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Tips For A Trip To London


With the Olympics upon us, it's understandable that London is the center of attention. It's no wonder; even without the Olympics, London is one of the most interesting and varied cities in the world. So much, in fact, that it has upwards of 20 million visitors in a year. If you're planning on becoming one of them, here are a few travel tips.

Plan your visits to attractions in advance. Many are free, such as the British Museum. Most of the exhibits are free and fascinating, although there are specials that require tickets. You can also see the changing of the guard at Buckingham palace at 11:30 each day during the summer, and every other day throughout the rest of the year. I've heard of people buying tickets for special views, but you can see what is going on pretty well for free if you get there early enough. There are street performers and souvenirs everywhere you go, and you can get most places in the city by bus or the Underground subway system. You can get a sightseeing or a daily Underground pass for a very good price. If you want an amazing view of the city from above, visit the Eye-basically, a huge ferris wheel with enclosed cabins. It's particularly beautiful at night.

Westminster Abbey still holds worship services for free, but the price of a 'sightseeing' trip is well worth the ticket price. You can go on guided bus tours to places such as Bath and Stonehenge, but you don't necessarily have to pay the admission to Stonehenge to get a lot of out it. We actually only paid for the bus ticket, but got the tour for no extra charge. Our bus driver also happened to be a tour guide and just gave the commentary anyway!

For some other tips:

While London doesn't have the same problems with violence as comparably-sized cities in the US, it's still a good idea to be aware of your surroundings. The crowds found on the Underground and at most attractions create a haven for pickpockets, who are likely to work in pairs. For instance, suppose a stranger comes up to you to ask for directions. If you are not careful, another person could be behind you stealing your wallet or rifling through your purse. I know it seems odd that you wouldn't notice someone in your purse, but distraction is powerful. Also, some people carry backpacks that can easily be pilfered without your knowledge. Carry your purse or any other bag across your body and either under your arm at all times, or in front of you where you can see it. If you wear a backpack, carry it on the front. You'd be surprised at how many people don't think of this.

Remember that they drive on the left side of the road in London, not the right. I nearly stepped in front of a car because I didn't look in the right direction. It's not really that hard to do, especially if you're busy being mesmerized by the scenery! Don't walk alone at night and make sure you 'mind the gap' (notice the open space when stepping into the subway). Overall, just use common sense.

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