London Travel Cheat Sheet
Heathrow Airport Pointers
Heathrow is a massive airport, sprawling with restaurants, duty free stores, and all sorts of places to kill time. When you land, you will have to walk a bit to the baggage claim. This is difficult when you are exhausted from the trans-Atlantic flight. On your way to the baggage claim, you will see people selling tickets for the Heathrow Express. Don’t be fooled by the efforts to sell them to you, this is the best and fastest way into the City of London. This train will take you into Paddington Station and bypass all the traffic. So buy the ticket, get your baggage and get on the train.
On your way home:
Get Cadbury chocolates since the ones you buy in England taste better than ones purchased in the United States for some reason. Also, you will want to browse the booze selections since you can score some great deals. In their infinite wisdom, they do not announce the gate until very close to boarding time mainly to keep you in the shoppe and restaurant area.
Fish and Chips
While not known for their great food, English have some necessary foods to try. The fish and chips is a must have as are bangers and mash. These items can be found almost everywhere. You can never go wrong with a pub. Pubs also sell meat pies “pies” and of course wonderful ales and beers. Believe it or not, London is also known for great Indian cuisine which I highly recommend. London is very walkable. I would take a day and walk around while eating and drinking. Go where the road takes you ! US credit cards are accepted most places.
Try places around Spitalfields or Liverpool Street for classic fare. I like Polo Bar right near the Liverpool Street station. They are open 24 hours and have pretty quick service.
Bangers and Mash
London Underground "The Tube"
In case you are unaware, London traffic is generally horrible. The good news is that, unlike New York, London has clean and reliable public transportation which actually is not a nightmare to ride. Get an oyster card for the duration of your visit to London and learn to use it. You can download an app with a tube map or just grab a paper one which you can find in a station. The system is massive and has many lines so it can be a bit confusing, so you may want to study it a bit before you hop the pond. Generally, anywhere in London is accessible by the tube and a short walk.
I would avoid the red line (central) during rush hour unless you want to be crammed in like a sardine. If you are at all claustrophobic, then you may have to wait for an hour to find a train which does not make you want to break out in hives!
Cell Phone Service in London
I have an old GSM smartphone that I use for travel, I recommend you do the same. Learn where the SIM card is located and how to remove and insert it and a new one. My last trip to London, I used a SIM card from H20. I loaded it before I boarded the plane and noted that it was properly installed. Then, you can prepay for the minutes / data. This way, you don’t have to worry about using your US cell phone on roaming and then battling the phone company when you return to a multi-thousand bill. All in all, between the SIM card and prepaid plan, you should only have to pay about $25 and you will have all the data you need in London.
Don't forget to see some of the sights this historical City has to offer. From Big Ben to Buckingham Palace to the River Thames, there is much to see, eat, and drink.