If you want to learn more about London, some of the twitter accounts that you need to follow are:

Get Ahead of the Games

With the Olympics round the corner, the most important twitter account anyone coming to London needs to follow is that of GAOTG!

Time Out London

Events from all over London streamed straight to your twitter feed! What could get better than that?

Everything London

Tweets about everything that’s happening in London.

London 2012 Festival

2012 is an exciting year for London. To keep up with what’s happening, you might just want to follow this official twitter account.


If you want to stay away from problems while travelling around London, TFL is your best bet. There are also individual twitter channels for each tube line, bus service and other modes of transport. However, for general updates from TFL, the official twitter account is ideal.


London – Rainy and Cloudy

Whenever I look out of the window, its cloudy and most of the times, its raining! Ever since I’ve come to London, I have started missing the sun so much, that whenever the sun comes, I run out and make sure I soak up as much of it as possible. Having most of my friends from various countries around the world, and practically no ‘real British’, we tend to be cribbing about the weather more than half the times! For most of us, the sun was just taken for granted in our home countries – India, Spain, Greece, Brazil, Venezuela, USA, etc.

Although we have been hearing that ‘British Summer‘ is right round the corner, I personally feel that it lost its way! Now, even those who earlier kept saying, ‘this isn’t summer, summer is still to come’ have given up!

If you’re coming to London for the first time, you might want to mentally prepare yourself to say bye to the sun for days on end! Of course, I know it’s not easy! When I was packing my bags to come here, I never thought I would be able to say ‘I hate the cloudy rainy cold weather’… but now, that seems to be all I am able to say!

It may sound like a typical British thing – ranting about the weather, but the fact is, once you come here, that becomes important. Just this morning while talking to a friend I realised, you can never plan anything well in advance, because you don’t know what the weather would be like! If it’s sunny it would be amazing to go the river or for a picnic or somewhere out. But the same scenario completely changes with those grey clouds thundering down! All of it can happen with seconds! There have been so many times when I have got into the tube thinking “oh nice, I will enjoy the day… it’s nice a sunny” and when I come out at the other end (20 minutes later)… it’s pouring cats and dogs!

Whatever be the weather – for me, London will always be wet and cold – although I love London far more in the sun!

A Londoners View

Although I have been talking about my take on London so far, I haven’t forgotten that I am not the only person who’s come to London from abroad! I live with a family that moved here 12 years ago. So I decided to find out whether my thoughts, matched theirs. A few questions, some nice English tea, is all it took me to realise that we’re all in the same boat.

When they first came to the UK, they didn’t know anything around here. Not even the fact that 10 years down the lane they would be calling this ‘home’ rather than India. When Mr Banerjee first moved to London in 1999, he thought he would be here for sometime and then return to his family and life back in India. But over the years, he has grown to love this country more and more.

Living with him, I sometimes forget that he once lived in India too! He has learned (and loves) the British way of life. Although the weather does get to him at times, he has learned to cope and move forth. Life cannot stop because of the weather – a typical British attitude towards those dark clouds!

I guess with time, we do start loving the city and accepting it in the sun and rain.. But as yet for me, the sun will always be a first choice – as is with many Britishers including Mr. Banerjee.

Euro Cup Fever

I must say, I’m generally not a football fan! I got into the habit of following football games simply because my father is mad about football! And when I say mad about it, I mean mad about it! I remember a few years ago, after some team won the cup, he did a cartwheel on his bed! And he was in his 40s, not in the best of health and that bed was half broken! He can stay up all night just to watch the Euro cup! I’ve never got the big deal of a football game – its just another game right? 


(Image Courtesy UEFA

Right now, London is gripped by the UEFA fever! Since day 1, I have again been trying to follow the games, and trying to keep up with the football craze… Quite frankly though, I haven’t had much time to think about watching an entire match or heading to a pub to catch a game with friends with the amount of work we have in school. But today when I signed into twitter, I realised that although I have not being seeing much of it, the football fever is setting in. #England is the most trending topic today along with ‘England vs France’ soon after. Why? because those are the teams playing today. and obviously for London, that’s a big deal! 

Forget UK, Euro 2012 is one of the ‘trending topics’ with some of my friends back home. For instance one of them, decided to show her support using nail paint! A really cool idea. But I still don’t get the craze about football. I guess it’s just not my cup of tea. 

Regardless of whether or not I understand the craze or the fanatics around it, I enjoy the celebrations! The best thing about being in my place – you can celebrate no matter which team wins! Of course, I’ve been warned – dare not support France tonight or even thinking of celebrating if England loses, unless you want to get beaten. 

Olympic Madness

With jubilee celebrations over last weekend, everyone is now gearing up for Euro 2012 and Olympics and Para-Olympics. London is upgrading everything to welcome the world to the Queen’s land. Only problem is – people who live in London have havoc planned for them in the next few months! If you’re planning to come to London now, trust me, you’re not going to see the city in all it’s glory!

Tube stations are being upgraded, bus stops are being renovated, roads are being repaired. to add to all the chaos, the weather is never on our side! Cold, rainy, dark and depressing – 4 words that have described London weather for ages! Travelling around the city at this time, is no cake walk!

Take this weekend for instance, I use the Northern line to come into London. This weekend, they have ‘planned track closures’ on the line because of upgrade work. I guess the good thing is that they at least have substitute buses running the route. But picture this, all the crowd that goes in the tube, is now going to use the bus! Can you imagine the pushing and shoving!!

Transport for London has already told people to start staying away from busy routes during the games. They have a dedicated website to enable commuters to find alternate routes. But nonetheless, London will be going crazy during that time.

The jubilee weekend was like a kick-off for the festive season that’s going to last for the next 3 months. Although Olympics are still sometime away, London has a new thing to stay busy with – Euro 2012. The first match kicked-off today, and I’ve already learnt an important lesson – Whatever you do, don’t think about travelling right before or right after the game!

Everyone likes going to the pub and cheering their team with friends. So now, the only thought on my mind is: When is England playing? The city turns a whole different shade during such festivities! My advice to outsiders: Try and make sure you’re in London during some ‘major’ event – it may not be ‘major’ for you, but it’ll be ‘major’ for the city.

A Weekend fit for a Queen – Literally!

So, if you’re new to London, one of the first things you’ll realise about the city is that it is very very festive! The smallest ‘excuse’ and you’ll have the whole city celebrating it – and that’s probably what makes it a whole lot of fun to live here. The Queen’s Jubilee, which is this weekend, is the current ‘reason’ to celebrate. The whole city is decorated and has an amazing fresh look and feel. People can also buy Queens Diamond Jubilee merchandise all around London.

There are so many events lined up for the big weekend, each with its own charm! Just this morning, I read a report on the dress rehearsals for the big weekend. London is geared up for 3 days of non-stop entertainment!

According to BBC, rehearsals went on till 6:00 am this morning, which is quite impressive. It’s an event fit for the Queen – literally! According to me, 2 events that stand out among the many that have been organised, are the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Concert and the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant.

Golden Jubilee Concert

But if this is the first time you’re experiencing a jubilee celebration, then you’d probably have a completely different view of the whole thing. While all the events are really exciting for me, it’s probably not so much of a thrill for the ‘locals’.

From my point of view, people are more excited about the fact that it’s a bank holiday than about the actual events. A long weekend like this means everyone can head out (especially if the sun is out)! No doubt there is a lot lined up, but many are just going to be celebrating the fact that they have leave from work – after all a long weekend comes once in a blue moon!

The Queen’s diamond jubilee flotilla is going to be amazing! 1000+ boats from all over UK,  will be decked up and parading down the Thames on Sunday. Monday, is a treat for music lovers – right from Sir Elton John and Sir Paul McCartney to Cliff Richard and Tom Jones to Jessie J and Ed Sheeran – you name ’em, you see ’em. There is of course the ‘Big Jubilee Lunch’, on Sunday and the ‘Queens Diamond Jubilee Beacons’ on Monday, but those are over shadowed (at least for non-brits like me) by the other events of the day.

All in all, being an outsider in London, and getting to watch jubilee celebrations is just an unmatched experience.

Is the London Underground haunted?

As freaky as that heading may sound to outsiders, it is not really scary at all! Unless of course you have watched some of the scary videos of ghosts on the London Underground before ever stepping into one! For those who haven’t seen the ‘Haunted London Underground’ Series, you might want to watch these:

Of course, having travelled in the tube for more than 8 months, I can (i think safely) say there are no ghosts down there – and even if there are, they don’t bother you!

Since many of you would be coming to London for the first time, I suggest you get used to seeing such freaky videos often! I personally use the Northern Line which seems to be the most haunted of them all!

Confusing London Underground

Chance are, once you leave the airport, you’re going to have to take a tube to get to wherever it is that you’ve planned to park yourself for your stay.

Welcome to the London Underground!

The Underground map can look VERY confusing to first-timers! It looks more like a board with modern art sketched out on it! I’ve been travelling for 8+ months by tube, and I still get confused and have to check the map for any and every new place I’m heading to.

Coming back to the airport, the fact that you’re new to London, and you’re heading to the tube – make sure you FINISH your phone calls before boarding the tube! You will have no signal on the tube. Sure, if you read the sign inside it says that the tube runs overground and customers can use this time to make calls etc. But that ‘time’ is so short that you can’t make all your calls!

The London Underground or Tube as we call it here, is the best and fastest means of transport. From Heathrow, you will be taking the Piccadilly Line (blue line). Make sure you know exactly where to change. When you get into the tube, there may be 2-3 stations where you can change lines, but remember, what may seem like a short distance on this tube, is actually a much longer distance on some other line (and vice-versa).

It’s best to pick up a small tube map – and remember to always carry it with you!

Here’s a tube map, just in case you feel like checking where you want to get to before you come to London (I used to love trying to figure out my route from home to school using the map).

Tube Map - London

You should remember that the first time you travel by the underground, it might be really nice, but trust me, London is much more fun on foot!! But if you have to travel by tube, you should get used to checking the times and service updates on the TFL website.

More about London and the London Underground later, till then, just be happy nobody shoves newspapers into your face early morning!

Welcome to London – The land of the Brits

From the moment you step into London Heathrow airport, you will have butterflies in your stomach! Why? Cause you’re in London!!

Some of the first glimpses of London – All the way from up there!

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The Queens land would normally welcome you with grey skies and a bit of drizzle (what I call ‘London Rain’). The lucky few get special ‘warm’ welcomes – unless you’re here in Summer! Heathrow Airport is one of the craziest airports in the world. Landing here for the first time can be freaky (if not scary) for some. However, be rest assured, airport staff does help out.

When I landed in London, I realised that my phone, which I thought was on roaming, was not! I was in a new place, with no phone and no way to contact the person I was to meet at the airport!

So, what should you do, if you’re stuck in my place? Try calling the person – there are loads of pay-phones at the airport. Sometimes, if you’re luck is as bad as mine was – you might realise that your credit card doesn’t work! I had the old school swipe card – unfortunately, whoever planned the pay system for the phone booths decided to keep only chip-n-pin.

You might want to make sure you have either Pounds, Euros or Dollars on you when you land (rather than presuming you won’t need them till you have to pay for the cab). I had kept just enough money to buy stuff on the flight. I did have some nice crisp notes – but pay-phones don’t accept them – and people at the airport hardly have any change!

This does not mean landing at Heathrow is scary or freaky! It just gives a good feel of what life in London is like – crazy but fun (at least for students). If you have problems at the airport, feel free to go to the helpdesk or information desk. There are sign boards around which can guide you.

You should also be aware that the queues for baggage claim can be very long! After a tiresome trip, it is likely that you will get bugged at the first problem that crops up! Keep your cool – the line is long and you’re dying to get out and see the new city – but still, keep your cool!

Before signing off, here are some points you might want to keep in mind before coming to London:

  • You need to know which terminal you’re landing in (especially if you have someone coming to pick you up)
  • In case you need to go from one terminal to another, you might want to check out how to do that on the Heathrow website.
  • If you have a connecting flight, Heathrow will give you lots of stuff to do!

More about walking into London next time! For now – ENJOY every minute of the sun!!