London is an incredible city, and although I have only spent a couple of days there, I will be spending a lot of time there in the near future.
Which means I am currently trying to research and understand London so I don’t stick out like a sore thumb; you know, the tourist you can spot immediately!
- Purchase a UK SIM card for your phone and there is free WiFi all over the city.
- Always carry an umbrella because you never know when it will rain.
- Comfortable shoes are a must as there is a lot of walking and this will generally get you around quicker than waiting for the tube.
- Wear what you want because there will be a neighborhood where you fit in perfectly. Black is a standard as well as you won’t ever go wrong with smart casual.
- Carry a lightweight scarf or shawl with you and layers are a necessity.
- There are quite a few museums that are free.
- Tipping in bars and pubs are not required. However, restaurants may add-on a service charge so you need to ask when you first get there, to avoid double tipping. Most hotels will include a service charge and a 10-15% tip for taxi drivers is customary.
- Save money by getting snacks for your day trips at the grocery store.
- Be vigilant as pick-pocketing is very real.
- Bring an adapter for the United Kingdom for your American chargers.
- Carry a zip-able backpack / day-pack while wandering around the city.
- Travel throughout Europe is relatively inexpensive.
- Dryers in homes are rare.
- Plugs have on/off switches.
- Eggs will not be found in the refrigerator aisle and fresh foods have a shorter shelf life.
- Make sure to research where your local resources are close to home; supermarket, tube entrance, etc.
- Learn how to walk really fast, because apparently everyone in London does.
- Talk about half as loud as you’re used to and don’t feel the need to share your life story when you first meet someone.
- The food scene is incredible and steer-clear of overprices chains in touristy areas.
- Keep your politics private, especially if you are a Republican.
A little London history:
London is the capital of England and the United Kingdom, which is one of the largest and most important cities in the world. The area was originally settled around 6,000 B.C., and built around the River Thames.
The Romans founded a port and trading settlement called Londinium in 43 A.D., and a few years later a bridge was constructed across the Thames to facilitate commerce and troop movements. But in 60 A.D., Celtic queen Boudicca led an army to sack the city, which was burned to the ground in the first of many fires to destroy London.
The city was soon rebuilt, but burned again about 125 A.D. More rebuilding occurred, and within a few generations the population exceeded 40,000 people. After the fall of the Roman Empire in 476 A.D., the city was attacked numerous times by Vikings and other raiders, and soon London was largely abandoned.
The city’s fortunes began to change in 1065 when Westminster Abbey was established and in 1176 a wooden London Bridge that had repeatedly been burned was replaced by a stone bridge.
In 1665, London was hit by the Great Plague which killed about 100,000 people. About a year later, the population had risen to about 500,000 but was reduces to ashes in the Great Fire of London. By 1804 the city had grown to 2 million people and unfortunately lots of unsanitary conditions.
When Queen Victoria was reigning, London was on its way to prestige. The city has continue to flourish and is notably one of the best cities on the map.
Have you been to London? What tips would you like to add?