The London underground network is probably the best way for anyone to get around London. In the six weeks I was there, I figured out a few things about the underground that helped me eventually to navigate my way smoothly through the complex maze of the various tube lines. Here are a few of them:
1. Never ask the tube supervisors for directions! Usually if you are a tourist, there is a tendency to ask the underground supervisor about which tube to take. However, more than once the supervisor sent me in the wrong direction and I lost a lot of time changing trains and platforms, to get back on the right train. My advice for those visiting London would be to always carry a tube map with you. Small maps that can be folded and kept in the wallet, are available free of charge at all tube stations. Also, while asking for directions, it's always a good idea to double check with your map! If you are still unsure whether you jumped on the right tube, you can also find a map inside the tube. When I don't have a map on me, I consult the google maps app on my iPhone that also gives tube routes. But this doesn't work in the absence of phone signals in the underground. I did read on the tube that more than 250 stations now have wi-fi but I never got to that!
2. Avoid taking pictures at the tube stations especially if you are using a digital SLR! The last time I tried to take some pictures with my DSLR camera, I was immediately approached by the security and asked not to take pictures. Apparently, the tube stations have CCTV systems everywhere.
3. The Oyster travel card uses up more money than you can ever dream of! London is an expensive city and if you are not an elderly person or a child or a student, you can pay as much as 12GBP per day for using public transport! I have paid much less for use of public transport in other European countries.
4. Have your Oyster card ready in your hand as you get off and get on the trains! You need the card both when you enter and exit the tube station. People at the underground are in such a rush and move so fast that you will have no time to look for your travel card as you make your way through the entry and the exit gates. I remember the first time I took the tube in London and got off at Oxford Circus, I was literally run over by the crowd! Now, whenever I am in London, I always make it a point to carry the card in the front pocket of my jacket or the dress I am wearing that day!
5. Avoid taking tubes during rush hour if you don't want to get your butt sandwiched between passengers! The first time I took a tube during rush hour was at the London Barbican tube station. It was about 5:30p.m. and I was literally shocked by the number of people on the platform waiting for the train! I had to let go off three trains before I was finally able to squeeze myself into one which was already filled to capacity!