So you are going to London? I was just there for a week. Technically a week and a day due to an unforeseen missing-flight incident swiftly followed by a pathetically-sobbing-in-Gatwick incident.
But that is neither here nor there. Clearly I am an expert on calm and collected travel techniques, and U.K. navigation
I’ve never said I’m not an idiot
I arrived Monday afternoon and booked an easyBus* into the city. Upon my disposal at the Waterloo station, I proceeded to walk around in circles trying to figure out where I was. I finally found my way inside, and attempted to buy an Oyster card which sounds simple but somehow simplicity continually eludes me.
Pro Tip: Have cash to purchase your Oyster card, because the card readers are super unreliable.
Or you could do it the most difficult way possible, or what I like to call “The Character Building Method” and wait in line for a card machine, try all three cards you own multiple times, get out of line, get into the heinously long customer service line, lose patience, leave line, find an ATM and get 60 pounds in 20 pound notes. Return to the kiosks, get into the cash line, wait. Realize the machine will not give change and the ticket costs 42 pounds. Try to find a stranger to generously give you either 2 pounds, or to give you change for 20. Find this kind change providing stranger and become proud owner of 20 pounds in mostly coins. Get back in line for Oyster card, use your cash, and finally get onto the Tube.
One hour well spent
Also let it be noted that “mind the gap” is a thing for a reason. By mind they mean look down, and so as to avoid tripping over it and plummeting into rush hour foot traffic and/or your death. Whichever comes first.
*more on easyBus to come
Hopefully every other human can work a key properly, unlike myself. My first act of London-ing? Climbing over the fence of my cousin’s apartment because I could not manage to fit the key into the keyhole properly. Let’s just say there are spikes lining the entire length of the fence, and it began to rain as I was climbing over trying desperately not to rip my pants. Not my proudest moment, second only to losing my pants at the gym that one time.
London has many museums, all of which are free. This is great! You know who else thinks this is great? Every other person in the city. Go to the Tate Modern and encounter every child in London and surrounding areas. Quite possibly every child in the world. Go to the British Museum, and encounter every child that was not at the Tate.
If ever lost simply ask a racist lady for directions. She will tell you about how she is one of the last original London citizens, as now the city is filled with foreigners. I’m guessing she lives in White City, which is a real place that exists. The bus I took to get to Notting Hill was en route to it.
Every time the bus announced its final destination I couldn’t help but play Rack City in my mind, but with White City instead. Anyone else? No, just me? Okay.
MAKE SURE TO LOOK THE CORRECT DIRECTION FOR TRAFFIC!!!
Honestly, I cant believe I am alive. Whoever spent taxpayer dollars to inscribe look left/look right on the ground is responsible for my continued existence on this earth.
Try the Borough Market, which has a veritable smorgasbord of food shops. You had me at food. I went there with the intention of buying and consuming all.the.things, but left with baklava and Turkish Delights which sound like a convoluted sexual act but are in fact delicious and strangely textured candy. I did not have cash on hand, but the Turkish men working the booth offered to conduct the transaction in kisses. I seriously considered as I am not above mild prostitution for baklava…and then went to go get cash.
If you lose your map repeatedly, as some of us who shall remain nameless did, don’t worry because the concierge will provide endless new ones while silently judging you for the environmental damage you are causing.
Some people hate hotels. These people are certifiably insane, because hotel living is the best ever and I will tell you why.
- Two words: free breakfast
- You can shamelessly use the white washcloths to remove eye make-up with the knowledge that you will not have to deal with it
- You return to a clean room every day
- Double beds!!!!
- No dishes
take me back!
The only awkward situation is when you return to your room, and the maid is inside. In the event of such an encounter, turn around and go to high tea by yourself and feed your fear of flying by watching the news about the Alps plane crash.
Pro Tip: At every possible opportunity throw the word “haberdashery” into casual conversations. Literally don’t even know what this word means but my autocorrect did, so it is a real thing.
Don’t go to London for the circuses. While many places claim to be a circus, none failed to provide lighthearted entertainment promised by the name. I did not see a single clown, but I did see a newspaper distributor laying on the ground for an inordinate amount of time. He said he was okay.
If going for a run, do not deviate from the predetermined route you selected prior to departure. You will get lost, you will more than double the length of the run which is great for your training but emotionally taxing.
Do not get off at Covent Gardens on the Piccadilly line ever! They only have elevators, so in busy times you have the choice of waiting in line for an hour crammed into a small hallway 15 floors underground OR taking the stairs 15 floors up while narrowly avoiding a claustrophobia induced panic attack. 15 floors equals a lot of stairs.
This is a good day to get day drunk with your mother, after going to Camden Market. You could use it after your stressful morning excursion.
Brunch and brick lane should be on the docket, if it is raining and awful do not bring an umbrella. This sounds counterintuitive but the thing about umbrellas is they break.
This is about the time one generally remembers they must acquire souvenirs of their trip for their friends and loved ones to prove they were thinking about them while away. Might I recommend stealing the tiny jams (spoiler alert, friends and family) from the breakfast bar. This is great for two reasons
1) Stealing is the greatest
2) They are the cutest things, ever
My new two least favorite words in the English language: easyBus. More like be assholes and miss my flight bus. If needing to get to the airport, I would never ever recommend doing this. I waited outside for the bus for an hour after my original booking time before a driver would even let me on, and missed my fight as a result.
The driver of the second vehicle, the last possible one I could have taken and still made my flight, caused me what I suspect is permanent psychological damage because she was so incredibly demeaning. She now owes me 300 pounds, or even just a simple “I’m sorry”.
On a positive note, I spent a single evening binge watching The Killing in a bed and breakfast five minutes from Gatwick in the tiniest room known to man. Spent the whole evening being pretty postive the inn-keepers were going to murder me in my sleep.
But, alas, they did not and I got free breakfast to boot!