London is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, attracting over 17 million visitors each year. As is the case everywhere, you can quite easily tell the tourists apart from the locals. Chris and James, our local ambassadors for London, share seven sure-fire ways to tell if you’re the real deal.
1. You know the best bars and restaurants are in zone 2.
London’s public transport network is divided into zones: zone 1 being the city centre, and zone 2 being the first ring of inner-city neighbourhoods where most Londoners live. As the city centre is quite touristy and unaffordable in terms of restaurants and bars, Londoners prefer to go out in zone 2 where neighbourhoods have more character, the places are more local and the prices cheaper.
2. You become livid when a train takes more than 3 minutes to arrive.
Londoners are fortunate to have a frequent tube service, with trains arriving every two to three minutes. People are used to this schedule and as it suits their busy lives, they never check the timetables. On the rare occasion a train doesn’t arrive within three minutes, they become very agitated.
Photo credit: Tomosaurus
3. You stand on the right of the escalator. ALWAYS.
With millions of people using the tube every day, there are some basic etiquette rules that everyone must adhere to in order to keep the traffic flowing. Standing on the left (holding up people trying to walk up/down the escalator) will result in a lot of angry sighs and occasional verbal abuse. Anyone who has ever been to London and broken this rule will have surely experienced such impatience.
4. The slightest hint of sunshine means cancelling all plans and rushing to the nearest park.
London is, after all, known for its rainy, misty and grey weather. Sun is a rare visitor. Whenever it’s sunny you see a surprising improvement in everyone’s mood and people literally flock to the parks to soak it up. There’s a silent agreement among friends that all other plans are less important.
Photo credit: Gian Luca Ponti
5. Paying anything up to £5 for a pint is perfectly okay. Anything over sees you seething with anger.
London is the most expensive city in the UK, which is very apparent when it comes to the price of a beer. A fiver (£5) seems to be the magic number. It doesn’t matter how close to £5 it is, as long as it’s not over no one complains. Anything over £5, however, seems insanely expensive.
6. The thought of catching a night bus terrifies you.
While everyone is still dreaming about the long-awaited 24-hour tube, getting home any time after 1 am on a Saturday means navigating a confusing web of connecting buses filled to the brim with drunk people. It’s near impossible to work out without Google Maps and takes on average two hours to get from one side of the city to another.
7. You avoid Oxford Street at all costs.
Oxford Street is the most densely pedestrian-populated shopping street in the city. It’s rammed with buses and packed with tourists walking insanely slowly along the sidewalk in every direction. It’s lined with retail outlets you can find everywhere else in London. A Londoner’s primal fears are being delayed unnecessarily and having to interact with people on the street. Having to pick something up at Primark might as well be a bullet to the head.
Photo credit: James Beard
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