When I think back on my five years living in this great city, it’s highly likely that one of the strongest memories in my mind will be a collective memory of riding its iconic red double-decker buses. An image synonymous with the city and a favorite of tourists, the reality is that I would never have known of the buses’ charms were it not for having kids. Pre-kids, I was a tube rider. I live centrally enough to be able to pick from a variety of tube lines, or to just walk somewhere. Why take the slow bus to China, when you can zip along underground? But then my life changed. I stopped working so didn’t need to commute twice a day, and more importantly, I now travel encumbered (is that a terrible transitive verb to use in reference to my children?) with at least 35 kilos of human being. The tube stations with their flights of stairs and mobs of people and long connecting corridors are no fun when rolling with kids. So by necessity I began to take the buses more and more and more until I just now know the routes I need.
And what a pleasure (at least not during rush hour). Drivers are pretty nice and will answer questions about stops. There is a designated space for a pram. You see more variety of people on the buses since they are good for kids and lesser able-bodied people and people not rushing. You get a gorgeous tour of London every time you ride one centrally. Just to go to a certain museum I pass Hyde Park, Harvey Nicks, Harrods, V&A. And oh my goodness, the buses down Regent’s Street! All visits to London should begin and end with that street.
My kids love the bus. We’re all happy on the bus. We are Londoners on the bus and we look at London from the bus. If one day I sepia tone this part of my life, it will be me at a bus stop with my kids. They’ll be yelling at me for a snack and I’ll be smiling. Because why yes, I do have a snack handy! And there’s the #10. See, we didn’t have to wait long at all! All aboard! And then it will flash to my weary bones collapsed on a seat, my kids happy in the pram in front of me. Take me anywhere, driver. And go slowly.
On days when I don’t have the kids or when it just makes sense from A to B, I still love The Underground / the tube. For all the reasons you all already know: clean, efficient, well-lit, well-run, comfortable, respectful passengers, the hilarity of the stop names, and just my general love for the iconic tube map design (it’s the banner image of this blog after all). I’ve mentioned it before but it’s still a great story that it led the world in re-thinking public transportation maps. I am kind of a TFL groupie.
I have waxed on about the black cabs so many times, I just don’t know what more I can say. They are amazing in every respect. They are so amazing, they make taking a taxi anywhere else in the world a let-down. I love the space, the facing the people you’re with, the etiquette, the professionalism of the drivers, the special driving maneuvers they’re allowed to pull, the fact that you can roll a pushchair/stroller right in. We have shared many taxis with friends and the ride is always part of the night. I’m filing that in my sepia-toned re-imagining of this life as well. A bunch of us buzzed in a taxi as electric London at night rolls by.
So yeah, I’ll miss