London and the rest of the UK have the cutest taxis you’ll ever find. If you’ve ever watched Sherlock Holmes movies with Robert Downey Jr., he refers to them as Black Mariah’s.
That said, London taxi drivers are the same as taxi drivers you’ll find anywhere. You’re better off if you have an idea of the best route to take for where you are going and the approximate amount it should cost. If you find your cabbie driving in circles, demand to stop and get out. You’ll be walking again but still with enough pounds in your pocket to get where you need to go by another means. Some people prefer to haggle for a fare before getting in. Eh, your mileage will vary on this. If you really do have an idea of what the true cost will be and have a good feel for the driver you might feel comfortable doing so. If you are unsure about either one, don’t do it.
2) The Tube
London’s subway is the best way to get around. I found that the subway was much cleaner than the areas with the dirtier streets. It’s clean, not crowded, cheap, and fast. As a tourist, you have a variety of day-week options available. Every subway stop is kindly marked with the classic ‘Underground’ symbol; it’s not just a pub sign after all.
London is very pedestrian friendly. I actually expected a much more crowded city due to its size. Surely, part of it was that I was there on the weekend but even then I was surprised. Never once did I feel like I had come into a congested area or like I would be hit while crossing the street.
*I don’t mention the bus system because after nearly a week in Glasgow and Edinburgh, I didn’t want to see another bus. Ever.
4) Tower of London
The main attraction I chose to visit was the Tower of London and I’m so very glad I did. You really get a lot for your money. My main draw was that it contains so much history, is entertaining, is where the Tower Ravens live, where you can see the Crown Jewels, and most importantly; it can be seen in an afternoon. Having only one full day to see London, I was still able to see a major attraction completely without feeling rushed.
5) Sadly, due to the fiasco, I was unable to do any real shopping in London. I did however, still look for souvenirs to take to my family and friends. Predominately, I looked for Dr. Who stuff. I myself am not a fan but I have a strangely high number of family and friends who dream in Tardis blue. What better gift could I get them than a Dr. Who gift from London, right? I thought it was a genius idea. I did not find one single Who thing. Not one. There was a small Harry Potter shop at King’s Cross but when I first came in; I just wanted to get settled. When I returned, the fiasco had happened the night before. I am such a huge Harry Potter fan myself, I did not trust myself to go into that store with what little cash I had left. Also, I didn’t see any Downton Abbey trinkets or even Brave gifts seeing as Scotland is still a part of the UK. At least Dr. Who and Downton are supposedly popular in Britain, aren’t they? Apparently, Brits don’t wear or collect or decorate Christmas trees with their favorite TV shows like Americans do. That’s probably a good thing.
What I wish I had time to see:
London has so many museums and galleries! I can’t even imagine how good the London Symphony Orchestra would be. Someday, when I return, this will be my focus.
One of the greatest things about being in Europe instead of America is that most of what you will see is older than the United States. London is dripping in some of the most romantic eras known to humans. Perhaps someday I will find a great guidebook for the journey.