Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Business Badgers Abroad Blog
With London being over 600 square miles, it was important to learn the public transportation system right away. Coming from the Madison campus where every street name is familiar and everything is in walking distance, this task of learning public transportation was a little daunting for me. Luckily, London’s transportation system is extremely easy to understand and covers the entirety of the city. The Transport for London website is extremely straightforward and contains a lot of great information on how to get around. The site can be found here: http://www.tfl.gov.uk/
The easiest and fastest way to get around is the Underground subway, commonly referred to as 'the Tube.' There are two stops very close to the flat I live in, making it convenient to use the system. The cheapest and easiest way to pay for the Underground is through an “Oyster Card” which you continually top up with credit and scan for access. (The Oyster Card also works for bus access). The prices change depending on peak times, but a single ride usually costs around £2-4. The maps in the tube are very accessible and easy to understand; they explain which direction the train is going as well as the main transfer stations.
Another way to get around is using the bus system. Most of the buses are double-decker buses, which is neat. There are 700 different routes, so I have not figured out the bus system as easily as I have the Tube. The Underground closes at midnight so we have used the Night Bus System to get home if we are out at night. Luckily the bus stops offer maps detailing the routes so I have been successful thus far in taking the bus.
I do try to walk as much as possible, but some places are just too far away to rely solely on foot. Google maps has been very helpful in figuring out directions as London is not built on a typical grid like I am used to in the United States. It’s very easy to get lost and turned around in this city because of that. I received a detailed map of London for Christmas that has proved to be extremely helpful. There are also traditional black taxi cabs everywhere, but they're expensive so I have yet to use one.
For travelling outside of the UK, flights are relatively cheap through websites like RyanAir.com and EasyJet.com. In addition, there are trains and coach buses that leave from Central London to other places in the UK. I have not yet taken a flight to another country, but I went to Edinburgh, Scotland last weekend on a coach bus. The Victoria Station and Kings Cross Station are two places that offer transportation to the airports around London and these stations are easy to access via the Tube.
Overall, I miss the feeling of knowing where I am and which direction I am going at all times like I'm used to in Madison, but I am slowly starting to feel more comfortable in this massive city. I try to walk often around the neighborhood I live in and take the Tube if I need to go further than about two miles. Every day gets a little bit easier and I look forward to figuring out more ways to get around!