I know I’ve only been here a week, but in that short time I have learned a lot about this city. Basically, London is the best city on earth and I could live here forever (but seriously, I would). So, here are some tips and observations of my travels so far!
1. Public transportation is your best friend. The Tube (nickname for the Underground which is basically their subway) is the fastest means of transportation in most circumstances. While the bus is also a great option, mainly because it’s cheaper, it takes much longer. The positive about the buses is that there are some that run throughout the night while the Tube doesn’t. Taxi’s are also a classic means of transportation but they’re much more expensive. My favorite way to get somewhere is to walk! Not only because it’s free and burns off the pint of Guinness I had with my lunch, it’s fun to walk. You see so much more of whatever city you are exploring when you chose to walk to your destination instead of riding to it. But the best part about walking is getting lost. Just this morning my friend Silas and I decided to do some shopping before our afternoon class, and on the way back we got off at the wrong Tube exit and walked several miles to get back to our accommodation. We were lost and loving it. The sun was out (rare occasion) and the weather wasn’t too cold; it was beautiful. Getting lost lets you explore different parts of your city on accident. Last weekend my friends Clare, Naledi, and I were exploring the area around the Tower of London. Although we managed to back track more times than we moved forward, we found that we better understood the area we were in and realized how many places were around us that we wanted to return to and visit (which will now be much easier to get to because we know where everything is!). We found the Tower of London, the Millennium Bridge, The Globe, the Borough Market, the London Bridge (Fergi got us all excited about this but it was just a bridge. Come on Ferg.), and the Tate Modern Museum. Whatever city you visit, whether it’s in Europe or the US, give yourself time to get lost and truly explore.
2. In London, always dress for the cold. Unless you’re a mountain man who can bare freezing cold weather without a thick jacket, don’t do it. Don’t risk your comfort for your outfit. In light of getting lost, the first time I got lost around the Tower of London is was literally FREEZING. But thankfully I had a fleece on under my coat as well as my trusty blanket scarf. Ladies, in any cold city blanket scarves are a Godsend. You can wrap them around your neck to keep your face insanely warm, or drape them around your shoulders and still manage to wrap it around your neck because they’re so huge. London’s weather changes so quickly throughout the day that you must always dress for the cold. Sometimes you wake up in the morning and it’s so beautiful but once you get back from class it’s cloudy and raining and all you wore was a cardigan and you’re hating yourself. In the cold months, dress for the cold guys.
3. Wear comfortable shoes. I know I know, you’ve all heard this a thousand times before. But seriously. I wore what I believed to be comfortable shoes for the first few days of intense walking, and by the weekend my feet felt like they would fall off if I walked one more step. I had inserts in my converse and boots but even still, all of the walking we did murdered my feet.Wear something comfortable and stylish with a squishy insert. You’re going to be walking no matter what. And if you get lost, which you will, you’ll be so thankful for your comfy shoes! I’m not saying that you should sacrifice your outfit for your shoes, not by a long shot. Just find shoes that are fashionable and also comfortable for long touristy walks. I’ve noticed that many British people wear Nikes, Adidas, and New Balance sneakers for everyday. So, I caved and bought a pair of sneakers. I’d like to think I’m less touristy now and better on my way to blending in with the Brits.
4. On the mention of clothes, I was rather thrown off by how British people dress. Back in the US, I was told that everyone here dresses super nice all of the time and you have to be ready to look nice or else they will spot the tourist you are. However, now that I’ve walked around many different parts of London, I have found that they dress no differently than we do. Although there are plenty of people walking around who are dressed business smart, they’re on their way to work. Most people just have a nice coat, jeans, and sneakers on. Just like us in the US. While we like to wear work out clothes as normal clothes, that definitely is not done here. If you’re wearing workout clothes it’s because you’re actually working out. We like to wear our Lulu’s and Nikes and let people think we are going to work out at the gym after a long day of class. Lies. Anyways,
5. And lastly, the food is great here guys. Seriously, I haven’t had anything I don’t like yet. The old wives tales that the British can’t cook is a total lie. Even the groceries are better here. Whether you’re heading out to a local pub for a brew and some classic fish and chips or going to explore the Borough Market and all of it’s food wonderment, the food in London is delicious, exciting, and different. There is a large population of people from India and Pakistan and man, can they cook. My new favorite food is Indian food. Our first night here we ate at Taayabs in Whitechapel and enjoyed some delicious Punjabi Indian food that I crave nearly everyday.
London is wonderful guys. I know I’ll have so much more to say of it four months from now, but I had to let you in on what I’ve learned so far. It’s only been a week and I’m in love with city. And I’m beyond excited to keep getting lost along the way.