Friday, June 26, 2009

Friday, June 26, 2009 Getting Around Town

“Not all those who wander are lost.” - J. R. R. Tolkien

London is a big metropolitan area made up of 32 buroughs and basically divided into two cities -- Westminister and London town. Getting around town is a headache for those who drive their own automobiles. In fact, London has a Congestion Vehicle Zone where non-exempt drivers must pay 8 British pounds anytime they drive private vehicles into this zone between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. So if you want to travel throughout London, I suggest one of these conveniences.
The first is the subway, also known as The Tube. You are charged a varying fee, depending on how far you are traveling. Students (like me) can purchase what is known as an Oyster Card, which gives you a deep discount on fees. These are used by just touching the card to a sensor on the subway gate as you enter and leave.

You can also try a black taxi. The Black Taxi is the only cab company authorized to pick up its passengers on the street. Any cab who is soliciting business is considered "illegal." However, if you CALL a cab ahead of time, you can be picked up by a private cab company. The cabs do not have trunks -- the luggage is piled in the car with you.

You can also take a double-decker bus which is part of the city transportation system. You can use the Oyster Card on the city buses, too.

A lot of Londoners bike through the town. Some places have dedicated bike lanes, but most of the time they are taking their lives in their hands. But as you can see, a lot of people ride the trains in, pick up their bike for city business, then ride the train back to where they live.

But what is probably the ideal way to see London is to get out and walk. Just remember, in the UK, the pedestrian DOES NOT have the right of way, except in what is known as a "zebra" lane (pronounced zebbra)-- specially marked white striped areas where vehicles must stop to allow pedestrians across.

Whatever way you choose, you will be delighted at the variety of sights and sounds you will experience here in London.

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