Sidewalk Dance with the Londoners
It’s been a little over a month since I’ve entered the capital of the United Kingdom-Britain. Everyday is an adventure! You never know what you’ll see on the tube or where a wrong turn will take you. I’ve crafted my top five cultural experiences split into three parts anyone coming to London could encounter.
First and foremost point A to point B.
Londoners take pride in their public transportation. I mean who wouldn’t, it’s genius. Reducing less cars being driven by offering people other means of transport works well for the Londoners. There’s many forms of getting from point A to point B in the big city, but the regular ports of transport is the famous red double decker buses, walking and the underground.
Walking is super common in the city. I use to think only a mad person would walk 30 minutes to work. However, walking anywhere 30 minutes or less here is close! I walked up to 12 miles in one day during my first week here. Believe it or not, even for an unfit individual as myself, the walking isn’t so bad. Be careful for walking across intersections and crossing the roads though, London drivers are ruthless and believe me when I say you cross many busy streets.
Besides doing the sidewalk dance with others you need an Oyster Card for the national railway services, underground and buses. Upon entering one of the underground facilities you will find ports that provides step by step instructions to purchase or top up your card. It’s your choice on how much pounds you want to place on your card. They have annual options on their website, but if you’re just visiting topping up is your best bet. If you’re a movie nerd like me, you’ll understand what I mean when I say I looked like Arthur Weasley in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix during my first time tapping through to the underground station (train underground).
How do I know where I’m going? With every individual’s trusty handy dandy Citymapper app. The app pretty much works like a GPS, except it gives you all options of routes you can take to get to your destination. My favorite is the underground, although pricer, it’s much faster.
Citymapper thankfully does all the work for you. The app gives you convenient options to choose from to get to your location. It even gives you details on the line and direction. Once arriving at the station it’s your job to follow the signs to get on the correct line-heading towards the correct direction. For example, I need to get on the Bakerloo line headed southbound to get to Uni. A lot, I know, but you’ll get it in time.
Depending on the station you venture on they’re all unique in their own way. For example, Baker Street underground has Sherlock Holme’s silhouette on the platform walls. While, Victoria underground has a silhouette of the queen on the platform walls. Once you find the correct platform take a look around at the advertisements of events and entertainment happening in the city, you’ll be surprised at how many weekend plans begin with those ad’s.
Beware of Rush Hour
For all ports of transportation, beware of rush hour. Early in the morning when individuals are headed to work or in the evening when heading home all transports are swamped. If you’re claustrophobic avoid the tube at all cost. Once letting people pour out of the tube at the platform individuals swarm onto it, pushing is normal. What is personal space when you’re trying to get home?
I’ll shed a funny story on the subject. My favorite experience on the tube was when my four friends and I squeezed our way in. The tube was of course jam packed on all sides and we had to hold tightly to the pole to avoid jerking around from the halts of the breaks at each stop. If you’re unlucky you will end up in a spot with nothing to hold onto at each jerk. In the midst of all of the people I could hear my friend whisper “well there I go” and “there I go again.” I soon realized that every time the tube halted to a stop she tumbled into the person behind her. Holding in my laughter, it got better when the other friend dropped her umbrella and the other whispered, “well you’re never gonna see that again.”
Note to self and others – Beware transport during rush hour.
“Trains, underground? Genius these muggles.” (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix)
(Read part two of my top five cultural experiences)