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Discussion Starter #1
I'm heading to Ibiza on vacation this Friday, and have a 10 hour layover in London both on the way there and on the way back. I also have to switch from Heathrow to Gatwick on the way there, and vice versa on the way back. What's the best way to get from one airport to the other - train, taxi? While I was originally bummed about the layover, I realized I've never been to London and would love to get out of the airport and have a look around. So I'm wondering what is there to do in the vicinity of Gatwick (for on the way there) and Heathrow (on the way back). Based on the crew I'm going with, I'm guessing they'll want to go to some pubs, but I'm open to anything else worth doing within a reasonable vicinity of each of the airports. I don't want to get too far from the airports so I don't miss the flight out, so no visiting Hethel for me. :(

I also had a question about converting money to pounds/euros. What's the best way to do this without paying too big of a transaction fee? Will my ATM card work over there, and will they charge a big fee? Or should I bring cash and convert it over there at a bank? How about travelers checks (never used them before)?

Any help is greatly appreciated.
 

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I have used a bus from Heathrow to Gatwick, it was very smooth and convenient. Unfortunately I can't seem to find my old records, but it was most likely this one:

http://www.londontoolkit.com/travel/heathrow_gatwick_transfer.htm

Forget about exchanging cash. You'll get raped on the exchange rate. Pay as much as possible with your credit card. For the cash you need, you can get money out of an ATM with your US card. There's probably a moderate fee (similar to using an ATM from a different bank in the US), but you'll get a better exchange rate, and it's simple.
 

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I also used the bus to go from one airport to the other but I don't recall how long it took, but there was nothing to be seen on the transit and I didn't have enougth time to wander around London anyway.

But they stamped my passport with a temp visa with a big "Not allowed to work in the UK" After a lot of convincing that we were on transit to Spain.

I don't blame them, we do the same to them here in the US.

On the money I usually use my credit card for hotels, food, etc. I never tried to use an ATM card there but you can ask your Credit Card company to give you a pin number. I agree a debit card will be cheaper but I don't know. One thing is for sure, take some traveler checks as emergency money just in case you loose your wallet.

I'm envious, Ibiza is the bigest party island of the planet. Don't get into too much trouble, it's really really crazy, and be advised, it's really really expensive as well :)
 

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Your ATM card will work fine there.
One caveat, if your pin code is a word or a pattern, figure out what the numbers are. Alot of ATM's in Europe don't have the letters, and some even have the numbers inverted.
As in:

789
456
123
0

As far as your long layover, since you've never been to London, take the train into the city. Hire a Taxi to give you a driving tour of the sites, Big Ben & Parliament, Buckingham Palace, Tower of London, Harrods, the McLaren dealer at Hyde Park Corner, etc. I can also recommend some great restaurants if you're going to be in the city at dinner time.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the help guys. I've been wanting to go to Ibiza for 3 or 4 years now, and finally this year I said screw it - I'm goin!!

I talked to a friend who said the underground and trains are really easy to use there, and I looked the maps up online - looks easy enough. So I guess I won't have to just stick around the airports.

While I would like to see some of the sites, time constraints and the guys I'm traveling with will probably just limit us to pub crawling. We will be in London from 9:30 to about 4:30, so I don't think we'll be able to have dinner. So what parts of London have a good pub scene (if you could go to only one section of the city, where would you go)?
 

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gmoneyjive said:
We will be in London from 9:30 to about 4:30, so I don't think we'll be able to have dinner. So what parts of London have a good pub scene (if you could go to only one section of the city, where would you go)?
Your time frame doesn't really work for the "pub scene" - pub lunches should generally be avoided. The contents of your typical pub sarnies are largely based on dares, and require the consumption of several pints of good beer both before and after attempting to choke them down.

OTOH, if you want decent food and a scene, go to the Sushi Bar (top floor) or Wagamama's (basement) at Harvey Nichols.
 

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Caterham Cars main showroom is 10 minutes from Gatwick, if you go ask to go in the back room where is is 15 -20 cars assembled ready to go!
 

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Use credit cards as much as possible but you still might want to get some cash. CC charge about 5%, getting cash can be 10% or more. When you get cash get a larger amount at one time and you'll save on transaction fees.

Herrods is really damn cool. They have an F1 shop on the 3rd floor (The Grand Prix Inc) and have awesome foods in the basement. They've got some cool stuff but other than the F1 place and the food it's just a high price department store.
 

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If you like Indian food, London has the best.

Have fun in Ibiza. Enjoy the Techno.
 

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shinoo said:
If you like Indian food, London has the best.
South Hall?
 

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Robert Puertas said:
pub lunches should generally be avoided. The contents of your typical pub sarnies are largely based on dares, and require the consumption of several pints of good beer both before and after attempting to choke them down.
I disagree. Pub lunches are excellent. Stick to trendy bars and you get great food.
 

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I'll let you into a little secret...

Robert Puertas said:
... require the consumption of several pints of good beer both before and after ...
We just tell people that - technically they are not "required"... ;) :D
 

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Don't get me wrong, I've actually had some great pub lunches. I've also had some astoundingly awful ones. Just like anything else. However, there are great places to eat in London, and great places to people watch. But just randomly pub crawling at lunch time is not likely to get you a decent meal in the city. If you just want alot of beer and a crappy sandwhich you might as well dine at the airport...

And for Shinoo, my favorite Indian places in London are Tamarind and Zaika.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Once again thanks for the information. It seems that the best place to switch trains is at the Victoria station, and a quick search reveals there are over a hundred pubs within a mile of there. We may also stumble over to Buckingham Palace for the changing of the guard, as that is pretty close. I would venture to guess that many pints will be consumed both before and after lunch, so that isn't a problem. ;)
 

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Ibiza, man thats close to the top of my travel list :bow:

For getting cash I always use my U.S. ATM card and I've never had a problem (all over Europe and lots of Asia). Most of the ATM machines over there access the "Plus" network. I don't think they charge fees and my bank over here doesn't. You also get a much better exchange rate compared to the currency exchange places. Most ATMs will also accept Visa cards but then you end up paying the cash advance fee.

There is a bus from Heathrow to Gatwick, but then you will just be stuck for hours in the Airport. I've been to both airports (and I've used the bus), but I can't remember how far they are from the city center. I'm guessing you should allow 1 hour from landing to get your bags, clear customs and immigration, and get to the tube (subway) in Heathrow. IIRC its about 45 minutes from the airport to the city center. Then you can hang around Picadilly Circus, Leicester (sp?) Square, Buckingham Palace, etc. Gatwick is further out than Heathrow and, when I was there a hell of lot more disorganized, so I would allow a couple of hours for the trip. Your millage may vary ;)
 
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