Deborah Armstrong

London makes it so easy

Deborah's Diary

AS long as you have a map of the city that shows the bus and subway (underground) routes, you will have no problem navigating your way through the city. When you first arrive, buy an Oyster card. It offers unlimited travel for bus and subway transportation. Zone 1 and 2 coverage should suffice. The staff at the stations are the friendliest and most helpful I have ever encountered. They go out of their way to make sure that you know where you are going and that you are taking the right train. Even if you know where you are going but look lost, someone will ask you if you need assistance. I am in awe of their service. Toronto Transit could learn from London.

Be prepared to do a lot of walking when you are underground. The maze of tunnels, stairs and escalators that connect the various levels of trains is massive. Remember to stay to the right, so that those who do know where they are going can pass you. This applies to walking and when on the escalators. Most people walk up the escalators. Who would think of standing still?

The number of steps from the bottom of the Victoria Station to land level is 193. When the elevator is not working, be prepared to go on the climb of your life. I challenge you to make the climb without stopping.

There are buses everywhere and plenty of taxis. There is no reason to drive in London. Every place of interest is accessible and within close proximity to a bus stop or subway station.

Remember to look right before crossing – a constant reminder at every crosswalk. Please heed the crossing lights unless you are a seasoned Londoner or love to put your life on the line. Wait for the green man to let you know it is safe to cross.

If you get lost or even look like you are lost, someone will help you. The number of times we were approached by a stranger asking if we needed help was never embarrassing – we were always very appreciative. You can always ask a Bobby if you want. We asked one where the nearest coffee shop was while we waited to have communion at Westminster. They are only too happy to help and pose for a picture at the same time.

The Royal Wedding is fast approaching, as are the 2012 Olympic Games. The city is being made ready with work crews everywhere. Police are very prominent. London is a very happing city and will be for some time.

Oh, and yes, my wallet was snatched within the first twenty four hours of my holiday. I am fairly sure of when it happened. It was on an overcrowded subway while we were returning to our hotel. I remember the two men who stood in front of me – facing me. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that hairy mole on the one thief’s chin.
I thought my purse was snug against my side, safe from light fingers. I was wrong. There are signs everywhere warning of pickpockets. Pay attention.

Although my purse was lighter in weight and funds, my trip was not ruined. My cards were cancelled immediately and hubby spent the rest of the trip paying the bills with his credit cards and cash. I loved it.

We had great travel companions, great weather, and a great time. London made it so easy.

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