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London, Great Britain City Info
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Population: 7.2 million

Time Zone: England follows Greenwich mean time (5 hr. ahead of Eastern Standard Time), For most of the year, including summer, Britain is 5 hours ahead of the time observed in the eastern United States. Due to Daylight-saving time practices in the two nations, there's a brief period (about a week) in autumn when Britain is only 4 hours ahead of New York, and a brief period in spring when it is 6 hours ahead of New York.

Area: 609 sq. miles

Telephone Area Code: 020

Average Temperatures:

Month

High

Low

January

43F

36F

February

44F

36F

March

50F

38F

April

56F

42F

May

62F

47F

June

69F

53F

July

71F

56F

August

71F

56F

September

65F

52F

October

58F

46F

November

50F

42F

December

39F

13F

When to Visit: British summertime lasting (roughly) from the end of March to the end of October is the time when most tourists visit. Rates are lower during the winter months. Rain is heaviest in November (2 1/2 in. on average). Evenings are cool, even in summer. In the winter, it is customary for the British to keep their thermostats about 10° below the American comfort level.

National Holidays:

New Year's Day Jan. 1

Good Friday (Varies: it is the Friday before Easter)

May Day First Monday in May

Whitsun Bank Holiday last Mon. in May

Bank Holiday last Monday in August

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Dec. 24 and 25

Boxing Day December 26

New Year's Eve Dec. 31

Area Codes : The country code for England is 44. The area code for London is 020.

Business Hours : Business hours are Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm. In general, stores are open Monday through Saturday from 9am to 5:30pm. In country towns, there is usually an early closing day (often on Wed or Thurs), when the shops close at 1pm.

Drugstores : In Britain, they're called "chemists." Every police station in the country has a list of emergency chemists. Dial "0" (zero) and ask the operator for the local police, who will give you the name of one nearest you.

Electricity : British electricity is 240 volts AC (50 cycles), roughly twice the voltage in North America, which is 115 to 120 volts AC (60 cycles). American plugs do not fit British wall outlets. Always bring suitable transformers and/or adapters : if you plug an American appliance directly into a European electrical outlet without a transformer, you'll destroy your appliance and possibly start a fire. Tape recorders, VCRs, and other devices with motors intended to revolve at a fixed number of revolutions per minute probably won't work properly even with transformers.

Emergencies : Dial 999 for police, fire, or ambulance. Give your name, address, and telephone number and state the nature of the emergency.

In England, pubs can legally be open Monday through Saturday from 11am to 11pm, and on Sunday from noon to 10:30pm. Premises with a restaurant license can continue serving until midnight (11:30pm Sun), provided the sale of alcohol accompanies a table meal.

Police : Dial 999

Taxes : To encourage energy conservation, the British government levies a 25% tax on gasoline (petrol). There is also a 17.5% national value-added tax (VAT) that is added to all hotel and restaurant bills and is included in the price of many items you purchase. This can be refunded if you shop at stores that participate in the Retail Export Scheme (signs are posted in the window).

In October 1994, Britain imposed a departure tax. It is included in the price of your ticket.

Telephone : To call England from North America, dial 011 (international code), 44 (Britain's country code), the local area codes, and the seven-digit local phone number. For calls within the same city or town, the local number is all you need. For directory assistance in London, dial 142; for the rest of Britain, 192.

Tipping : For cab drivers, add about 10% to 15% to the fare on the meter. However, if the driver loads or unloads your luggage, add something extra.

Currency: Britain's decimal monetary system is based on the pound (£), which is made up of 100 pence (written as "p"). Pounds are also called quid by Britons. There are £1 and £2 coins, as well as coins of 50p, 20p, 10p, 5p, 2p, and 1p. Banknotes come in denominations of £5, £10, £20, and £50.

The Euro: Since the euro's inception, the U.S. dollar and the euro have traded almost on par (i.e., $1 approximately equals 1€).

Getting There

By Air


Long-haul international flights are usually routed through Heathrow and Gatwick airports. The city's other three airports—London City, Luton and Stansted—are used primarily for regional flights and hops to the Continent.

Gatwick Airport
One of London's major international airports, Gatwick (LGW) is 28 miles south of the city center, off the M23. It's a 70-minute drive in normal conditions, but allow extra time for traffic delays.

There are two terminals, north and south, so it's wise to double-check which one your flight is departing from (the newer north terminal is reached by taking a short train ride on an unmanned overhead railway. ) Though extremely busy, the second busiest airport in the U.K. after Heathrow, Gatwick provides a streamlined experience for travelers.

Gatwick Connecting Transportation

Gatwick Express trains are the fastest way into the city. The journey to Victoria Station takes about half an hour, and trains depart every 15 minutes (less frequently between about midnight and 6 am).

Hotel courtesy vans and the Hotelink shuttle are available for arriving passengers. Flightline and Jetlink buses operate between the airport and Victoria Coach Station.


Heathrow Airport
Expanded in stages since its beginnings as a Royal Air Force strip in the 1940s, Heathrow (LHR) is London's busiest airport and the world’s fourth busiest. It is located 15 miles west of the city, off the M4 motorway. The drive takes 50 minutes in normal traffic, but allow at least 90 minutes if you're catching a flight out

Heathrow Connecting Transportation

The Heathrow Express runs high-speed trains every 15 minutes to Paddington Station. The journey takes about 15 minutes . One other benefit: Some airlines let you check your bags at Paddington before your return trip, saving time at the airport. Phone 0845-600-1515. If you don't take the train, the next best option is the Tube. The Piccadilly line serves all four of Heathrow's terminals. Hotel courtesy vans and taxis are readily available.

Bus
Most national and international coaches arrive at Victoria Coach Station, about 400 yds. south of Victoria Station. 164 Buckingham Palace Road, SW1. For schedule information, call 020-7730-3466.

The bus lines to know are National Express (extensive service throughout Britain) and Eurolines (daily departures to the Continent), which share the same phone number Phone 0870-580-8080.

Public Transportation
For information and advice on reaching your destination by bus, light rail, Tube or water taxi, call the London Transport Authority's 24-hour information line. Phone 020-7222-1234, Free public transport maps are available from information offices at train and Tube stations.

Buses—Although contemporary-style buses are becoming more common, most London buses are still of the red double-decker variety. Buy tickets on board, except in some parts of central London where new ticket machines have been introduced alongside bus stops. area. Although there's not much to see once you get there, the train (which runs on an elevated rail) offers an impressive view of the city

Subway—The London Underground, otherwise known as the Tube, is the system of subways in London and out to the suburbs.

Water Taxis—Boats carry passengers from the center of London to destinations along the Thames, including Greenwich.

Docklands Light Railway—This rapid transit system runs from the Tower of London to the redeveloped Docklands ower of London, Kew Gardens, Hampton Court, Canary Wharf and Bankside. A handful of boat operators are used, and timetables vary by route.

Taxi
Taxis are plentiful in London. Ask the driver for an approximate fare before getting in. Most will accept credit cards.

Train
For information on train services, phone 0845-748-4950.




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