top things i will miss #9

url-4When 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.

url-3On 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.

url-1I 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

#9 the public transportation.

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13 Comments

Filed under missing already

13 responses to “top things i will miss #9

  1. Ben

    Give some examples of stop names hilarious to the American eye? I always enjoyed your culture clash blogs!

  2. If you’re on a London bus, you HAVE to sit at the front of the top deck. It’s a rule. Did they teach you that when you came in through immigration? Or maybe they just let you discover it for yourself.

  3. I was exactly the same, never rode the bus till I had my son and then it is all we rode, and I loved it! Except when I would try to get on and someone would have taken up all the stroller/buggy/pram/pushchair space with a double stroller but only one child who was then sitting in a chair and I would have to wait for the next bus, which would also be full. Grr.

  4. Cassie

    These are my favourite tube stations names
    Swiss cottage, Barking, Kentish town (is it sort of like Kent?), Tooting Bec, Elephant and Castle, Cockfosters and Angel. Love reading your blog, can’t wait to find out what Brooklyn is like!

  5. yael

    Ok, Cassie’s are really good. I can’t top that list. Cockfosters will always be the absolute best. I am pretty sure the time Bryan and I visited London in 2002, we made sure to take a photo of the train arrivals list when Cockfosters flashed on the screen.

    A few more honorable mentions: Bushey, Epping, Tufnell Park, Canada Water (for years it made me think of Canada Dry beverages), Chalk Farm, Oval, and Crystal Palace – because it’s a strip club name, right?

  6. I’ve always been partial to “Mudchute” on the DLR, for obvious reasons.

  7. toshalot

    i remember jonah reaching out from the double stroller pushing those people out of the way and declaring, “this space is for me!” because they were standing in that dedicated pram cutout. hilarious.

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