Entering London

The bus puts you down in central London at Victoria Coach Station, you are happy that you have reached your destination but then start to scratch your head: “Now what?”… Luckily I did some research and I knew what the best option is to get around London: the Oyster Card. Well, in our case we did not have to buy it, because our friend who we visited bought two cards for us in advance. Actually, they can be bought at any metro station around the city, so travelers should really buy them. It helps a lot!
London Tube Oyster
So how does this work? Well, you buy the card (and by the way you receive a very nice card holder with it), then you can just charge it up (again, at any metro station) and each time you exit a metro station or enter a bus you touch it to a scanner which automatically calculates the transfer fee and deducts it from the card. Simple: no scanning/printing of tickets, no queues, just a really fast way of processing a lot of people going in every direction. What’s more, if you reach a top limit of around ₤10-₤15 per day it stops deducting any more cash… Neat 😉 . To top that, there are tons of metro lines and metro stations getting you from and to virtually any point within the city limits. I think there is no better alternative: the tube in London is THE best way to get around.
London Double Decker
If you want to enjoy some picturesque sightseeing also (well you are a tourist, so why not? 😛 ), there is no better way to do it in London, than hopping on to one of their big, bright, red double-deckers. We tried it, even from the front row of the upper deck (yes, we could not resist either…), and it was fun! The corners those buses take and the narrow streets they get around with great ease was astonishing. If you are in London: it is a must! One interesting thing that I saw (not only on the bus, but also in the metro), is that the interior coloring of the bus matches the line color that you are in (just to make sure you are not lost 😀 ).

Of course if you are visiting London, you have to do a lot of strolling around on foot. During this time it happens a lot, that you have to cross the road. This is where it hits you for the first time: in the U.K. people are driving on the left. We were used to automatically first look left to see if something is coming… well in London you first check your right. I guess even the local administration knows how confusing this is, so to avoid problems at each crossing, there is a huge sign painted at the edge of the road: “LOOK RIGHT” (or “LOOK LEFT” in case of one way streets)… nice to know they care 😉 .
London Walking
And if we are at the subject of walking, be sure to carry an umbrella with you. It is London… do not expect a steady weather. During the four days we were there, we experienced three seasons: rainy&windy autumn, cloudy spring and sunny summer… each day… about three times a day. And a very important thing: make sure your umbrella is tough, otherwise it can get into the trashcan along the rest… the winds in London can get suddenly very, very strong 🙂 .

Oh, and I almost forgot, there is of course another way to get around London: by car. Well, yes maybe using a black cab (we did not try that 🙁 ), but we were even luckier :): our hosts took us by car a few times into London and that is when I learned, that there is actually a car sharing program with which they could book specific cars at specific locations for a few hours or more just to get around, do stuff and get the car back in place. Do not expect Rolls-Royces here (even though there is a lot of them), but from what I understood, there is a pretty good selection of almost new cars to use which is, I think, great. This is actually another time when it hit me, that I am in the U.K.: I got into the car on the left side, but the steering wheel was gone: it is REALLY strange to sit on the passenger side in the front seat while you are in London, I tell you that 😛 …

But with so much transportation options available, it must mean that accessing sights in London is easy. Well, it is, but there are a lot of them. You would still need a few weeks to see most of them. We only had four days, so we had to choose. So which ones did we choose? I’ll write about them in my next post ;).


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