EuroChameleon: Riding Buses, Tubes and Cabs in London City
Happy to be back in London since a few years back with the family. This time we did mostly sightseeing and just exploring the streets, observing the locals, hopping on their daily transportation and spent some time in their shops. However we did underestimate ourselves when we arrived here because of the travel time. It was a long overnight journey which left us almost at our wits end when we finally found our hotel. For this post I’d like to share with you the transportation services that we took on in London which was very convenient and easy to get around.
Getting into London with Megabus.
We wanted to be adventurous and cheap at the same time, cutting out some costs on air travels so we decided to get on the overnight Megabus from Brussels Central Station to London. Finding the bus stop was one big puzzle as there was no official station for buses and searching for ‘Rue du Cardinal’ at midnight proved to be a challenge. It was just outside the train station because 2 girls were also waiting for the same bus so we had good company.
It was free seating all the way and we had to sit separately since most of the people on board decided to hog 2 seats at once despite traveling with their friends. It was a bit annoying because the seats were already small and they weren’t keen on letting anyone sit beside them as they needed more space. I fell asleep since it was past midnight and tried my best to be cosy.
Getting off the bus and onto the ferry.
The Belgian girl we met while waiting for the Megabus did tell us that we won’t be having much sleep tonight and it was true. Halfway through the journey (it was 3am), the bus driver announced that we need to get off the bus and into the immigration office at the P&O Ferry terminal for passport checks. The immigration officer at the London side had asked me why I chose to take the bus instead of other transportation. When I told him it was cheaper he nodded, stamped my passport and said “Makes sense.”
When we had completed with both borders we got on the bus again only to get off again when the bus parked into the P&O ferry. The instructions were specific, go up the green door to deck number 5 and wait there until the ferry arrives at the next terminal. I was relieved to find a toilet in the ferry and there was also a Starbucks cafe on the same floor with a view of the English Channel. It was dark and we were tired so we sat at the cafe area and took a nap. More info on Megabus UK here.
Catching the underground Tube to Baker Street.
We arrived at the Victoria Coach Station and walked to the Victoria Train Station which was 5 minutes away, with our luggage. It was the peak morning hour and everyone was rushing to work. The staff at the station were friendly and guided us to the underground Tube to King Cross Station. There weren’t that many steps going down so it was easy for us but the morning crowd was insane. We had to wait a good 10-15 minutes before we could jump on the train with our luggage.
Transportation in London are convenient and available everywhere. When we got to the hotel, the receptionist handed us a map and explained to us the nearest tube station for the Big Bus Tour which was on Baker Street. There are many lines for the underground Tube and having the map in English helps a lot in planning for the route. We just needed to see which one would bring us there quicker. The fare was £4.70 per person for single tickets so getting the Oyster card was more affordable as the fare came down to £2.20 for a single ticket. All we needed to do was put in £5.00 for deposit and another £5.00 for the fare. The card can be used on buses, trains and Tube in London according to the zones and it can be topped up anytime. It’s all easy because when we had the Oyster card we just needed to tap on the yellow circular reader as we went in and out of the Tube station. More info on the London pass here.
Seeing the city from the Big Bus Tour
I love Hop on and off buses especially the ones in Europe because it’s double decked with an open roof and they go around the hot spots in the city. We chose the Big Bus Tour based on my previous experience in London and we had gotten a good deal for 2 days (£26.00 for the price of 48 hours) as they had an online promo. There’s 3 lines for the Big Bus Tour, orange, blue and red. The red being the classic tour and the blue being the extensive tour (longer route). The orange bus was more of a transit from King Cross Station to Aldwych which we then hopped on the blue bus.
The Big Bus Tour also included the river cruise on Thames but we didn’t get to hop on this due to the massive crowd at the Tower of London who came to see the red poppy flowers installation. The good thing is that since we were on the bus, we got to capture the installation from above compared to everyone else who was below. Due to this reason alone, we would need to come back to London when the crowd is not too large. We got off and on at different places so that we could experience the sights up close and after that we got on the bus again. All we needed to do was show our receipt to the bus driver and then get on to the upper deck. It was quite windy and cold so best to prepare a shawl or wrap yourself in a jacket just in case. More info on Big Bus London Tour here.
Heading back to to the hotel with the Double Decker city bus.
Other transportation options around the city is the iconic red Double Decker bus that can be seen everywhere. These are the modern looking ones with glamorous advertisements running at the side and the back. Even though these buses are not open roofed, it still has a good view of the city from above and there are announcements and update on the screen before you get off at the next stop. This for us is rather convenient as we were not familiar with the route. Since we had the Oyster card we just tapped our cards when we hopped on but then we got a receipt that said the amount in the card was not enough so the deposit was deducted. If not we could pay the fare upfront (£1.45 for single ticket) to the driver when for destination around the city. More info on bus fares here.
For early morning rides, take the London black cabs.
On our last day in London, we had an early morning train ride to Paris and because we had 2 suitcases with us, we decided on booking the London black cab to the train station. There were none for us since it was a working day so in the end we walked to the station, dragging the suitcases behind us (thank goodness for trolley bags). However I did manage to experience the London black cab during the last trip here and we had taken it from the airport. A yellow sign above the taxi would tell you if the driver is available or booked for another passenger so it’s always good to notice that first before getting on one. The seat for the passengers are super spacious as it’s a pull down seat for 4 people (facing each other). Even our luggage could sit in there together with us. I would recommend you to try the London black cabs at least once in your lifetime just because it is an icon of London city. More info on London black cabs fares here.
Which transportation services was my favorite?
I would have to say the Double Decker bus because we got to see the city as we get to our destination. No doubt the underground Tube is quicker but with London having so many beautiful historical buildings and shops, it’s always nice to have a glimpse of that as we got around the city. How about yourselves?
Which is your preferred transportation in London?
About Yafieda Jamil
A Malaysian girl currently working abroad in Phnom Penh city. I love a good road trip, hot cappuccinos, spicy food and staring at old buildings. My mission is to inspire people to see the world differently before we all get any older. Oh and giraffes are the most beautiful creatures on earth.