London is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, with grand museums, spectacular architecture and a lot of history. Like most major cities however, there are unspoken rules between the locals on what is acceptable behaviour and what can land you on top of the most hated tourist list.
Here’s a list of what you should not do while visiting this fine city.
1. Ride the Tube at Rush Hour
London is a major business hub and people who work in and around London take the tube to get to work quickly. It’s overcrowded as it is with Londoners jockeying for seats and space, so tourists shouldn’t ride the tube at rush hour to avoid the murderous stares of locals who just want to get to work. This goes double for tourists who travel in a large group and people carrying luggage. Rush hour is from 6am to 10am and 4pm to 6pm. If you must, take the tube in between those times. Try walking or riding the London bus instead. The sights and sounds of London are better seen above ground anyway.
2. Stand on the left side of an escalator
In London, the left side of an escalator is reserved for people who can’t wait for the lumbering staircase to reach its destination. If you find yourself riding an escalator, don’t stand and clog the left side unless you want someone to politely put you in your place. If you’re carrying any luggage, keep it on your right side because someone in a hurry might trip over it.
3. Jump a queue. Any queue.
Londoners hate long lines just as much as anyone, but the thing they hate the most are people who jump in front of a queue. If you’re tired of waiting, in a hurry or just want to move up in front of the line to get things over with, don’t do it unless you want to hear the alphabet of vulgarities. Your time is equally important as the rest of the people in line, so keep calm and wait your turn!
4. Stop on top of an escalator or in the middle of the sidewalk
Please, for the love of all things holy, do not stop at the top of an elevator to figure out where you’re going next. Move along and find a nice, quiet wall or corner where you can ponder your options. Ditto for suddenly stopping in the middle of a busy sidewalk and consulting Google Maps. Move over to the side before conducting your orienteering.
5. Walk everywhere like a Boy Band
When you’re with a rather large group, it’s always fun to walk in a horizontal line wide enough to occupy the whole sidewalk. Bad form! Please don’t hog the sidewalk because other people are using it too. Some may even be late for work or rushing to grab a quick lunch. Two lines would be perfect. If you have children with you, keep them on the inside.
6. Go Shopping on Oxford Street
Oxford street is crammed with so many people and so many things going on, it’s insane. You don’t need to waste your time shopping there, because all of the global chain stores can be found everywhere else. You’re better off going to the museums or checking out the local market that sells jewelry, clothing and furniture made by local artists instead of wasting your time navigating this sea of shops, hawkers and other tourists.
7. Ride a Taxi
Take a cab only as a last resort. Cab fare in London is ridiculously expensive, you’re better off either taking the bus or walking. Stay away from rickshaws, too. London traffic is notoriously unpredictable and you’d never want to get stuck in one while in a cab. Riding a cab in London does have its advantages though, because cabbies know where everything is. If you want directions to the nearest tea shop, ask a local. But if you want to find a qualified Life Coach in or around London and anything out of the ordinary for that matter, a London cabbie could help you out.
Every major city around the world seems to have a list of do’s and dont’s that every tourist should know, but fail miserably at.
When in the land of the Beatles, Wimbledon and Buckingham Palace, follow this list and do what the locals do. After all, who wants to be an annoying tourist anyway?