Tips about London?


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Tips about London?

Postby Halfmiler2 » Mon Jul 23, 2012 8:04 am

I head to London in 8 days and have never been there before.

For those of you that have been there, are there any tips you would like to pass along?
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Re: Tips about London?

Postby Conor Dary » Mon Jul 23, 2012 8:16 am

I have been there many times and it is a wonderful city. But I have never been there when it has been under siege, so it is hard to comment. First off all remember to look both ways when crossing the roads. That way you don't have to remember what side the cars drive on. And mind the Gap on the underground. And try the bitters in the pubs they are very good.

And as for tourists sights, along with the usual, the British Library near St. Pancras has nice museum, which often gets ignored.
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Re: Tips about London?

Postby Daisy » Mon Jul 23, 2012 8:22 am

Halfmiler2 wrote:I head to London in 8 days and have never been there before.
For those of you that have been there, are there any tips you would like to pass along?

My favourites:
Enjoy the street entertainers on the South Bank (usually near the London Eye) and at Covent Garden.

Take a ferry from the London Eye dock to Greenwich and walk up to the Royal Observatory. Before you go read the book Longitude, you'll get far more out of the visit. Great views from the observatory too.

Natural History, Science and Geology museums are neighbours and all free. They are superb museums.

Remember that some of the best food can be found in pubs.

Buy a travel card for public transport, no one pays the individual fairs.

Don't tip, people will think you're odd. (the current locals will be able to let you know what the current norms are).

If you go to the Tower of London, pay the extra for the crown jewels, it's worth it.
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Re: Tips about London?

Postby Conor Dary » Mon Jul 23, 2012 8:27 am

Daisy wrote:
Halfmiler2 wrote:I head to London in 8 days and have never been there before.
For those of you that have been there, are there any tips you would like to pass along?

My favourites:
Enjoy the street entertainers on the South Bank (usually near the London Eye) and at Covent Garden.

Take a ferry from the London Eye dock to Greenwich and walk up to the Royal Observatory. Before you go read the book Longitude, you'll get far more out of the visit. Great views from the observatory too.

Natural History, Science and Geology museum are neighbours and all free. They are superb museums.

Remember that some of the best food can be found in pubs.

By a travel card for public transport, no one pays the individual fairs.

Don't tip, people will think you're odd. (the current locals will be able to let you know what the current norms are).

If you go to the Tower of London, pay the extra for the crown jewels, it's worth it.


I forgot about the travel card. That is a must. You can get one at Heathrow. As for tipping, that really only goes for buying drinks in pubs. When eating out, definitely tip.
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Re: Tips about London?

Postby mcgato » Mon Jul 23, 2012 9:22 am

If you find yourself complaining about the English food, try some Indian restaurants.

The British Museum has all sorts of artifacts that were brought back from far flung places and is quite interesting.
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Re: Tips about London?

Postby Halfmiler2 » Mon Jul 23, 2012 9:44 am

Thanks for the advice. I did not mention that we will have two boys along (ages 11 and 13) - although we hope to visit a pub without them!
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Re: Tips about London?

Postby gm » Mon Jul 23, 2012 10:37 am

Second the recommendations for the Science Museum, but if your boys are typical fans of "gross" stuff, the Hunterian Museum is a must :)

Also, if you visit only one church, make it St. Paul's.

Regent's Park is great for some open-air rec.

Readers? Make a stop at Foyles on Charing Cross Rd.

The Imperial War Museum is interesting, too.
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Re: Tips about London?

Postby Daisy » Mon Jul 23, 2012 11:12 am

Halfmiler2 wrote:Thanks for the advice. I did not mention that we will have two boys along (ages 11 and 13) - although we hope to visit a pub without them!

Pubs almost always have a family area.

Re Tips, as conor points out, restaurants you should tip. I was thinking more for cabs and bars. But again, I am probably out of date on that. Just watch for what the locals are doing.

Another interesting place to eat is the crypt of St Martins in the Fields (just off Trafalgar Square). My kids loved climbing on the bronze lions in the square, although you need a head for heights. I'm sure it's not that safe but all the kids do it and I've never seen one fall.

Your boys might enjoy the Golden Hinde, a replica of Sir Francis Drakes ship. Or rowing on the Serpentine in Hyde Park if you want to get away from it all.

And I second all of gm's post. And if you go to St Paul's it's worth going up in the dome, especially in the whispering gallery. It's an acoustic curiosity where you can whisper to each other from the opposite sides of the dome and hear each other clearly. Or eaves drop on others. :)
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Re: Tips about London?

Postby IanS_Liv » Mon Jul 23, 2012 1:47 pm

Natural History Museum is a must if you've got kids. The Victoria & Albert Museum is next door and well worth a visit. Your wife may really enjoy the jewellery and fashion sections!

You can get a pay-as-you-go Oyster card, which is a travel card. This is essential and I'm sure you can get family ones.

Food has generally improved in Britain, but you can get good cuisine from every corner of the globe. Indian and Mediterranean are recommended.

Buy a London A-Z map. Try using the buses (you can get a map of the routes) and avoid the Tube between 4 and 6pm if you can.

River boat trip is definitely recommended. You can get on and off and see most of the most famous sites at the various stops - Tower of London, St Paul's, Shakespeare's Globe, Greenwich, etc.
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Re: Tips about London?

Postby slowjo » Mon Jul 23, 2012 9:01 pm

I was just there and had a wondeful time.

My advice-get mump and flumpy to babysit for you. They love young children.

And definitely use the tube-it is an amazing way to get around the city easily and efficiently. I got a one week travel card and it was more than worth it. If you turn it in at the end of the week you get 5 pounds back.

Again get the twins to mind the children while you go to the pub!
:D
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Re: Tips about London?

Postby Flumpy » Tue Jul 24, 2012 1:08 am

slowjo wrote:My advice-get mump and flumpy to babysit for you. They love young children.


:lol: :lol: :lol:

We'll be too drunk to look after any children.
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Re: Tips about London?

Postby gh » Tue Jul 24, 2012 6:01 am

The British Museum has for 40 years been one of my favorite places on earth. Unfortunately, at this time of year expect it to be hot, sweaty and crowded. But worth it anyway!
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Re: Tips about London?

Postby dupontred » Tue Jul 24, 2012 6:06 am

I cannot emphasize enough what Conor mentioned in the first reply.

Look both ways when crossing.

It's easy to say, "duh, of course" but much harder to do in practice. It's amazing how ingrained looking to the right is when stepping off the curb. You much force yourself to look to the left.

It's also very important that you stress this to your two kids.
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Re: Tips about London?

Postby Daisy » Tue Jul 24, 2012 6:17 am

dupontred wrote:It's also very important that you stress this to your two kids.

As kids we were taught the green cross code. The short version is Stop, Look, Listen, Live. One of their main points was to be looking both ways.

As an aside, the actor who did the infomercials was the same guy that played Darth Vader.
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Re: Tips about London?

Postby gh » Tue Jul 24, 2012 6:40 am

dupontred wrote:I cannot emphasize enough what Conor mentioned in the first reply.

Look both ways when crossing.

It's easy to say, "duh, of course" but much harder to do in practice. It's amazing how ingrained looking to the right is when stepping off the curb. You much force yourself to look to the left.

It's also very important that you stress this to your two kids.


many of the intersections, at least in the high-traffic tourist areas, have "look right" painted on the street in front of the curb don't they? And it is right you need to look, not left, correct?
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Re: Tips about London?

Postby dupontred » Tue Jul 24, 2012 6:44 am

Whoops - yes. Got it backward. Shows that you don''t even really think about it, you just do it.
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Re: Tips about London?

Postby Daisy » Tue Jul 24, 2012 6:50 am

gh wrote:And it is right you need to look, not left, correct?

Closest cars come from the right.

We were taught 'look right, look left, look right again. If clear, cross and keep looking both ways'.

conor and dupontred's "look both ways" advice is the key to a long life.
Last edited by Daisy on Tue Jul 24, 2012 7:00 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Tips about London?

Postby br » Tue Jul 24, 2012 6:50 am

Try London Walks. They are great !!

http://www.walks.com/

My favorites are the Pub Walks !!

http://www.walks.com/London_Walks_Home/ ... fault.aspx

Check out the video... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cq091LNf_s0

To go on a London Walk meet on the pavement outside the designated TubeStop at the time stated. London Walks guides are easy to spot – they hold up copies of the famous white London Walks leaflet.

There's no need to book* for London Walks – just turn up.

A London Walk costs £9. Or £7 for Super Adults (65+), full-time students and London Walks Season Ticket holders! Children under 15 accompanied by their parent(s) go free.

A London Walk takes about two hours.** London Walks always take place, rain or shine. They end at or near a TubeStop.

The London Walks Day Trips from London – to Oxford & Cotswolds, Stonehenge, Bath, etc. – cost £16 (£14 for students & over 65s; £12 for Discount Card holders) plus your fares.
Last edited by br on Tue Jul 24, 2012 7:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Tips about London?

Postby Conor Dary » Tue Jul 24, 2012 6:55 am

gh wrote:
dupontred wrote:I cannot emphasize enough what Conor mentioned in the first reply.

Look both ways when crossing.

It's easy to say, "duh, of course" but much harder to do in practice. It's amazing how ingrained looking to the right is when stepping off the curb. You much force yourself to look to the left.

It's also very important that you stress this to your two kids.


many of the intersections, at least in the high-traffic tourist areas, have "look right" painted on the street in front of the curb don't they? And it is right you need to look, not left, correct?


Yes, they do. And I always used it as a reminder to look both ways. I forced myself to do it, when I visit the UK. Drivers are very aggressive in Britain, they obey the rules, but won't give an inch, especially the taxi drivers. And they drive fast. They also won't yield at all. Running with traffic on the sidewalk, the pavement in UKese, and a car is turning left in front of you, don't imagine they will yield or even slow down, if they don't have to.
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Re: Tips about London?

Postby scottmitchell74 » Tue Jul 24, 2012 7:57 am

Mind the Gap! :)
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Re: Tips about London?

Postby fromage » Tue Jul 24, 2012 8:34 am

It is crowded, hot, dirty at times BUT it is a great cosmopolitan city; and I lived, worked and went to school in Central London over a 50 year period.Still miss it even though my current abode is in a quiet part of England.

Been to all the other great cities comparable; nowhere compares with London for Museums and I should mention the the London Museum, great place to learn about its history.

Don't overlook the City of London , fascinating streets for walking around and shows the histroy of the ancient part of London. Cannot beat it on a quiet Sunday morning.

If you have the time or inclination for classical music, art galleries, theatre... fabulous :) .

What about our outstanding Parks, Hyde Park, Regents Park, Greene Park. St James's Park... great for a bit of peace.... far from the madding crowd.

The myth about food is rubbish ... the food has improved out of all recognition over the years ..but eating out is NOT cheap in London...or anything else for that matter.

What is so cool is that areas where I would not have walked 40 years ago are now overpriced des res areas full of ethnic restaurants, boutique shops etc.
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Re: Tips about London?

Postby Conor Dary » Tue Jul 24, 2012 8:49 am

Yes, the theatres are great. In the US I have probably been to only about 2 dozen plays over the years, but in England and especially London, I went all the time, sometime 2 in a day on Saturdays. The Saturday Matinee was my favorite time to go. They are relatively inexpensive, with excellent, and usually well-known names.
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Re: Tips about London?

Postby jeremyp » Tue Jul 24, 2012 7:37 pm

Daisy wrote: Natural History, Science and Geology museums are neighbours and all free. They are superb museums.
And Victoria and Albert Museum with superb historical items. I lived just off Exhibition Road (where all these museums are) for 7 years.

Remember that some of the best food can be found in pubs.
Wonder if they still have the "ploughman's lunch:" Bread, cheese and ham and pickles and beer.

Go to Harrod's on Brompton Road. Owned by Dodi Fayed's dad. Go to the basement and be amazed at the food on display. If you can get in go to Westminster Abbey and see the resting places of many famous people.

If your lost any Bobby (cop) will give you directions, or at least they did in the 50's.
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Re: Tips about London?

Postby gh » Tue Jul 24, 2012 8:23 pm

fromage wrote:...
The myth about food is rubbish ... the food has improved out of all recognition over the years ..but eating out is NOT cheap in London...or anything else for that matter....


The food of my first trip to England in '72 was that it was no myth, unless you ate ethnic (Italian, whatever). Remember how bad a Wimpy burger was? omigod.

(I should have been used to it; i had an English mother, and my sister and I would write on the calendar in the kitchen on Thursdays, "start boiling roast for Sunday dinner")

London now one of the best food cities anywhere, to be sure.

But as you say, not cheap. My recent experiences have me saying "well, that's a little more than we'd pay in San Francisco" and then I realize there's a 1.6 multiplier!

6 years ago, when it was about 1.9, wife and I stayed in a fancy hotel on the Strand and orange juice and tea at breakfast came to 40 bucks! (seriously)
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Re: Tips about London?

Postby gm » Tue Jul 24, 2012 9:02 pm

gh wrote:The food of my first trip to England in '72 was that it was no myth, unless you ate ethnic (Italian, whatever). Remember how bad a Wimpy burger was? omigod.


That wasn't a burger :lol: May I interest sir in some Kentucky Fried Rat?

I was ecstatic when the first McDonald's opened, followed by a place called Viva Tacos, which was a lifesaver for a big-boned American teen.
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Re: Tips about London?

Postby fromage » Tue Jul 24, 2012 10:41 pm

gh wrote:
fromage wrote:...
The myth about food is rubbish ... the food has improved out of all recognition over the years ..but eating out is NOT cheap in London...or anything else for that matter....


The food of my first trip to England in '72 was that it was no myth, unless you ate ethnic (Italian, whatever). Remember how bad a Wimpy burger was? omigod.

(I should have been used to it; i had an English mother, and my sister and I would write on the calendar in the kitchen on Thursdays, "start boiling roast for Sunday dinner")

London now one of the best food cities anywhere, to be sure.

But as you say, not cheap. My recent experiences have me saying "well, that's a little more than we'd pay in San Francisco" and then I realize there's a 1.6 multiplier!

6 years ago, when it was about 1.9, wife and I stayed in a fancy hotel on the Strand and orange juice and tea at breakfast came to 40 bucks! (seriously)


gh,You forgot the golden rule when travelling outside your own domain... never say the dreaded words " back home etc etc" different everything ..nearly.

Some wise gent once said foreign travel does not broaden the mind , merely confirms the prejudices, so I always avoid the temptation to compare, especially about costs of this and that, since it is too easy to be horrified by the prices, especially in my old home town.
But I do so agree with your comments about the British Museum.... and wimpeyburgers :(
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Re: Tips about London?

Postby mump boy » Tue Jul 24, 2012 11:47 pm

ON escalators on the tube

STAND ON THE RIGHT

that's all
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Re: Tips about London?

Postby aaronk » Wed Jul 25, 2012 12:45 am

I've never been to London (or anywhere outside of North America!!! :( ), and I'm not going to the OG, but I've read all the comments on this thread, and have gotten vicarious thrills and clear visions of what it's like there.

One question:

I notice no one mentioned Notting Hill.
My only "knowledge" of Notting Hill comes from the 1999 movie with Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts.
GREAT flick!!
So......is the REAL Notting Hill anything like it is in that movie, and why hasn't anyone recommended it??
(Another movie I love about England is "84 Charing Cross Road"". So, why didn't anyone recommend that street?? Is it still filled with bookstores??)

Have a great time, everyone!!
Tally ho!!! :D
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Re: Tips about London?

Postby EPelle » Wed Jul 25, 2012 1:12 am

Those are MP5 semi-automatic weapons some of the street cops (and airport patrol) are sporting. They love their egos stroked. Appreciate when kids make queries about the weapon's capabilities and range. The London Eye sees everything.
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Re: Tips about London?

Postby knockout » Wed Jul 25, 2012 4:08 am

A lot of good input already...

The transport system, it is important to get an "oyster card". this is a prepaid top up card you get from any underground/metro station.

You pay a £3 deposit on arrival and can top it up with credit on the machines in the station.
much cheaper than buying single tickets.

when you leave london just give it back at the underground station and you will get your £3 back.

eating - several chain places for quick/easy and good value food spread around London
Gourmet burger kitchen - Big burger/fries and good milkshakes
Wagamama - Japanese food
Nandos - chicken grill

Obviously there are loads of restaurants around but the above three can be found in many locations and are good value.

If you want to go Indian, head down to Brick Lane in East london

tourist sites
the other guys have mentioned plenty of stuff.... The new cable car across the river from the Dome to the royal docks (east london) looks great fun and the London Eye near Big Ben is a must.
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Re: Tips about London?

Postby Daisy » Wed Jul 25, 2012 4:13 am

aaronk wrote:So......is the REAL Notting Hill anything like it is in that movie, and why hasn't anyone recommended it??
(Another movie I love about England is "84 Charing Cross Road"". So, why didn't anyone recommend that street?? Is it still filled with bookstores??)


These are good suggestions. See Portobello Street Market. http://www.portobellomarket.org/

GM mentioned Foyles bookstore, which is the normal must see. Another is Daunt Books.
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Re: Tips about London?

Postby knockout » Wed Jul 25, 2012 4:17 am

... and one more thing, although London is a safe city, I suspect the pick pockets will be in full swing over the olympics , so keep wallets, cameras, phones safe.

whilst no where near as bad as some other European cities there are pick pockets who work in central london preying on Tourists.

if anyone comes and talks to you at an ATM/Cash point ignore them and concentrate on what you are doing and your belongings

If you are sitting in a pub/bar etc and anyone comes down and puts a map on your table and ask you directions, be careful they dont take your phone/camera with you when they move the map off your table and walk away.

if anyone comes up claiming to be a plain clothed police officer, ask to see there badge and make sure it looks real.....

Be suspicious and stay alert ;)
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Re: Tips about London?

Postby mal » Wed Jul 25, 2012 5:00 am

Watch out for Oliver twist.

And if a scruffy guy and a Bull Terrier wander in, grab your stuff and leave.
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Re: Tips about London?

Postby mump boy » Wed Jul 25, 2012 5:03 am

aaronk wrote:I've never been to London (or anywhere outside of North America!!! :( ), and I'm not going to the OG, but I've read all the comments on this thread, and have gotten vicarious thrills and clear visions of what it's like there.

One question:

I notice no one mentioned Notting Hill.
My only "knowledge" of Notting Hill comes from the 1999 movie with Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts.
GREAT flick!!
So......is the REAL Notting Hill anything like it is in that movie, and why hasn't anyone recommended it??
(Another movie I love about England is "84 Charing Cross Road"". So, why didn't anyone recommend that street?? Is it still filled with bookstores??)

Have a great time, everyone!!
Tally ho!!! :D



Notting Hill is so 90's it's all about Shoreditch now
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Re: Tips about London?

Postby shivfan » Wed Jul 25, 2012 5:08 am

Where are you coming from, Halfmiler? A big city in the US? Because if, like me, you're coming to London from a relatively quiet Caribbean country, then the hustle and bustle of a train or tube station can be quite intimidating. Try not to feel rushed, even if there are impatient commuters behind you. Taking public transportation in London can be a very unfriendly place....

I'd like to endorse all the above - oyster card, travelcard, etc. Check out the museums such as Natural History, Science Museum, etc, all of which have free admission. London can be a very expensive place, so free admission to places that should be of interest to young pre-teens can be useful.

Avoid travelling between 7-9am and 4-6pm, because the rush hour in a city of several millions can be unpleasant.

Which area of London are you staying? Each community usually has good restaurants, offering a decent variety of international flavour....

Yes, aaronk, Charing Cross is still full of excellent second-hand bookstores. If you're a book-nut like me, visiting Charing Cross is a must, followed by a Chinese meal in the neighbourhood.
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Re: Tips about London?

Postby knockout » Wed Jul 25, 2012 5:40 am

Halfmiler2 wrote:Thanks for the advice. I did not mention that we will have two boys along (ages 11 and 13) - although we hope to visit a pub without them!


Most pubs allow children in during the day time if you are going to eat a meal.....
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Re: Tips about London?

Postby Flumpy » Wed Jul 25, 2012 7:27 am

shivfan wrote:Where are you coming from, Halfmiler? A big city in the US? Because if, like me, you're coming to London from a relatively quiet Caribbean country, then the hustle and bustle of a train or tube station can be quite intimidating. Try not to feel rushed, even if there are impatient commuters behind you. Taking public transportation in London can be a very unfriendly place....


But please don't walk slowly, 4 abreast through the tube stations. It's REALLY annoying.
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Re: Tips about London?

Postby trevorp » Wed Jul 25, 2012 9:42 am

Another free-entry museum for those interested in interior design/social history:
http://www.geffrye-museum.org.uk/
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Re: Tips about London?

Postby trevorp » Wed Jul 25, 2012 9:50 am

mump boy wrote:ON escalators on the tube

STAND ON THE RIGHT

that's all

^This is a Very Important Thing to Remember

But, conversely/perversely, when walking up or down ordinary staircases please keep to the left.

Doing either (but preferably both) of these things will make us happy.
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Re: Tips about London?

Postby Conor Dary » Wed Jul 25, 2012 9:59 am

trevorp wrote:
mump boy wrote:ON escalators on the tube

STAND ON THE RIGHT

that's all

^This is a Very Important Thing to Remember

But, conversely/perversely, when walking up or down ordinary staircases please keep to the left.

Doing either (but preferably both) of these things will make us happy.


I think things are getting out of hand here. Before we know it someone will be posting on how to curtsey to the Queen.

Unless you are some sort of rube who lives where indoor plumbing is rare, the rules are simple.

Keep your eyes open, look both ways when crossing the road, don't jump the queue, and you will be fine.
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