I love being a tourist. As you probably know, visiting different places for the first time is one of my favourite things to do. And yes, when I’m abroad I often bumble around and take pictures of odd things and don’t really know where I’m going.
Since moving to London I’ve started to understand the relationship that people who live in famous cities across the world have with tourists. Of course tourists give the economy a huge boost, make places more diverse and get to see why you love where you live so much. But, they can also be a little bit annoying.
So, forgetting all the benefits for just one minute, here are the things that I wish I could tell tourists in London.
- Don’t run for the tube. There will literally be another train along in two minutes, so you really don’t need to thrust your bag in between the closing doors. All that does is make the driver have to open the doors again and make everyone late.
- No-one has used that red phone box for at least 20 years. Tourists love posing for photos inside, outside and all around red phone boxes. But they don’t realise that they only reason they’re still standing is so that they can take the famous photo.
- Mind the gap. Yes, someone tells you to mind the gap in every single tube station, whether that be the iconic ‘tube lady’ in her recordings or an actual employee standing on the platforms. That doesn’t mean you have to repeat it over and over again in between stations.
- There are better places to eat than the chain restaurants around Leicester Square. While their location is perfect, if people knew to branch out a little further they could discover the best food that London has to offer.
- Take the side streets. Literally one or two roads away from the infuriating hustle and bustle of places like Oxford Street are lovely streets that haven’t been touched by tourism so heavily. It’s much more enjoyable to take in the buildings while strolling down a quieter road than push people out of your way to get to Piccadilly Circus.
- Don’t take a rickshaw. They line the roads outside every theatre just as a the final curtain drops and prey on hapless tourists who don’t really know where they’re going. Not only do they charge a fortune, but they’re incredibly annoying as well.
- Work out which train you need before you go into the underground. Most tourists are pretty savvy and know which line they need to catch. They don’t usually, however, know the direction they want to travel in. Before long, passages are blocked with large groups of people staring at the helpful maps next to the platforms.
- Venture outside of zone 1. There is so much more to London than what is accessible by foot. One of my favourite places in Greenwich, which has a great little market and an incredible view of the city skyline – if you fancy the walk up the hill.
- Regular buses can be as good as the tours. Wherever the city tour buses go, regular red London buses go as well. Why not hop on one (for a tiny fraction of the price of a tour) and see where it takes you? Plus, you get to experience another of London’s icons.
- Stand on the right. If there’s one thing that is likely to get a Londoner frowing and tutting, it’s when people stand on left side of an escalator. The right is for standing, and the left is for walking (or running if you’re feeling brave).
- Queue. To be British is to queue. There’s nothing we love more than a single-file line of people calmly waiting for their turn to order a coffee or get on a bus. If you turn it into a scrum, no local will be pleased.
What annoying things do people do where you’re from? And, of course, what annoying things have you done while on holiday?