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Geek Travel To London From the US — Tips? 1095

Posted by timothy
from the see-the-largest-paired-bluetooth-devices dept.
Audrey23 writes "I am traveling to London from Washington state for two weeks in December for pleasure (use-it-or-lose-it vacation scenario) and was wondering if I should bother bringing my laptop. I know that I would have to change the region code on my wireless amongst other things and the power cord would have to be changed for a UK outlet. Would I be better off not bringing my laptop and just using Internet kiosks (do they exist in London?) or would having my laptop be a better choice to keep in touch, off-load my digital images etc? I plan on hitting the British Museum but was wondering what geeky things to do that are in London that might be worth going to and any tips hints on overseas travel for geeks? I travel quite a bit in the states but this will be my first trip overseas and want to make the best of my stay in merry old England. What words of advice do you travel seasoned geeks have for me?"
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Geek Travel To London From the US — Tips?

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  • asdf (Score:5, Funny)

    by Bromskloss (750445) <[auxiliary.addre ... [at] [gmail.com]> on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @06:37AM (#30211406)

    I know that I would have to change the region code on my wireless amongst other things

    What you say? I have never heard about it. Is that ordinary wireless LAN you are talking about or UMTS or something?

    I plan on hitting the British Museum

    Uh, I'll notify the police.

  • Remember... (Score:5, Funny)

    by DiamondGeezer (872237) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @06:37AM (#30211410) Homepage
    ...speak to people LOUDLY and ask them if England is anywhere near London because they're all deaf and stupid just like you see on American TV. Tell everyone you meet how everything is bigger in the States and how proud you are to be a Republican. You get to win a prize if you can piss more than 25 feet from Landseer's lions in Trafalgar Square - its a well known custom.
  • by GuerillaRadio (818889) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @06:38AM (#30211412)

    Would I be better off not bringing my laptop and just using Internet kiosks (do they exist in London?)

    What are these kiosks of the inter-net you speak of?
    Why, here in blighty the modern mode of communication is the telegraph, which we run using steam, dontyouknow!

  • by underqualified (1318035) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @06:43AM (#30211468) Homepage
    or better yet, ask them what language they're speaking
  • by ultrasound (472511) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @06:46AM (#30211492)
    Public taxis are subsidized by the Her Majesty's Government. A taxi ride in London costs two pounds, no matter how far you travel. If a taxi driver tries to overcharge you, you should yell "I think not, you charlatan!", then grab the nearest policeman (bobby) and have the driver disciplined.

    It is rarely necessary to take a taxi, though, since bus drivers are required to make detours at patrons' requests. Just board any bus, pay your fare of thruppence (the heavy gold-colored coins are "pence"), and state your destination clearly to the driver, e.g.: "Please take me to the British Library." A driver will frequently try to have a bit of harmless fun by pretending he doesn't go to your requested destination. Ignore him, as he is only teasing the American tourist (little does he know you're not so ignorant!).

    For those travelling on a shoestring budget, the London Tube may be the most economical way to get about, especially if you are a woman. Chivalry is alive and well in Britain, and ladies still travel for free on the Tube. Simply take some tokens from the baskets at the base of the escalators or on the platforms; you will find one near any of the state-sponsored Tube musicians. Once on the platform, though, beware! Approaching trains sometimes disturb the large Gappe bats that roost in the tunnels. The Gappes were smuggled into London in the early 19th century by French saboteurs and have proved impossible to exterminate. The announcement "Mind the Gappe!" is a signal that you should grab your hair and look towards the ceiling. Very few people have ever been killed by Gappes, though, and they are considered only a minor drawback to an otherwise excellent means of transportation.

    I can't take credit for this advice, source [siliconglen.com]
  • by dintech (998802) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @06:49AM (#30211516)

    Also, if you make it up north to Edinburgh, "Scotland is my favourite part of England" will ensure you some new-found friends.

  • by rosbif (71236) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @06:50AM (#30211524)

    Don't forget, you can always get a passing ragged urchin (you'll recognise them from the bow legs due to rickets and the sooty covering from sweeping chiminees) to take your message to the nearest telegraph office for a farthing.
    One other thing - you must never mention the name Dick Van Dyke in London, otherwise you'll be hounded by a baying mob with pitchforks and faming torches

  • by polar red (215081) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @06:50AM (#30211528)

    The most important rule for Brittons in Belgium is : don't try your drinking habbits on the belgian beer. it's much stronger(and better) than you're used to; furthermore : taste the effing beer please, in stead of gulping it down.

  • Heathrow (Score:5, Funny)

    by da5idnetlimit.com (410908) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @06:50AM (#30211532) Journal

    Bring :

    - Something to read (for when the luggage tracking and transport system fails)
    - Emergency underwear (for when they will lose your luggage)
    - Anal lube (for when you complain about the delay and lost luggage)

    If in addition you travel with british airways, I would say a dose of Valium or Prozac and a strong whisky would do the trick.

  • by Nomen Publicus (1150725) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @06:52AM (#30211548)
    Always ask any kilt wearing Scotsmen you see, "Is anything worn under the kilt?" Laughing, they will give the classic replay, "No, It's all in perfect working order." Remember to shout across the Whispering Gallery in St Paul's Cathedral. The name is historical and fools many tourists into missing the exciting results.
  • but london does have the seventh-busiest greyhound canada terminal in terms of passengers

    perhaps you meant to say you wanted to visit the university of western ontario?

  • by Sockatume (732728) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @06:57AM (#30211596)

    Speaking of Edinburgh, if you hear a loud bang at 1pm, start running. Keep running. Never stop. That's the official signal that dragons have, in fact, been seen approaching the city, starving for human flesh.

  • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @06:58AM (#30211604) Homepage Journal

    Yes. In Sydney too. Here in Melbourne we prefer our tourists to learn the hard way.

  • by Neil_Brown (1568845) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @07:03AM (#30211638) Homepage
    Nor say that you hope to have a blast in London.
  • by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @07:08AM (#30211670)
    London is a dank, seething cesspool of filth. The tube system is full of tramps, smells of urine, and is the best place to get a venereal disease without any of the difficult issues of actually making contact with anyone.

    I recommend going to Blackpool instead. Much more classy.
  • by Harold Halloway (1047486) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @07:11AM (#30211694)

    ...and don't ask whether or not we have 'internet kiosks'. It's not the bloody Middle Ages here.

  • by armyofone (594988) <armeeofone@hotmail.com> on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @07:13AM (#30211704)

    "Most London streets have "look left" and "look right" painted on the road at the crossings."

    Well yeah, but it's a foreign country so he might have trouble reading the signs.

  • by Nursie (632944) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @07:21AM (#30211764)

    It's about the only place in the UK worth bothering with. Everywhere else is full of pissed-up chavs.

    I guess you're just a yokel though, if you don't like cities. Here's a tip - some people like to do more with their evenings than hang out in the barn fucking pigs.

  • Re:PSU (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @07:38AM (#30211890)

    In the spirit of some of the other travel "advice" that's been offered here, I should point out that the UK mains voltage is actually 12V, so you don't need an adapter at all. Just cut the cable off your existing power brick and wire it straight into one of our plugs. The three pins are E (enable), N (negative) and L (laptop power). Be sure to use a 13 Amp fuse as very high currents are needed at such low voltages.

  • by MrMr (219533) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @08:07AM (#30212118)
    I fully agree, I spent last weekend practising driving on the left and you wouldn't believe how many idiots were trying to run in to me.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @08:08AM (#30212122)

    If you like Doritos or Frito Lays, don't forget to order a big bag of chips in the pub.

  • by jimicus (737525) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @08:09AM (#30212130)

    If you have a small enough laptop bring it. No need for a new power cord, just get a plug adapter, unless your power brick really won't handle 240 V (most modern ones do).

    Some US companies are selling power bricks that don't handle 240V.

    (We had a US colleague blow up four on the trot that way. I think he was let go shortly after that...)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @09:04AM (#30212514)

    The best reply to that question I've ever heard was "Aye, yer mother's lipstick!"
    ;-)

  • by kale77in (703316) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @09:16AM (#30212616) Homepage

    And people wonder why we lose so many tourists [youtube.com].

    (Ad courtesy of The Gruen Transfer.)

  • Re:Heathrow (Score:5, Funny)

    by Fortunato_NC (736786) <verlinh75&msn,com> on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @09:17AM (#30212626) Homepage Journal

    My condolences.

  • by Rufty (37223) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @09:18AM (#30212636) Homepage
    Remember, English food is bland, so if you get "pub lunch" you will need to cover everything with lots of English mustard. Better to go for some Indian meals, but even there Englishness has blanded everything down. Ask for a "Vindaloo" or better yet a "Bangalore Phal" and make sure you get it extra spicy. As for drink, there are parts of England that make a speciality out of cider (Sumerset and Herefordshire in particular) but anything called "scrumpy" (more natural, unprocessed cider) is fun for a jug or two.
  • by gbjbaanb (229885) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @09:21AM (#30212678)

    oh oh oh! I know this one... (but a little dated)

    Advice for tourists

    The Brits have peculiar words for many things. Money is referred to as "goolies" in slang, so you should for instance say "I'd love to come to the pub but I haven't got any goolies." "Quid" is the modern word for what was once called a "shilling" - the equivalent of seventeen cents American.

    If you are fond of someone, you should tell him he is a "great tosser" - he will be touched. The English are a notoriously tactile, demonstrative people, and if you want to fit in you should hold hands with your acquaintances and tossers when you walk down the street.

    Habits
    Ever since their Tory government wholeheartedly embraced full union with Europe, the Brits have been attempting to adopt certain continental customs, such as the large midday meal followed by a two or three hour siesta, which they call a "wank." As this is still a fairly new practice in Britain, it is not uncommon for people to oversleep (alarm clocks, alas, do not work there due to the magnetic pull from Greenwich). If you are late for supper, simply apologise and explain that you were having a wank - everyone will understand and forgive you.

    Universities
    University archives and manuscript collections are still governed by quaint mediaeval rules retained out of respect for tradition; hence patrons are expected to bring to the reading rooms their own ink-pots and a small knife for sharpening their quills. Observing these customs will signal to the librarians that you are "in the know"- one of the inner circles, as it were, for the rules are unwritten and not posted anywhere in the library. Likewise, it is customary to kiss the librarian on both cheeks when he/she brings a manuscript you've requested, a practice dating back to the reign of Henry VI.

    One of the most delightful ways to spend an afternoon in Oxford or Cambridge is gliding gently down the river in one of their flat-bottomed boats, which you propel using a long pole. This is known as "cottaging". Many of the boats (called "yer-i-nals") are privately owned by the colleges, but there are some places that rent them to the public by the hour. Just tell a professor or policeman that you are interested in doing some cottaging and would like to know where the public yerinals are. The poles must be treated with vegetable oil to protect them from the water, so it's a good idea to buy a can of Mazola and have it on you when you ask directions to the yerinals. That way people will know you are an experienced cottager.

    Food
    British cuisine enjoys a well deserved reputation as the most sublime gastronomic pleasure available to man. Thanks to today's robust dollar, the American traveller can easily afford to dine out several times a week (rest assured that a British meal is worth interrupting your afternoon wank for).

    Few foreigners are aware that there are several grades of meat in the UK. The best cuts of meat, like the best bottles of gin, bear Her Majesty's seal, called the British Stamp of Excellence (BSE). When you go to a fine restaurant, tell your waiter you want BSE beef and won't settle for anything less. If he balks at your request, custom dictates that you jerk your head imperiously back and forth while rolling your eyes to show him who is boss. Once the waiter realizes you are a person of discriminating taste, he may offer to let you peruse the restaurant's list of exquisite British wines. If he does not, you should order one anyway. The best wine grapes grow on the steep, chalky hillsides of Yorkshire and East Anglia-try an Ely '84 or Ripon '88 for a rare treat indeed. When the bill for your meal comes it will show a suggested amount. Pay whatever you think is fair, unless you plan to dine there again, in which case you should simply walk out; the restaurant host will understand that he should run a tab for you.

    Transportation
    Public taxis are subsidized by the Her Majesty's Government. A taxi ride in London

  • Re:Heathrow (Score:4, Funny)

    by Alinabi (464689) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @10:57AM (#30213720)
    What are you talking about? I fly Air France all the time and it is one of the best out there. Food is still free and quite good by airline standards, checked bags don't cost extra, and I never missed a connection because of them. I would pick them any time over Delta or American. Now, those are some nightmarish airlines, with some very rude crews. Also, when in England, if you ask someone for directions, keep in mind that, no matter how official they look, they will always give you two pieces of information, one of which is wrong.

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