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Travel: London – Mind the Gap!

I love to travel and experience new things! One of my favorite spots is London.

I was thinking recently. Now don’t look so surprised! I was thinking: One of the many reasons I love London are the ubiquitous signs they are wont to post in public places. Necessary or not, I find them rather comforting.

Mind the Gap

For example while standing on the platform in The Tube (aka: The London Underground) preparing to board the next train, a sign on the pavement cautions you to “MIND THE GAP” between the platform and train.

Way Out

After completing your transit on the Underground and exiting the train (once again minding the gap) you are greeted by an ever so comforting sign: “Way out ➜”. How often in your life have you needed a clear “way out”?

Look Right

One final example from London are the hand painted signs at the curbs telling you which way to look for traffic. If you aren’t accustomed to cars driving on the “wrong side” of the road, this can be a life saver, literally.

Do you like to travel? Is there anything quirky or funny or comfortingly unique you’ve encountered in your travels? What are your favorite destinations?

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  1. Laughwithusblog

    I would love to go to London!

    1. Michael Schmid

      I’m sure you’d love it, Esther. I grew up partly in Europe, and also traveled internationally in my last job… so was fortunate to have been many times. My wife has only been once, but really loved it. That said, with a two year old, we’ll probably go to Disney World before we go to the UK or Europe. 😉

  2. Cindy Eve

    thank you for this delightful blog. I am a relative newbie to London (10years in October 2011) and one of the things I found most amusing was the ‘mind the gap’ signs and of course always have to mimic to tannoy when it advises you before alighting to ‘mind the gap’. London is a fascinating place and I have to say, after all the countries and cities I have visited (all of which i loved) London is my favourite place in the world.

    1. Michael Schmid

      Hi Cindy. how did you come to live in London? I’ve often thought about it, but we are pretty settled in here with my university job. You never know, though. Yes, it is a really interesting city. What do you enjoy the most living there? Love your site. Great post about things to do in London with kids. http://bit.ly/hPXp95

      1. Cindy Eve

        hi :) – funny thing is I came to visit my sister & her hubby in Dublin. saw London and fell in love with the chimney pots (weird I know). Adored Ireland, but couldnt work there (visa issues), so came to London instead and never looked back…quite literally. I love everything about this city, esp the freedom. the history is fascinating and the architecture is a marvel. and there is ALWAYS something to do. love all the events and shows. thanks for the comment re the site, so glad you enjoyed that post. keep in touch and enjoy the soon to arrive spring :)

        1. Michael Schmid

          Hello again, Cindy. Just followed you on twitter (I’m @adaddyblog). I love both London and Dublin. My wife was living in Ireland when we first became acquainted and we had a lovely romantic trip back to her old stomping grounds before we had our wee baby girl. She went to London while she was living in Ireland and really liked it, so no doubt we’ll be back when our little girl is old enough to appreciate it at least a bit.

  3. Megan (Best of Fates)

    I oh-so-love London, though my favorite place to travel is North Africa. Though they clearly need to step it up with the signage!

    1. Michael Schmid

      Really… what takes you to North Africa, Megan? I’ve only ever been to Casablanca in Morocco, myself.

      As for London, I’m confident you’d enjoy it, but certainly a departure from N. Africa, and not just the signage.

  4. Alex

    I need a vacation!!! I would love to go to london

    1. Michael Schmid

      London is one of the great cities of the world. To be clear I mean “London” in the broader sense, not just the City of London. What makes it special are Greater London’s 32 boroughs that give this HUGE city it’s neighborhood feel. I do hope you get to visit one day. I have family and friends there, so let me know if you need tips and such when the time comes. I also have some great friends online that can help as well.

      1. Cindy Eve

        count me in for when Alex needs any tips and ideas for visiting London. :)

  5. Michelloui | The American Resident

    When I first moved to London I got a real kick out of signs like those! But you’re right, they make sense and some are literally life savers.

    While signage here is usually really good the one complaint I have is street signs. Ugh. I wish the Brits were more consistent with labeling every street–if you’re looking for an address the street sign could be down low on a wall, up high on a building, right on the corner and easy to see from the intersection, or tucked in the street 50 yards so you cant see it until you’ve either passed by or turned down the street guessing it was right but then on finally seeing the sign you see it was wrong. And often there’s no sign at all. Its a strange inconsistency in a country known for excellent mapping.

    Maybe it’s a carry over from The War. Apparently during WWII signs throughout the countryside were taken down or altered in order to confuse the Germans should there be an invasion.

    1. Michael Schmid

      Hi, Michelle. I know what you mean about the street signs being awfully hard to see when driving in the city. Of course that’s what the famous London cabs (hackney carriages) and their “interesting” drivers are for. I do miss the old style cabs and buses, though. Sometimes progress comes with a cost. As for signage in the countryside… I’ve heard the same thing about WWII, though it’s even worse in Ireland, and I doubt that had to do with an attempt to fool any German invaders. Don’t you love the directions locals in a small town give you? “Turn left at O’Sullivan’s pub, drive about 4 minutes and take a left at that 14th Century ruin, drive for 2 minutes and turn onto the hidden road”

      1. Cindy Eve

        sorry! last comment, then I’ll go away. I had to laugh at this comment about the directions in Ireland. so true!!! I cant tell you how many times on one holiday we got directions just like that. the amazing thing is….you actually find your way!!! another of my favourite countries.

        1. Michael Schmid

          My wife’s father is Irish, in fact she has dual US/Irish citizenship, so hopefully I’m allowed the stereotypical representation of Irish driving directions. Besides it’s pretty darned accurate. LOL.

  6. 30ish Mama

    I would love to go to London and take a literary tour of the all the places my favorite authors wrote about!

    I’ve always enjoyed the road signs in Greece which feature the name of the town or tourist attraction with an arrow that points downwards to the actual road you are supposed to follow. Do they think that if it were simply pointing left or right people would try to fly?

    1. Michael Schmid

      I don’t remember that about the Greek road signs. How funny. I do recall after my first visit I suddenly understood the phrase “It’s all Greek to me!” On your point about flying, I also recall a British author who said (I’m paraphrasing from memory) “The trick to flying is to throw yourself at the ground and miss.” But I digress.

      One tour outfit I highly recommend (I’m loosely acquainted with the American ex-pat owner and his wife) is “London Walks” (walks.com). They have a bunch of literary walks I’ll bet you’d enjoy. I have no financial interest in their business, btw. They charge very reasonable fees and provide a truly great experience… if you don’t mind walking. Here are just a few:

      • Charles Dickens’ London And a nice touch, Jean, who guides the walk, does it in Victorian costume!
      • Literary Bloomsbury & the Old Museum Quarter
      • In the Footsteps of Sherlock Holmes
      • Shakespeare’s & Dickens’ London – The Old City
      • The Literary London Pub Walk
      • The London of Oscar Wilde And a bonus – Guide Alan will be “attired” as Oscar Wilde himself, green carnation and all.
  7. Mitzi

    I loved visiting London many moons ago…there is just something about the laid back culture there…

    1. Michael Schmid

      Hi, Mitzi. Well depending up on how far back you visited and what parts you visited you may find it’s changed somewhat. The have a large immigrant population, and though that bothers some people, it also brings interesting new flavors (literally and figuratively) to Greater London. Y’all should save up for a trip over there sometime!

  8. lydia

    Loved London when we went there but we were only able to see it as a day trip-would love to go back some time. I love the play on words in the signs you featured.

    1. Michael Schmid

      Thanks. After all… aren’t we all looking for a sign now and again? I hope you get back for a longer stay. I’ve been many times, but there is so much more I’d love to see if I had time. Maybe when our 2 year old girl is a bit older and will appreciate it more and remember it.

  9. nicole

    Love how direct their signs are!! We don’t travel much so I don’t have anything to share really.

    1. Michael Schmid

      Yeah, the are really direct. I especially like the “Way Out” signs. Getting off the underground at different stations from different train cars it really helps to orient you. And the “Look Right” and “Look Left” signs I’m sure have saved my life more than once. LOL.

  10. Jenn

    mind the gap… excellent advice no matter where you find yourself.

    1. Michael Schmid

      LOL… especially good advice when there’s a plumber working under your sink.

  11. JDaniel4's Mom

    The circles or round abouts are so tricky there.

    1. Michael Schmid

      True, and since we’re not used to driving on “the wrong” side of the road they are trickier still. And don’t get me started on right of way.

  12. Ado

    Hey so glad I came across this post…coincidentally we’re going to London on Wednesday. I’ll be sure and keep a keen parental eye out for interesting signage while there – and try to take some good blog photos. But I suck a a photog.

    I do love the notion of having the world post signs that tell you clearly where to go. Wouldn’t that be great if it happened everyday, everywhere, esp. with parenting our kids?

    1. Michael Schmid

      How was your London trip, Ado? Hope it was super. Sorry, I missed your comment originally, so I’m asking kinda late. Oops. Yeah, life could use a few more helpful signs, couldn’t it? 😉

  13. Annette Miller

    I have no financial interest in their business, btw. As for London, I’m confident you’d enjoy it, but certainly a departure from N. Wouldn’t that be great if it happened everyday, everywhere, esp.

    1. Michael Schmid

      Thanks for your comment, Annette. I must have missed something. You have no financial interest in what business? I’d love to check it out the next time we’re in London. I love tips. For example (and I have no financial interest) London Walks is an absolutely brilliant walking tour company. If you’re going to London it’s worth the few pounds their many walks cost.

  14. marco

    I agree, London have captured my heart and feelings with something which I may not be able to explain, but to summarize, it has become my favourite city, and Britain became my favourite country, amongst four overseas countries (and [semi]independent territories) which I have been.

    Been there last August because of a Wikipedia event.

    1. Michael Schmid

      Hi Marco. Yes, there is something special about London. I’ve lived in Europe twice (Amsterdam and Vienna) and traveled to many more countries than I can count any more, but do seem to keep returning to London when I can. Thanks for dropping by and for your comment! Have a super holiday season… and mind the gap.

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