England is a very accessible country by transit. Whether by train or bus, there is surely a straightforward route for just about anywhere there is to go. There is, however, a steep price difference between traveling by bus and by train. With coach services like National Express and Megabus, I’ve so far paid only a fraction of what a train ticket costs. It’s true that the travel time can be longer by a number of hours, but I see this as a way to catch up on schoolwork and enjoy the scenic English countryside. This makes the trip to my destination alone a memorable experience, and when I get to my destination, I feel as though I can spend without feeling too guilty about my budget.
For anyone who enjoys (or needs) the speed and convenience of a railway, my advice is to book ahead of time and during off-peak hours. This practice can save someone as much as £40 (forty pounds– roughly $55 as of February 2018) on just a one-way ticket. The same is even true of coach buses. Booked in enough time ahead and depending on the departure hour, a one-way trip to London can be as little as £3!
Speaking of London, after almost a month in England it was time for me to make my first proper trip to the capital city. This trip was the perfect opportunity for me to prove to my family that there was no need for distress over my safety abroad–that here in England, I am a responsible, cautious (and independent) adult. My Megabus coach departed from the UEA campus around 7:15am, and I arrived at London’s Victoria Coach Station around 10:15am. The bus journey was filled with roundabouts (circular intersections that give drivers access to 4 roads–sort of similar to the intersection outside the Philadelphia Art Museum steps) and scenes of the sun making its ascent along the greens of the countryside. In England during the winter, the sun is actually never directly above our heads but instead tracing along the southeast of the sky. It’s a fascinating reminder of just how far away I am from home.
Once entering London, it takes about an hour to get to Victoria Station. Indeed, I learned early on in my time here in England that, when referring to London, people don’t just mean the areas immediately surrounding the River Thames–as I discovered when my bus ride from the London Heathrow Airport to Victoria was about an hour long. London is double the size of New York in square miles (sorry, America, for perturbing your size obsession), and is separated into six transit regions officially referred to as “zones.” From my journeys by road I can say that all six zones of London maintain an urban atmosphere, and after a month in the small city of Norwich, I felt rejuvenated at the site of such busy streets.
Once finally in London, I enjoyed just as much as one could enjoy this massive city over the span of just a few hours. Buckingham Palace is but a couple minutes’ walk from Victoria Station– something I learned by wandering aimlessly straight off of the bus. After Buckingham, it was time to officially start my Beatles pilgrimage of England. Off I went to Savile Row where the former office and recording studio of Apple Records’ building is. It was on top of this building that the Beatles performed their very last concert together, entirely unannounced. After that holy visit, I got out my Oyster card, the London equivalent of a SEPTA Key Card– and a must for anyone planning on visiting London more than once (I personally did not opt for a £12 day pass because I could get where I needed to go by foot. I’m absolutely infatuated with the city and will surely be back for overnight trips.)– and headed towards Abbey Road Studios!
Getting accustomed to traveling alone, whether it be a walk around Norwich or a larger trip like London, has made me incredibly confident in my ability to plan and execute trips for these next few months. As I write this post, a few of my flatmates and I are actually preparing to depart for a week-long trip to the historic town of Bath. Traveling alone is a valuable skill to have–but enjoying incredible experiences with good company promises to be just as exciting!