In love. I would never drive again if I could ride the Tube every day.
The London Underground, better known as the Tube, was the world’s first underground railway. The Tube now has 11 lines and 270 stations with over 250 miles of track though only 45% of the Tube is actually underground.
After flying for about 16 hours and going through nine times zones I was tired, my feet hurt and I needed a shower but I was in London. After taking the long walk from Heathrow Terminal 3 to the Tube I placed my Oyster card, which had been delivered to me months earlier, on the scanner and made my way to the train. The ride started out underground then the train made its way above ground and I could see into gardens behind houses. I stared out the window, I was searching for any proof I was in London.
About halfway through my first ride on the Tube the driver announced that all passengers had to get off the train at the next stop because of a traffic signal error though the train across the tracks would take us in the same direction and to the same stops.
Once I got on the new train there were two teenagers from the States who were talking incredibly loud and they were the only ones talking. I could see everyone glaring at them. I had done enough research before my trip to know that you don’t talk on the Tube.
I was staring at the map on the wall of the train counting down until I would get to my stop, listening very closely for the announcement of my station. Finally, Earl’s Court, my home station for the next two weeks.
I fell in love with the Tube. If given the choice I’d give up my car and ride the subway every day.
I became a Londoner when it came to the Tube. I mentally told people to move over if they didn’t stay to the right on the escalator, there are signs on the escalators that say to stay to the right. If you want to walk up the escalator you do that to the left. Even when my feet hurt I walked fast through the Tube, that’s what you did as a Londoner. I made sure to queue up where the doors would be as the train was approaching. Though I did learn it is okay to be a little more aggressive when it comes to getting on the Tube at rush hour. Not pushy, you still need to be polite but if you didn’t move you weren’t getting on the train at rush hour.
The London Underground is well known to be easy to navigate and I couldn’t agree more. I used an app that told me what line to use and what stops to exit at. Though after a few days I didn’t always use it, depending on where I was going. The announcer would tell you tourist attractions that were at the next stops. Though one day I thought I could do it by just looking at the map on the wall and took the wrong train. I was hungry, tired and my feet hurt and all I wanted was to be back in my hotel room so I finally gave up and used the app to get back. Once I was finally back at my hotel I able to see the fun in it. I was in London and got lost on the Tube,, I can think of much worse places to get lost.
When I think of taking the train I think of a long trip. In London the train was just another way to get around the city. I took the train to Windsor Castle and Hampton Court Palace, these were pretty short trips. loved the train. The train stations were huge, the boards were easy to read and understand. I talked to a couple employees because when going to Windsor Castle with the London Pass you don’t have to pay for the train so you have to have them open the gate for you. I went to Paddington Station, King’s Cross Station and Waterloo. The train stations I went to were above a Tube Station which made it so easy. I exited at the Tube station, went upstairs right into the train station and got on the train. London knows what they are doing when it comes to transportation.
I saw another side of London when taking the train, I loved it.
Red Double Decker Bus
Red double decker buses are iconic to London. I was excited to ride the double decker buses though I have to admit I ended up not liking them very much. I found the Tube so much easier and more convenient. The app I was using did offer bus options I had a hard time reading the signs at the bus stops. At one point I just got on the bus with no direction in mind, but to simply ride on a red double decker bus. It was fun and I’m glad I did it because I couldn’t go to London and not ride upstairs on a red double decker bus.
Walking in London
Aside from the Tube, walking was my favorite way to get around London. There are many routed walks through the city though I didn’t go on any of them.
I would use walking mode on my app to make sure I was going in the right directions though one of my favorite things to do was to take a street next to the one they suggested. The app would suggest the fastest and usually most tourist friendly street. I wanted to see different sides of London. I’d go down a block before or after they suggested just to see a different road. Those were some of my favorite walks, it made me feel like I wasn’t a tourist.
The walk that I suggest everyone take is to start at St Paul’s Cathedral, walk across the Millennium Bridge and down the Southbank. The River Thames to the right and ahead is the London Eye. Then walk across Westminster Bridge to Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. I walked along the Southbank at sunset and it was a walk that truly changed me. I fell in love with the Southbank and I could see iconic London all around me.