London at Night
(Astronomy Picture of the Day).
Image: ISS Crew, Earth Sciences and Image Analysis Lab, JSC, NASA [larger view].
Even though I’ve been quiet about my London trip for the upcoming European science blogging conference, I have been working on arrangements behind the scenes. This is what I’ve decided so far;
It took me awhile to realize that, before I make a reservation for a roundtrip flight, I need to know how long I can afford to stay in London. So of course, I am trying to find the least expensive (most affordable) accomodations possible. Not only that, but because I am visiting the city and not a hotel, I really only need a room with a clean bed (no bedbugs!!), a toilet and shower although, if I can afford it, I’d also like to have access to a microwave oven. I am also fine with sharing a room with another traveler, if I can find someone who doesn’t smoke who is trustworthy.
With these goals in mind, I have been investigating staying in university dorms at several colleges that are near the place where the conference is to take place (in the W1, WC1 or WC2 postcodes). I think at least some of these rooms give a discount for a stay of 7 or more consecutive days, which is good for me. So far, I am busily reading about university accomodations and emailing the people in charge of reservations with my questions (I think I’ve figured out what “catered” and “self-catered” mean, for example). I am only starting to explore the availability of hostels in the area.
I have learned that airlines are rather .. disingenuous regarding the price of their tickets. For example, after a lot of searching on the internet, I was so pleased to find a round-trip ticket to London that costs only $195! WOW! But unfortunately, I discovered that the ticket is the least expensive part of airtravel since the taxes and fees raise the price of this so-called “bargain ticket” to $700! Yes! Worse, these mysterious taxes and fees are not a consistent amount from one ticket to the next, even for those offered by the same airlines. So I have tried to learn what they cover and how the sums are arrived at, but without any luck. So I have learned that international airline tickets are much more expensive than a Google search suggests.
But in the midst of all this confusion, I have decided one thing: I need an Oyster card to cover my travel expenses while in London. Everything I read about an Oyster card is clear and reasonable, so that’s one decision that seems to be a foregone conclusion.
I am also looking into getting a good map of London, and was told that the London A-Z is good, but I should be prepared to print out a more up-to-date map from the internet so I can carry it with me while I travel from one destination to the next. So I will do this after I have decided where and how long I will stay (and can plan how much I can see and experience while I am there — and there is no shortage of what I want to see and experience in London! ).
I am also looking around for a useful and informative travel guide. Since there are more travel guides to London than translations of the Bible, this is a daunting task. I have looked through shelves of these books at the bookstore, and read about even more of them on Amazon. Quite frankly, I have no idea how a person can choose an appropriate travel guide to London without closing her eyes and just grabbing something off the shelf. Anyway, I am still browsing and hope that something suggests itself to me.
Okay, that’s all for now. As soon as I make a reservation for my accommodations in London, everything will fall neatly into place, I hope!