Monthly Archives: June 2014

Weekly Countdown – 7 Weeks

As promised at the end of my last post, I have spent more time finalising our transport options in Dublin and London.

Dublin – we will arrive by ferry from Holyhead at about 5.30pm on a Tuesday evening.  There are some public transport options from Dublin Port but we have decided that a taxi to our accommodation will be the most efficient use of our time and money.  We have 2 full days in Dublin and most of our sightseeing will be close to the city centre.  I considered the Freedom Card or Hop-On, Hop-Off bus but since we will do a lot of our sightseeing on foot it is really not worthwhile.  We will catch a bus or LUAS to Kilmainham Gaol and then the Airlink bus to the airport on the third morning to pick up our hire car.  This will still only be about 1/3 of the cost of the Freedom Card.

London transport options are much more complex than Dublin.  There are so many variables – how long will you be in the city, how many trips are you likely to make, which attractions will you visit.  The options are endless – Oyster Card, Travelcard (1 day or 7 day, peak or off-peak), London Pass (how many days) with or without travel component, 2-for-1 offers, Heathrow Express vs Heathrow Connect.  Whether to buy a Travelcard online, at a National Rail station, load in on an Oyster Card?  Which are valid for 2-for-1 offers?  Some options can be mailed to non-UK addresses, some cannot.

Paddington Station

Are you confused yet?

The first thing I realised when confronted with making a decision about the transport options was that we needed to consider what attractions, sights and venues we wanted to see.  Not what the passes ‘allowed’ us or what other people thought we ‘should’ do.  So, we made a list.  Some things may not get done and others may be added but we needed a base to use if we were going to ascertain the best value tickets.

Here is what we worked out:

1  We would not get a London Pass (with or without travel) as we would not get value for money due to the things we want (and do not want) to see and do.

2  We would not restrict ourselves to off-peak tickets as these are only valid after 9.30am.  To maximise our sightseeing time we plan to be starting out before 9.30am.

3  Many of the things that we wanted to see and do were covered by the 2-for-1 deals available with National Rail.

4  A Travelcard can be used for the 2-for-1 deals BUT it must be a paper ticket purchased at a railway (not Underground/tube) station.  You cannot purchase it online either nor have it loaded on an Oyster Card.

5  A 1 day (including peak) Travelcard is £9 or a 7 day Travelcard (anytime) is £31.40.  Since we are only in London for 3 days it would be cheaper to buy 3 x single day Travelcards, however, I am going to spend the extra £4.40 to get a 7 day one so that we do not waste time and energy buying a new card each day.

6  We will catch the Heathrow Connect train from Heathrow to Paddington when we arrive on Saturday evening.  We will go to the ticket office and buy our 7 day Travelcards so we are ready to go the next morning.  We will also buy a Two Together Railcard (not to be confused with 2-for-1 offers) which is valid for discount travel throughout the United Kingdom.

7  Here are some of the places we hope to visit with the 2-for-1 deals.  The savings are listed beside the venue.

  • Churchill War Rooms – £17.50
  • Lord’s Cricket Ground – £18
  • Tower of London – £22
  • River Cruise – £18
  • Old Operating Theatre – £6.50
  • Wellington Arch – £4.20
  • Royal Albert Hall – £12

The potential savings are £98.20 based on this sample so I definitely think it is the best option for us.

8  The cheapest transport option for Zones 1 & 2 in London is prepaid travel loaded on an Oyster Card which has a daily cap of £7/day.  My choice is £10.40/day more per person but the additional savings at various sites and attractions makes it worthwhile.

If you are looking for the best deal it is important to do your research beforehand and be sure of what you are looking for.

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Weekly Countdown – 8 Weeks

Another week has passed and we have organised a few more things.Like most travellers these days, we will have an assortment of electronic gadgets with us.  These will need to be charged so we have been looking at the most efficient method of achieving this.

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We will have a netbook, 2 smartphones, 2 kindles and a camera with us.

After doing a bit of research we have come up with what we regard as the best solution.

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We have bought a small power board with 2 power outlets and 2 USB ports.  Additionally,  there is an adaptor for use in the UK which also has a USB port.  By plugging the power board into the adaptor we will have access to the 2 outlets and 3 USB ports simultaneously.

The small black item in the bottom right-hand corner of the photo is a splitter to use to headsets from one audio device.  This cost the princely sum of $6.00 and will be useful for museum audio-guides.

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The cord for the power board winds neatly around the board and is held in place by a rubber clip.

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This lightweight zippered bag is the case for a microfibre towel.  We are taking the towel but I had removed it from the case which I regard as overkill for a towel but it will be perfect for holding various electronic accessories.

My goal for the coming week is to sort out the public transport options for London and Dublin.  More about that next week.

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Weekly Countdown – 9 Weeks

As the title says, it is nine weeks until our trip.  In fact, the flight is scheduled to depart a little after midnight on Friday night/Saturday morning so we will definitely be in London in nine weeks.

Thanks to the wonders of Google Maps I have been able to pinpoint where we will be staying and have worked out that we will easily be able to walk from Paddington Station to our accommodation which is approximately 600 metres from the station.

London accommodation

I have discovered all sorts of gems while trawling the internet.  One is that 200 seats are available by open ballot for the ‘Last Night of the Proms’ concert.  It is 5 days before the end of our trip and our tentative itinerary has us in Cornwall.  Nevertheless, I have entered the ballot and will change the itinerary if we are lucky enough to be successful.  I know that it is a very slim chance but you have to be in it to win it.  We will know whether or not we have been successful in the second week of July, well before we leave.

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