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London is one of the best cities in the world but it also has an ugly side. Here are some of the worst experiences you can have — or try to avoid:
Rush hour on the Central Line
Singling out the Central Line might seem unfair – after all it is infinitely more regular than the District Line and moves you across London far more quickly than the tedious Circle Line. But this is a personal choice, and no other line seems to make me suffer quite so much. Almost every trip is a cramped, dank and sweaty experience, with temperatures higher than those legally permitted for the transporting of cattle. Those other general misdemeanors by fellow passengers, which complement the overcrowding, seem particularly prevalent here. People who get in before you’ve got out; others who are incapable of walking on the left-hand side of escalators; and smelly food munchers. For Londoners, the Central Line should be considered a “needs must” service. Tourists who don’t have to get anywhere fast shouldn’t bother at all.
A gauntlet of horrors. Walk down Brick Lane are you are sure to be hassled by curry salesmen, vintage clothing pedallers, rubbish club night flyer pushers and on Sundays, people who curiously clog up the pavement by spreading out a towel and laying out all their unwanted belongings in the hope of selling them to students. Shortcut for tourists: the beigels are at the Shoreditch end.
Shopping on Oxford Street
Every big city has its own version of Oxford Street, and that’s half the problem. There’s nothing amazingly original about a long street where global chain shops sell sweatshop made yarns. Yet people flock to Oxford Street like what’s on offer there isn’t available anywhere else, making it one of the most stressful places in the city. Some sadists even go just to “browse”. Approach with caution, even half an hour on Oxford Street could shave years off your life expectancy.
It’s expensive, gives you a numb bum, an overused clutch and is likely to make you loathe cab drivers. The only worse thing than driving in London is parking in London.
Crossing the road at Swiss Cottage
It’s a multi-lane extension of the North Circular, flanked by drab architecture and incorporating a series of petulant crossings that refuse to all show the green man simultaneously. Its pedestrian purgatory (Piccadilly Circus being hell). If you bother crossing at all, you might as well stop at the pub in the middle and make it worth your while.
Want to see how many people you can hate for no good reason in less than two minutes? Try leaving Victoria Station quickly. Dip and dive through a human manifestation of the commuter belt while hurdling irresponsibly handled trolley cases. If you’re lucky, you’ll have a soundtrack of off-key Barry Manilow from a charity singer or you might get a free sample of Dove for Men. Once you’re out, breathe in the smoke filled air and browse some quasi-religious literature on the pigeon plaza before squeezing onto one of the many narrow pavements blocked every five steps by a bus stop. It’s a wonder tourists brought in from the airport don’t just turn back.
Cycling round Elephant and Castle roundabout
This roundabout is so dangerous, you can’t really say anything funny about it without sounding insensitive to the large number of cyclists who have been injured there or worse. Even on the edges of it, if you’re not looking where you’re going you’re likely to stumble into a old takeaway box and break your ankle.
Queuing for Wimbledon … and not getting tickets
Jolyon Attwooll recalls his ordeal: “Work was over early. Wimbledon beckoned. Surely this was ample time to allow us to get into this highlight of London’s summer sporting calendar? We didn’t have tickets, but Andy Murray had played the previous day and we fancied our chances.
“Our excitement was curbed as we caught sight of the queue. We got to the head, and followed it. And followed it. And followed it some more. A kilometre down the road, our enthusiasm was in pieces. And a mile down the road, the end still not in sight, it was crushed entirely. We dawdled, considering our options. Presently, an umbrella opened. We headed to the pub.”
John O’Ceillaigh writes: “I’ll tactfully avoid commenting on the quality of the attraction itself, but I will say I’m filled with despair every time I see the masses of tourists that queue at length to enter Madame Tussauds. Tales of interminable waits are traded online like war stories and I can help but feel disappointed at seeing visitors to London spend such a significant chunk of their weekend break or special holiday on busy, unprepossessing Marylebone Road. For those who are determined to visit Madame Tussauds I would perhaps suggest it’s better experienced when visiting a city with less cultural calibre than London. The international brand does, after all, have outposts from Blackpool to Wuhan. As an alternative and for options that are distinct to the capital, maybe consider visiting one of London’s quirkiest museums instead.”
– Business Insider