Underground, overground, London and its tube go together like chalk and cheese! From its iconic station symbol, patterned seats, clammy carriages in summer and ‘mind-the-gap’ announcements. Love it or hate it, any visit to London and you’ll bound to have to use it.
Honestly, don’t be afraid to step aboard an underground train. Embrace the tube, and you’ll soon be falling for its quirky charms. Visit some of its stations, seek out its distinctive features and uncover the myths. If you do, you will find a very different London, and be better for it. Hop aboard and let’s travel the tube – mind the gap!
Know the Gerry Rafferty song, Baker Street? Saxophone at the ready if you do! If the song isn’t familiar then how about Sherlock Holmes? His statue stands outside the entrance, and the museum is a few strides away. It may not be a station to look at aesthetically, but with Regents Park and Madame Tussauds, it’s the station you will probably visit.
You know the station; Kings Cross. You know the platform, 9¾. Well, why not go and take a look. Ok, so the platform itself doesn’t exist, but there is a particular part of the station dedicated to Harry Potter (queue and take a picture), it’s what everyone does.
London Underground Map
Make sure you pick one of these up at the station (any station will do). Then sit down and take a proper look at Harry Beck’s creation. I’ll bet anything you’ll be looking at it again and again. With hidden animals, funny station names, it’s colours and ever-increasing additions. Well, what’s not to enjoy?
Here’s a little game you can play. Try planning alternative routes – pick a start and end point. See how many different ways you can get from A to B. Perhaps try them out. Hours of fun guaranteed.
London Underground Art
One of the tubes great joys is discovering that each station is very different. They have their individual style, artwork, ambience, etc. Gloucester Road is a good one (check out the artwork on the platforms), as is Tottenham Court Road (Paolozzi mosaics). Have your camera ready!
Ghosts of the Tube
The underground has a vast network of tunnels in each of its stations. Some connecting to another station entirely! So is it any wonder that supernatural occurrences and sightings take place. Eerie whistling sounds to figures walking along platforms. The tube has it all! Some of the famous stations for a bit of ghost hunting include Kings Cross St Pancras (a young woman), Farringdon (the screaming spectre of Farringdon), Covent Garden (tall man in a hat) and Elephant and Castle. Perhaps best to walk them with someone. Just in case!
Other bits and pieces
If the above wasn’t enough to keep you occupied, then you could always visit The London Transport Museum, close to Covent Garden. Or get your head around the following facts. There are 19 stations that you can only get out of by taking a lift (note: some do have stairs). Only 45% of the stations are actually in tunnels, and the shortest distance between two stations is 260m! From Leicester Square to Covent Garden on the Piccadilly line. It’s easier to walk.
The Underground has played a massive role in London’s development and will continue to for many, many years to come. Its part of London’s DNA and if you are a visitor to the city, then all you can do is try to embrace it. Every station is unique, has its style and ambience. That is what makes the Tube special, and it should be cherished and celebrated. So, enjoy it, take in the sights and sounds, the smells and the myths. It’ll make your time in London so much more rewarding.