Welcome to London
London remains full of wonders- some virtually unchanged since Dicken’s day; the great marble palaces, the ramshackle Medieval streets, the imposing Inns of Court; the grand sweep of Bond Street, the Tower of London, home to jewels and ghosts, the Gothic fairy-tale Houses of Parliament and the elegant, curving Nash Terraces of Regent’s Park.
Then there’s the marvellous museums and the rolling, timeless Thames which spills through the great city like a satin ribbon, its surface shifting colour from softest, shimmering jade to rushing, churning black with the ever-changing weather. It’s a city of green spaces, where willows trail in serene ponds just yards from rattling red Routemaster buses; and of vast crowds, pouring into the subterranean gateways of the tube like the Pied Piper’s entourage.
But it’s more modern wonders are equally remarkable- the glittering Shard, piercing the clouds above the city, the London Eye, watching over the urban landscape, the Tate Modern, the exquisite designer shops and charming boutiques, and the world-class bars, pubs and restaurants that ensure the city teems with life, day and night.
London is a planet in itself, with its own solar system of swirling history, culture and energy. All you have to do is breathe in its atmosphere to become a part of it.
MUSEUM OF LONDON
DENNIS SEVERS HOUSE
The Blue Bar At The Berkeley
Novotel Blackfriars London
Many restaurants now add a service charge onto the bill, so check before you leave a tip. This is usually about 12% of the total.
Stay on the right hand side of Tube escalators if you’re not walking up or down- escalator-blockers are not popular.
Bring comfortable shoes. London is best seen by walking- but if you need to look at a map, do not stop in the middle of Oxford Street. It’s one of the busiest streets in the world and people walk fast.
Waterloo Bridge offers the best view along the Thames, taking in St.Paul's Cathedral to the East and Big Ben to the West.
Avoid ticket touts- there are reputable websites selling discount theatre tickets, so don’t be fooled into paying over the odds.
The easiest and fastest way to travel is by Underground (Tube.) Buy an Oyster card in the station if you’re staying for a few days- it’s much cheaper than buying daily tickets.
If not, get a Travelcard. If you’re staying centrally, you’ll only need Zones 1 and 2- but check the map, which is displayed in every station, to be certain.
You can hail a Hackney carriage (black cab) by sticking out your arm- but if they’re ‘going the wrong way’ they reserve the right not to take you. A tip of around 10% is usual.
There is a £10 daily congestion charge for driving in London between 07:00 and 18:00, Monday to Friday. If you’re within the congestion charge zone .
Parking can also be a nightmare in central London. Ideally, leave the car and travel by train- but if that’s not possible, aim to stay outside of Zone One to avoid big parking charges.
London buses are an excellent way to see more of the city - There is a flat fare throughout the bus network, £1.40 with a pre-pay Oyster card and £2.40 if you are paying by cash.
Travelcards are also valid on buses. Avoid rush hour if you fancy sightseeing, however- buses are crammed.
You can find out more information on overground transport by visiting the TFL website. CLICK HERE
If you enjoy cycling, the “Boris Bikes” scheme allows you to hire bikes- from £2 for short journeys. The bikes are available all over the city.
You hire them and return to the nearest ‘docking station.’ However unless you have experience of cycling in big cities, London traffic can be terrifying, despite a growing network of cycle paths.
Walking in central London is relatively compact, and you can see a huge number of sights and attractions in a day on foot. You are never far from a pub to refuel before setting off again.