First Trip Report.
I would appreciate any comments or actual content or writing style.
Quick Trip to London. Kollel Couple –no kids.
My goal on my trip was to not spend any unnecessary money but not to be dirt cheap just to keep the spending to a limit. Please note we are just a couple with no kids. Also we didn’t have a smartphone just a computer with Wi-Fi access.
This trip was made into a trip due a purposely added 2 day stopover. We were flying on a British Airways flight to America for Pesach from TLV and wanted to stop somewhere for a few days. We decided on London for a few reasons. The first and main reason is that the flights from TLV – LHR – JFK made the most sense as far as price and timing. The flight times were very convenient being that all the flights were in the afternoon and landed early evening. Both flights approximately took off 4:05 and landed around 7:05 PM local time. The second reason why we chose London was due the fact that we were able to get by by staying someone’s house and opposed to stay in a hotel. However due to the fact that the flights were more than 24 hours apart we had pickup our bags in airport and then recheck them for the second flight a few hours before the flight
Getting to airport in TLV we decided to take a Bus and Train to airport instead of a Nesher or Taxi. We took the bus 110 from Shmuel Hanavi and Bar Ilan to the Modein Train Station. The cost was 11 shekal ( around $3). From the Modein Train Station we walked a minute into the train station and took the train two stops to the airport. The cost was 9 shekal ( around $2.75) for the one way ticket. The train lets you off on the bottom of the airport and you have to take an escalator up to the main Departure Hall. It was not bad actually, and did not feel like a schlepp at all. It took around 1 hour and 10 minutes as opposed taking a car that takes around 40 minutes.
After we checked in and past by security…. We had a few minutes so went to the Priority Pass Lounge in Ben Guiron. After hearing everyone talk about how crowded it is I thought it was actually pretty nice. There was a nice amount of room to sit and as far as food selection there were few Baadtz Eidah items like Yogurt and stuff like that. The drinks they had were also nice. From what I can remember they had Coke, Sprite, Israeli Orange Juice and similar. It was nice being able to get drinks before the flight and after throwing them out before security.
The flight from TLV – LHR was on a Boeing 787 with a 3-3-3 configuration in Economy. It was a good plane. The plane didn’t have window shades instead it has a button the makes the window get lighter and darker. Other than that it was pretty uneventful.
We landed in Heathrow as it was getting dark. As we were landing the plane flew over central London and we got a nice view of the city. After we landed in Heathrow we went passport control, picked up ours bags and border control. Being that it was a little late and I had to get a little work done we decided to check out the Priority Pass T5 “Arrivals“ Lounge which is a short walk from the actual terminal but you can bring your luggage carts there. The way to get there was to go up in the Elevator or Lift to level One and go down some hallways and a second elevator to reach the hotel (really just follow the signs to the Sofitel Hotel”). We had to go the Guest Relations desk and show our Priority Pass. The attendant there took our luggage and gave us a tag for it, gave us the Wi-Fi access info and gave us an electronic key to get it to the lounge plus I think the same key get you in the hotel’s Gym, Spa and shower but due the fact that we just wanted to get some work done and leave we didn’t really play around except go the lounge.
The lounge itself has a nice amount of room and was playing soft music. As far as Kosher food there was: all kind of fruit like apples, oranges, banana’s etc…. and there was a nice selection on drinks ( especially England only drinks like Ginger Beer, and Bitter Lemon – first time I tasted some of those!) like Coke, Sprite, Water. It was good place to go before having the taking the Underground.
We were a little concerned with taking the Underground from Heathrow at 10:00 at night with a bunch of suitcases but it ended up being fine. We had borrowed Oyster Cards from a friend and we topped it up in the Airport. We went down to the bottom of Heathrow and from there we took the Underground to Brent Cross Station (near Golders Green). We had to switch Trains in the middle. The Heathrow Line is called the Piccadilly Line so we took that line that to Leicester Square (around a hour) and went up some flight of steps ( a little hard with suitcases) and transferred to the Northern Line ( around 25 Minutes).. From there we took it to Brent Cross. Total Time around is a hour and ½. Heathrow Airport is Zone 6 and Brent Cross is Zone 3. We got to the place we were staying and rested up for the next day.
As far as actually touring London we decide we did not want to spend loads of money but we were gona spend some. We deiced on one big thing. The one big thing we spent money on ( since many of the DDF’rs recommended) was Matt’s Changing on the Guards Tour due to the fact the whenever we thought about London we thought about the Changing of the Guards. The rest of the day we kind of walked around.
To get to Matt’s Tour we took the Underground from Golders Green Station (we got lost and didn’t find Brent Cross) to Leicester Square. We got out by Leicester Square Station ( train ride around 20 minutes) and walked a few minutes and found it. We could have transferred Underground Lines and taken it one more stop to Piccadilly Circus but it was a 5 minute walk and we got out by Leicester Square. A note: the Tour starts right near Ripley’s Believe Or Not right by the Black huge statue near the Criterion Theatre.
Matt’s Tour was fantastic and really informative. He really did a good job getting us in position to see everything. He has the timing down pat. The Changing on the Guards happens in many different places and without the tour or knowing where to be you miss most it and are very confused squashed in between multiple people trying to see the exact same thing. Matt gets you to the right place at the right time. The tour ended around 11:20. A note: Matt usually does the Tour himself but he also has a few other tour guides. The tour is really all the same thing and runs alongside each other but if you care when you “sign in” ask Matt to be in his group.
After the tour we hung out by the park nearby. The public bathrooms cost money ( around 20 – 30 p or 25 Cents) then we made our way the Big Ben and Parliament Buildings. Took some pictures and then we were gona take the boat ride but being that it was a nice day we decided to scratch that and we walked from the London Eye area to the Tower Bridge Area. This walk was along the River Thames and took a good few hours. Along the way we checked out the shops found a nice cheap souvenir shop (Big Red Bus Shop) and had fun.
We crossed over the River Thames by the Tower and we found our way to the Tower Hill underground station near there and started heading back. On the way back we saw that we were very close to the King’s Cross Station and Platform 9 and ¾. We did a little unplanned train hopping and found our way towards the famous Harry Potter spot. Over there they have a trolley that looked like it is half in the wall. They had a line of people waiting to pose. There was an official person in charge and thee had an official photographer there also. They also have a nice Harry Potter store with a bunch of Harry Potter items there. Pretty Cool!
After that we got back to Golders Green davened mincha and figured where to go for supper. We knew that KLBD is good for some places and not all. We asked our host and they told us the Kaifeng, La Fiesta and White House were good meat restaurants under KLBD ( as always ask your LOR). We settled on La Fiesta a steakhouse.
La Fiesta is a pretty nice place not too pricey and has good steaks. We deiced to share everything including appetizers and desserts. For the appetizers we got the Empanada with chicken inside. It tasted very good like 7 out of 10. For the main my we got a plain ole’ steak and Asado Ribs. The steak was soft and tender and the ribs we very good as well. The served the meat on what look like a charcoal grill. Since they cook with coal they take some of that coal and put it in a small metal pan and put a on a flat metal try and put the food on that. This way the food stays warm the whole time you are eating eat. It looked pretty cool. For the main we also bought the Saltenia – which is a kind of potato puff with seasoning on it ( 4 out of 10). They also served salad with oil and balsamic vinegar. Then for desert we wanted to cream bruille but they didn’t have any and we got the Caramel Crepes instead with Ice Cream ( 8 out of 10). It was very good. It is similar to one in Waffle Bar in Israel but not as sweet – which is a good thing. We don’t go to steakhouses that often. This one was pretty good though.
The next day we had a few hours till we need to leave to our flight so we walked around Golders Green Road a little checked out the shops bough some really cool English Body Wash. We also stopped by Gronzdiski Bakery and bought some snacks. The Danish which we bought was a regular chocolate Danish was ok ( 5 out of 10).Then we thought about going to the airport.
We actually wanted to take an Uber (the price was $35) but I couldn’t get my computer to work with Uber app and my host wasn’t around to order an Uber from her smartphone so we ended schlepping back to the Underground with our luggage, changing trains and arriving in Heathrow in around a 1 Hour and ½. We checked our bags, passed through security and had time to check out the T5 Aspire Lounge. It was all the way on the South End of the Terminal. The lounge was really crowded and we couldn’t find a place to sit. They also didn’t have as a big of a selection of drinks like the lounge outside T5. All they had was Ginger Ale and fountain soda machine. As far as kosher food they didn’t have any I was aware of. They also had a shower but it cost around 20 pounds or around $20 to use. After a few minutes we had to leave anyhow and make our way towards the gate to head to NY.