On my first official morning I opted to take part in a “free” walking tour of the “TV” “London”. I will explain in further detail why quotes are around the three words in the previous sentence in a bit…
Upon first checking into the hostel they mentioned that there was a “free” walking tour that operated daily leaving the hostel at 10am. They said that the tour covered central London, but that the main attractions (for example Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, etc) would not be covered, but that the tour would end so close to those areas that they would be easy enough to explore after the tour.
Ok, so here was a great example as to the incompetence of the staff (sadly) at the Generator hostel… First off, the “free” walking tour required a not-free train or bus ticket to get you to the meeting point (Green Park) from which the tour would actually begin. Now, I’m not complaining about having to buy a train ticket, because as it turned out it came in quite handy for the rest of the day (I bought a day pass from the hostel for 9 pounds that allowed unlimited access to all buses and trains for the entire day, and after my day it was definitely worth its price!) I was just irritated that this little bit of important information wasn’t explained to me when the staff talked about the free walking tour. Now, I’ve been told I’m too literal a person taking what people say quite literally and to that point I admit that I literally did think that the walking tour would be entirely that… walking. So when the lady who came to pick up the people participating in the walking tour from the hostel (on foot I may add) we started walking out toward the next hostel where we were to pick up more people when she thankfully asked “do you have a train ticket?”. My first question of course was “For what? This is a walking tour, yes?” To which she explained that we would need a train ticket to get to the meeting point.
So I turned around as she waited outside for me while I worked out the details and purchased the all day train pass. I’m just saying, if the whole procedure for the “free” walking tour was explained to begin with then that little bit of confusion and wasted time would never had occurred… Oh, and one other little thing… Goes along with the incompetence of the staff at the Generator (who otherwise were very friendly) per their knowledge of this free walking tour that they at least informed people about… ok, so a few more points… #1 no one knew how long the tour would last #2 no one knew exactly what time it started (I was told 10am, at 10am asked where the tour met and was told -by the same person who told me 10am- that it met at 10:15… 10:15 rolled around and I was told once again by the same person, “oh they meet between 10:15 and 10:30… GRRRRR!!!!!) #3 the areas that they said would be covered on the tour in fact were NOT covered at all… I’m not complaining on this point again because the tour actually did cover all the areas I wanted to know more about, i.e. the “TV” areas of London (Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, etc). All I’m saying again is that there was just a HUGE lack of knowledge from the staff at the Generator hostel about this tour.
Now, to the perhaps credit of the staff, the lady that picked me up from there on foot said that the regular staff were on vacation and that she’d never seen the ones that were there that morning before… so maybe the regular staff are more knowledgeable than the apparently new ones that were there… But I will never know for sure…
Ok, so I’m done venting about the frustrating start to the tour… The tour itself was in one word: brilliant! The tour guide was funny, friendly and incredibly informative! As I mentioned above we all met (turned out to be about 30 people in total from various hostels around London) at Green Park and from there began the two hour tour entirely on foot:)
Oh, I almost forgot… the above words in quotes! So “Free” is in quotes above because as you guessed, the tour wasn’t “free”. It required a train/bus ticket and a tip for the tour guide. The guides aren’t paid by the organization that provides the free tours, so they only rely on tips. “TV” is in quotes simply to mean that the areas covered were in fact the most popular tourist destinations in London, and “London” is in quotes because all the areas we went to (TV areas) are actually in Westminster… London, the REAL London is only one about square mile!! The rest of what people consider to be London is Westminster. That’s your first bit of info I got from the tour…
To make it a bit easier for reading perhaps, I’m going to break down each part of the tour and associated stories for each area into links below. That way this page doesn’t drag on forever! I’m not going to tell every story told during the tour (I’ve got to leave something out to make you all want to go to London and do the tour yourselves!!) but will give you my favorites. Cheers and happy reading your free tour with accompanying pictures:)
Red Coats & Gentlemen’s Club
Horse Garden/PM House/Westminster Abbey/Big Ben
Areas Not covered (Eye of London/Brick Lane/Piccadilly Circus)
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