The title of this post is a little misleading. It’s not just about London, but all the places I visited during my week-long visit to the UK. But I couldn’t come up with a not-super-long-winded title, so I decided to stick with this one. Well, the bright side of these ‘lessons’ is that I can say I’m ‘wiser from experience’.
Also, all images, except the one of Bath (Day 5) and of Milan (Day 7), have been flicked off the internet (with click through links if you want to find the source).
Day 1- Milan to East Midlands to Oxford
Genius Idea- Fly into East Midlands airport instead of any sensible one, because the flight was (relatively) super cheap.
Stupidity- Not checking on the map where East Midlands actually is.
Problem- It turned out to be really, REALLY far from anywhere I wanted to get to. My next stop was Oxford, which was a £54 train journey!!! I did NOT just fly into the middle of nowhere to pay that much extra for a 1 hour train journey!
Loss- 4 hours
Day 2- Oxford to London
Genius Idea- There must be plenty of ways to go from Oxford to London. I mean, come on!
Stupidity- There was, but I was staying with my friend, and the first bus from there was much later than I needed.
The Plan- A nice and cheap £5-7 ticket to London.
The Problem- I couldn’t book my ticket online, because the ticket collection points need the card you booked with, and the card I book with is in Delhi. So I had to buy an on-the-spot ticket for £11.
Adding Insult to Injury- I did all this drama of walking to a further bus stop because the bus got there earlier and everything so I could reach London quickly (because my sister was waiting for me), and managed to get disoriented AFTER getting there, and eventually met her 3 hours after she reached (the original plan involved a 15 minute delay).
Loss- £5 and 2.5 hours.
Days 2, 3 and 6- London
Genius Idea- Walk everywhere and buy the one or two tube or bus tickets we’d need on the go.
Stupidity Involved- Naively believing that public transport tickets don’t cost an arm and a leg in London.
The Plan- Some walking, some double decker buses, and some tubes if we were in a hurry.
The Problem- A one way tube ticket costs £4.50!! WHAT??? At first I thought the lady at the counter misheard me, then I thought she cheated me by selling me a day ticket instead of a single journey ticket.
Adding Insult to Injury- Oyster Cards.
Loss- At least £30 between the two of us (my sis and I). Could have been more if we hadn’t walked unless it was absolutely necessary. No leisure bussing-around and sightseeing happened.
Days 4- London to Coventry (and Warwick)
Genius Idea- Not sarcastic here, but my sister planned this and got the tickets in advance so it was fine.
Stupidity- Nothing really, she assumed she would find the bus stop. Reasonable enough.
The Plan- Train from Euston to Coventry, and then bus to Warwick.
The Problem- We couldn’t find the bus stop 😛 So we took a cab.
Adding Insult to Injury- Thankfully, nothing painful, the cab fare was not THAT much.
Savings- 1 hour.
Loss- Less than £5.
Day 5- Coventry to Bath
Genius Idea- The ever present, ‘Oh! I’ll figure it out as I go’ because carpools are everywhere, right?
Stupidity- Assuming every city is connected to every other by a direct (and cheap) carpool, bus or train.
The Plan- Warwick to Coventry to Bath. Easy peasy!
The Problem- Easy Peasy doesn’t exist. So I had to do a crazy Warwick to Coventry to Birmingham (and a 1 hour wait) to Bristol to Bath- a total of about £22 and 7ish hours.
Adding Insult to Injury- A bus goes from Warwick to Bristol for £5. Really. I wouldn’t even have had to go to Coventry.
Loss- £12 and 4 hours.
Day 6- Bath to London
Genius Idea- Carpool again.
Stupidity- Thinking I’d find one, which I didn’t.
The Plan- I just assumed I’d find a good deal and buy a last minute bus or train ticket to London. I did find the deal online the previous night, but didn’t bother booking the ticket, because what could possibly go wrong?
The Problem- Buying online saves you 50%, which I didn’t do.
How I Saved Myself- Free wifi + smartphone = Online booking. Though I did have to take a later bus because the online payment was not cooperating.
Loss- 1 hour
Day 7- London to Milan
Genius Idea- Take an 8am flight from London.
Stupidity- Not checking how I would get to the airport that early.
The Plan- Leave the city at 5am (first tube of the day) to reach the Liverpool station to catch the airport express at 5.25am to reach safely at 6.30am. And since I would reach the station several minutes early, I could check out the options and buy the cheapest ticket.
The Problem- The tube was late!!! (How can the first tube be late??? And that too in the UK???) I reached Liverpool station with TWO minutes to spare during which I had to buy the ticket and get on the train. I managed that. But the ticket turned out to be £23.
Adding Insult to Injury- I checked the shuttle prices later. Low cost buses to the airport started from £8. Also, I came back that early so I could attend college, class got advanced and happened while I was in the air.
Savings- Ha! I reached too early AND my flight got delayed. So whoop-de-do!
Loss- £15 and a discussion with my Thesis mentor.
Potential Savings- I was actually optimistic enough when I started writing this to hope for something here.
Total Loss- £25ish and 12 hours.
That’s about Rs 2500. To put that in approximate perspective…
That’s enough money for 2 decent meals at Big Chill with Bull (that’s my BFF in Delhi. And we ALWAYS go to Big Chill). Or 26 vegetarian thalis at Andhra Bhavan. Or 1 dinner for 4 at Moti Mahal or Side Wok. Or 20 Chicken Tikka Roomali Rolls at Khan Chacha. And enough time for all of them. All my favourites.