I took a trip to England from July 15 – July 22, 2014. These blog posts are mainly to help me remember everything I did but also will hopefully entertain you the reader. I did the same back in 2005 for a trip to Ireland. The main reason for the trip was to see Monty Python’s live stage show. I doubt they will ever do it again so it was an event I couldn’t pass up. I grew up on Python and they shaped my sense of humor. I also took in some London sights as well as 2 days in Manchester to see some Morrissey and Smiths sights. I am a long-time Morrissey and Smiths fan and have a website on them, the first fan website on the internet I dare say, that I have not updated in nearly a decade. To view all the posts you can click on the UK 2014 category or click through the individual posts below. They may be quite long so be warned.
- Tuesday July 15
- Wednesday July 16
- Thursday July 17
- Friday July 18
- Saturday July 19
- Sunday July 20
- Monday July 21
- Tuesday July 22
All of my observations are mine and may not be how you experience a similar trip. All the tips I share worked for me but may not work for you. Keep all that in mind. I was fortunate enough to have a place to stay that wasn’t a hotel. The cousin of one of my work colleagues lives outside of London, in Harold Wood, and I was able to stay with a family. This was a big savings in lodging but also meant I was 30 minutes outside of London’s core. It was a worthwhile tradeoff.
The first I did was build a google map of where I planned to go. This helped me plan my days in London and allowed me to cluster nearby sights. Click the icon in the upper-right to open the map in a new tab and explore it.
- The Tube system is amazing and has a long history, longer than you may think. Read about it at Wikipedia.
- Get an Oyster card to get around London. It’s 5 pound for the card and then you put on money. It makes getting in and out of tube stations must faster. I believe there is a daily maximum charge — once you reach it you aren’t charged any more. The website has more info. Buses only take cards now, no cash.
- Don’t ride before 9:30AM if at all possible. It’s very expensive to ride the tube during rush hour.
- The transport for London site is great for planning trips. It is mobile-ready.
- Get to know the tube map. You can get pocket-sized version at the stations. This is really all you need. It’s posted in the stations and on the trains. I used my map to determine which stations I needed to go to. Once you know what station you’re aiming for you just figure out the best route to get there.
- Minimize transfers from one line to another. The tube is quick but switching trains takes time to walk between them. Some connections in the same station are pretty far.
- Trains come constantly. Don’t try to jump on just as the doors close. It slows down the train for everyone. If you’re not going to miss something scheduled don’t worry about it. There should be another train in a minute.
- Mind the gap. Not all trains line up with the platforms. You can have a large step, step down, or step over a gap.
- The trains have audio announcements of which train it is, what the next stop is, as well as signs on the outside as to which train it is. Everything is labelled very well.
- Pay attention to which direction you’re going: west vs. east, north vs. south. Trains go both directions and arrive/depart on different platforms.
- If you’re on the wrong train don’t panic. You can get off at the next stop and catch the next train back to your last station and try again. Or you can plan a new route.
- Sometimes lines will have problems and you may have to take a different route. There is much overlap and many ways to get where you need to. Get to know the tube map.
- The Circle line is air conditioned. This is nice if you happen to be there when it is in the high 80s like I was.
- On escalators stand on the right or walk on the left. That way people who are in a hurry have a clear path to walk up or down them.
Click on the small image below to hear a 35 second clip of the tube. Take note of the announcement of the next station, the name of the tube line and the reminder to “mind the gap.”
- Bring a small backpack with everything you need. Many people carry backpacks around London. It’s handy to put away what you buy and helps you look less like a tourist.
- Pack some hand sanitizer or sanitizing wipes in your backpack. Do you know how many people ride the tube?
- Bring a water bottle. Refill it daily at your home base. You can get anything you need in the tube stations (there’s a ton of convenience stores) but be prepared to pay for the convenience.
- Bring a light rain jacket in your backpack. It likely will rain while you’re there.
- Bring a small note pad and pens. I found it handy to jot things down especially which tube line I was planning on taking. I like lists, a lot.
Click on an image below to see a larger view.