The OXO tower is a great place...
The OXO tower is a great place to spend a summer evening. There is a restaurant up there, but the Bistro has a great atmosphere. It is wonderful to get a table on the balcony overlooking the river. I love looking over the Thames from the South Bank to St Paul's Cathedral. I shall never tire of that building and am lucky enough to have it as the view from my office.
I've learnt a lot about the history & culture of London. It's a real shame that people who call themselves Londoners don't even know this place well themselves! For example, did you know that London is actually two cities? The City of Westminster (where the politicians and spies are based), and the City of London (where the MONEY is made!).
Useful website for London discounts
The "Visit London" London website has recently been having something of a publicity blitz in the press in the U.K.
If you go onto their website they have a range of offers on accommodation, restaurants and tourist attractions.
Many of the offers allow you to print out a voucher directly that can be used at the attraction.
They also do booking for events such as the Ideal home exhibition or Boat show - but you will need to ring up.
Some offers only apply if you buy a train ticket (also discounted) as well.
I've read a load of tips on VT about the way that people rarely smile or talk to each other on the tube. Now as those who know me will recognise, I'm a tube user rather than a bus user. I have my reasons, that I shall one day explain in yet another tip no doubt...
Anyways, lets put straight the myth that we Londoners don't suddenly strike up conversations and go smiling inanely at each other, simply because we're all rude and nasty. No, we don't speak to random strangers and sit there with a grin on our face, essentially because we don't want to look like a bunch of mentalists just escaped from the asylum!
Name me a city where public transport is all happy and friendly, people chatting spontaneously to the unknown person next to them, and I'll show you a city where everyone is clearly bonkers. I've never been on public transport anywhere, particularly at rush hour, when everyone is crammed into a confined carriage, generally with your face stuck in some armpit, where people look happy. I mean, how happy are most people at 8.30 on the way to work?!
On the occasions when there are lighter moments on the tube, I have to admit it can make my day. A quick smile when you catch someone's eye, that can be kind of nice. Simple politeness, now that I appreciate. I've been on the tube when something silly has happened, and it's got everyone on a carriage laughing at once. A woman on the Jubilee Line with a mobile phone ringtone of a cow 'mooing' comes to mind. And the eccentric Victoria Line driver, who used to give a running commentary at each station. 'Mind ye when leaving the train, for there be a gap'.
So don't go grinning into people's faces all the time, but don't be totally rude either. A little bit of niceness, standing up for the old or less able-bodied, waiting until people have got off the carriage before you stomp on, it'll be appreciated by everyone. But do remember, people who randomly talk on the tube are either mad or very, very drunk. Or foreign.
Think, Think, Think
If you are using public transportation to and from the aiport, make sure you can lift your bag. There will be many stairs to conquer! Comfortable walking shoes, a light windbreaker, and an umbrella. If you use a washcloth, bring your own. Hotels do not provide small face towels! Plenty of batteries for digital and film for regular cameras! Cameras and accessories are VERY expensive!! Most hotels offer an in room kettle for boiling water. To save money, we bought oatmeal packets and plastic spoons and ate out of the cups for breakfast.