London conjures up visions of Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, Big Ben, and the Houses of Parliament. Tourists flock to London to take in the sights and soak up a bit of history. The word "tourist" literally means someone who travels for pleasure or interest. But sometimes tourists are typified as people who can be rude, loud or just badly behaved. Here are 10 things that tourists do in London that the locals really and truly can't stand.
10 Getting In The Face Of The Guards
The Queen's Guard, those guys in the red uniform topped with a (real) bearskin hat, stand watch at places like Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London. They are rigorously trained to be unflinching in the face of things like extreme weather or someone getting in their face and yelling.
So, guess what? Some tourists like to see if they can make the Guard crack. They get up close and personal and scream abuse. And to make it even worse, other tourists stand around taking pictures. Sad but true.
9 What? You Don't Take Dollars?
The currency is Britain in the British pound sterling. But, undeterred by this fact, some tourists seem to be surprised that they can't pay for purchases in their own currency, whether it be the U.S. dollar or the European euro. What an outrage.
If the offended tourist thought about it, they would realize that somebody, like the shopkeeper, would have to calculate currency conversion. If the cash exchange is too complicated, there's always the debit card.
8 Let's Stuff That Red Telephone Box
Picture a crowded sidewalk with busy Londoners walking purposefully towards their destinations. Suddenly, there seems to be something wrong. A throng of tourists is blocking the sidewalk.
Some of them are busy seeing how many people they can stuff into a red phone box. Others are cheering them on and taking pictures. Londoners witness such scenes of excess on a regular basis. Being English, they probably won't complain to the offenders. But they will inwardly seethe. And the tourists will post snaps on Instagram. "Here I am in jolly old London."
7 Buy, Buy, Buy Tacky Souvenirs
Do you know how to spot a tourist in London? It's easy. He or she is the person wearing the I "Heart" London tee shirt or sweatshirt. They have probably bought it that morning at a fairly tacky souvenir stand, together with things like a coffee mug emblazoned with the likeness of the Queen and yellow plastic "Best of Britain" bulldogs.
Locals wouldn't be caught dead in the shops that sell the stuff. The smart thing would be to blend in and wear neutral clothes, rather than advertising the fact you aren't a local.
6 Treating The Tube Like A Social Networking Opportunity
This is normal for the Tube. There is no talking, no eye contact, and no invading other passengers' space. You keep yourself to yourself. Seems a bit glum, doesn't it? Tourists are on vacation. They want to have a good time.
So on their way to Buckingham Palace, they may try and strike up a conversation with a local. They will likely try to pretend it isn't happening. Other passengers will stare and glare and register disapproval. Zipped lip is the way to go.
5 Standing On The Left Of An Escalator
Once again, the etiquette of the Underground. Since the Tube is underground, there are escalators. The absolute rule is that if you are standing, you move to the right. If you are climbing, you walk up the left.
If you stand on the left, you block the way of those behind you. It will not matter that the tourist did not know the rule, he or she will incur the wrath of angry commuters. Believe it or not, fights have actually broken out. It's just safer to stand on the right.
4 Too Busy Taking Pictures To Notice Anything Or Anybody
During the spring and summer months, London is teeming with tourists. They take over the pavements (sidewalks), they crowd into tourist attractions like the Tower of London and mill around Buckingham Palace. They also find the prettiest parts of the city and visit.
Locals, if they pluck up their courage and join the crowds, have to run an obstacle course of tourists who sometimes ignore everyone and everything around them, and simply stop and snap. This is inconsiderate, and no selfie is worth that.
3 Complaining About The Weather
The last couple of summers have seen a kind of British heatwave, with temperatures soaring over 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Air conditioning is not as universal in England as in the United States.
Lots of hotels, restaurants, and London theaters have little or no air conditioning. Tourists have complained loud and long. It's too hot. We're miserable. The locals? In the summer, they buy fans. In the winter, it's long underwear and trips to very sunny Florida.
2 Getting In Your Face
The British are, for the most part, a very polite and patient bunch of people. You might say they are reserved and proper. To help contribute to the peacefulness, avoid shouting or raising your voice, particularly in a conflict situation. The stereotype of the loud, obnoxious American is not one that needs perpetuating.
1 Fumbling For Tube Ticket
If you are a human being, you need a ticket to ride the Tube. Goats? Maybe not. Here's the scene, rush-hour commuters are streaming off the escalators at ground level and almost stampeding for the ticket gates.
At the gates, commuters have their tickets in hand and quickly feed them into the slot to release the gates. Then comes the occasional tourist who stands at the gate fumbling in pockets and bags for that all-important ticket, blocking all those behind them. Avoid frustrating a slew of people who just want to get to work, or even more important, home. Have your ticket ready.