1, On the week days the city belongs to tourists
Once I went for a night out on Monday. Together with my Mexican roommate we headed for the Walkabout. We did not expect many people there – it was Monday. However, we had to wait in a queue for forty-five minutes, such was the crowd. At weekend it multiplies because the tourists are joined by the local residents. On Friday, they call it a day around 4 p.m. and in the evening you can see them hanging around the pubs and bars. I like the way they put the glasses with beer on the street lamps while immersed in lively discussions. Some of them are blowing out lot of money, once I found 10 pounds on the street. Bars are full, therefore the people are standing on the street. Around midnight the life moves to Soho, where it is little bit wilder. Many people would call at a non-stop McDonald to grab some refreshment. For transport they use buses, cabs, taxis and bike taxis. Once I witnessed a crowd of people squeezing inside an overcrowded bus so that the warning signal went out like “This bus is under attack, contact the police.”
2, Newspapers are free, but you have to pay for the toilets
Some services meet the highest standards that a man would not think of. On the week days, there are free newspapers two times a day. Available at the stations, shops, or simply given out by the paper boys. They are rather thin but one would get the most important news. Thicker English newspapers cost about one pound each and offer really detailed information and analyses. Of broadsheet format, they take up a lot of space. Most of them are available also in the smaller, tabloid format. (8 years later, this observation looks stupid…free newspapers are everywhere)
On the other hand, many other things are subject to fees, for example the public toilets. I know one free toilet at Covent Garden and Soho. You can also use McDonalds but is complimentary to order at least small fries afterwards.
Prices at the restaurants are higher than in Slovakia but you can come across good bargains or meal deals. I was lucky at the Fire & Stone restaurant at Covent Garden, where I got a pizza with beer for about 5 pounds. Also, I would recommend Chinatown and the “all you can eat” restaurants. For 4 – 8 pounds you can enjoy noodles with whatever you can fit on the plate. I also discovered Subway here (now it seems unusual 🙂 ). It is a fast food chain, but you can choose cereal bread as well as the stuffing. Alcohol is quite expensive, but for the happy hour, when it is almost compulsory to have as many drinks as possible. But be careful in the streets where you can be charged up to 500 pounds fine for drinking in public.
3, If you want to know what’s new – go out
In London one can feel the course of world´s events. Few days after the death of Michael Jackson, the main entrance to the Lyrics Theatre showing Thriller was full of flowers and candles, some fans would even sleep there. You could buy a T-shirt with an inscription “Michael Jackson, 1958 – forever”. Similar was the situation in October 2011, but instead of the sleepers, you could see broached apples in front of the Apple store, after the death of Steve Jobs.
Streets are full of interesting people from different cultures. They will provide information hey will provide information you would not learn from the newspapers. There is always something going on in the city. Man walks into a shop and he is occupied for two hours. You can buy anything you would think of: T-shirts, Star-Wars action figures, food used by astronauts, I’ve even seen a shop where you can buy vice-versa garment. The pants were designed to be worn at the top and you would pull the T-shirt on your legs. Designer shops have the latest collection on display and if not available in the store, they can order it at your will. On the other hand, older clothes can be bought at even 70% discount.
4, City tour at the cost of regular bus fare
Many companies offer guided bus tours around the city. But you can enjoy one by using the public transport buses, mainly if you are seated at the top. If you choose a good line, you will see most of the London’s sights at the cost of regular fare. For example, line 10 starts at the King’s Cross Station. From there you will travel along the British Library, on the left you will see the University College, ranked amongst the world’s top universities.
Passing the British Museum, you get to the Oxford Street. You might be held up for a while there but at least it gives you enough time to picture all the shops, people on the street and nervous drivers. It is the traffic jams that clashes with the relaxing characteristics of the bus journey. If you are bored, you can spot the traditional black cabs. At the Marble Arch, you will turn left. On the right you can see the Triumphal Arch and little further the Hyde Park. On the left are some of the most prestigious London’s hotels, Dorchester, Hilton and Le Meridien Picacadilly (and Ritz just around the corner). Also the Hard Rock Café behind the corner.
At the Hyde Park Corner, the bus will turn right, to Knightsbridge, passing along Harrods and Harvey Nichols, two luxurious department stores. In Harrods they have all year round Christmas. The bus terminates near South Kensington. Not far from there is the Museum of Natural History, Science Museum and the Victoria and Albert’s Museum.
On your way back, you can take line number 9 towards Trafalgar Square. You have to change there, so why not visit the National Gallery with Van Gogh’s Sunflowers and Caravaggio’s Supper in Emaus on display? Except of that, there is always some kind of life at the Trafalgar Square: concerts or live opera showing. Finally, get on number 12 to the Westminster. You will see the Parliament buildings and recently renamed Big Ben, On the other side of the bridge you can spot the London Eye.