London, The Tourist Trap

Posted on Sep 6, 2011


Tower Bridge, The Tower of London and the Murky Thames

First up, London is a city that I have a love/hate relationship with and probably always will do.
I’ve been going there on and off for years so feel I can fill the traveller in on a few things.
It’s huge, dirty and smelly. Beggars are everywhere and it can be hard to tell who generally needs help and who doesn’t. Some can be quite threatening as I have witnessed on occasion. It’s full of crime, rudeness and arrogance. But most of all it’s full of deep insecurity and the need to get rich.
In other words it’s Dante’s Inferno and you have to have a strong will and stomach to work or live there.
I have had my wallet picked in theatreland but felt it happen and saw what was going on and got it back with everything inside. On another occasion my friend was mugged although luckily he wasn’t hurt.
Through all the stabbings, the recent riots and all the bad things a metropolitan city has to offer the unwary soul, it does have it’s good points of which I will point out but I will tell you how it is and how it should be, not how it is painted.
Warts and all…

Now first up London has a lot to offer the tourist and those that reside there as well. Most tourists head for the Tower of London, Tower Bridge (Pictured Above), Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, The London Eye, to name but a few of the main attractions. All are good although to me well over-priced in these austere times but it’s still worth going to these sights. The problem with London and visiting all of these things is that you can’t do it all in a day or two, but would probably need to take a week here just to see probably half of what you wanted to, missing out on quite a lot that you never had time for or didn’t even know about. This isn’t going to be one of those what you should and shouldn’t see reviews, about prices and accommodation, but is more about London itself and its good and bad points from a locals viewpoint.

Basically after all the sightseeing tours that you can muster in a day you may require food and drink. Now London is not short of restaurants, cafe’s and bars to go to, indeed I think it can have way too many of them. How do they all survive especially in this financial mess the world finds itself in? It must be a struggle at times and I do pity them although not the extortionate prices they can charge. Whatever your tastes in food and drink though, you don’t need me to refer you to any hidden gems as you can’t help but ‘bump’ into them. What I do suggest though is to keep away from Leicester Square and Piccadilly area if you can. It can be a full on place and overbearing at times with someone trying to sell you some old rubbish. Also it’s a favourite haunt for pickpockets. You rarely see any police around this area either which I find a bit strange although I have never seen any real trouble around that area day or night except for what I have already previously mentioned at the beginning of this review.

Now for families. As long as you stick to a plan before you get there then all will be okay and you won’t be disappointed really. But if you’re a single traveller or with a friend or two then you may want a bit more freedom. London is all about research and as I have already said, don’t always pick for what’s popular, go for what’s not noticed as much as you’re most likely in for a treat.

Now for those who like a nightlife, this for me is where London falls apart and gets a very bad rating. If you wants pubs and bars then you can’t miss them, but they do close at around 2-3am at the very latest. You may find the odd one open till 6am but I wouldn’t enter these if you are of a more wary nature. These bars tend to be mostly on the seedy side or charge ridiculous amounts of money not only for the drinks but just to get in the premises which I think should be stopped with immediate effect! The London bouncers don’t help much either, tending to walk on the wild side shall we say. They are generally rude, distrustful and unhelpful. Completely different from their Brighton/Irish/Scottish counterparts. London is meant to be a 24 hour city but to me it shuts down at around midnight first with the tubes, then the bars. So you have to leave early to get home or pay for an over extortionate taxi home. Yes, there are buses but at that time of the morning the drivers tend to be unhelpful too.

All in all, if you want to do touristy things and nothing else then you won’t be disappointed as there is so much to see and do but be prepared to spend a lot of money though as entrance fees to most of the major attractions do not come cheap. You can find two for one deals so check online for them first. Sometimes booking online is a lot cheaper that paying when you get there. Again, it’s all about research.

For those looking for a wild time also do your research and be prepared to pay ridiculous amounts of money out on alcohol and entrance fees. Also I advise you to book somewhere for a night to sleep in case you can’t get in anywhere. The bouncers tend to be strict on letting anyone in after a certain time, usually after midnight. Late night London doesn’t exist really and if It does, I haven’t found anywhere good. Only dodgy and seedy so far. London is not like Edinburgh or Brighton where it is a 24 hour city and everyone is friendly. Be warned.

As for public transport in London. The tubes I never have a problem with when they run although most people always complain on their lateness. Relax I say, one will be on its way in another two minutes. City people need to relax more! Tubes though do shut early which I find ridiculous for a capital city and one as huge as London. They are also overpriced as is all public transport. The government encourage us to use it then do nothing when the prices are hiked up! It’s very annoying.

So there you go. A review of sorts of what I think of London. I’ll do many more of them as there’s so much to write about but this is part one I suppose and it’s what I see of London when I am there which is quite often.

Don’t let it put you off, indeed let it guide you and research it better because London can be a good place to go if armed with the right information or it can be hellish and frustrating if not.

Good luck and enjoy.

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