Mind the Gap

The Electrician and I just got back from our day trip into London via train. I had to fight sleep most of the return trip, and it’s only shortly after nine. Go, jet lag, go!

Big Ben, striking twelve noon. The bells were beautiful but I expected the clock to be bigger.

Today was more or less a walking trip around the city. We didn’t really go into many buildings, largely because we had only one day to “do” London and we wanted to see as many important landmarks as we could in that time. Luckily, the weather was stunning and we got around on foot very well. You will be pleased to know my new shoes are holding up well, and passed the cobblestone test.

The Tower Bridge, which we walked across in the crisp and beautiful sunshine. Apparently, ships big enough to need the bridge opened need to call 24 hours ahead to arrange a time of passage.


Part of nipping around London to see the important things meant choosing the most efficient modes of travel. In London, people hoping for efficiency take The Underground, known colloquially as “The Tube.” I really didn’t anticipate the tight spaces involved in creating a massive network of underground train tunnels under a major city. There were times, on the lower levels of the trains, where the train cars were so small that The Electrician was nearly too tall for things, and I could see the walls in the dark tunnels zipping by less than eight inches away. For this claustrophobic chicky, it was a bit of a cold-sweat situation. We were lucky to ride it today on a Sunday, when the cars weren’t too full; I don’t think I could have handled it during a weekday rush-hour.

There are so many different lines on The Underground that the map of routes used up all the colours and had to start making different kinds of lines and repeating colours. I didn’t even bother trying to read it, but left all the navigation up to The Electrician, who loves solving problems and appreciated the challenge of a very complicated map. We didn’t get lost at all, so congratulations to my sweetie on that one. I don’t think people who get lost on The Tube ever turn up again.

The Tube map is rather like the sun: don't stare at it too long or you'll earn a splitting headache.

Even with the stuffy air and the lack of space on The Tube, a lovely lady came over the intercom every stop to announce the station and to warn passengers to watch their steps while disembarking. It was like getting safety advice from Mary Poppins. In London, the phrase is “mind the gap,” and you can find it painted on the concrete at every station in the system. I also saw many touristy t-shirts with the phrase printed across The Tube logo. I would have bought myself one, but I imagined answering way too many questions back home.

For the sake of comparison, you need to understand that the Edmonton Light Rail Transit system map is a single line with trains that make a dog-leg from one end of the city (almost) to the other. Comparing it to The London Underground is like comparing a single guy on a three-stringed banjo to a full symphony orchestra.

I am madly in love with the range of architecture and history that’s packed into London streets. Some day, hopefully within the next couple years, we’ll come back and devote a few days to learning more about the city. For now, I’ll be content with my quick breeze through and the fact that I survived the crazy subway system.

copyright 2012:  http://bluespeckledpup.com

2 Comments Add yours

  1. That sounds like a very excellent adventure!

    1. It was excellent. I am looking forward to a holiday many months from now when The Electrician and I can spend more time exploring London.

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