Travel tips for study abroad students: London

To be completely honest, I didn't like London much. I don't know whether it was because of the lack of time we had to explore the city or the fact that I found it overwhelming to explore. I would highly suggest to anyone to travel to London to spend more than 2 days like I did.

  • The hotel I stayed at was the Queens Hotel Crystal Palace (122 Church Road Crystal Palace, London) which also happened to be the same hotel that my brother stayed at during his trip with EF Tours. This hotel has horrible reviews online but I'm glad we took the risk because it wasn't as bad as the reviews made it seem. The hotel is in South London, so it's in no way in walking distance to all the tourist attractions but there is an underground station (Crystal Palace) which is located down the hill. The hotel was fairly inexpensive and there is a Sainsburys nearby as well as many restaurants and little shops. And last but not least this hotel has free wifi in the lobby!
  • Just like in Manchester if you have Bank of America or BNP Paribas there are plenty of Barclays locations and ATMs so you can take out some pounds.
  • The London Underground or Tube can be extremely confusing if you don't study it in advance and unlike the Parisian one there isn't a train taking you in the same direction every 3 minutes. You have to be aware that there are about two directions for every line because many lines spit up. As you can see on the picture, the Tube map is much bigger than the Parisian metro and the fact that it doesn't have names will confuse you at first.
  • To avoid buying a ticket every time we used the Underground or Overground we just went ahead and bought day passes. Since Crystal Palace is in Zone 5 we had to buy the Zone 1-6  day pass which was  £8.50. A single way ticket is about  £4 so the day pass definitely pays off! Check out the Oyster website for prices and there's even a 7-day pass. You don't have to buy the pass in advance, they are also available at any underground or overground station where you buy your tickets.
  • Food in London is definitely pricier than in Manchester but just like Manchester there are plenty of takeaway places and there are buffets everywhere. We ended up in Chinatown and took advantage of a buffet in that area. While it wasn't the biggest buffet for less than  £6 we got to eat everything we wanted which turned out to be a good thing for a group of students with a small budget who had been walking the entire day.
  • London is HUGE! So definitely take into consideration that you won't get to places really quick. As I mentioned before the tube isn't as quick, nor does it come often as the Parisian metro. When I went to Rough Trade I had thought that we would have enough time to also go to Abbey Road but it took about an hour to get to the Ladbroke Grove station from Crystal Palace and about 45 minutes to go to the Victoria station to meet up with my friends.
If you have an iPhone, iPod touch, or Android download the foursquare app because it will become your best friend during your trip. I didn't have 3G while I was there but it works just fine with wifi, so take advantage of foursquare and look up restaurants and other places to check out. Yelp is also another great resource during your trip in London. 

Bon dimanche à tous ! :)

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