Being a Tourist in London

Happy Friday! Doing things that you shouldn’t do is usually embarrassing, right? I think this is double true when you are a visitor in a foreign country. Which brings me to……

This week we will focus on London tourism.

1. Yes, traffic goes a different way than most American are used to. Luckily, almost every street in London is painted with “Look Left” “Look Right” to remind you how not to step out into traffic.  But directions are very important in other ways too or else you’re really going to start to piss people off (especially on the tube or in busy streets.) If you are on an escalator STAND ON THE RIGHT, and leave the left hand side open to people that are walking up the escalator.  And contrary to the way traffic flows, is the flow of walking on the sidewalk (pavement). You walk on your right, just like you would on any sidewalk in America.

2. Don’t get your landmarks confused. Big Ben is not the tower, it is the bell INSIDE the tower. In fact the tower is actually called the Elizabeth II Tower.

The same goes for London Bridge. As in the nursery rhyme “London Bridge is falling down”.  When people sing this song they imagine this bridge:
3. Don’t go to Buckingham Palace expecting to see the Queen. On one hand that seems like a no brainer. On the other hand, you see thousands of people sit outside just staring at windows. Why are they staring? Because the flag is flying. This same flag:
The urban legend is the flag only flies when the Queen is in residence.  That is simply not true. If she’s in the royal standard is raised as well. It looks like this:
(If you see this over Buckingham Palace the Queen may be chillin’ inside eating some tea and crumpets.)
4. Most museums in London are free and I flippin’ love that fact. I love, love, love the Victorian and Albert Museum. I think the V&A is a MUST SEE for tourists and residents alike. (I think the British Museum is a tad over-rated but shush, don’t tell.) These are just two examples of the many MANY free museums.
Now I am about to say something controversial: most people say to skip the Tower of London because they charge admission of about 17 GBP ($25ish). I disagree. I love the Tower of London. Sam loves the Tower of London. My mom loved it. You get your money’s worth because you could literally stay there all day long doing different activities. See the crown jewels, check. See the ravens, check. (Legend is if the ravens leave the tower it spells the downfall of Britain.) Take a tour by some hilariously cheesy but knowledgeable guides, check. See some re-enactments and the poor actors roped it doing it, check. See a torture chamber, check. Seriously. Its great.
5. Take or leave the leave the London Eye. If you want to spend money on it, that’s your perogotive. I think it’s one of those things that everyone does eventually. Just to say that they’ve done it really. But if you don’t want to, you’re not missing that much. I spent 2 years in London before I went up, Sam spent about 10. Your ticket purchase does include a 13 minute 4D video if that sways your decision to go or not to go.
(Before the 4D show. We really know how to live life to the fullest.)
(Big Ben aka Queen Elizabeth II Tower as viewed from the London Eye.)
(Handsome man face while on the London Eye.
He’s actually TERRIFIED of heights. If you look at his eyes you can see the fear
This photo is my I-phone lock screen- HA!)

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  • Tami

    Yes! Love this series.

  • Love this!

  • Cocalores

    This series is so much fun! What I would add is that while most of the museums are free, they often kindly ask for donations. My favorite one is the National Gallery. I go there every time I am in London, even if it’s just to see my favorite painting. It’s one of the most beautiful places there is.

  • Totally agree about NOT missing the tower of London. It was my in laws first time to London and they saw the prices and they flipped. I literally had to put my foot down and say, ‘trust me on this’. Everything else we did that day was free so in the end it kinda works its way out. I loved going there as a small girl and my boys now had such a fun time there.

    Bonnie Rose | A Compass Rose

  • Ashley @TheCreamToMyCoffee

    I’m so glad I stumbled across this post – I am actually going to London for the first time this summer! I definitely didn’t think about the difference when crossing the streets – I’m glad you mentioned that! And I’m definitely going to the tower of London for sure now!

  • Laura H

    Love your posts! When I went to London, I actually got to see the Queen during the Commonwealth Games when she passed the torch to the Malaysia team. Oh and I loved loved loved the Tower of London. Most definitely a must do on the tour!! Another awesome thing was to go to Westminster Abby and listen to the boys choir. Amazing!I just love London.

  • beautybabbling

    Yep…definitely don’t stand on the left side of the elevator unless you want to get run over.

    I didn’t get to spend as much time at the Tower of London as I would have liked when I was there. The amount of history in the one place is enormous!

    As a literature geek, I would also suggest checking out The Globe Theatre. Tickets aren’t overly expensive and it’s a great experience. My suggestion would be to pay to be a groundling (cheapest “seats” in the house), and get there early to get right up next to the stage. Amazing!

  • Anca

    Nice pictures and there are some things that I did not knew πŸ™‚ thank’s

    New follower from the blog hop

  • I totally agree about the Tower museum. When I first paid admission I was really bummed at the price and kind of regretted it, until we went inside and saw everything– totally worth it! This was a great post and it makes me want to go back and visit London so badly!
    XO, Rachel
    With Love, Rachel

  • Susannah

    Thanks for the tips, girl!!! Now I just need to head over to England. πŸ™‚

  • My Name Is Madeline

    Just came across your blog from the linkup, so excited to get to know you through the bookclub!! <3

  • Tatiana

    thanks for the tips! when I finally go to London, I’ll know not to seem too silly about the directions. (And how could someone NOT go to the Tower? it just seems like a requirement!)

  • Alanna Wilson

    You’re making me miss London! I thought the “look left” and “look right” signs on the pavement were hilarious. Can’t believe I will have to learn to drive there soon. You might wanna stay clear of roadways after April!

    I have yet to check out the Tower of London and the inside of Buckingham Palace, can’t wait for that πŸ™‚

    • Oh my goodness, you’ll love them! And you’re far braver than I am because I’ve completely ignored any sort of thought of learning to drive here! x