London Update: Where Did All The Time Go?

I leave on Wednesday afternoon for London for the European Science Blogging conference, sponsored by NATURE — wow, I can hardly believe this day is almost here! To say that I am very stressed out is an understatement. The thing that bothers me most is the fact that I have no vacation planning experience, so I am learning as I go, and even though I have a steep learning curve, there are only so many hours in a day, which means that even though I am learning more about what I should be doing, I don’t have the time to accomplish everything before I leave.


First and foremost: planning what I will do from one day to the next. There are so many things to see and do, and so little time! Fortunately, most of the museums are free in London, so I am not expected to spend $30 or more every time I go to see Renoir or Monet or van Gogh! And believe me, I want to see them all, too.
There are a few attractions that I’d like to see that charge admirably large admission fees; the London (Regent’s Park) Zoo, Big Ben, Kensington Palace and the London Eye, for example.
So far, I have only one day specifically planned;
Wednesday;

  1. Natural History Museum — free [at least 3 hours] open 10am – 550pm daily (South Kensington tube station).
  2. Science Museum — free [at least 3 hours] open 10am-6pm daily (South Kensington tube station).
  3. Victoria & Albert Museum — free [at least 3 hours] open 10am-6pm daily, except Wednesday, when it is open 10am-10pm (South Kensington tube station).

Other than that, I am tentatively planning to visit;

  1. Museum of London — free [at least 1 hour] in the City (St Pauls’ tube station).
  2. Bank of England Museum — free [1 hour] open 10am-5pm, closed weekends in the City (Bank street tube station).
  3. Imperial War museum — free [at least 2 hours] (Lambeth North tube station).
  4. National Portrait Gallery — free [? hours?]
  5. Tate Modern — free [? hours?]
  6. Tate Britain — free [? hours?]
  7. British Museum (I am especially interested in their FREE “American Scene” exhibition since they include one of my favorite artists; Hopper.
  8. Buckingham Palace
  9. Big Ben
  10. London Bridge

My strategy is to visit nearby sites on the same day to make the most use of my time and energy.
I also plan to pursue my little Harry Potter film sites tour idea. Originally, I planned to fit those sites in with other things I was seeing and doing in their respective areas, but a few people are interested in going along with me, so I am now thinking about making this into a day tour, with probably a fair amount of walking involved to get a feel for the neighborhoods.

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About GrrlScientist

grrlscientist is the pseudonym of an evolutionary biologist and ornithologist who writes about evolution, ethology, and ecology, especially in birds. After earning a degree in microbiology (thesis focus: virology) and working at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, she earned her PhD in zoology from the University of Washington in Seattle, where she studied the molecular correlates of testosterone and behaviour in white-crowned sparrows. She then worked a Chapman Postdoctoral Fellow at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, where she studied the speciation and distribution of lories and other parrots throughout the South Pacific Islands. A discarded scientist, she returned to her roots: writing. Formerly hosted by The Guardian (UK), she now writes about science for Forbes and for the non-profit think tank, the Evolution Institute and she writes podcasts for BirdNote Radio. An avid lifelong birder and aviculturist, she lives with a flock of songbirds and parrots somewhere in Germany.
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0 Responses to London Update: Where Did All The Time Go?

  1. EyeNoU says:

    No pubs on the itinerary?

  2. i’m currently researching historic old pubs in london, so yes, there will be some on the itinerary, i am just not sure which ones they’ll be, yet!

  3. arby says:

    Don’t worry, you’ll do it perfectly… the next time. A friend of mine just got back from his first trip outside the country, to Costa Rica. He did some research and read a good guidebook before he left. But the first thing he did on his return was re-read the guidebook, because “Now it makes sense.” This is the learning trip for you, you’ll be able to do it much better, and much cheaper, the next time, should you wish. You’ll have a great time regardless, I’m envious. Best wishes, rb

  4. Bob O'H says:

    EyeNoU – Grrlscientist is already signed up for the scientific pub crawl (starts at the Jeremy Bentham). We’ll make sure she gets a decent sample of good beer, never you worry.
    I would suggest at least 1 day for the NHM and one for the Science museum – if you get bored you can pop over to the V&A. There’s also the Albert Memorial around there: last time I visited London I tried to see it, but it had been wrapped up.

  5. Jessica says:

    Watch yourself at the Museums. You’ll spend HOURS of time in each one. You may want to pick only a few to spend time in (NHM, British Museum, Tate Modern). Aim for a week-day too; weekend lines can be very long. Have fun!

  6. DeafScientist says:

    Bob: Give her smaller glasses and a chance sample the range 🙂 (More of different tastes, rather more of fewer tastes, if you get my meaning!) As you’ll know the ales have a far wider range of tastes that the lagers and pilsners and whatnot. I’m sitting her trying to remember my favourite beer from my Cambridge days, but I can’t damn remember. Sod that. Knowing that I also like Kilkenny, its probably got a taste in that direction. Ah! Maybe it was Flower’s Original. She probably won’t like it… One local pub I knew used to rotate a new live ale every week from somewhere else in the country. Gave you a chance to try something new each week. She won’t have time to visit Cambridge 😦 But perhaps that’s just as well.
    I agree that the museums could easily take more than a few hours. Personally I’d not stack up too many in one day. I find my head starts to pop after a few hours on any one things unless I really get wrapped up in. I’m inclined to vary what I’m doing a bit.

  7. csrster says:

    There’s also the original Royal Greenwich Observatory, if you’re interested in that sort of thing, and the next-door Maritime Museum, if you’re interested in _that_ sort of thing.
    I haven’t been there myself since I was a kid, but the ghost of my six year old self strongly urges you to check them out 🙂

  8. Grace Baynes says:

    I agree with Jessica. Those three museums in one day is ambitious, but they are all worth it! One of my favourite things to do in London is to to get the underground to Waterloo, then walk down to the Thames (should be signposted South Bank or London Eye from Waterloo). You’ll come out near the London Eye, with a great view of the Houses of Parliament and ‘Big Ben’ across the river. Then turn right and you can walk along the river to the Tate Modern. Look across the river from the Tate Modern for a view of St Pauls and the City of London. If your legs will carry you a bit further, you’ll get to the Globe Theatre, and ten minutes further along the river will bring you to a view of Tower Bridge and the Tower of London. You’ll be near London Bridge underground station there to take you home again. Hope that you enjoy your trip!

  9. EyeNoU says:

    Bob O’H – I’m glad to hear she will be in your care during the pub crawl….I think.
    arby – You are right. The first trip out of the U.S. is the learning trip. It was for me, too.
    GrrlScientist – Have a safe trip and have fun!

  10. Bob O'H says:

    DeafScientist – I think there are several CAMRA pubs in London, so we’ll be sorted, as long as she doesn’t try the cider. I once had one at the Norwich Beer festival which still had the sulphur floating on top.
    EyeNoU – I’m hoping she’s strong enough to carry me back to the hostel.

  11. i am a fan of most ales (i enjoy hoppy beers), but don’t like lagers and am not terribly fond of pilsners, either. does that earn me some sort of award?
    csrster — the royal greenwich observatory sounds wonderful, but i hadn’t seen it mentioned in my guidebooks. i’ll look it up online to learn more. i do believe i’ve read a little about the maritime museum, but if it’s next door to the royal greenwich museum, i’ll be sure to drop in.
    grace — i wrote down your walk directions and will try to do that while i am in london. of course, i’ll take pics along the way if i do manage it!
    oh, and FYI: one pub i am determined to visit is Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese. that is such a weird name that the pub has to be interesting. hopefully, i will manage it while i am in London.

  12. M@ says:

    Hey hey, looking forward to meeting you and everyone else over the next few days. I can give you endless, detailed info and tips on London pubs and sightseeing, having literally written the book. But you could do a lot, lot worse than visiting Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese. It’s an incredible experience – I discover new rooms every time I visit. I’m half-tempted to lead the scientific pub crawl there, but it has no scientific connections I’m aware of. Anyhoo, see you tomorrow night.
    Matt Brown