For eleven days in UK, we spent five days exploring London. England’s transportation system was highly structured. For inter-city travel we can use trains, while within the city there are tube and buses at our disposal. So, unless you want to get lost in London, it’s good to know your route.
1. Tube and Buses
If you plan to use these modes of transportation, you need to buy an Oyster Card. The system works similarly to Dubai’s Nol card, where each passenger needs to have one card, and you check in while entering the tube station and check out upon leaving it. For buses, you only check in when you board the bus, and no check out is necessary. Deposit fee for each new card is £5. Oyster has caping scheme where you only have to pay at maximum £6 in your daily commute after which you can ride for free for the rest of that day. That makes it easier for us to calculate our daily budget for Oyster: simply multiple £6 by the number of days you will be staying in London. I noticed that it took me around £1-2.5 each time I checked-in and check-out of the tube system.
2. Black cabs
I have been warned by my friend who lives in Britain that London taxi is quite expensive, but we couldn’t keep ourselves away from having it a ride, so we hailed a black cab when we moved from Hilton Olympia at the west side of London to Sunborn Yacht Hotel at the east side. The ride took about one hour and cost us £70.
3. Uber Taxi
Before we reached UK, I downloaded Uber application, and we hired one Uber taxi for our ride from Sunborn Yacht Hotel back to Heathrow airport, that took 1.5 hours and cost £152. Experience is a good teacher and she sent us a super terrific bills. For those who are interested on why we stayed at the hotel that is quite far from the city center, please read on this link later.
We chose to use GWR (Great Western Railway) train when we went for a day trip to Bath from London. The return tickets between London and Bath Spa stations are £110 for two person. Besides GWR, there are several other train companies serving various destinations.
In the aftermath, reviewing our itinerary of London(west to east and back to Heathrow at the west side), Bath, and Harry Potter Studio, it actually might be cheaper if we rented a car and drove it ourselves. You can google it yourself if you don’t believe me.
Yet, we chose those public transportation modes because of our limited visiting time. London is one of the busiest city in the world, and we don’t want spending most of our five days sitting on a car in the middle of the traffic. Moreover, we also wanted to feel how the Londoners commute. By riding the public transports, we could have more interaction with the people, and that way we proved that what are widespread in social media are not completely true, to say the least. As far as my experience went, Londoners are not racist and many of them are friendly. Some even took the time and effort in helping us finding the correct tube route.
It’s better to see something once than to hear (or read) it a thousand times.