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Transportation

Top 5 places to get your caffeine fix in London

 By Payal Budhraja

By Payal Budhraja

My favorite pass time on lazy weekends is to explore a new area of London. What motivates me to do that? The fact that I get to try a local coffee shop! Whilst for some coffee is just the caffeine,for me it’s about the experience of the café and the ambience.

I have spent a ton of time browsing through recommendations to find a nice and cosy coffee shop to spend a quiet afternoon and get some work done. Some experiences turned out amazing, others were just like any other. Here’s some of those amazing finds:

 

Drury Lane Café – Covent Garden

I have mentioned this place before as part of my brunch recommendations but I have more often visited this place for its cappuccino. When someone asks me where to go to get the best coffee in London, it’s been Drury Lane for me so far. Although my hunt always continues!

Drury Lane_London_Coffee.jpg

 

Artigiano Espresso and Wine Bar – St. Paul’s

This coffee shop is located right across St. Paul’s Cathedral and is one of the few places I absolutely enjoyed sitting and working. Facing a pedestrian only alleyway with the chimes of the bell ringing at the cathedral, it’s a peaceful place to relish your afternoon and of course the coffee is worth the visit!

 

The CoffeeWorks Project - Angel

The CoffeeWorks Project has a nice selection of drip coffees from various regions across the globe.  It was my curiosity to try something new that drew me here. I absolutely loved sitting by the window side in this little café and another place I would go to be productive.

The CoffeWorks Project_London_Coffee.jpg

 

Monmouth Coffee Company – Covent Garden

It is meant to be one of the most popular coffee shops in London. I was surprised to see the continuous inflow of people from the moment I entered until the time I left. While their coffee selection is something I would go back for, it is not a place I would recommend to sit and work due to the business throughout the day! You will be lucky to not encounter a queue here but  their speciality filter coffee is worth the wait.

 

Notes – King’s Cross

King’s Cross has always been my to go place. It was one of the closest places to where I lived and Notes was the perfect spot to chill with a delicious Cappuccino. However, more than the coffee, a unique thing on their menu is one of their teas, Genmai Cha. It is essentially Green Tea with rice and was something new to me. The tea turned out to be pleasantly delicious.

My list can go on and I continue searching for new spots to add to this list. I hope you can sense my excitement to try local cafes and experimenting with my coffee sensitive taste buds.

Budget Traveling Tips

 By Anna Persson

By Anna Persson

BEFORE YOU GO:

When it comes to saving money for that big trip (or short lavish trip), there’s a lot you can do before booking that ticket and catching that flight to help save some extra cash. The biggest expense I’ve found is eating and drinking out!

Why not eat in? Invite a bunch of friends over (or take it in turns at each others houses) for a potluck. Everyone brings a dish and you get to share food, try a bunch of tasty different dishes and hang out with your buds at the same time! Drinks wise, having pre-drinks will save you money if you’re planning a night on the town. Drink responsibly, obviously!

ON THE ROAD:

Accommodation:

  • Pitching a tent in the city - the website hitchwiki.org has location based information for a multitude of cities on possible tent-pitching locations! Be smart of course and trust your gut. 

  • Couchsurfing is free, but above all is a fantastic way to stay with locals in the city you’re visiting!

  • Hostels are cheap and a wonderful way to meet fellow travelers - who knows, you might meet a future travel buddy there!

Transport:

  • Hitchhiking is free - hitchwiki.org has excellent beginners tips, safety advice and excellent hitching spot recommendations. Again, please be cautious and use your best judgement.
  • Ride sharing is fairly common in Europe - websites like bla bla car
  • Buses are generally cheaper than trains, especially when booked in advance
  • RyanAir and Easyjet are cheap, budget airlines in Europe
  • Eurorail passes can be worthwhile if you’re visiting a lot of European cities in a small period of time
  • Depending on how long you’re in a city for, look into a weekly pass for public transport +
  • Walking is free, good exercise and a slower pace in which to see the city
  • A few cities do bike share systems - Paris, Vienna, London amongst various other European ones

Phone plans:

  • Do some research before you go for which phone companies offer the best deals for you! There are some packages designed specifically for short-term stays, pay as you go, etc

Wifi:

  • Whatsapp is huge in Europe and only needs an internet connection!
  • Look out for McDonalds and Starbucks for sneaky free internet! ;)
  • Libraries are your friend - wifi, water fountains, toilets, refuge from the hot/cold/wind/rain & books!
  • Tourist information centers offer advice on what to do/see/experience in a city and are there to offer advice, directions and maps!

Food:

  • A lunchbox with leftovers is great for a lunch on the go!
  • Familiarize yourself with the local supermarket to know which is cheapest - Waitrose will be more expensive than Tesco or Sainsbury

Not falling for tourist traps:

  • Always eat a few blocks away from the main tourist attractions. Restaurants and cafes near the Eiffel Tower or Big Ben will be overpriced and the service/food will generally not be as good due to the high customer turnover.

London has HOW many airports?

 By Rebecca Meagher

By Rebecca Meagher

There are 5 airports serving London: London City Airport, Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton. Some are closer than others, however the closer airports may have more expensive flights.

There are at least two public transportation options from the center of London to each airport. With so many options it’s possible to choose the transport that works best for you.

London City (LCY) www.londoncityairport.com/visitingtheairport/page/publictransport

 

Heathrow (LHR)                                            www.heathrow.com/transport-and-directions

* Travel time of 15 minutes. The express train has a shorter trip, however it may be a more expensive option. Be sure to book in advance.

** Travel time between 31 and 49 minutes. Ticket to London Paddington 10.20 pounds. Only stops at terminals 2&3 or 4 with a free transfer train to terminal 5 from terminals 2&3.

***Pay as you go cost of 5.10 pounds during peak hours and 3.10 all other times.

Gatwick (LGW)                                                 www.gatwickairport.com/to-and-from/

* Travel time of 30 minutes. The express train has a shorter trip, however it is much more expensive

 Stansted (STN)                                       www.stanstedairport.com/getting-to-stansted/

*Unlike Gatwick and Heathrow, the Stansted express is the only rail option to the airport from the center of London

Tip: There are no water fountains in the terminal, but water bottles are available in return for a donation, so bring some change

 Luton (LTN)                                                                               www.london-luton.co.uk/to-and-from-lla

* There is a shuttle bus that takes you to the terminals from Luton Parkway train station. This is an additional  cash only cost if the ticket is booked to Luton Airport Parkway (LTN). The fare for this shuttle is included in all tickets booked to Luton Airport (LUA).

London Transport isn't always so clear

 By Rebecca Meagher

By Rebecca Meagher

In the center of London there are a few forms of public transportation: Tube, Bus, Bike.

Oystercards:

One of the first things that you should do when arriving in London (or even before arriving to London depending on how organized you are) is to get an Oystercard. This can be done a couple of ways:

  • at a tube station  

  • at certain local shops (just look for a sign out front with the logo).

To learn about the most convenient place for you to get your Oystercard as well as information on the additional Travelcard and Bus and Tram passes look here: https://tfl.gov.uk/fares-and-payments/where-to-top-up-and-buy-tickets
 

Tickets:

Although paper tickets exist, they are hardly realistic. A journey with a paper ticket often will end up costing you more! Oystercards and contactless cards can be used for pay as you go fares. Depending on your transportation use, this may be the most cost effective option for you. They can be used on the Tube, bus, DLR, Overground, TfL Rail, Emirates Air Line, River Bus and many National Rail trips.

Pay as you go fares have a daily cap, which depends on the transport types you use. For example the Zone 1-6 cap is 12 pounds while the Zone 1 cap is 6.60 pounds. If you travel only twice a day on the Tube everyday it is recommended that you use pay as you go rather than a 7 Day Travelcard for the cost savings.

For others, 7 Day Travelcards may be more cost effective if you travel over four days a week. The 7 Day travel card works for unlimited travel if your travel includes Zone 1. They can be purchased at the Tube ticket machines or from Overground or TfL rail stations. Travelcards can also be bought online in advance.

In general, peak hours on all services other than the bus are from 6:30 to 9:30 in the morning and 4:00-7:00 in the evening. This is when rush hour is, so tickets are more expensive.

Tube

During the workweek the tube closes at varying times depending on the line, however they do not run all night. During the weekend certain tube lines have night hours, however the tube may not stop at every stop. When going out at night be sure to know how you are getting home. Nothing kills a night like a £50 taxi fee.

It’s worth noting that the tube can be very warm in the summer (and even during the winter), so make sure to remain sufficiently hydrated throughout your journey.

To learn more about the one way fare of you trip click here: https://tfl.gov.uk/fares-and-payments/fares/single-fare-finder?intcmp=1660
 

Bus

You must have an Oyster card or a Contactless to pay for a bus fare, they do not take cash. There are hopper fares when you make two journeys on a bus or tram within an hour which makes the second trip on the bus or tram free provided you do not take any other form of transport in between the two bus fares. If you don’t have enough credit on your Oyster card to pay the fare or your Travelcard has just expired, it’s possible to make one more journey on the bus despite the lack of credit.

If you prefer the bus or the bus is your most convenient form of travel, it is possible to purchase a 7 day bus and tram pass. This can provide cost savings if you make over 14 trips a week on the bus or tram.

There are a lot of moving parts to the prices of public transport in London, so take a look at the website to learn more! https://tfl.gov.uk/fares-and-payments/

To learn more about caps: https://tfl.gov.uk/fares-and-payments/oyster/using-oyster/price-capping

Bike

If you are up for a bit of a challenge, Santander bikes are a third option of transportation. There are bike ports on many street corners in London. For casual bike users you will need to have a credit card or debit card in order to take out a bike. This pay as you go method can give you 24 hour access to bikes for just 2 pounds, just keep the ride to less than 30 minutes increments . If you use the bikes regularly you should look into becoming a member for 90 pounds a year.

To learn more details on how it works see here: https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/cycling/santander-cycles/how-it-works