We landed in Heathrow airport and went straight to Ascot where I was going to stay for few days for work related at Macdonald Beryestede Hotel & Spa. It was a very nice Hotel in a quiet location. Perfect for weekend getaway or if you want to have a meeting with no interruption. Ascot Town was only 30 minutes drive from Heathrow airport. I booked Addison Lee car transfer to take me to the Hotel as I have a big suitcase and there is no suitable public transport from Heathrow to my Hotel in Ascot.
Day 1 – Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle was only 13km aways from Town of Ascot and I found there is Bus no.1 not far from my Hotel which goes to Windsor. The bus leave every hour or so to and from Windsor.
Day 2 – London
We checked out from Hotel, take a cab to the Ascot berks station (5 minutes away) to got to Victoria station in London. Ascot train station had elevator and I have checked that the train route from Ascot to Victoria, all has elevators. Very Important as we didn’t want to have to haul our suitcases over the flight of stairs. We were staying in Cherry Court Hotel , only few hundred meters from Victoria Train Station. After depositing our suitcases we explored Buckingham Palace, Parliament Square area and Westminster and end the day in the Southbank.
Day 3 – Oxford and Bicester Village
We took the train from Paddington station to take us to Oxford where we spent half a day in Oxford before taking a Bus to Bicester Village. It worked out cheaper if we go to Oxford first and later catch a Bus to Bicester. There is also a bus to Oxford which is cheaper than train but we wanted to save travel time too. From Bicester Village we took the train back to Marylebone station, London.
Day 4 – Harry Potter
Harry Potter museum in Leavesden. We aleady booked the museum ticket plus the bus ride from Victoria Coach Station in advance.
The Logistics – London
London and UK are very expensive! I paid the most for my London hotel compare to Paris and Nice and the hotel is the smallest among the three. Most hotels with good review in Trip Advisor usually require direct booking instead of thru agents like booking.com or Agoda.com
Why choose Victoria area?
We based ourselves in Victoria because it has easy access for the places we’re going to visit. It is walking distance to Buckingham palace, the coach station and the train station going to Gatwick airport (for our later trip to Nice and Paris)
Trains in UK:
There are 4-5 train companies in London. To get cheaper rate online you have to go to each individual website. If you go out of town, it is always cheaper to buy the tickets ahead of time. And if you purchase on the spot, buying in groups are always cheaper than buying single. I used Train Line website to see train schedule and fare but then I went into individual Train website to buy the ticket and chose collection method at the train station ticket machine.
Always check what promotion is currently running by UK rail company. When we were there, they ran a promo to buy 2 tickets for the price of 1 for some attractions in London.
Tube cards/Oyster card:
You need to purchase oyster card to pay for all the tubes and bus rides in London. Do the math whether it is cheaper to buy Oyster and top up or Travel Card Day Pass which provides unlimited ride per day. Though Oyster also set a maximum on what you have to pay for the day.
A good source to read: which travel card is the best
Victoria Train and Tube Station is probably the busiest Train Station. So opt for ticket collection at the ticket machine and don’t buy your oyster card there. Oyster card is available at all tube/train station.
Good to remember, not all train/tube stations in Europe has elevators/lift. So if you’re carrying suitcases research ahead on here.
Paris and South of France Trip
Day 5 – Flying to Nice
Took southern train from Victoria station to Gatwick airport where we fly with Easy Jet to Nice. Took Bus no.23 from Terminal 1 and stopped at Tram station Liberation. Stayed at Hotel Comte de Nice
Day 6 – Monaco
Bus ride to Monte Carlo
Day 7 – St Paul De Vence and Cannes
Bus ride to St Paul de vence and train to Cannes
Day 8 – Nice
Spend a day in Nice for more shopping and sightseeing
Day 9 – Travelling to Paris
Take high speed TGV train to Paris. After carefully selecting routes which doesn’t involve stairs we somehow missed to check whether Nice train station has elevator or not. It turned out the station didn’t have an elevator as the train station was being renovated and both of us were carrying big suitcases, almost full from all the shopping craze in Nice. We took a cab from the train station to hotel. Stay in My Hotel in France Saint Georges, near Opera area and Sacre Cour. This hotel is only few hundred meters from Saint Georges tube stop
Day 10 – Around Paris
Day 11 – Day trip to Versailles
Versailles by train RER C from Musee d’orsay
Day 12 – Sacre Cour and Le Marais
As my flight is only in the evening, I went to see Sacre Cour in the morning and spend my afternoon walking through Le Marais . There is a bus service to CDG airport from the Opera house. But I couldn’t be bothered with my bulky suitcase I’ve accumulated from all the shopping so I took the shuttle from the hotel. It was still cheaper than taking a cab alone.
The Logistics – France
We bought Paris Pass for 3 days which later on I think is not necessary because we really didn’t have that much time over 3 days to fully maximize the card benefit. It’s wise to do the math before purchasing the ticket. If you skip the Paris Pass the option is to purchase Paris Visite pass or just buy a carnet consist of 10 tickets a the tube station.
There is always a long line of queue to enter any kind of paris attraction. So always purchase your tickets online unless you have a pass. This way you just have to queue once to enter the site instead of twice for ticket and entrance.
We travel around Nice using tram and bus. There is option for 1 day pass, 3 days and 1 week for travel within Nice. You can also pay single ticket. Tickets can be bought using credit card at the ticket machine in most of tram stops.
Bus from Nice to Monaco, Cannes, St paul de Vence etc can be bought from the bus driver
Same like London, most hotel with good review in Trip Advisor usually requires direct booking instead of thru agents like booking.com or Agoda.com
There are many pickpocket and scam artist in France. Keep your bag attached with you at all times and ensure it is zipped.
I always carry non-designer bag and wallet whenever I travel to avoid un-necessary attention.