Category Archives: London 2012

Bargain Britain. Now is the time to visit London!

Grab a bargain and visit London whilst the Olympics are on.  Discount flights, cheap theatre tickets, last minute sightseeing, hotels reduced by up to 70%.

(Reuters) London tourist trade suffers from Olympic effect.

Tube trips are surprisingly easy, shopping on the high street is down in central London, hotel bookings and prices are off their peak, while theatres and London cafes suffer the Olympic effect.

Credit: Reuters/Brian Snyder
Economists have long warned that the Olympics may not provide much of a boost at this stage for Britain’s recession-hit economy as most of the construction work and investment has been done in the run-up to the Games. Now, early evidence appears to be bearing this out.

Warned repeatedly for months about the strain London’s transport system would experience with the expected arrival of 11 million visitors to the Games, Londoners and the usual non-Olympic seasonal visitors appear to have vanished from the underground train system, the shopping districts, theatres, hotels and abandoned other traders who benefit from tourism.

The British government’s budget watchdog OBR pointed out in March that some visitors may cancel or delay trips to London in order to avoid the crowds and potential travel disruptions.

“Given the uncertainties and the relatively small size of any possible effects, we assume that, apart from the ticket sales effects, the Olympics will not have a material effect on the quarterly path of GDP,” the OBR said.

Britain’s government is trying to boost foreign investment and stimulate the private sector, while keeping to a strict austerity budget, and hopes the Olympic Games – the first to be held in Britain since 1948 – will showcase Britain as a business destination.

Prime Minister David Cameron hopes that will help assuage critics who see the 9.3 billion pound (14.5 billion) cost of hosting the Olympics as too expensive given Britain’s strained finances.

London’s much criticised public transport system, the busiest in Europe, won early gold for easily carrying a million spectators through an unusually quiet early rush hour on the first full working day of the Olympics on Monday.

Travellers said buses and trains were working surprisingly smoothly with only a few hiccups, confounding dire forecasts of a transport meltdown in a city once notorious for slow trains, late buses and incoherent delay announcements.

London’s transport bosses expect an extra 3 million journeys per day during the Games on top of the usual 12 million, an Olympian test for an underground train network whose infrastructure in parts dates back to 1863.

“I’ve noticed how easy it has been to travel. With the influx of one million people for the Games, it’s made me wonder, where are they?” Paul Richardson, a 37-year-old photographer, told Reuters on Monday at London Bridge, which the authorities had warned commuters to avoid.


Part of the lighter load has come from those office workers who have been instructed or allowed to work from home while the Olympics are on.

Consultancy firm KPMG told Reuters that it expected some 50 percent of its 5,500 staff in London to work flexibly at some point during the Games.

“That could mean working from home, or a different office, or varying hours,” a KPMG spokesman said.

Most theatres in London’s West End have not seen traffic increase or fall for advanced August bookings and shut down last Friday to avoid clashing with an opening Olympic ceremony, which starred Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, Society of London Theatre President Mark Rubinstein told Reuters on Tuesday.

He said the anecdotal evidence was that there seemed to be a lot of people on the streets of London, but much of the seasonal London tourist traffic seems missing from the West End.

“There’s been fewer people buying tickets on the day,” Rubinstein said.

Britain’s two biggest airports said they had seen no significant increase in the number of passengers flying abroad while Eurotunnel said outward bound bookings on Channel Tunnel trains were slower than usual.

More than 10 million people braved torrential rain and then scorching summer temperatures to see the Olympic flame on its 8,000 mile (12,870 km) journey across the length and breadth of the United Kingdom, according to Games organiser LOCOG.

Only one in 10 travellers is leaving London to avoid the Games, according to a survey by the Association of British Travel Agents. Seven out of 10 Londoners were even looking forward to the Games, the survey showed.

“Numbers taking holidays at this time are fairly consistent with past years,” said ABTA spokeswoman Victoria Bacon.

“While some have chosen to forgo a summer holiday during the Games, these have been balanced by those wanting to get away,” she said.

That statistical and anecdotal evidence contrasts with the doomsday predictions by some of the British media that Londoners would flock to foreign shores to avoid the security checks, crowds and chaos of the Olympics.


Retailers in central London have also reported disappointment with the Olympic effect so far.

Jace Tyrrell, spokesman for New West End Company, which represents more than 600 retailers, property owners and businesses in central London, said they expected a change in trading patterns, but that advice from Transport for London (TfL) warning commuters may be working better than intended.

“TfL’s advice in terms of capacity on the network has almost been too successful,” Tyrrel told Reuters, adding that shopper numbers were down but there were more high-spenders in the British capital.

“We need to change the messaging there, in terms of there aren’t the difficulties on the network that we thought there would be.”

However, retail areas near the Olympic Park such as the vast Westfield shopping centre at the entrance were booming.

John Lewis, Britain’s biggest department store group, said its store at Westfield Stratford, which borders the Olympic Park, saw sales double in the week to July 28.

Other London tourist attractions also complained that there has been a 30 to 35 percent drop in visitor numbers at the height of their summer high season, when schools are out and many people take their vacations.

Bernard Donoghue, chief executive of The Association of Leading Visitor Attractions, the body representing London’s top tourist attractions such as the London Zoo, St Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey said the statistics apply to overseas and domestic visitors.

“We and all of our members are incredibly positive about London and Britain hosting the Olympics not least because the tourism legacy of hosting the Olympics and having that global TV advertisement for Britain to the world’s largest TV audience will be brilliant for British tourism in the long term.”


Hotel wholesaler JacTravel said room rates are back to normal levels, as an early peak in prices has faded as LOCOG returns previously booked rooms to the market and as the Olympic Games deters normal London tourists.

Restaurants and other hospitality business owners such as cafes have also been bemoaning the quiet streets of London.

“It is very quiet,” said Duli Konjuhi, who runs a coffee stall right at the exit of Aldgate tube station in London’s City, the old banking district, where usually bankers and office workers line up for their after-lunch shot of caffeine.

“For us the Olympics are negative,” he said. “One of my friends, who runs a car wash near-by, said he made just 60 quid yesterday.”

An elderly British man, finishing a meal at a near-empty restaurant in the central Russell Square area where hordes of media catch coaches to Olympic venues every day asked the head waiter: “Where are all your customers?”

The waiter explained that many Londoners were working at home or avoiding the city for the duration of the Games.

“It’s a disaster for us,” he said.
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London Olympics 2012: The greatest show on Earth (and it’s only just begun)

We cannot know yet what these Olympics will bring us, not in the full sweep of the greatest sports spectacle on earth, but tonight you could feel the weight of all the possibilities

It is always the same when we come to this moment of the Olympic Games, this flaring of hope that something unflawed and unforgettable is in the air and it doesn’t really matter where it finds us, whether it is in some foreign place or, as on a rain-smeared evening such as tonight, in our hearts and our home.

This is the time when the fear and the agonising stops and when the blood races with the anticipation of great deeds. We cannot know yet what these Olympics will bring us, not in the full sweep of the greatest sports spectacle on earth, but here you could feel the weight of all the possibilities — and the yearning of a people, somewhat battered in recent years, let us be honest, that this might just be a time to make another mark.

These, certainly, where the stirrings among the crowd of 62,000 when the Red Arrows pierced the dusk and Bradley Wiggins, Britain’s first winner of the epic Tour de France, stood in front of the Olympic bell in his yellow jersey and raised his arms to the moist and darkening sky.

There was a superb energy in that moment, a rippling of pride, and as Danny Boyle’s £27m Opening Ceremony show began to unfold with beautiful pace and superb imagery, as a pastoral scene turned into a broiling evocation of the Industrial Revolution, it was as though they might be a new and original Olympics.

It is true that there is something of this about all Olympic Games, even one as bad as Atlanta in 1996, when the traditional compliment of the president of the International Olympic Committee that they were great Games was pointedly withdrawn, because in Georgia they did have Muhammad Ali igniting the cauldron after being picked out by a spotlight that made the heart of the world stand still for a moment. Atlanta also had Michael Johnson running in his golden shoes like some ebony Greek god and Carl Lewis winning yet another gold medal.

What the Olympics have, in their formal, cyclical way, is renewal, a wiping-away of the past and a huge investment not so much in the future but the moment. There has been much argument over legacy, of the value of a £9bn-plus investment in circus in these straitened times, but you had to be a brave and resilient polemicist last night to argue this points too strenuously as the excitement began to swell.

This was especially so when it became clear that Boyle, the maker of Slumdog Millionaire, had won his own gold medal on a fraction of the budget that enabled the blockbusting spectacle of Beijing.

The Queen, having consented to a showbiz invitation from James Bond to take a helicopter ride, arrived to thunderous applause, to be greeted by Jacques Rogge, the Olympic president, who had earlier pushed a maybe fragile national pride up another notch by declaring that Britain had virtually invented modern sport.

For the moment, certainly, it had brought a blast of pleasure and exhilaration which you knew would soon enough be powerfully augmented by the arrival of so many icons from the sports fields of the British past.

As the night wore on, speculation on the identity of the man who would ignite London’s Olympic cauldron became ever more intense.

We knew that David Beckham, whose celebrity if not significant connection with the Olympics had been used so freely in the bidding victory over the favourites, Paris, would make some kind of cameo appearance but finally, seven young athletes of the future were put in charge of the flame by Sir Steve Redgrave, who was also joined in the ceremonials by Daley Thompson, double gold winner Dame Kelly Holmes, long jumper Lynn Davies, swimmer Duncan Goodhew, pentathlon winner Mary Peters and sailor Shirley Robertson.

The seven young torchbearers then ignited a tiny single flame, triggering the ignition of 204 copper petals carried into the stadium by the athletes. The long stems of the cauldron then gently rose towards each other and converged to form a single “Flame of Unity”.

This was a charge of anticipation which will be increased soon enough with the appearance of the titans of today, the men who bestride modern sport and who will be at centre stage of these Olympics.

Usain Bolt, who assuaged growing concerns about his fitness to run in the great race of these Games, the 100m dash he dominated so sensationally in Beijing four years ago, carried the flag for Jamaica.

Jamaica had Bolt, America had Michael Phelps, the tall American swimmer with the huge wing span, who by Tuesday night might well have the greatest haul of gold medals, 21 of them, in Olympic history.

This is the magnetism of the Olympics – and such is the prize Lord Coe, the winner of two Olympic gold medals at the classic distance of 1,500m in Moscow and Los Angeles, stole from beneath the noses of Paris seven years ago in Singapore. The promise was of an inspiration to the youth of the world, and new generations of young Britons long starved of proper sports facilities, and no doubt there will be many who will seek to hold him to that in the future.

But that is the future, something that seemed quite remote in the brilliance and light which came to a neglected, some would say abandoned, corner of east London last night.

The show we were promised, as always, is one of compelling spectacle – and last night it was easy to feel the thrill that every four years comes to new ground – or in last night’s case revisits old terrain.

We do not know yet how well Great Britain will do, whether the man who carried the flag, Sir Chris Hoy, will build on his three gold medals won in Beijing or whether Wiggins will reproduce the glory he found so recently in France. The roll call of heroes has not yet begun and there can be no certainty that it will include even the men who caught the eye so strongly last night, the prodigious Phelps, the extraordinary Bolt.

There are so many other men and women eager to find their moment this English summer and last night they flooded into the light. They were received with something more than mere respect. They were saluted as those who for the next two weeks will explain why it is that the Olympics simply march on and on.
Full article: JAMES LAWTON Author Biography

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Top five day-trips out of London

Here are five top escapes to add a different flavour to your London visit.

“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”

What celebrated wit Samuel Johnson said in the eighteenth century is still true today. But after a few days in any major tourist city, it makes sense to mix things up with a day-trip out of town.

1. Paris

It might seem a crazy idea but now that you can reach the French capital by Eurostar train in just over two hours, travelling at 300 kilometres per hour, a day-trip is eminently possible. You can have a full English breakfast on the train and pause for mid-morning croissants when you arrive before dropping into the Louvre or Musée d’Orsay to see some priceless art.

Then enjoy a lingering French lunch, complete with a glass or two of wine, before spending the afternoon at the exciting Pompidou Centre or meandering around Montmartre. You’ll still be back in London in time for a warm pint! Fast 1 Eurostar trains leave from the new St Pancras terminal in the heart of London.

2. Bath

Heading west from London, you can reach this genteel, historic city in just 90 minutes by train from Paddington. As a World Heritage site, with over 5000 of its buildings protected, Bath has more than enough attractions for a full day-trip. Its main drawcard is the astonishingly well-preserved Roman baths, fed by Britain’s only natural hot springs and giving an intriguing insight into life 2000 years ago.


The city is also noted for its splendid Georgian architecture, with the Royal Crescent, a curving street of Regency mansions, the finest example and famous for its connection with writer Jane Austen, who lived in Bath during its early nineteenth-century heyday. With many specialist and antique shops squirreled away among its narrow lanes, Bath is also great for shopping. Finally, if you’re worn out by sightseeing, book into the brand new Thermae Bath spa, taking advantage of the same springs that drew the Romans.

3. Windsor-Upon-Thames

Windsor’s proximity to London and magnificent eleventh-century castle, which crowns the hill above the elegant riverside town, make it an excellent day-trip. In fact, there is so much to see within the grounds of the fortress, from the grand state rooms where the Queen hosts state banquets through to its priceless art collection and the changing of the guard in summer, that you could spend a day visiting just that.

But Windsor has at least 10 other historic sights, including the Christopher-Wren-designed Guildhall and Eton College, founded in 1440, where Princes William and Harry were educated.

Windsor’s other great attraction is its location on the River Thames. From Windsor Bridge you can take a short boat trip or stroll along the towpath and soon reach open countryside. Back in town, Windsor’s riverside restaurants and pubs are very inviting, especially on summer evenings. Trains run regularly to Windsor Central from London Paddington, journey time 35 minutes.


4. Brighton

Okay, Brighton’s pebbly beaches and grey seas can’t compare with our own beautiful coastline. But if you are feeling boxed in by landlocked London, Brighton is the best option for a seaside antidote. These days it is an increasingly refined city in its own right, with a flourishing arts scene, including an Artists Quarter where you can buy locally-produced paintings and crafts and European-style pavement cafes galore. Clear the cobwebs by heading first to the revamped seafront for a stroll along the promenade (check out the elaborate Victorian lampposts) and visiting the famous pleasure pier.

Brighton was recently named best city to eat in outside London in the Remy Martin restaurant awards, so make sure you have time for lunch or an early dinner somewhere like the Gourmet Fish and Chip Company at the marina.

The one attraction you simply cannot miss is the Royal Pavilion, an outlandish fusion of Indian, Chinese, Russian and Gothic architecture and interior design and possibly Britain’s most beautiful building. Built for the young George IV in the late eighteenth century, this is an intensely opulent, atmospheric place where the royal would host 36-course dinners for visiting dignitaries. With trains travelling back to Victoria (journey time one hour) until late, you’ll still have time before heading back to London to visit the collection of little shops in the Lanes, behind the seafront, and to enjoy a taste of Brighton’s thriving nightlife.


5. Oxford

Aptly nicknamed “city of dreaming spires” because of the ancient university that dominates it, Oxford simply drips with tradition and history, with many of its colleges dating back 700 years. The city is also compact and ideal for walking around.

Many colleges are free to enter, so it is easy to get a feel of how idyllic it must be to study here. The grounds of the central New College, off Hollywell Street, are among the most captivating, especially in summer, with their neatly trimmed lawns, flowers and internal cloisters. But other colleges like Trinity and Magdalene, which has its own deer park, are also lovely and surprisingly expansive.

Oxford also has some outstanding museums, including the Ashmolean, which has a large collection of art and archaeological artefacts.

No visit to Oxford would be complete without a go at punting — pushing a long narrow boat down one of the city’s rivers, the Cherwell or the Isis, using a long pole. Finally, quench your thirst in an atmospheric pub like The Bear, dating to 1242 and one of the oldest inns in England. Oxford is 50 minutes by train from London Paddington.


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Private Guided Tours for the 2012 Olympics

Tours in the area of the games

London’s professional BLUE BADGE TOURIST GUIDES can take you on a guided tour of the Olympic park area with views of the main sites for the 2012 Games.

Venues right across London and beyond will be used for different sports, however most events will be concentrated in the 500acre/200ha new Olympic Park in East London.

Our tours will show you how this former industrial part of London has been transformed into a green corridor, connecting the River Thames and the beautiful new Thames Barrier Park, through the Olympic Park, to another large area of sport, leisure and nature – the Lea Valley.

Construction in the Olympic Park is now complete and ready for the Opening ceremony on 27th July. Various test events have already taken place in the different venues, trees have been planted across the parklands and you will view some of the iconic Olympic buildings from the perimeter of the park (no admission to the interior of the park).

Discover the history of London’s Royal Docks, as you travel to the Boxing, Judo, Weightlifting, Wrestling, Table Tennis and Taekwondo venue. View the North Greenwich Arena, venue for Artistic Gymnastics and Basketball finals.

Cross the River Thames to the Shooting in Woolwich and picture horses jumping in front of the Maritime Museum in Greenwich, set in its splendid Royal Park. Enjoy the panorama from the Old Royal Observatory above.

You can experience any of the above by car, coach, public transport or on foot.

Spend a day or half a day visiting the Olympic venues, or fit an Olympic briefing into your East London or Greenwich sightseeing tours. We can also plan tours with emphasis on particular sports or urban regeneration, and engage specialist guides to provide technical information.

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Private Guided London Tours

UK Olympians share their tips for tourists visiting London

There are only four days to go before the start of the Olympics so Team GB don’t have time for sightseeing but they have revealed their tips for tourists visiting London during the Games.Image via

Olympics sponsor British Airways asked the London 2012 hopefuls what they would get up to in a day off from their intensive training.

The London Eye was the most popular tourist attraction, with a quarter of athletes recommending it as their ‘essential London’ tourist visit, closely followed by Buckingham Palace (17 per cent) and the River Thames (5 per cent).

Rower Zac Purchase said he loves to take afternoon tea: ‘It’s such a fantastic British tradition, and what better place than the nation’s capital city to give it a try? Choose a good hotel or restaurant and dress up. Make an occasion of it and you won’t need any more food for days!’

Gymnast Louis Smith said she’s most likely to be found enjoying a concert at the North Greenwich Arena, which is handy as that’s where she will be competing for a medal when it hosts the London 2012 Gymnastics during the Games.

Heptathlete Jessica Ennis meanwhile admits to being a shopaholic and likes to hit the shops on Oxford Street.

Unsurprisingly, triathlete Helen Jenkins recommends walking everywhere and picks St Paul’s Cathedral as a must-see along with Hyde Park, which will host the London 2012 triathlon course.

Rower Mark Hunter suggests a trip down the River Thames, while sailor Ben Ainslie’s continues the nautical theme by picking Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square as his favourite landmark.

Wheelchair racer Shelly Woods’ favourite place – The Mall and Buckingham Palace – also has a clear sporting link; it’s here that Shelly will be competing in the marathon later this summer. With years of training and preparation for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, it’s no surprise that our athletes’ top advice for visitors is to ‘plan your visit’ and ‘walk everywhere’.

And their advice for avoiding tube chaos? Make like Bradley Wiggins and get on your (Boris) bike.
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50 free things to do in London: part two – east and south

A clutch of great museums, plus a farm and dinosaurs in a park – there’s plenty to do that’s free in east and south London

Period front room at the Geffrye Museum

Period front room at the Geffrye Museum


Geffrye Museum, Hoxton

What would your living room have looked like 100 years ago? 200 years ago? This Hoxton museum explores how tastes in English home furnishing have changed over the centuries, from 1600 to the present day. A series of mock interiors are chronologically arranged along the length of a row of early 18th-century almshouses. An outdoor herb garden completes the picture, while a modern wing offers temporary exhibitions.
• 136 Kingsland Road, E2,             020-7739 9893      ,, open Tues-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun and holidays noon-5pm

Museum of London Docklands, Canary Wharf

Docklands MuseumThe MoL’s eastern outpost covers the history of London’s docks. It’s one hell of a story. Somehow, the museum manages to pack in the rise and fall of the British Empire, the formation of the Royal Navy, the horror of the slave trade, the fire storms of the second world war, the death of the docks in the 1960s, and the massive redevelopment of Canary Wharf and the wider riverside since.
• West India Quay, E14,             020-7001 9844      ,, open daily 10am-6pm

Spitalfields City Farm

Spitalfields City Farm

Photograph: AlamyLondon has more than a dozen city farms dotted around the inner boroughs. All of them offer a family-friendly taste of rus in urbe and a chance to meet domesticated animals. The Spitalfields farm is one of the more central options. It also distinguishes itself with the annual Oxford-Cambridge Goat Race, which takes place annually on the same day as the more famous boat race.
• Buxton St, E1,             020-7247 8762      ,, open 10am-4.30pm

Valence House, Dagenham

Valence House, DagenhamLondon is replete with small, local museums. One of the best area-specific examples can be found in the borough of Barking and Dagenham. These parts of London are often overlooked by visitors, but are steeped in social and cultural history. Valence House tells their story with aplomb, inside a largely medieval building that retains part of its moat.
• Becontree Avenue, RM8,             020-8227 5293, open Mon-Sat 10am-4pm


Crystal Palace Park

Dinosaurs at Crystal Palace Park

Photograph: Stephen EmmsThis much-loved space takes its name from the giant Crystal Palace, which stood to the west of the park until it burned down in 1936. It was originally constructed in Hyde Park, to house the 1851 Great Exhibition, but was shifted to Sydenham the following year. The building’s footprint can still be seen. Nearby, a landscaped lake is noted for its population of sculptures depicting dinosaurs and extinct mammals. These date back to 1852 and are the oldest such models in the world. The rest of the park offers a pleasant mix of open space, an athletics stadium, woodland and family facilities.
• Sydenham, SE20,             020-8778 7148      ,

Royal Museums, Greenwich

Greenwich museums

The National Maritime Museum buildings and Observatory on the hill in Greenwich. Photograph: Martin Godwin for the GuardianWith its hilltop views, riverside setting and world heritage status, Greenwich makes a great free day out in itself. But this corner of south-east London is also packed to the gunwales with cultural attractions. The Royal Museums comprises the National Maritime Museum (free), the Royal Observatory (partly free), the Queen’s House gallery (free) and the restored Cutty Sark (quite pricey to go in, but you can gaze from outside). All are worth a visit.
             020-8858 4422      ,, open daily 10am-5pm

Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich

The Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich

Photograph: Martin Argles for the GuardianThe elegant college complex has been a landmark of the Greenwich riverfront since it was initiated by Sir Christopher Wren in the early 18th century. Originally built as a hospital for injured sailors, it later served as a naval training academy. Today, most of the buildings are used for educational purposes, but two blocks are open to the public. The Painted Hall is lavishly decorated with paintings by Sir James Thornhill, while the nearby Chapel is resplendent in gold. The college is built on the site of the Palace of Placentia, birthplace of both Henry VIII and his daughter Elizabeth I.
•             020-8269 4799      ,, open daily 10am-5pm

Horniman Museum, Forest Hill

Horniman Museum, Forest Hill

Photograph: Sean Smith for the GuardianForest Hill is about as far off the standard tourist trail as you get. But nestled on the verdant hillside in a set of newly spruced gardens you’ll find one of London’s best museums. The Horniman has a bit of everything. A natural history collection – including the famous badly stuffed walrus – forms the core of the museum. You’ll also find a small aquarium, rooms full of unusual instruments and textiles, a display of anthropology and a damn fine cafe. Outside, the unusual architecture and views towards central London match the indoor wonders.
• 100 London Road, SE23,             020-8699 1872, open daily 10.30am-5.30pm

Imperial War Museum, Lambeth

Imperial War Museum

Learn about camouflage at the Imperial War MuseumAt times deeply moving, even harrowing, at others inspiring, the IWM never fails to impress. The grand premises originally served as the Bedlam asylum, but now house dozens of military vehicles, historic documents and often overlooked but spectacular art galleries on the top floor. Be sure to wander the grounds, too, where you’ll find a section of the Berlin Wall, a pair of giant naval guns and a Tibetan Peace Garden.
• Lambeth Road, SE1,             020-7416 5000      ,, open daily 10am-6pm 

London 2012: A tourist’s guide to the transport system

Here’s some friendly advice for tourists and Olympic visitors to try and make the transport experience as easy as possible.

Do yourself a favour, save some money and get an Oyster Card

Do yourself a favour, save some money and get an Oyster Card

  1. Get an Oyster card – if you’re travelling a lot it’s far cheaper. Or get a one day, or weekly, Travelcard which gives you unlimited travel for particular zones if you are making lots of journeys.
  2. Avoid cash fares at all costs. You’ll find a breakdown of fares here.
  3. Do let people off trains before you get on.
  4. Do stand on the right on escalators – if you don’t, Londoners love saying “excuse me” to people in the way on the left.
  5. Get a map. The Tube map is not representative of actual distances. Sometimes it’s much easier and much more pleasant to walk. For example Embankment is 200m from Charing Cross.
  6. By all means try and talk to people in the carriage or on the bus – if they ignore you they’re not being rude, that’s the London norm.
  7. If the weather is hot and you get the Tube, be prepared for sauna conditions on some lines like the Victoria and the Northern. The top deck of some buses can also get very toasty.
  8. Do get your Oyster Card ready before you approach the gates – do not do it once you are blocking the gate.
  9. Be aware you don’t have to press the door “open” button on the Tube: if you do, it’s a clear sign you’re new to town. However on overland trains you do have to press the “open” button on the doors – and no, I don’t know why there’s this difference.
  10. Even if there are no gates on, for example, the Docklands Light Railway, always touch out with your Oyster Card – sometimes you need to look carefully to find the yellow circular readers. If you don’t it will charge you a full fare – about £7.
  11. Don’t be afraid to ask directions. Helping lost tourists is a badge of honour for some Londoners (I’m not vouching for the directions though). Or ask the Tube / bus staff – normally they are pretty nice.
  12. If you are lucky enough to have tickets for the Games then you will need to leave plenty of time to get there. The Get Ahead of the Games website shows you what it will be like.
  13. If you use a night bus, be prepared for anything

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London’s Olympic History

London’s Olympic History

London has a rich sporting and Olympic history. The 2012 Olympic Games will mark the third time this international event has been held in London.

History of the Olympic Games in London

The London 2012 Olympic Games (the games of the XXX Olympiad) will mark the third time London has hosted the Modern Olympics.

London hosted the Olympic Games previously in 1908 and 1948. The upcoming games will make London the only city in the world to have hosted the Games three times.

Olympic Games: London 1908

In 1908, the Olympic Games were originally due to be held in Rome. The eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 1906 meant Italy had to pull out, and London stepped into the breach.

Olympic Games: London 1948
London was chosen to host the 1944 Games, which were postponed because of the Second World War and became the 1948 Olympics. The 1948 Games are notable for the fact they were the first to be broadcast on home television.

Building a Legacy for London’s Sporting Future

Since London won its bid to host the 2012 Summer Olympics in 2005, a flurry of planning and building activity has occurred.

Most of this is centred on the East London site at Stratford that has become Olympic Park – where the bulk of Olympic sporting events will be held – and the Olympic Village, where athletes and officials will live for the duration of the Games.

The Olympic Park will boast a range of new, purpose-built sporting venues, many of which will remain for use by the community long after the Games have finished.

Famous Names: Wimbledon, Wembley and Lord’s

London has a proud sporting history and is renowned for its world-class stadiums, many of which will be used for the 2012 Olympics.

Olympic Tennis will be played at Wimbledon, Football will happen at the newly renovated Wembley Stadium (and other stadia around the UK), and Olympic Archery will be held at the iconic Lord’s Cricket Ground.

In addition, a range of historic locations and buildings will be modified for various sporting events. For example, Horse Guards Parade area near Trafalgar Square will import a load of sand and be turned into a Central London “beach” for the Olympic Beach Volleyball.

It’s just the sort of irreverent yet delightful twist you’d expect from an Olympic Games in London, and is an exciting hint of what’s in store during the 2012 Games!

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Tourism Ireland creates You-Tube video inviting Londoners to ‘Escape the Madness’ this summer

A short You-Tube video created by Publicis London and voiced by actor Chris O’Dowd and sees two friends pitted against each other in a race to two very different destinations – can ‘Yer Man’ fly to Ireland and have a pint of stout before his mate ‘Office Boy’ commutes to his London office and has a latte?

The video shows the contrast between the chaos in the capital and the tranquillity and lack of gridlock in Ireland. ‘Office Boy’ is seen straining to reach his destination travelling by bus, taxi, rickshaw and cycle, while ‘Yer Man’ has a relaxing journey facing a minor delay in his taxi as a herd of sheep cross the road. ‘Office Boy’ makes his destination thinking he’s won as ‘Yer Man’ orders his second drink viewing the tranquil seascape.

The film ends with the challenge: “How will you deal with the madness? Will you escape it, or embrace it?”, viewers are asked to make their choice and depending on which one they pick will be invited to enter a prize draw to win either a trip to Ireland, or VIP treatment at Irish House in London or a tab at the Porterhouse in Covent Garden.

Mark Henry, Tourism Ireland’s central marketing director, commented: “Tourism Ireland is a strong believer in the power of engaging content to generate positive word of mouth about Ireland. London’s summer of madness is just about upon us so what better time to suggest a relaxing trip across the Irish Sea instead?

“Chris O’Dowd became involved after he tweeted a request to become the voice of Tourism Ireland in Britain and I told him that we would be happy to oblige! This humorous short film is the result of our collaboration and we hope it gets widely shared the length and breadth of Britain.”

The You-Tube video will be supported by seeding via Rubber Republic and Outbrain, premium video page posts on Facebook and pre-roll Twitter activity. Twitter users are also encouraged to join the debate via hashtags #escapethemadness or #embracethemadness.

Deputy managing director of Publicis London, Jason Cobbold, added: “We anticipate there’ll be plenty of frustrated Londoners this summer. The film is a tongue- in-cheek reminder that there’s respite and a relaxing pint not far away.”

Travel Editor
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Family Outings for Rainy Days in London

When it’s wet and windy in London, the last thing you want to do is go on an open top London bus tour or have a picnic in one of London’s Royal Parks!

Luckily, London has plenty of exciting and fun activities for the whole family that are completely weather-proof.

Whether it’s dressing up at London’s Discover centre or watching a 3D film at an IMAX cinema, there’s so much to do if the weather turns bad, you may not want to save all these ideas for a rainy day!

Visit the VisitLondon website for inspiration:

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