Your Amazing Race: London Calling

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Paddington Station Credit:Wikimedia Commons
The Tube Train
After completing the detour, racers headed to catch a train at Paddington Station. Trains are a common form of transportation all over Europe. Trains can take you just about any where in the UK and are the preferred method of transportation whether traveling to other towns or just inside the London city limits.

What is now the Tube or Underground (as the Brits call it) was the first ever subterranean passenger railway in the world. It’s maiden voyage was in 1863 and it’s still going strong today after persevering through the Blitz in WWII and numerous terrorist attacks. The system has expanded over the past 150 years to include twelve lines and 270 stations.

Locals who use the Tube network on a regular basis know the system inside and out. Many visitors tend to opt for cabs because the system can seem intimidating. However, knowing some of the unspoken rules can really help if you decide to the leap and travel like a local.

Keep to the Right!
Just as is common in the US, the London Underground asks escalator riders stand to the right. This allows for those riders who wish to walk down the escalator free to do so on the left. Try if you can to keep your bags as close to your person as you can. Maintaining these “lanes” minimizes congestion and makes the experience more enjoyable for everyone.

Tourist Alert! Keep Your Ticket Out Until You’re On the Train! 
Don’t be the cause of a bottleneck at the barriers or turnstiles. Keep your ticket out and ready to make sure that the line flows smoothly.

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Keep Calm and Check Your App! 
If you’ve caught the wrong line or missed your stop – don’t panic! The trains are very efficient and run just about every five minutes. If you’ve missed your stop, get off the train. Once stationary, check any one of the 200+ apps to help your reroute and get to your destination. TripAdvisor ranks the app London Tube by Presslite as the best app for the job. It’s certainly worth the $.99. The app is doubly helpful because it can help you plan routes if your normal line is closed.

New meets Old in London Credit: Wikimedia CommonsMind the Gap and your Manners
This is really a pet peeve of mine here in the states too. Whether it’s an elevator or a train, let those exiting… EXIT. This is a great system travelers. By allowing the others to exit, it creates room for riders entering. Plus it’s polite.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
The Tube is over 150 years old. While the trains and cars have been modernized, many still lack air conditioning. Tube trips can become quite hot in summer months or even during busy times during the day. Plan accordingly.

Help! I Need Somebody!
LTransport for London officers are super helpful and are there to guide passengers to the nearest exit, to your next transfer or even help you plan your route. You can typically find at least one at every main station platform

Another Magical Stop
For those of you young at heart, head over to Kings Cross Station and visit Platform 9¾. This famous locale from the Harry Potter series can truly be found in between Platforms 9 and 10. While us muggles can’t make the journey through the wall and jump on the Hogwart’s Express, we can get our own ticket for just under seven quid at the Harry Potter store. Before you jump on your train, make sure to stock up on Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavour Beans and Chocolate Frogs. I don’t think your snack trolley will have any in stock.