Things they never tell you when you travel to London:

If you fly into Gatwick Airport, where many charters land, transportation is not only cheapest to London by train, but it is incredibly easy. The train platform is located inside the terminal, no more than a 30-second walk from the currency exchange window.

If you can plan ahead, exchange all your currency and travelers checks at a bank, not in the hotel, shops, restaurants or those so-called Bureaus de Change. The exchange rate is by far the best in the bank.

Don't bother to order theater tickets before you get to London. Even though the city was filled with tourists between Christmas and New Year's, it was easy to buy the tickets there - and for less money then you'd pay for them in the United States.

An 8 per cent Value Added Tax (VAT) is tacked onto almost everything you buy in England. Foreigners may redeem it if they have a VAT form and turn it in at British customs before leaving the country. But not all shops participate in the program. If they don't you can't get the money back. And some large stores, like Harrod's, charge a flat fee for processing all the VAT forms one purchaser submits, about $2.40.

The best restaurants in London are more than likely run by foreigners serving their native cuisine. Some of the best we went to were The Gay Husar (Hungarian), Tandoori on Fulham Road (Indian) and Kalamaris (Greek).

Good buys for Americans in England include: woolens, English china and Waterford crystal, linen, pipes, French wines, Scottish smoked salmon, English cheeses, chocolates and teas.

Only the British can figure out how to make something that tastes like liver look like a piece of steak, which is what was served on the flight over and back. Airline food in general is not noted for its quality or flavor. Pack your own lunch and don't let the stares of other passengers or flight attendents deter you. There's no law against bringing food on board.