London Warnings Or Dangers Tips by Dabs
London Warnings and Dangers: 647 reviews and 418 photos
This warning could apply to anywhere in the world, I seem to see this particular con virtually everywhere we go and can't believe that there are still people who fall for this centuries old con. We happened to see this in broad daylight near Covent Garden on one of our visits and in June 2011 Westminster Bridge had at least five people set up doing this.
The basic equipment is three shells and a round object such as a pea, the con man has his ringer (always shifty looking fellows) pick the winning shell with the pea under it a couple of times, oohs and aahs come from the crowd and then the con man starts taking bets from unsuspecting tourists and taking their money in this sleight of hand.
A third conman is usually posted as a lookout, the game is always ready to travel upon the appearance of local law enforcement.
Another variation on this is three card monte, anytime you see a man with shells or cards on a paper box, feel free to watch from a safe distance but never ever plunk your money down, it's a sucker bet and you are sure to lose.
TFL loves to do scheduled maintenance work on the tube on the weekends, it seems to me that every time I am in London, they close down the Circle Line for at least part of my trip. Sometimes it's not a big deal, you just take another line and maybe an extra 5 minutes. Other times, it's a real challenge getting where you are going, one of our journeys on this trip took at least twice as long as it should have between changing lines and walking between tube stations.
Check on the boards when you enter the station as to what lines have closures, they also list lines that have current delays. Once you get down to the platform, all you can do is listen for announcements or ask someone who looks like they live in London who probably knows what lines are closed for that day. If it's a scheduled closure, then there are replacement buses that stop at all of the closed station on that line. If it's unscheduled, then you are on your own to figure out where you are going although you should be able to find someone who works there or a "how to travel from this tube station" guide near the exit.
My travel companion learned a very expensive, not to mention time consuming lesson on this trip, like all big cities London has pickpockets working all through out it and they like to target tourists because we're often not paying attention. In our case we were sitting in a pub, they grabbed her purse without either one of us noticing. When we told the bartender about it, they said it happens all the time in their pub and while they have CCTV in the bar, that didn't help get her purse back. Later on in the week, we saw a sign in another pub warning of it. I never travel with a purse although I frequently have a backpack, I tend to keep my valuables on my person and try to keep my backpack somewhere hard to grab.
The pub referred us to the local police station, luckily she got back her purse, her wallet with credit and ATM cards still intact but they took her passport which is not so easy to replace. If your hotel has a safe, leave your passport at the hotel. There is no need to carry your passport in London, you can always bring along a copy and carry that with but it's really unlikely that you would ever need to show it. It's also a good idea to bring a list of your credit card numbers and contact numbers in case you need to cancel your cards.
Many of the tube stations require navigation of stairs, the maps inside the tube are marked for which stations are accessible and the tube guru on the website attached has a wheelchair symbol for those that are accessible and also details where to go once inside the tube station.
I had the most uncomfortable 15 minutes one afternoon while trying to ride the Piccadilly line during rush hour (around 5:30 or 6 pm). People just keep pushing on the cars whether or not there was actually any room for them, adding to the mix was that it was rather hot in London, everyone was sweaty and of course all of the seats were already taken.
So if you are not a crowd person, you might avoid the tube at the busy times of the day, if I hadn't been in a hurry, I would have shoved my way off the tube and walked.
Look Right, Look Left
I'm sure a few American tourists have narrowly escaped being flattened by a big red bus by ignoring the signs printed on the street telling them to Look Right then Look Left.
Alternatively, you can just look in both directions like we did just to make sure nothing is coming to flatten you. Perhaps that's from years of experience with bike messengers in Chicago who never travel in the right direction.
Bring a good map with you or get one from your hotel, the free one our hotel gave us was actually pretty good. Twice we asked directions, once from a shop clerk and once from a man who appeared to be from the neighborhood, both times we were just a couple of blocks away and both times we were sent in the wrong direction.
On a previous visit we were up in Hampstead and we saw a guy on a motorcycle writing stuff down. We asked him what he was doing, he said that he was studying to be a London cab driver and was taking a practice test. Apparently it takes several years to become one because of all the confusing street name changes.
In many restaurants and snack shops that have both take away and sit down dining, the prices for sit down dining can be more expensive.
We stopped by La Creperie de Hampstead's South Kensington location and thought since we were a tube stop away from our hotel that we would eat there instead of taking it back to the hotel. But I had happened to notice the prices on the takeaway menu and the sit down menu was almost double! L6 for a crepe seemed a bit steep so we got back up and ordered takeaway food.
I also noticed this at a bakery, although the price difference was not all that great.
Most of your budget hotels will not have air conditioning. I don't normally think of London as a really warm place, yet on the last several visits we have been really glad that we have had AC.
We had a particularly bad stay at a hotel on Cromwell Road near the Gloucester tube station several years ago where we did not have air conditioning and it was a rather warm early September. We opened the windows to get some air and realized that we would never be able to sleep with all the noise from Cromwell Road.
So we packed up a day early and left for Paris on an overnight bus (mistake #2 on that trip). Ever since we have booked through Priceline, have spent less money and stayed in MUCH nicer hotels.
But if you can't afford a hotel with air conditioning and are not willing to take a chance on Priceline, at least try to make sure you are not on a busy road.
I've always known about the official 1/2 price theatre ticket booth in Leicester Square so I have never used any of the other surrounding ticket agents. The Official ticket office is the free standing building in the middle of the square clearly marked with TKTS.
But there are many other ticket sellers in the Square, at least one other of which claims to be the official booth. I have heard from other people that they have gotten less than desirable seats from these places and paid more than the 1/2 price booth.
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