Oh London. So cold and gloomy but so fast paced and enchanting. Here are a few things I learned during my 36 hours in the city.
- Mind your manners: Good manners are an extremely important part of British culture. I never realized just how rude Americans can be in comparison!
- Embrace the humor: I’ve always loved the British deadpan humor, and I always will.
- Oh so pricey: The prices (for everything!) looked appropriate in terms of US dollars, but I had to keep reminding myself that the pound is 1.5 – 2 times the US dollar. Therefore, a simple bowl of ramen (yes, I go across the pond to eat Asian food, har har…) could easily wring you out $20 USD.
- Lost in translation: You don’t take the “elevator;” you take the “lift.” It’s not talking on your “cell phone;” it’s talking on your “mobile.” You don’t ride the “subway;” you ride the “tube,” also known as the “underground.” And when you got to go, you go to the “toilets” (or my preferred choice, the “loo”), not the “restroom.”
- Speaking of the Tube: The London Underground is by far the easiest underground public transportation system I’ve ever used. The signs make it super easy to determine the line you need to take and the direction in the fork you need to follow. Also, I recommend getting the Oyster card (as opposed to cash/paper tickets) and topping off as you go.
- Tips please: 10% tip for service at sit-down restaurants is the norm. But remember to check your bill; sometimes, a service charge will have already been added in.
- Neighborhood watch: Chelsea/Kensington/Knightsbridge have great shops and cafes. Hit up Soho/Shoreditch/Camden if you’re into nightlife. Covent Garden/South Bank/West End offer great artsy vibes with street performers, theatres, and restaurants.
- Lane discipline: On escalators, stay on the right side unless you’re walking up. On the sidewalks, veer left to avoid oncoming pedestrian traffic.
- Embrace the music scene: I unfortunately didn’t get to indulge in this, and I’m actually quite disappointed in myself for not making time to do so, especially since a lot of my favorite indie artists are UK-based.
- Shop til you drop: London has some of the best shops in Europe, from high-end designer to high street. I was thoroughly excited to finally be able to physically shop in some of my favorite UK retailers, such as Dorothy Perkins, River Island, and Warehouse. Some great shopping locations can be found on Bond Street (check out the amazing and huge Victoria’s Secret store on New Bond Street), Regent’s Street, and Knightsbridge (don’t forget about Harrods!).
Late November is a wonderful time to visit London, if you don’t mind the nippy cold! From Harrods to Hyde Park, the city is decked out in Christmas festivities that make the cold temperatures so much more bearable. Just remember to always carry around an umbrella!
87-135 Brompton Rd, London SW1X 7XL
Tower of London
London EC3N 4AB
Big Ben / Parliament
Westminster, London SW1A 0AA
London W1S 1SR
Buckingham Palace & Gardens
London SW1A 1AA
Hyde Park, London W2 2UH
Kensington Gardens, London W8 4PX
20 Deans Yd, London SW1P 3PA
London SE1 7PB
Westminster, London WC2N 5DN
St. James, London W1D 7DH
Covent Garden Piazza, London WC2E 8RF
Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN
18 Chiltern St, London W1U 7QA
17 Beak St, London W1F 9RW
33 Cranbourne Street, London WC2H 7AD
Micky’s Fish & Chips
29 Norfolk Pl, London W2 1QH
Park Grand Lancaster Gate
14-16 Craven Hill, Paddington, London W2 3DU
65 Chiltern St, London W1U 6NH
Additional points of interest I wish I had time to see:
British Museum / Oxford / Roman Baths / Kings Cross / Windsor Castle / Hampton Court / St. Paul’s Cathedral / Victoria and Albert Museum / Natural History Museum