Sunday, 18 December 2011

Three Tips: A Tourist's Guide to Landaan

Over the past month and a bit, I've been to London and back four times, for various reasons - theatre performances, KFC, museums, Comic-Con, and most recently a nerd gathering.

Yesterday I went all the way to Hyde Park, with a hangover and the flu, having not eaten anything for twelve hours, to socialise with other nerds, who are - by definition - terrible at socialising. Amongst the singing acoustic Rebecca Black/Nyan Cat medleys, lime gifting (Including giving a lime to ex-Big Brother contestant Sam Pepper) and getting featured in as many YouTube videos as humanly possible, I also managed to make friends with a tiny asian girl who, due to her lack of conversational skills, introduced herself by stroking faces and announcing:

'I have come to socialise'.

So after attending the capital city so many times in such a short period (I mean, Jesus, why hasn't Boris Johnson ceremonially gifted me with an Oyster Card yet?) I thought that I would be a generous soul and pass along some of my well-found knowledge, what with London being both a tourist destination and impossible place to understand.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present you with my:
Three Tips: A Tourist's Guide to Landaan

1. Fit in - as it is such a worldwide tourist trap, London is full of rapists, muggers, and street performers who lay in wait for those who look like they have no idea what they're doing.

Asians in waterproof jackets with digital cameras, I am talking directly to you here.

Obviously then, the most important thing to make sure of whilst you're in London is to fit in. There are three main ways you can do this; firstly, pronounce it 'Landaan' (Draw out the second vowel as long as possible) in a loud screeching Cockney accent, secondly, try and fit in as much Cockney rhyming slang as possible (Apples and Pears: Stairs, Barney Rubble: Trouble, Laugh: Giraffe) even if it doesn't make sense, and finally, ask strangers to take photos of you and your friends in front of iconic monuments - this is a common past-time of all Londoners.

2. Get around - famed for it's nightmarish and insanely complicated public transport systems, you probably won't be in London long enough to come to terms with using them (Most people tend to get lost in the Underground for at least three months on their first go) so here are two very valuable slices of information pie.

Firstly, air travel - despite it's carbon heavy reputation, air travel is a very popular option. As well as the popular, quick and cheap option of negating  between London's five airports, you can easily buy an umbrella from a street vendor for a reasonable price and fly around upon a whimsical gust of wind, not unlike the method portrayed in Mary Poppins, but with far more Cockneys and dance routines.

My second tip for public transport in London is a well known secret to Londoners - bus jumping. To enforce order, the government has spent years spreading the myth that you have to be at a Bus Stop to get on one of London's famous red double deckers. This is, obviously, a myth - to get on a bus you can simply jump in front of one and it will stop - just give it about 20 yards, the brakes are surprisingly powerful.

3. Pay up - in these hard economic times, the faithful and strong-willed people and government of London have taken it upon themselves to make you pay for everything you would normally perceive to be a human right. Toilets in Waterloo station cost 30p in exact change (A fiver to the attendant if you don't want firecrackers thrown into your cubicle), buskers, upon discovering copyright law, can now press charges if you look at them or hear their music and not tip them at least a pound, even muggers are now charging fuel surcharges and expecting tips, so make sure you bring plenty of pocket money with you.

On the bright side, it is London, so you can always break into any highstreet shop and loot them if you feel out of pocket - the people of London will be happy to clear up after you, and the recession has triggered a neighbourly sense of 'It's okay, just steal my hard earned possessions, you're a friend' (Just make sure you fit in, see point 1).

So there you have it - three indispensable tips for surviving in the world's safest city. Part of the fun of London is working it all out for yourself without any help from others whatsoever, so make sure to try out things that maybe aren't on my list. If you'd like more helpful information about the world around you, and for more hilariously written bits and bobs from the talented bloggers of the Interwebz, you can buy my book at - - it's for charity!

Happy Travels!


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