One of the great secrets of travel is to ‘do what the locals do’. Local people will almost always know the best things to do and the cheapest way to do them.
Take the case of the ‘tourist bus’. It can be very convenient to get to know a foreign city quickly, using the local open-top bus. It can make an excellent introduction to a city and allow you to narrow down the list of places that you want to explore in more detail. However, you don’t see many Londoners on the open-top buses in London, do you? Even if they are showing visitors around their beloved city. Why? Because there are much cheaper and more effective ways of getting around the city. A day pass on the London buses is cheap and you will see at least as much, if you plan it carefully. And you won’t have that annoying, patronizing commentary.
So how about traveling to places outside London? This can seem more complicated to arrange and many people seek the safety of an organized tour. But think about Oxford, for example. This beautiful historic university city is only an hour or so from London. There is an adequate train service. But what do the locals do? They take the bus. In fact, there are two bus companies operating on the London to Oxford route in competition, which means that the fares are cheap and the service is frequent. For less than twenty pounds, you can get a return ticket on one of these services to Oxford. Go when you want, explore Oxford at your own pace and return to London when you want. This is what a Londoner would do and I’d advise you as an informed visitor to London to do the same.
So where do you find these buses? There is a convenient bus stop situated at Marble Arch, on the Hyde Park side. Look out for a service named the ‘Oxford Tube’ (as you probably know, the ‘tube’ is the popular name for the subway system in London.) Just pay the driver as you get on the bus. Take my advice and go upstairs. You’ll enjoy interesting views of the western London suburbs and see how Londoners really live. And once you cross the outer London ring road, you’ll love the views of the green and rolling Oxfordshire countryside. Remember to bring your camera!
You’ll have a great day out, save money and be more like a real Londoner. What could be better?