Getting Around London

london-for-tourists London is one of those wonderful cities where you can get everywhere and anywhere using transport. I must say that this was one of the things that I was really looking forward to about London – no more driving hassles. I know some people love driving, and if I’m driving just for the sake of driving, then I must admit that I enjoy it too. But 99% of the time – I turn into a devil woman behind the wheel. Everything annoys me, I’m constantly in a hurry to get everywhere even if I’m not, and everyone on the road is an idiot. Basically, I really don’t like the person that I become behind the wheel, so transport is really the way to go for city living.

Luckily, I’m in the right place. Whether you want to go down the road, across town or across the country, there is always a bus or train to take you there.

Let’s start with the basics – the Tube. The glorious Tube.  So many lines, so many convenient stations. The folks at TFL (Transport for London) are a hilarious bunch, most of the time, who love to get creative.
Tip 1 for moving to London = find a house that’s walking distance from a tube station (sorry East London – you’re out).

Here’s a map – study it, print it out, download the phone app – this will be your ultimate guide on how not to get lost when you first get to London.
Tip 2: Avoid referring to the colours of the Tube lines, as tempting as this is. It’s the ultimate tourist giveaway.  Learn the names of the lines – Piccadilly, Victoria, Central, Bakerloo, etc.

Oh, and then there’s the train drivers….

prince charles tube train

If you can’t get near a tube, the next best thing (in my opinion) is the Overground. It’s a bit slower than the Tube, but it’s also normally less busy, and the trains are much nicer and bigger which is a bonus. I’m lucky enough to travel to work and back on the Overground, so I always relax with a seat in the mornings. The biggest downside is the regularity – whilst the Tube comes every 1- 3 minutes, the Overground is more like every 8-12 minutes. If you’re really lucky – maybe you’ll see something like this .

Buses – well, buses can get you everywhere. The novelty of the double-decker bus wears off pretty quickly, so lap it up whilst you’re still excited about it. There are bus stops every 200m on average (well, that’s how it feels anyway), so it’s convenient for those who don’t enjoy walking, but takes at least 30 minutes longer to get anywhere!

Tip 3: Whilst you’re new in town though, jump onboard, try and nab the prime position spot at the front of the top deck, and enjoy the scenery. It’s a great way to get to know your new city and get your bearings.

These are the main 3 ways of travelling through London. There is also the DLR, First Capital Connect and the regional trains, but you can learn about that when you’re here. Oh, and the wonderful Eurostar – 2.5 hours and you’re in Paris, amazing! (http://www.eurostar.com/)

Tip 4: Google maps is your friend – put in your current location and your destination, and it maps out your whole journey via transport, to a tee.
For an even better app though, I recently downloaded CityMapper and it’s pretty amazing. They even have live updates for any delays or problems, and it’s free!

Finally, if you want to check out the TFL website, it has the most information but not as user friendly as the apps – http://www.tfl.gov.uk/

Oh, and there’s always bikes too… (yes, that’s Boris, Mayor of London)

28-07-2011 Boris Johnson marks anniversary of Bike scheme

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