, tours are hard to get and you might have to wait a few hours, so your time could be best served elsewhere. (next to Westminster Abbey on the Circle Line, Westminster station)

The National Gallery/Trafalgar Square--one of the greatest collections of art in the world. GO THERE for at least a little while. Anyone who knows me knows that my favorite collection is Monet. Wave at my relative, Lord Admiral Nelson, at the top of his pillar in the Square. Go to St. Martin-in-the-Fields and see when they're doing a free concert. (Charing Cross station, Northern or Bakerloo line)

The Tower of London--Yeoman Warder tours, England's crown jewels, and tempermental crows. Go here too. It's such a fascinating place. (Circle line, Tower of London station)

And of course, The Tower Bridge. It's next to the Tower, so at least take a picture. Walking on it is not that exciting.

St. Paul's Cathedral--a must see. You don't have to do the tour unless you have time. They'll take you to the top of the Cathedral--it's a ton of stairs, and takes at least two hours to do the entire thing. But Lord Nelson is buried in the crypt, so that was kinda exciting.

Piccadilly Circus--kinda like Times' Square in New York City. Just fun. It's also by the Theatre District, if you feel like seeing any musicals or plays. Go if you have time. (Piccadilly station, Piccadilly line)

Shakespeare's Globe--take a tour of the replicated Globe Theatre if you're a fan of Shakespeare. It's pretty cool.

Harrod's--just go in for a bit 'cause it's the largest department store in the world, and the place is absolutely ginormous. (Knightsbridge station, Piccadilly line)

If you want to shop a bit, I recommend Portobello Road--as featured in the movie Notting Hill(Notting Hill Gate station), or if you're adventurous and decide you don't care about anything else, Camden Town is fun (Northern Line, zone 2--about a pound more to get there than usual). In London, you can also shop at Oxford Circus, Regent Street, and Bond Street.

OUTSIDE LONDON(otherwise known as day trips):

Greenwich--see the Royal Observatory, home to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Stand in two hemispheres at once! If you like navy stuff, visit the National Maritime Museum, and see the display of my relative, Lord Admiral Horation Nelson. To get there, either take a cruise boat down the Thames from Embankment, Westminster, or The Tower of London if it's a nice day(50 minutes to Greenwich), or take the Tube to Bank and change to the Dockways Light Railway, which will take you to Cutty Sark station (20 minutes).

The City of Bath--Jane Austen's house, the Roman Baths (my favorite), and famous architecture of The Royal Crescent. If you go to the Roman Baths (which you should), visit the pump room and taste the water... I won't tell you any more about it. :) Get there from King's Cross Station (the one they filmed Harry Potter in), and it's 50 minutes one way.

Oxford or Cambridge--I like Oxford better, but if you're a fan of Harry Potter you'll like Christ's Church, where you can see the great banquet hall. And either go punting or rowing on the river (in either city); it's quite fun. Especially punting.

Windsor Castle--the official home of the monarchy for many years. You can see the Changing of the Guard here better than you could at Buckingham Palace. You can get there on the train either from Paddington Station or Waterloo Station--40 minute train ride.

PARIS

Arc de Triomphe/Champs-Elysees--The Arc is at the top of the Champs-Elysees, the most famous street in Paris. Walk down it so you can at least see the BMW store. Oh and dine in at a little cafe.

Eiffel Tower--duh. If you want to go to the top, do it at night, but the lines are usually longer. It's about 10 euros to go, but worth it. So cool. It's over in area of Paris called Trocadero, closer to the Arc de Triomphe.

Rodin Museum--see great sculptures such as The Thinker, The Kiss, and The Gates of Hell. The Rodin is closer to the Eiffel Tower.

The Louvre--another awesome museum with everything in it that you could imagine. It used to be a palace, and it's still huge. I went there three different times for four hours over the course of three days and still didn't see everything. You'll want to get a map, find something that interests you, then go there. It helps to ask someone for directions, 'cause the building is put together like the HFAC and the JKHB combined--crazy hallways.

Orsay Museum--a GREAT collection of Impressionist works. I was in there for four hours on the third floor--it's great stuff. It's across the river (south) from the Louvre.

Notre Dame Cathedral--one of the most famous cathedrals ever. Hello Hunchback...

Latin Quarter--around the corner from Notre Dame. This was a center of Roman Paris.

Pompidou--the most intereting modern museum I have ever been in. Modern art. No me gusta, but we had fun making fun of the stuff. So I don't appreciate modern art, sorry.

Sacre-Coeur and Montmartre--this place is way on the north side of Paris--use the Anvers Metro stop. The Sacre-Coeur is a Byzantine-looking church which is pretty cool. Go there so you say you've been there. Be careful of the gypsies who will make bracelets, tie them to your wrist, and demand that you pay for them. These two things are in the red-light district, so don't go there at night. Actually, you probably shouldn't go there at all, but we went because we wanted to see the windmill at the Moulin Rouge...

If you run out of time, take a river cruise down the Seine. And MAKE SURE YOU EAT CREPES!!!!! Nutella is the best.

OUTSIDE PARIS:

The Palace of Versailles--This palace is outside Paris, actually, but you can get there by bus. The thing is absolutely huge. Plan on spending hours there if you go. Definitely see the Hall of Mirrors if you can't see anything else. To get there, take the RER-C train (30 minutes) from Musee d'Orsay, Invalides, Pont de l'Alma, and Champ de Mars. Any train that has a V on it goes to Versailles.

Well, ok, I hope that helps you out. Thank you for letting me answer the funnest Board question I've had in awhile.

- Duchess