How to be a Tourist in Central London

When I lived in London and commuted into the West End to work, I took it for granted that, at certain times of the year, things were going to get busy. Leading up to Christmas always meant that getting from the tube to the office was a bit of an obstacle course, but far worse were the Summer months so here are the Rules that I discovered most tourists seem to have read before coming to visit:

Negotiating your way around London

  • Don’t worry about walking anywhere quickly – anyone who works is more than happy to be late for work or late back from lunch because of the pleasure of walking behind you
  • When travelling in large groups, please be sure to cover as wide an area as possible in order that you may take up the whole of the pavement/sidewalk – this ensures that the indigents are held up as per the first point shown above and they will be extremely happy about it.
  • When moving along in groups, please be sure that when a person approaches you in the opposite direction you do not move out of the way. They will be more than happy to walk in the road to bypass your group, thereby running the risk of being run over by passing traffic.
  • When crossing the busy roads in central London, please be sure to start crossing just as the lights turn red for pedestrians and green for the traffic. You will endear yourself to all motorists on the roads by doing this.
  • When lost, please ensure that you find the busiest street corner before consulting large, full-page maps, preferably during rush hour.
  • When shopping, please ensure that before entering a shop, you are walking on the side of the pavement furthest from the intended retail establishment, stop dead without warning and then wander across the packed pavements towards said establishment, not checking to see who your journey may inconvenience
  • Whilst in the retail establishment and having chosen your purchases, please wait until you get to the till and the cashier has asked you for your money before even thinking about trying to find your money in your wallet/handbag/ travel pouch.
  • Further entertainment is sought by you discovering that you have, in fact, no English money at all and had to sign a travellers cheque, only to discover further that you were not carrying your passport or other suitable means of identification.
  • When carrying out the actions in the above point, please also ensure that the actions are not carried out unless there is a very large queue of people behind you. These amusements are best performed when a large audience is available.
  • When exiting said establishment, please wander out as slowly as possible, again not checking the exit and who you may be obstructing

Using Public Transport

  • When arriving into the Greater London area, by whatever means, please feel free to travel during rush hour, with as many bags and using as much space as possible.
  • When travelling on public transport, please ensure that you talk as loud as possible, especially in your native language if it is not English, using as many hand movements as possible, thereby entertaining the general public
  • When using the automatic ticket barriers at tube stations, please ensure that you insert your ticket upside down and then look around, totally puzzled, when your ticket doesn’t work. Don’t even think about moving out of the way to let other people past you, continue standing around and looking pathetic until a member of staff comes over to give you a hand.
  • When in groups, using the ticket barriers is much more entertaining if you insert your ticket, pass through the barrier and then stop at the other side whilst waiting for your colleagues, thereby obstructing the barrier for everyone behind you
  • Another rule to follow when using public transport, especially in large groups, is for the fittest member of the group to run for the bus or tube and to hold said transportation method up by insisting on waiting for the slowest and least fit member to board before allowing the said bus or tube to continue on its journey
  • When moving around London by public transport, please don’t travel during the quiet periods. Commuters would much rather share their transportation with a horde of tourists.
  • Whilst on the escalators, please ignore the general rule of “Stand on the Right and Walk on the Left” and take up as much space as possible, being engrossed in conversation and totally ignoring anyone who is trying to get past you.

In Restaurants, Fast Food Joints and Other Public Places

  • Please wait until the busiest times of day before visiting any of the above establishments. Anybody in a hurry or having a limited amount of time will really appreciate tourists, with the whole day to get something to eat, adding to the already huge queues.
  • When visiting any fast food establishments, only send in one member of your party to queue, with a verbal list of orders, ensuring that the rest of your party stands at the door to the establishment where they can yell reminders and generally stop anyone else from getting in.

Disclaimer: This is not intended as the definitive Tourist Guide for London, but it seems to be the list of rules that most visitors follow.

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One thought on “How to be a Tourist in Central London

  1. I was a tourist in London a few years back….I am from a small town out in California, yes I have been to big cities, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Los Angeles to name a few, but I have never encountered people that all move together in a hurry like the people of London….I had never been on the tube before, and my daughter who used to live in London was with me, first we down, down, and then down some more into the middle of the earth, we were standing on the platform waiting, there weren’t that many people standing around before the train came. The train was coming, we got in a small group (well I thought it was a small group, but it wasn’t) in front of the area I assumed the train was going to come to a stop and when it did and the doors opened and it was like a stampede getting out, and then all of a sudden everyone was pushing to get by, I was so frigin busy saying, excuse me, oh I am sorry, excuse me and in the middle of it all, Mind the Gap, was coming down from the heavens, that in a flash everyone was gone,(on the train apparently) and I looked up, the train doors slammed shut, my daughter was on the train looking out at me still standing on the platform….now mind you we had been in London about 2 hours, I was lost, and I am sure my face was showing it…LOL I started to yell at her, I will be right here pointing down at the platform, the man behind her must of seen my face because just as the train was starting to zip away from the platform he pulled the cord and it lurched to a stop, the doors opened and four arms reached out and grabbed me…..my first lesson in getting around London….move with the crowd,,,don’t stop to be polite, as my daughter said they are just trying to get home from work and this is a routine for them…..I truly was a pain in the Londoners side for a couple days till I learned to go with it and not fight it…LOL Same experience trying to get on an elevator…I have never been in a crowd of people who moved like the schools of fish move in the ocean…it was a real experience….I apologize to all the Londoners and Parisians for being a tourist in their Cities…LOL

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