Thursday, September 03, 2015

London 101

London and England is an expensive place but with a little knowledge and ingenuity one can have an affordable time. The 'tube' is always expensive but buses are cheaper. The first thing to do after landing is to buy an oyster card at any of the tube stations and top it up as you go. It can be used on the tube or on buses. If you learn the bus system, your money will go further. I use an oyster card for the convenience, rather than buying a ticket every time I use the bus or the tube, I just tap my oyster card. It'll tell you when you're short of funds for your trip and you can then go and top it up. I took one major trip to England recently. While this is mostly about that trip, it will include my previous forays into this glorious place. Even though I have family in London, I choose not to stay with them because if I do I'll end up sitting on their couches all day long chatting and drinking tea. Not that its a bad idea but I'm in London to do things, to see things. This means I have to look for affordable accommodations. During previous visits I like to stay around Victoria station at the cheap hotels that dot the Pimlico area but those places are ugly and at 65 pounds are not cheap. Besides wi-fi is extra. So I decided to leave my comfort zone and venture elsewhere. There is a growing hostel industry in central London. A lot of modern style hostels have cropped up in recent years offering acceptable amenities, are affordable and in good locations. I stayed in a Generator hostel, a growing chain of modern hostels that has set up shop in some of the major cities in Europe. While this one in London is not at par with their Paris or Copenhagen counterparts, at around 35 pounds  a night in a mixed dorm it is acceptable for central London. During this trip I have stayed in so many mixed dorm that I no longer squirm when I see the only places left are mixed dorms. In fact a lot of travelers even prefer mixed dorms.

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