Local Travel - How Do I Get There From ? (And General UK Travel Hints & Tips)

Discussion in 'FanForce: Conventions Europe' started by LAJ_FETT, Jul 24, 2006.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. LAJ_FETT Tech Admin and Collecting/Games Mod

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    May 25, 2002
    star 9
    I live fairly close to London - out near Heathrow Airport. I am fairly familiar with trains/tubes. (Not so familiar with buses though). If anyone has questions on getting from the airports to London, or getting to the event from their hotel, this is the thread to ask. Hopefully I or one of the other London-based folks will be able to answer.

    I will also be adding some useful site links into this first post as we go along.

    Links
    ============

    BAA - London airport information. Pick your airport from the list for airport and local travel information.
    TfL - Transport for London - information on buses and the Tube
    Trainline - The TrainLine - get information on rail travel into London. Find train times, book tickets. I use it mostly for train times - have never booked through them.
    Currency Converter - Find out just how much the trip will cost in your local currency


    Other Hints/Tips
    ================

    • Most bank ATM cards can be used to get money here though you will probably incur a charge. However, if you have never used your card overseas check with your bank before coming - a friend of mine found a card from a US credit union that wouldn't work here. Cirrus and Maestro are the main ATM networks. If you have a card for something else post it here and I will try to find out what bank machines handle it.

    • Credit cards - Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted. If you have never used your card overseas or you don't travel a lot have a word with your bank before coming. Let them know you will be using your card in the UK so they don't think it has been stolen.

    • Travel from the airport: Black cabs can pick passengers up at the airport terminals for the trip into London. They are your most expensive option, however. Heathrow is served both by train and tube. Gatwick has a fast rail service into London but I am not sure on frequency or cost. Check the Gatwick section on the BAA website linked above.

    • Chip-and-PIN: Just about all places that accept debit and credit cards here now use the Chip-and-PIN system. Your card is put into a reader and you enter its PIN number to verify a purchase. If your card doesn't have this facility then you might have to ask to sign instead.

    • For those coming from the US - our power is different than the US and electrical items like laptops, phone chargers, hairdryers, etc. might need current converters. The plugs are different as well so even if your item is dual current you will probably need a plug converter. Try a travel store or a place like Radio Shack for these.

    • As pointed out below by DarthBreezy, UK DVDs and VHS tapes will not work in US players. The DVDs have Region 2 encoding (unless they are billed as suitable for any region) and the VHS won't work due to differences in the UK TV system. So give those a miss. CDs are OK though, but they will be more expensive than in the US. PS2 and X-Box games are also region-encoded.




    More hints to come as I think of them. If you have questions just ask! :)

    With less than a month to go, I am stickying this in case people need travel helps & hints.

  2. DarthBreezy Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jun 4, 2002
    star 6
    The TFL is a great place to get travel passes if you're comming from out of the country and don't want to mess about with tickets. (If I go I'll probably just load up my sister's borrowed Oyster though ;) )

    And remember to plan for extra time - for the love of the Force, if you are making the trip from over seas, and this is your first visit spend some time exploring the city. Now that the reign of the Iron Lady is over, a lot of the sites are FREE.
  3. DarthBreezy Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jun 4, 2002
    star 6
    Something to remember - England vidios PAL - unless oyu have a reader than can do both NTSC and PAL, those DVD's and bootleggy vid's won't play over here!
  4. Ellbobin Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 30, 2004
    star 4
    The Tube will be your best friend. It goes right to Earls Court as well as nearly everwhere else you'll wanna be going.
  5. AmberStarbright Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 20, 2002
    star 7
    Same goes for video games
  6. LAJ_FETT Tech Admin and Collecting/Games Mod

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    May 25, 2002
    star 9
    Good point, Breezy - I will add it up top.

    The Tube is great when it works. When I went to the LFCC I had problems though. It was a scorching hot day (90s F) and when I went to leave I was told at Earls Court station that no Tube trains were running to Richmond (where I needed to get the train home). I ended up going to Gunnersbury and getting a bus. And it wasn't air-conditioned..
  7. AmberStarbright Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 20, 2002
    star 7
    I was going to say that normally they run rail replacement buses.

    On travel, try to avoid taxi's as they are really expensive but if you do have to get one get a few people to share and that you should get a licenced black cab.
  8. LAJ_FETT Tech Admin and Collecting/Games Mod

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    May 25, 2002
    star 9
    Mini-cabs are usually safe if you have phoned for the cab. Do not use drivers that tout for business at restaurants, clubs, etc. The only cabs allowed to pick up business on the street like that are black cabs. There have been robberies and worse by touting mini-cab drivers.
  9. Obi Anne FF admin Celebrations, Europe

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    Nov 4, 1998
    star 7
    Never trust the timetables for the trains. :p As long as you keep within London that shouldn't be a problem though.
  10. Lord-Tice Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 20, 2001
    star 5
    Beaten to it again, pesky seminars :p

    London has a huge emphasis on public transport and you can get to Earls Court using either tube, train or bus. What?s more, it will cost no more then £6.50 per day, per person and that will allow you to travel across London through-out the day if you want to ;)
    In some cases (depending where you?re staying) transport will be cheaper and there may be some offers you can take advantage of at the time.

    Once you?re in London, the best maps for you to have (apart from a street map) would be the London tube map and the over-head train map, known as the Connections map.

    The tube map can be found here: Tube Map

    The Connections map can be downloaded as a PDF from this site (Click on London Connections link): London Connections

    The Connections map also features the tube lines too, but the white ones indicate over-head train lines. This map also shows the different zones. There are six zones, central London being covered by zones 1&2 and places like Heatrow being covered by zone 6. Generally, the safe thing to do is get a travelcard for all 6 zones, and it only cost about £1 more then a zone 1 travelcard.

    How to get to Earls Court

    There are two options. Firstly there is Earls Court tube station which is just outside the main entrance. Earls Court tube station can be found on the District and Piccadilly line and is located South-West of central London.

    The second option is to go to West Brompton station. West Brompton is just outside Earls Court 2 and a short walk will take you to the main entrance. West Brompton also has tube trains and over-head trains, so you have more options depending where you are coming from.
    For example, if you were to stay in Clapham, you could get a train from Clapham Junction direct to West Brompton. This means you can afford to get a cheaper hotel outside central London and still have easy access to the venue :D

    Airports

    The main airport that serves London is of cause Heathrow. There are two ways to get from Heathrow into Central London. Once again we have the tube, with Heathrow being served by the Piccadilly line. This takes about One hour and is covered by the above mention travelcard.
    Or you have the Heatrow express. It's more expensive but much quicker, and takes you into Paddington.
    Here's the Heathrow express website: Heathrow Express

    Stansted is another popular airport, but is used mainly by budget airlines flying into Europe. To get into Central London from Stansted, there's the Stansted Express which again is expensive (so bare that in mind when calculating total plane travel costs as flying with BA can work out cheaper).
    Here's the Stansted express website:
    Stansted Express

    Gatwick is another airport, but again this one is used for budget airlines and packaged holidays. To get into central London from Gatwick, there's also the Gatwick Express (do you see a theme here? ;) ) but over-head trains also serve to this airport which is cheaper but takes longer.
    Here's the Gatwick express website:
    Gatwick Express
    For over-head train info, head to the Trainline website which is linked on the first post.

    There are of cause coach options which are slower but cheaper. The National Express is the main coach operator and most coaches end up in Victoria.
    Here's the website: National Express

    I think that covers most things, for now, but any questions are welcome :)
  11. AmberStarbright Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 20, 2002
    star 7
    Gatwick/Heathrow express are slightly a bit more pricy, from Farringdon to Heathrow return it cost me £12 yet the express is more like £30. Admitedly a lot quicker, just depends on whether you want to save money or not ;)

    Some tools for looking up maps and directions
    http://www.mapquest.co.uk
    http://www.streetmap.co.uk
    http://www.mappy.fr (opens up in French but on the top of the page is a UK flag, click on that and you are set to go)
  12. DarthBreezy Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jun 4, 2002
    star 6
    London A to Z

    It's indespensible. My sister (who is London born and bred and has lived there all her life) gets one annually.
  13. LAJ_FETT Tech Admin and Collecting/Games Mod

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    May 25, 2002
    star 9
    I get a new one when the prvious one starts falling apart. I have had 3 so far. My newest one is spiral-bound and is much easier for looking stuff up. You can get them in just about any newsagents or bookstore.
  14. JediNemesis Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 27, 2003
    star 4
    The most essential things for going anywhere in London are a) an A-Z, and b) a Tube map. A-Zs are easy, as mentioned before, and there's whole racks of free Tube maps at every station.

    If you're planning on having a look round the country while you're here, public transport will get you most places, including France (from London: 1 hour to Folkestone, 1/2 hour Channel crossing to Calais) and Scotland (London to Edinburgh line is about 6 hours on a good day - maybe not ideal for a day trip but fine for a weekend).

    The one place that is utterly inaccessible by any public means is, believe it or not, Stratford-on-Avon. It's car or nothing, which is deeply frustrating when you can't drive . . .
  15. Lord-Tice Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 20, 2001
    star 5
    Due to the venue change, a lot of this info is now irrelivent (sorry!).

    So, here is an update for how to get to the London ExCel Centre:

    The nearest station to Excel is Custom House. Custom House is served by the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) and National Rail Services. The DLR is covered by travlecards, just like trains, tube and buses, so there is no change there and the ExCel is in Zone 3.

    The DLR
    The DLR mainly serves the East-End of London, and is the heart of Canary Whalf so it makes for an amazing travelling experience (think the monorail in Batman Begins). However, you can catch the DLR from Central London at the stations Bank and Tower Gateway. Trains from Tower Gateway go direct to Custom House for ExCeL, so that station is recommended for ease. If travelling from Bank however, on the DLR change at Westferry for a Beckton bound train.

    The Tube
    The nearest tube station and line is Canning Town on the Jubilee line. From there you can catch the DLR to Custom House (two stops) or even walk if you feel up to it.

    Bus and coach services
    I'm not too hot with buses, but this info will hopefully be of some use.
    Bus 147
    Ilford to Canning Town stopping at: Browning House, East Ham, Upton Park, Prince Regent Lane (for Prince Regent station), Custom House for ExCeL, Royal Victoria, Keir Hardie Estate, Canning Town.

    Bus 241
    Stratford to Canning Town, stopping at: Plaistow, New Barn Street, Freemasons Road, Custom House for ExCeL, Keir Hardie Estate, Canning Town.

    Bus 262
    Stratford to Beckton, stopping at: Plaistow, Prince Regent Lane (for Prince Regent station), Tollgate Road, East Beckton, Beckton (Savacentre)

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    For information on the DLR, please visit this site: DLR

    For information on the National Rail service, which is provided by Silverlink trains, please visit this site: SilverLink

    Hope that helps and any questions, fire away!! :)
  16. LAJ_FETT Tech Admin and Collecting/Games Mod

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    May 25, 2002
    star 9
    Just an early warning for any smokers making the trip to CE. A smoking ban comes into effect in England on July 1, 2007. Smoking will no longer be allowed in any public building. This includes pubs, clubs, and restaurants. So if you like a ciggie with your pint you'll have to sit outdoors!
  17. LAJ_FETT Tech Admin and Collecting/Games Mod

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    May 25, 2002
    star 9
    This thread will be stickied until after CE, so if you need travel help (especially if you've never been to the UK before) you can ask here.
  18. Skiara ~• Manager WNU •~ ~• RSA FFC •~

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Nov 5, 2002
    star 10
    Thanks for all those information above! [:D]

    But I've got one questions: Is it possible to get a free offline map of London?

    Here in Cologne we can get a free map of the main and most important part of Cologne. So I wonder if there's a free offline map for London as well. Maybe at the airport? Or maybe anyone from London can pick up some and give us them when we arrive (aka meet each other the first time)? I think it would help those who don't know London (related to the streets of course ;) ) and it's easier to point out the various hotels and ways in the evenings.
  19. LAJ_FETT Tech Admin and Collecting/Games Mod

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    May 25, 2002
    star 9
    You might be able to get one at the airport, or at your hotel. Ask at reception if you don't see a 'tourist brochure' display. You can buy London 'A-Z' street directory maps at any good bookstore but that might be overkill if you are just coming for the event. (It might be worth it if you are staying longer and sightseeing). The directories are about the size of a paperback and have a Tube map on the back cover. The one I have is spiral-bound which makes it quite easy to use. However, it is old and wouldn't be up-to-date for that area of London or I'd offer to photocopy those pages.
  20. Skiara ~• Manager WNU •~ ~• RSA FFC •~

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Nov 5, 2002
    star 10
    Thanks. I think I'll ask at the hotel if they have one of those 'tourist brochure' with a map inside for free. :)

    I agree that buying a tourist guide book or a complete map of London might be a bit too much since most of us (right?) are just coming to London for the CE and meeting each other. :)
  21. LAJ_FETT Tech Admin and Collecting/Games Mod

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    May 25, 2002
    star 9
    It might also be worth checking at Excel itself. If they have a visitor or information desk they might have maps of the surrounding area.
  22. Dark Lady Mara Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 19, 1999
    star 7
    Why not find a page-sized map online and print it out?
  23. Skiara ~• Manager WNU •~ ~• RSA FFC •~

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Nov 5, 2002
    star 10
    Most of those aren't that good. Either you can't read anything after printing or you miss some important streets or places. At least I haven't found any online map that can be printed on one page yet. Otherwise it would be good idea. :)
  24. Dark Lady Mara Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 19, 1999
    star 7
    Yeah, you may be right. I have a small page-sized subway map that's pretty readable and shows the lines from Heathrow almost all the way over to Excel, but it came with a Fodor's guide I bought for US$12. The fact that it was printed professionally helps a lot. If your printer is not that good, it would probably be hard to make yourself a map that would be clear enough to use. There are enough cheap travel guides out there that it may be worthwhile for you to buy one just to get the maps. You can't tell me you don't want to sightsee around London even a little bit... :p
  25. Skiara ~• Manager WNU •~ ~• RSA FFC •~

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Nov 5, 2002
    star 10
    I cannot? Even if I tell you that I've been in London before and have seen most interesting things already? :p
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.