I'm glad I did it - but only once
As part of the whole hype surrounding the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics, those of us who live in London were treated to a new mode of transport which was slightly unusual for a non-mountain location and notable for several reasons. It is the Emirates Airline, and herein lies the first interesting fact. It is the first portion of the Transport for London (TfL) portfolio that is commercially sponsored, this time obviously by Emirates Airlines. Prior to this the only time any TfL, formerly London Regional Transport (LRT) station or route had been named for a brand was many, many years ago. If you are ever at Arseenal Station on the Underground, have a look at the platforms on the walls. The delightful tiling clearly states Gillespie Road but the station name was changed to reflect the proximity of Arsenal Football Club who now play at what is the Emirates Stadium. Seems Emirates have some pull in this city.
To the Air Line itself. It is effectively a cable car running across the Thames from North Greenwich, close to the O2 arena to the Docklands area of Royal Docks in the East End. Before we go on, I should tell you that I do not like exposed heights and the concept of hanging suspended on a wire high above certain death is not high on my lists of things to do. So how did I end up there? Well, thanks to VT actually. During the weekend of the annual VT Treasure Hunt in 2012, myself and the other members of the London-Calling VT group had decided not to be very prescriptive about the events for Sunday and a few of the members had decided to meet up at North Greenwich at lunchtime after the actual Treasure Hunt on the Saturday.
Perhaps I just was not paying attention as usual, which seems likely, but I really wasn't aware of what the plans were. I know London pretty well, I had got to the start point quite happily on the Tube and I was merely there in a capacity of having a little knowledge of the capital. I had nothing planned for the day, and wherever the visiting members wanted to go I was pretty sure I could get them to and show them round. The concept of a very large and terrifying cable car ride really didn't enter my mind. We all met up and I got some nice photos of the nearby O2, formerly the white elephant known as the Millenium Dome (which I am still paying for from my taxes, thanks Mr. B. Liar (not a typo)). So far, so good.
At that point Lesley, VT member Roam, casually mentioned that the plan was to cross the river on the Air Line. Hmm. I had looked at it and already thought, "I don't fancy that much". However, the Air Line is all too easy to get on, especially if you have an Oyster card as I and most Londoners do. It actually works out cheaper using one rather than paying at the kiosk so before you knew it I had touched in (you place your electronic card on a reader and it debits you the fare), and was standing in what didn't even amount to a queue waiting to get onto an extremely frail looking gondola that was going to take me "high over London" (to borrow a phrase from a Jimi Hendrix song).
High over London is indeed the phrase to employ here. After the efficient and friendly operator had seen us into the car, made a joke about not closing the door (which, at that point, I found about as funny as root canal work) and we were off. No turning back now. Initially, the car just goes up. Up, up and always further up. I have subsequently found out that it rises (dependent on tides) no less than 177 feet above the river. This, frankly, is far higher than I like. Let's be honest, I get a nosebleed climbing a stepladder. The fact that some of the members were moving about to get good photos and making the thing sway ever so slightly did nothing to alleviate my natural disinclination to be that high. I know Lesley has a wonderful photo of me sitting looking absolutely petrified, and I was.
In fairness, the views are nothing short of specatacular. To the rear (crossing as we did South to North) you have a magnificent overview of the O2, the whole of Greenwich and down to the Thames Barrier. In front of you, the Olympic Park, Docklands, Canary Wharf etc. are all clearly visible. Thankfully, it was a very clear autumnal day when we were there. I did not take a lot of photographs. Sheer, blind terror kept me immobile and rooted to my seat most of the time. However, for those of you not cursed with my fear of heights, it really would be a superb experience, and relatively inexpensive, and I would certainly recommend it. If you compare it to the London Eye, which I think is horribly overpriced and overhyped (yes, I was talked into that folly as well), it is a wonderful experience with lots of wonderful photo opportunities. The staff are excellent, friendly and well turned out (TfL take note) and it really should be on everyone's list of London "things to do". Unless of course, you don't like heights, in which case, get the Tube!
To the practicalities now, and I would direct you to the attached website for this, it is rather comprehensive. Walk-up prices are a little steep at £4:30 single (£2:20 child) but with the Oyster Card it is £3:20 single and £1:60 child. As I have mentioned, this is a monumental saving on the London Eye and will give you a great view of an area of London less-visited but well worth looking at. Despite my personal nightmare, I really would recommend it, just don't ask me to go and get some more photos!Related to:
- Family Travel
It's a bit different.
Update April 2014.
Readers of my pages will know that I like to keep them as up to date as possible and so I offer the following nformation. Following a fire on one of the vehicles in late September 2013, the company is temporarily offering land-only tours whilst the relevant authorities conduct investigations. Fortunately, nobody was seriously hurt but a number of people were taken to hospital as a precaution.
The attached website is suggesting a possible return to river service as of 8th May 2014 but without the river element, the whole mainstay of this attraction seems to have been removed. Certainly, it is a novel way to travel round central London but I don't think it justifies the expense for a journey you oculd do with the same results on a hop-on hop-off bus, cheaper still normal public buses or cheapest of all walking which is my preferred option for seeing central London anyway. I shall attempt to keep this tip up to date as things progress.
This has to be one of the more obscure modes of transport amongst the many to be found in London. They are converted DUKW landing craft, as used in the Second World War, and are some sort of weird hybrid of road vehicle and boat.
The tour lasts about 70 minutes, starting at Chicheley St. Waterloo (behind the London Eye). They take in such sites as the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, the Tate Gallery, Trafalgar Square and Westminster Abbey before taking to the water and finally ending up back at the start point.
It has to be said, it's not cheap at £17:50 for adults and £12:00 for children, but it has to be one of the more unusual ways of seeing the sights.Related to:
- Family Travel
- Castles and Palaces
- Historical Travel
MINICABS are cheaper than taxis but bookings must be made by telephone as they are not allowed to pick passengers up from the street like a regular London Taxi. The fare is a greed in advance and a record is kept. You could be putting yourself in danger if approached by an unregulated car on the street, and it would also be illegal. Most pubs, hotels restaurants deal with a certain minicab company and will be pleased to order one for you. It is normal for these establishments to get commission from the minicab companies.
BIG BUS TOURS
Big Bus Tours offer an ideal way to see the London sites, as you can hop on or off at 50 different stops. During the tour you can have live commentary or recorded commentary as well as 4 walking tours and a trip on the river Thames, and vouchers for restaurants and shops. Tickets are a hefty £29 and £12 for children.
the new Emirates cable car from Excel to O2 venues
Opened in time for the 2012 Olympics here in London this is an exciting new tourist attraction providing another opportunity for great views over London and the Thames.
The cable car links the major venues of the Excel centre and the O2. The Excel centre is accessed by the DLR lines with the closest stations being Custom House, Prince Regent and West Silvertown - which is a lovely walk around the waters of the docklands to the cable car station.
Payment is best using Oyster card which gives a discounted fare 'of £3.20 for adults and £1.60 for children as opposed to paying by cash at £4.30 and £2.20. There is also a reduced rate for multiple journeys.Related to:
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Family Travel
Walk where you can....
Judge you distances, Some of the time it takes longer to get the tube from once place to the other and theres alot of walking up and down. Walking from one land mark to the other will give you chance to see alot more of the city and round every corner there will be something of interest.Related to:
- Budget Travel
Thames Fast Ferries
An excellent way to get around in London especially if your hotel is out in the East of the City is by way of Thames Clippers.
Outside of rush hour there is a huge amount of room to move about in with food and drinks on offer during the day.
They are part of the Oyster card programme so you dont even have to use credit cards or buy tickets before boarding.
We were staying at a Holiday Inn Express Hotel out not far from the Docklands and the City Airport so picked up a ferry each day from the O2 pier to get us into the City and directly to attractions such as the London Eye, Westminster Abbey, Parliament, Tower of London, Tower Bridge and Greenwich all for a relativly inexpensive fareRelated to:
- Family Travel
you can travel from Stanstede airport to London by either bus or train.
you can take national express buses costs around 10 pounds
or by easy bus can cost ONLY 2 pounds 1 way.
or by stanstede express train costs around 20 pounds 1 way.Related to:
- Budget Travel
Lay over at Heathrow for a few hours
even though it says 11, it is more like 7 or 8 hours, to go through immigration and coming back through security check. depending upon the termianl you are using, the queues can be long or short, also the time of departure or arrival. Most of the flights from North America (most of them) arrive in the morning.
15 minutes to Central London
you can have a nice meal and get back to Heathrow on time
near Paddington station is the Middle Eastern Area and you can get excellent Lebanese persian iraqi kurdish cuisine. of course so easy to get a good north indian meal. there are pubs every where..
i would go to london and enjoy a few hours in that marvellous city..
Day trip to Sissinghurst Gardens and Castle
Access from London by train is about an hour from Charing Cross to Staplehurst and fare is about 17GBP round-trip. As on some trains cars are divided off between London and Staplehurst, be sure you are on one that in fact goes to Staplehurst. From the Staplehurst Station you can walk a short distance out the front of the station and cross the street to catch a bus to Sissinghurst village. It is the Arriva #5 (£ 4.40 for a round-trip ticket) and takes about 15 minutes and the buses run only hourly. From Sissinghurst village you walk about 1.25 miles and some of the path is not well designed for pedestrian traffic. Given this, we took a taxi back to Staplehurst from Sissinghurst at a cost of about 14 GBP. We considered it worth the extra cost to skip the walk and wait on a bus.
Dutch Flyer, Rail/Ferry from London to Amsterdam
If you're looking for an inexpensive way to travel between London and Amsterdam try the Stenna Line Ferry from Harwich, UK to Hook of Holland, Netherlands. In just over 3hours from port to port you'll be across the channel. The ferry holds about 1500 persons, has a theater to see movies, restaurants, duty free (over priced) casino, and a business center. There was a special for GBP25 one way which included the rail portion from Liverpool station to Harwich, Ferry to Holland, then the train into Amsterdam; you can't beat that price even with Europe's discounted airlines.Related to:
- Budget Travel
A Unique Travel Experience in London
Based on a Rick S. video, I decided to take a trip to Greenwich on the Docklands Light Rail and come back by boat.
Apparently London Rail has decided to make the rail/boat trip that we took to Greenwich into a special ticket. I don't know if you can do rail and boat as we did, or if you have to do the boat ride first. This is what their website says about it.
"Our Rail and River Tour shows you London's landmarks from two completely different perspectives. Take a City Cruises river boat along the Thames from Westminster, Waterloo, Tower or Greenwich pier and soak up London's colourful history. Then change to DLR's fully automated trains on elevated track and enter tomorrow's world. Compare the stunning modern architecture of Canary Wharf to the historic dockside warehouses. Tour Guides provide a free lively commentary on selected trains from Tower Gateway at weekends."
"A Rail and River Rover ticket gives you the flexibility of a full day's unlimited travel on Docklands Light Railway and City Cruises, providing an unbeatable way to see London. Hop on and off as much as you like to get the full benefit of the ticket."
Family ticket is valid for 2 adults and up to 3 children under 16. Under 5's go free.
10% discount for groups of 10+ (except for Family tickets)
Alternatively, Travelcards are valid on Docklands Light Railway.
Adult, child, family and group tickets can be purchased from City Cruises ticket offices at Westminster, Waterloo, Tower or Greenwich piers and Sweet Express at Tower Gateway station.
Adult and child tickets can also be purchased from Docklands Light Railway ticket machines at all stations with the exception of Bank and Canning Town. For further information and advance bookings, please contact DLR Customer Services seven days in advance of travel.Related to:
- Family Travel
London has a quick and efficient underground, and the famous red 'double-decker' buses.
The tube is quicker, especially at rush hours. But you will see more of London from a bus!
The famous London black taxis 'cabs' are a must do!
After 09.30 am, you can buy the One-Day off-peak Travelcard, it covers you for travel on underground trains and most London buses all day after 09.30 Mondays to Fridays, or anytime weekends and public holidays.
There is also the One-Day Capital Card, which covers London buses, tube trains, and British Rail trains.
El mejor medio para moverse por Londres es, sin duda, el metro.
Es la línea metropolitana más antigua del mundo.
Lo más cómodo y barato es comprarse una Travel Card, sirve para el metro y también para el autobús.
Hay Travel cards diarios, de fin de semana, semanales y mensuales, y su precio varía según el numero de zonas por las que uno quiera moverse.
IF YOU HIT A RAILWAY BRIDGE
You have to report it! Actually if you see anyone, or anything, hit a bridge, please report it. Why? Because it can cause structural damage. Would you like a train full of people and several tonnes of bricks coming down on your head? The people at Network Rail make it really easy. You simply dial 999 - the general emergence number - from any phone and read out the information on the sign.
Last year 1300 bridges were struck and I have actually seen a lorry hit one. Not everyone is going to stick around due to insurance reasons. If you report it, they will come check out the damage to the bridge.
This is true throughout the UK.Related to:
- Road Trip
- Family Travel
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