previously posted on my blog Abroad in London
as a weekly update for family and friends
Getting Acquainted with London via Open Deck Buses
Those first days were the busiest. After arrival we quickly discovered that Chris, my six foot four inch flatmate, did not fit on the tiny European twin sized beds. Those first days were dominated by us settling in, becoming familiar with the neighbourhood and a very successful trip to Ikea. I also chose to take a very enlightening open deck bus tour of the city.
A very intelligent aunt of mine told me that the best way to acquaint oneself with a new city is via a bus tour. I adhered to this advice for nearly every major city I visited while in the United Kingdom.
Maps are one way to learn a town but I’ve discovered that there’s a disconnection between the paper and actual geography. And during the time I was in London I became familiar with various pockets of London but without those bus tours –of which I took several during those six months- I never would’ve connected the pockets together.
Well before the bus tour, in fact on the very first day of arrival, I had ventured the two blocks from my flat to the British Museum. It was my first taste of London. But I was ready to see more and with the sound advice of my Aunt I chose to join a bus tour
I had packed my camera, an umbrella, some pocket change and my phone for the trip. Then I was off to catch the bus. Luckily for me the British Museum is a big attraction in London and there is a private line of these buses dedicated to delivering patrons up to Russell Square, my neighbourhood. I caught one of the busses from a nearby street corner and joined the tour.
I saw some of the greatest sights that London had to offer but the first trip was merely an appetizer to all the sights that I would see in depth over my six months. On that first night I saw the London Eye, Westminster, Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park, Green Park, Marble Arch, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral and many other major London sights.
I felt like a kid on that tour bus. It was drizzling wet the entire way but I was stubborn to remain on top of the bus and with perfect visibility on the tour. There I was in my layers of ponchos, clutching my camera with clammy and damp skin, and watching every sight pass by with wide eyes that must have been more fey than human. For me that first tour of London was a magical experience and it was the only time that I would not complain about the constant and cold rain.
By the time the tour ended I was terribly excited and overwhelmed by everything. That night I discovered another London oddity to add to my ever growing list; including such things as driving on the wrong side of the road, the specialty stores (an entire store for hammers?), and the accents. What I had found that was most disconcerting about London was the lateness of the sunsets- which didn’t start until 9:30 at night.