I’ve been working in London for about 6 weeks now. Commuting isn’t new for me but coming to such a large city was definitely an eye opener. I am used to travelling to London for the day, visiting the sights but it was still a shock to me just how vast it is and how many people there are. It can feel extremely claustrophobic and yet liberating at the same time.
Here are a few things I’ve learned about London is the last month and a bit…
Always check walking distance to your destination.
Do this before heading straight for the Underground. A lot of places in central London are a lot closer than you may think. Also, in good weather, it can be a nice way to see the city. This is especially helpful when the Tube breaks down. Only the other day my Waterloo and City train was suspended on my way home and it took me 30 minutes just to get out of the station, there were so many people. Rather than trying a different route via the dreaded Northern Line (see below), I decided to walk to Waterloo via the South Bank. It took me a bit longer but I really didn’t mind at all.
Nevermind a Starbucks on everycorner, there’s a Pret on every side of every road in London. There are at least 5 within a 10 minute walk from my office. I do like their Chocolate Brownies but there’s a limit.
My favourite discovery so far although I am yet to partake in one. Basically most of the larger museums in London have cottoned on to the fact that there are a large group of adults who work during the week and don’t want to necessarily spend our weekends in Central London surrounded by families and even more crowds! Once a month a museum will open after 6pm, usually around a theme and with a full bar. Some are adults only and you can visit the galleries up until 9 or 10pm for free!
The public library at the Barbican Centre is amazing!
Although not a huge lending library, it’s miles better than my local library and I could certainly spend an evening in there just browsing everything. The Barbican centre itself is an awesome sight despite it’s somewhat ugly exterior and is certainly worth a visit.
Bicycles are to be feared more than cars.
They run red lights, cut across pedestrian crossings and, on the quieter roads zoom around corners faster and quieter than any car. They are like a silent but deadly fart, creeping up on you when you least expect it and hitting you in the face!
Citymapper is a life-saver.
It shows you the quickest travel routes to anywhere in London as well as the next train times. I use it with National Rail app to make sure my journey home isn’t delayed. Google Maps is also an essential app if you are pounding the pavements.
Avoid the Northern Line during peak times at all costs.
Unless you want to end up standing in someone’s armpit and that’s if you even make it onto a train without passing out from the heat.
Pack snacks. Always pack snacks.
If you have a 2-hour plus commute like me it can be a long time between lunch and dinner when you get home and any of the 40-million places to eat on your way to and from the station will tempt you in if you don’t pack snacks. I have already succumbed to the pastie shop in Waterloo station, Wasabi on Moorgate and Starbucks for morning coffee. It gets expensive after a while.
There is something new to see every day if you take the time to look.
I try to make a point of taking a wander somewhere new at least once a week. I discovered Spitalfields market doing just that.