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Amrit and Balbir
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Balbir Singh and Amrit Sethi are founders of the popular web portal, www.koramangala.com. Since its inception in December 1998, the website has received global media coverage and was also featured on "Sunday Morning 60 minutes", on the widely viewed CBS News channel.

Recently, the couple went on a 2-week trip to the United Kingdom - Balbir's second, but the first for Amrit, for whom this has been a fabulous experience.

Back to Oh! To be in England

The famous River Thames -
what a wonderful sight

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My 4-week trip to England in November 1990 was a stunning first impression; beautiful countryside, a wealth of history, magnificent heritage and a colorful culture. Alas, I was on company training then, and though I got to travel around UK a fair bit, I couldn't really see or experience the real England.

I vowed to come back, so inspired that I was. And I did. On 4th October, 2005, just one month short of 15 years, Mona (that's 'Amrit', my loving wife) and I landed at Heathrow's Terminal 3, at around 6.30 pm London time.

It was the beginning of what would turn out to be a memorable visit. In the episodes (if one can call it that) to follow, I hope to try and bring across the true flavour of England, the places we visited, the sites we saw, how we traveled around, what we ate, and last but not the least, our personal experiences of typical English weather.

The River Thames with the Big
Ben and the House of Commons in
the background

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For those who have a thirst for travel or for those contemplating a trip to the UK, it's all so very fascinating, believe me!

A word of caution; I'm sure to hit upon comparisons between England and India, especially the goings-on in Bangalore. Now, by no means am I being unpatriotic or some such thing. But I think it's very appropriate in the present context. I'm sure there will be those giving me that line about them being a rich country and we, oh so poor!

Sure, calculate the money swindled by our nation's watchdogs and we'll argue about 'rich country, poor country' another time. - Balbir Singh

Advance Planning - So Very Crucial

Change of Guard Ceremony at
the Buckingham Palace

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At the outset, I was aware that 14 days was never going to be enough. The whole of UK, though smaller in size as compared to India, had lots more to offer. And I certainly had no intention of wasting even a single day; precious as it was coming at around 100 a day or thereabouts.

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Don't ever decide on landing up in England unless you have some sort of an itinerary in place. Importantly, there's a fair bit of saving that can be achieved if your planning is right. I started planning four months ago leaning heavily on the Internet. Painstakingly, I poured over pages and pages of anything that read 'Visit England', jotting down valuable information including, on mode of travel and costs, hotels, local sightseeing information, even the kind of weather to expect. I must have revised my itinerary over a dozen times, until I finally arrived at what I thought was the best achievable within the time frame and within a certain budget.

Westminster Road, London
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Though expensive, I choose London as our base; simply because this exciting city by itself represents so much of England's culture, history and diversity. Undoubtedly, it's UK's nerve-centre and blessed with an amazing transport system. A journey to any place outside of London was never as hour or two away, except Edinburgh. Prepare for early morning starts, as we did, and you could be back in the comfort of your hotel by about 6-7 in the evening.

The itinerary looked good. We knew exactly where we were headed - London, Edinburgh; Liverpool; Warwick; Stratford-upon-Avon; Canterbury; Dover; and Windsor. Everything went according to plan, but for the last 3 towns mentioned, primarily because of time constraints and rail track repairs on the Waterloo line towards Windsor.

And this despite having a plan; imagine if we hadn't one.

Next: With A Little Help From My Friends

Back to Oh! To be in England

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