Avoid London Summer 2012?

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by wolfsatz, May 25, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. wolfsatz
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    wolfsatz Silver Member

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    So, I've been planning a Summer 2012 (May or June) trip for my fiance and I and our initial plan was a 12 day tour of London, Paris, Rome with a short intermediate stop in Lugano, Switzerland. However, someone reminded me last night that the Summer Olympics are in London beginning in July 2012.

    Any feelings out there on whether London would just be too crazed and over priced leading up to the Summer games? Perhaps best avoided until another trip and focus on the continent?
     
  2. MSPeconomist
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    Other Olympic cities have been fully booked during the games, so the biggest problem might be finding a hotel room anywhere near London.

    I know that some previous Olympic contracts had anti-gouging provisions that prevented hotels from charging more during the games than a calculation based on the average price in the two previous years. Some hotels responded by raising their rates two years in advance, even at the risk of having more empty rooms than usual.

    I would absolutely not suggest doing four cities and four countries during a twelve day honeymoon or, in fact, any trip for leisure. You don't want your memories to be "if it's Tuesday, this must be Belgium."

    I could easily and happily spend several days relaxing in Lugano (maybe not so relaxing as this place gets crowded with bad traffic jams in high season during the summer) or maybe a place like Montroux or Interlaken and then a week or so in Paris. Another idea would be to focus on Italy, going at least to Florence (and Pisa/Lucca since they're so close) in addition to Rome.
     
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  3. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    +1 to MSP's post... 12 days may seem like a lot but with so many destinations -- and some of them requiring some travel time -- you're gonna spend a lot of time on the road, or rushing / packing / unpacking more than you would relaxing.

    I'd work two countries personally... even though you could easily spend 12 days in multiple cities in one country.
     
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  4. Bob Smolinsky
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    Bob Smolinsky Gold Member

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    All the staff I I know in our London office plan to be far away from their homes then.....'nuff said.
     
  5. rwoman
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    rwoman Gold Member

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    Glad I have a flat and only require train service to/from London to see any of the 2012 events...London already gets crazy with tourists and it's going to be far worse during the Olympics...I have no doubt it will be a zoo next summer!
     
  6. lwildernorva

    lwildernorva Active Member

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    I agree on restructuring your trip to cover fewer cities and countries--unless you and your fiance understand the rigors of frequent switching of hotels and constant traveling. I've done a number of solo golf trips through Ireland and Scotland and rarely stay in a town or city more than three days. More frequently, I'm in one day and out the next. That type of travel does not bother me, but I'd be much less likely to do it if I had someone else along for the ride. And I'd even be less likely to do it for an event like a honeymoon. I could see a trip to Rome/Florence or Paris and the French countryside (my brother-in-law and sister did a six-week honeymoon through France alone some 40 years ago). That kind of trip would be much less stressful.

    If you want to stick to your original plans, though, I think that travel in late May/early June might result in some good travel bargains without the crowds. I've found through the years that the best values to be found are somewhat before and somewhat after a big event. For example, one of the best weeks of the year to go to Disney World is the week after New Year's. The complicating factor with the Olympics may be that many support folks might need to be in London days or weeks before the official opening of the Games so I'm guessing May would be better than June for getting good values and avoiding huge crowds. The official opening date of the Olympics is July 27, 2012 so you might be able to stretch your stay in London into the early part of June, make London the beginning of the trip, and then go to Paris, Rome, and Lugano from there.

    One more thing if you decide to stick with your original plans: You'll also save yourself some hassle if you can book two one-way trips, perhaps landing in London but taking off from Rome. That'll save you some time so that you don't have to retrace your steps to return to the US from your original arrival city.
     
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  7. wolfsatz
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    wolfsatz Silver Member

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    All good points made and I will probably need to scale back the number of destinations. I've been to Europe a number of times, my fiance has never been any farther than Cancun when she was 14. You certainly aren't the first to advise a less ambitious itinerary crammed into 12 days.

    Paris is probably top of her list so that stays. Maybe put off London until 2013 after the Olympics madness has dissipated. I've never been to Rome so perhaps 6 days Paris, 6 days Rome. Fly into Paris for a stopover, then on to Rome, depart from Rome for home.
     
  8. wolfsatz
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    wolfsatz Silver Member

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    Ditto on Lugano, one of my fondest travel memories ever. Amazing little town in the Summer. We got such a kick traveling by train from Lugano to Como and Milan. Lugano is like a Disneyland version of an Italian lakeside town, like they sweep the streets at night. You go through the tunnel into Italy and it's an entirely different vibe. I hesitate to say like border town Mexico but the Italians DEFINITELY don't sweep the streets at night. ;)
     
  9. MSPeconomist
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    If you're an experienced European traveller, how about Paris plus some of the French countryside? If you're willing to rent a car, you could go to some fascinating small towns. Without a car, taking the TGV to/from the French Riviera and flying in or out through NCE (nonstops to the USA) would work very well.

    Another idea which isn't on your list would be to take the train to AMS for a few days after Paris and fly back from there. You could stop in Brussels and see Brugges if you wish along the way.
     
  10. superscot
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    superscot Gold Member

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    Or spend the 12 days in the UK. There's lots to see that aren't in/around London. Fly into LHR and then hire a car. Head off west - Stonehenge, Winchester (90 minutes), explore the beautiful villages in the Chilterns; up to Oxford (90 minutes); drop the car back at LHR then train into London for a day or two (hotels shouldn't be an issue before the Olympics start); train up to York for 2 days; continue on train to Edinburgh; spend a few days in Scotland with car (Edinburgh, St Andrews and East Neuk of Fife, into the Highlands, drop car back at EDI) then fly/train back to LHR and then Windsor before flying back from LHR.

    We may be a small country, but 12 days is nowhere near enough for the diversity of scenery and history. I admit, I'm biased though.

    Other gateways (depending on your airline preference) could be MAN, EDI or GLA.
     
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  11. MSPeconomist
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    Remember that in Great Britain, they drive on the "wrong"side of the road and have a lot of roundabouts, to it's pretty hard to drive here if you're not used to it. I would avoid it this summer as others will travel around before or after the Olympics.

    Having said that, my list would certainly include Bath (can go to Stonehenge from here easily), Cambridge, Leamington Spa, Ely, maybe Bristol, plus Winchester, Oxford, York, and Scotland. Birmingham is also surprisingly nice and interesting, with restored historic buildings, canals, interesting food, a modern famous station and shopping mall (Gehrig?), and a "red brick" campus that almost has Moorish influenced historical building--not at all an old industrial city.
     
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  12. wolfsatz
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    wolfsatz Silver Member

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    Also a great recommendation. I spent 2 weeks driving up the East coast of the U.K. into Scotland, as far North as Inverness, then down the West coast through Wales and back to London several years ago. Also spent a week in London back in 2003 that was fantastic aside from a brutal bulkhead economy seat on Virgin Atlantic coming and going. Note to self: never book the same seat on long haul flights inbound and outbound. If there's something wrong with the seat, you risk getting stuck on the exact same aircraft in a broken seat.

    Alas, my fiancee gets first pick and I'm fairly certain the girl has Paris at the top of her list. I've been to the U.K. a few times and probably need to show the rest of the continent a little love. ;)
     
  13. MSPeconomist
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    If she really wants Paris, I really think you should focus on Paris plus some more of France, either driving through the countryside or taking the train south and then flying home through NCE. Or perhaps vice versa and do the more relaxing places first, ending in Paris when you've totally recovered from jet lag.
     
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  14. particlemn

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    If paris is on the list i would defintely look at a website parisattitude. We were last there in 09 and rented a 1000sf 2 bdrm apartment for the week through the site. it was real nice to have a home base that was not a hotel. no we did not do much cooking but the option was nice. we also goto know a neighborhood and even became "regulars" for coffee in the morning if just for a week.
     
  15. MSPeconomist
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    There are also some extended stay properties in Paris, such as a bunch of Citadines (French chain, mid-level, not luxurious).

    ADDED: However, for a honeymoon I think a regular hotel with maid service is much better. You can become regulars at a cafe near your hotel and purchase wine and deli items for a picnic if you want to feel like a local, which is nice.
     
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  16. wolfsatz
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    wolfsatz Silver Member

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    I would love to take a ride on the TGV from Paris to Nice or vice versa. Great recommendation!
     
  17. MSPeconomist
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    It's no fancy like some of the German trains are, or even the train that offers a fantastic lunch between Amsterdam and Paris. The TGVs are more like Japanese bullet trains. Remember that you need seat reservations IIRC.

    You could also take the bullet train only as far as Marseille and then work your way east to Nice and Monaco along the coast more slowly, although the area around Marseille is generally disappointing, except for the wine villages of Cassis and Bandol along the coast just east of Marseille.

    Another idea would be to first get off the bullet train in Avignon for a day or two. It's a stunning walled old town in Provence, the former seat of the Pope, so lots of historic interest. Then continue toward the Riviera.
     
  18. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    +1 for AMS. First class train to Antwerp or Brussels, then hop on the Eurostar to Paris.

    She'll be talking to her friends about that for years. :)
     
  19. mrsmortis
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    The other thing to remember about next year is that it's the Queen's Diamond Jubilee so even if you are in London before the games really ramp up it's probably going to be chaotic.

    Personally I'm leaving for three weeks around the olympics. I book the vacation last year to guarantee I would be able to aviod it (but then I do live on the trainline that goes through the olympic village).
     
  20. milchap
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    milchap Gold Member

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    The UK is more than London.....;)
     
  21. ma91pmh
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    ma91pmh Silver Member

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    Personally I can't wait to go for the Olympics. My kids were both born in the East End of London so this will be a wonderful chance to see an epic sporting event in their birthplace. I anticipate using AA/BA miles to get there, likely with plenty of availability given they make so much on the YQ fees. Hotels are another story and will have to see how things look come the start of year
     
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  22. Aktchi
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    In light of my basic philosophy of avoiding BA, LHR, and mega events like Olympics, I don't have to think too hard on this one. :D
     
  23. Million Mile Secrets

    Million Mile Secrets Silver Member

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    Does your fiance like any Olympic sports? Gymnastics, Tennis?

    If so, why not suprise her with a visit to one of the events? It will be a once-in-a-lifetime experince!

    Yes, London in summer is over-priced and crazy, and will be even more so during the Olympics. But if she truely likes the Olympics, it may be a nice treat for her!
     
  24. Wandering Aramean
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    More like once every four years. ;)

    I actually got to go to a few events in Atlanta in '96 and it was a lot of fun. I also had the advantage of a couch to crash on. Without that the hotel situation would've been miserable and the transit options were pretty stressed, too, even with the extra capacity built just for the Olympics. I'd skip it unless you can do a day trip or maybe just an overnight up from Paris on the Eurostar or something like that.
     
  25. Million Mile Secrets

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    The Olympics are held once every 4 years, but I was referring to attending an Olympics as being once-in-a-lifetime :rolleyes: But I see how my post could be confusing!

    I do agree with you that the hotel situation is key - I'm waiting for the booking window to open so that I can book my hotels in London next year. I also wouldn't compare Atlanta's public transport (or any US city besides NYC) with London's public transport - The Brits are far better in this regard!
     

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