Oh London, london, london.
The last time I was in London was maybe about 4-5 years ago.
I had a great time, it wasn’t a perfect city but it was a great place I felt safe and had a lot of fun in. Mind you I went to visit some friends who lived in England who had visited London often and so maybe I was caught up in the fun of the people I was with.
However fast forward to the present and things felt vastly different.
Out of all the places I visited in my trip, London was the least place I felt the least safe. I’m not sure why, as when I was planning my trip I was the most concerned about Paris and Munich. So to start off in the place I thought I was going to feel the most safe and feel nothing but tense and nervous, kind of really took me by surprise. The more I travelled and saw the rest of Europe ( Vienna, Salzburg, Munich, Fussen, Paris, Amsterdam and Dublin) the more I realised how danger really differs in each region. I’ll talk about this in another blog post.
I have to admit I did not stay in the heart of London, as I was comfortable using the tube and had been before to London to know enough that I could navigate the city by myself fine. So I stayed in Shepherds bush. My first issue started there as I was walking out one morning to go to the British Museum. I was walking to the station as a man who clearly was drug affected was ranting for pennies. I did not make eye contact and stared straight hurt and kept walking, only to be punched in the chest. I wasn’t seriously hurt, more shaken than anything.
The next incident was as I was walking home one night to my hotel, my hotel was only a 5 minute walk away from the station, but it had some dodgy men around at night. One man stopped me only to ask me in the most seedy way, what are you doing, when I looked at him puzzled he asked again if I was busy. I gave him a severe what the hell look and walked off. Now I know what some of you will think, well duh, its known to be a less than glamorous place, but I’m not talking about one district here.
I am talking about the whole of London.
My next eye opening experience was the level of homeless that seems to have developed over the past few years. The homeless are on almost every street.
They are deftely at every train station, whether that be on the platform waiting for you to come down the stairs to the tube, or outside the statino entrance, or near a shelter on a makeshift street.
It’s…………………. deeply unnerving and saddening.
Something is deeply wrong in London. I also noticed that many of them seem to be drug affected. I don’t know if it’s an economic problem, a social problem or a drug problem, but London is no joke for the timid.
It’s like the government has just turned a blind eye, or shrugged and said me, it’s too hard and it is what it is. Iv’e never seen so many homeless people in a first world cosmopolitan city!
I’m not saying don’t go, but I do recommend the below tips.
- Pay the extra and stay somewhere close to the places you will be visiting.
- If you are visiting places all over London like I was, and there is no one particular attraction you are visiting, save up and pay the extra to stay in a well known suburb or pick an unknown hotel near a well known famous hotel. This will usually attract a better crowd of people and lesser unsavoury characters.
- If you are staying in a lesser known hotel, make sure you pre-organise your taxi transfers. The taxi back to the airport from my hotel when I was leaving to go to my next destination was a friend of the hotel owner and expected that I would have cash on hand. He tried to pressure me to go to the ATM to withdraw. I said no. If this had been any other city but London I would not have even gotten in the car. If you can’t pre-organise, download a taxi app and book in advance.
- Don’t book things in advance unless absolutely necessary, especially if you are planning on doing multiple things in a day. You might get to it, you might not. Book for the things were there are usually long notorious lines for hours. I booked for the London eye, I never went as there was a delay with my morning attraction. If you are going to book, assign one day per thing and do it first!!!!!
- You can get a limited refund on your oyster card for money you don’t use – but be aware that you will have to refund it before you leave at a train station only to get cash back, you can’t do it online sadly.
- If you go to the shard, I highly recommend going during the afternoon about 30-40 minutes before sunset begins. Then wonder around, take your photos of London during the day from all different angles, then grab yourself a cocktail and pull up a chair when someone finally gets up and watch the sunset. In my opinion, London is more beautiful at night from that high up, but you will see more during the day.
Please check out the below few happy snaps from my trip.
Starting from the view from the shard to the view from a pier on the River Thames of the London Eye.