Travel to London, England – Episode 352

categories: europe travel

Hear about travel to London, England as the Amateur Traveler talks to Amber, an American Tour Guide in London, about her adopted city.

Amber is an American expat from London who now takes people on walking tours of London. “I have lived and worked in London for about 12 years now and started tour guiding about 2 years ago and absolutely love it. I see London from a completely different perspective.” Both Amber and her husband always wanted to live in London. “It just feels like home”.

This episode is part 1 of 2. The second episode can be found at Travel to London, England part 2 – Episode 359.

“I love working with people who have never been to a foreign country before and London is their first stop.” London is an easy first stop on a tour of Europe because the language is similar to what Americans speak and the history and culture are more familiar. “I call London the gateway drug to Europe. They try London out, ‘oh they speak English, yeah that might work and hey we managed to survive London and now we can go to Paris'”.

Amber starts us on a virtual walking tour of London at Trafalgar Square and takes us through both downtown London and Westminster with stops at well knows sites like the National Gallery, The National Portrait Gallery, St. Martins in the Field, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, St James Palace, Elizabeth Tower (Big Ben), Fleet Street, St Paul’s Cathedral and more. We even learn where the former Texas Republic once had its legation.

We hear recommendations on inexpensive food in London, how to get around and how not to get around, and which sites will look familiar because of different movies. There is so much to cover on London and Amber was such a good guest that this will be a two-part episode with Amber joining us again in January.

right click here to download (mp3)
right click here to download (iTunes version with pictures)

Show Notes

American Tour Guide in London
Trafalgar Square
The National Gallery, London
Westminster Abbey
Berry Bros & Rudd
Fortnum and Mason
St. Paul’s Cathedral
St. Bartholomew the Great
Borough Market
American Tour Guide in London Facebook
Twitter: @AmericanLDN


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Chris Christensen

by Chris Christensen

Chris Christensen is the creator of the Amateur Traveler blog and podcast. He has been a travel creator since 2005 and has won awards including being named the "Best Independent Travel Journalist" by Travel+Leisure Magazine.

6 Responses to “Travel to London, England – Episode 352”



What surprises me the MOST is that people still believe the myth about London and boring food.  I suggest anyone who still believes this myth ride the Tube or buses to Chapam Common High Street and do some walking.  To start it has one of the more interesting Tube stations, a classic Holden and a nice inter city park (the Common)  But, walking along the High Street about four or five block long, you will about find  fifty restauants, and non are fish and chips, or a McDonalds 
  My favorite budget place to eat in London is Nandos,  They now are located all over London, but until the last two or three years they were none in zone 1.     It’s food is tastely, not great, not a rip off.  A quarter broiled checken with a  large greek type salad  and unlimite soft drink will cost less than nine GBP.  You order like McDonalds and you food is delivered to you table.

Chris Christensen


via email:
This is Chris Bogdon who did the Pittsburgh episode with you about a year ago. Your timing on London a bit off. LOL  I was in London for 2 weeks after Thanksgiving and I wish you would have done your show two weeks prior.  I did a lot of what your host suggested but would have took a couple of her suggestions.
Anyway, I thought I would post to your my thoughts.  
I stayed by Heathrow since I was there for business, however, I would recommend the Pheasant Pub in Hays.  This pub is an old pub that is within walking distances to most of heathrow’s airport and is a family run business that is a great alternatives to the hotel food.
I went to the Tower Bridge and the Tower of London and unfortunately I fell into the tourist trap of eating at the restaurant underneath the Tower Bridge outside the Tower of London.  I’m not sure the name but I think it was connected to both sites.  The food was overpriced, small portions and was unimpressive.  The second day a guard at the Tower recommended the Dickens Inn.  It was east from the Tower Bridge about a 5 minute walk and was a charming pub/restaurant that was owned by Charles Dickens grandson.
Abbey Road was awesome to see.  For all music fans, taking a picture on Abbey Road is really cool and seeing the studio that created so many recordings was amazing.  I only wish there was a tour of the studio.
Harrod’s department store was also amazing to see.  It reminded me of a Macy’s in NY but on steroids.  Even if a person doesn’t like shopping, Harrod’s is amazing with the decorations and the food available on the first floor.
I wish I would have went to more museums, but I only had a few days since I was there for business. Anyway, thanks again and keep up the great work!

Chris Christensen


via email:
I just listened to you London podcast and enjoyed it very much.  I’ve been to London a couple of time, and like you, I love it.  I put together some thoughts on London a couple of years ago for a friend who was planning a trip.  I regularly enjoy your show and have not contributed anything to you in the past.  So I figured that the least I could do was to share my tips email with you. Whenever I figure out what the least I can do is, that’s what I do.  So here you go:
Randy Martin
I’ve pulled together some of my info and thoughts on London (I’ll likely have more later) so here goes:
Places to stay:  I would not stay any place outside of tube zone 1 (here’s a tube map for reference ) You don’t get to London very often and there is just to much to see and do to spend a bunch of time on a crowded daily commute. Plus some of the outer areas are not the safest places.  Whatever you do don’t say in Brixton. I’ve heard bad stuff about that place.
In 2003 we rented a flat near Marble Arch which worked out well. But a flat costs more and is really over kill unless you want to cook your own food, which I would not do.  There are too many cool places to eat.
In 2008 we stayed at the Gower House Hotel (  ) The Gower House is a “budget” family run place near The British Museum .  The rooms aren’t much but they are clean. It’s fine if your looking to save a few pounds on the room. It looks like an en suite double room is currently £75 a night. You likely won’t be spending much time in the room anyway. A good breakfest is included and they are located just a block away from the Goodge Street tube stop.  Plus there is a bus stop almost directly across Gower street.  One route is just a few stops (3 or 4 I think) from Trafalgar Square. I liked the people that run the place too.  We got there a day late thanks to USAir and they didn’t charge us for the missed night.  It could work for you.  But there are a lot of similar places in zone 1. Check out pictures of our room here (  user=guest pw=2seepics )  The Bus picture is from the front door of the hotel and the bus in the picture is at the stop that you would pick up the bus for Trafalgar Square.  If you go here try to get the courtyard room on the first floor.  Most of these kind of places don’t have elevators and the Gower House is no exception. Courtyard rooms are quieter than the rooms that face the street.
Another place that I think I would like to stay at is Premier Inn London County Hall ( ).  They currently show room only rates (No food) starting at £69 which may be for just a single.  They do have elevators and a super duper location.  It’s right next to the Eye and the Waterloo Train Station and near Parliament, Big Ben, Westminster Pier, 10 Downing Street, Westminster Abbey, Westminster Tube Station and a bunch of Bus Stops.
Transport: You’ll want to get an Oyster Card before you start riding the Tube or Bus systems.  They have an option that lets you ride ride the Tube & Bus systems all over zone 1 & 2 as much as you want for a fixed price for 7 days.  It also is good for discounts on some train and river cruise trips around London.  See Rick Steve for more detail here ( ) We used the hell out of this thing.  With the all you can ride option we sometimes used the bus to go just a stop or two to get to the tube.
If you come into Heathrow you can ride the tube all the way into town.  But Heathrow is outside of zone 2 so if you buy the 7 day card, that ride would be discounted but still cost extra.  If you land at Gatwick a train or bus ride is involved.  The Gatwick Express is the fastest train.  The Southern Railway (two stops) is the cheapest.  Both take you to Victoria Station.
Telephony:  The deal for local phone service over there is to get an unlocked cell phone ( I have one that I can loan you if you want.  ) and buy a sim card from a local provider once you get there.  The best deal I could find in 2008 was with Virgin Mobile.  I think it was about £15 which gave us plenty of talk time and coverage was total.  I think I still have the sims too.  If they still work you could just top them up and maybe save a few pounds.
Places to eat:  I think the best deals in food are found in the Pubs.  They are all over the place.  The most interesting one we went to was Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese. It was rebuilt in 1667 after the fire and has had quite a few famous visitors.  Check it out here: ( ).  There are all kinds of options though. It’s like New York in terms of restaurants.
Adjusting to the time: You will be flying overnight landing in London around sunrise losing 5 hours in the process. If you want to adjust ASAP and get the most out of your time there, you should stay up until 9PM on day of arrival.  It’s not easy to do but it should put you on track for the rest of your trip.  I set up an evening walk the last time.  It was still very difficult to make it to 9PM.  But we did and the other days we were more or less on a normal schedule.

Chris Christensen


via email, more from Randy Martin:
An incomplete list of things to see:
London Eye:
British Museum:
Buckingham Palace:
St Paul’s Cathedral:
Westminster Abbey:
Tower of London:
Kew Gardens:
Imperial War Museum:
The British Library:
Tower Bridge:
HMS Belfast:
West End Theater District:
Churchill War Rooms:
London Walks:
Thames River Cruises:
**** I liked the cruise from Westminster to Greenwich. At Greenwich you can check out several things including The Royal Observatory.
The Royal Observatory Greenwich:,_Greenwich
Hyde Park:,_London
The Ceremony of the Keys
Day Trips:
Here are some good train ride day trips:
Hampton Court Palace:
*** Henry VIII Palace
The City of Bath:
*** Roman Bath – Jane Austen History – Cool Buildings
*** National Museum of the Royal Navy – Historic Dockyard – Historic Ships
Useful Research Links:
Rick Steves Europe Through The Back Door:
Secret London:
Historic Royal Palaces:
Free Walks in London:
That’s it for now.

Chris (another one)


I echo londonlifervisitor’s frustration with London’s reputation for boring food. The place is such a melting pot of cultures that if there’s a type of food you want to eat, you usually find it. Also the pubs have upgraded their offerings in recent years – they struggle these days to survive on drinks alone – and are a great place to find good cheap food. My tip: the Churchill Arms in Notting Hill (great Thai food)… Chris



Thanks for the timely tip, I am in London today 🙂

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