March 14, 2008

A Digression About Guidebooks and Tube Stops

Let me take a minute to complain slightly about my guidebooks. My guidebooks have been very, very helpful and I am fairly lost without them. However, they are not always perfectly helpful -- especially not to someone shepherding a lot of children through the busy Tube stations and streets of a major city.

One place where they fall down on the job is with the recommended Tube stations at which to disembark for various sites. The guidebooks list the closest stop, or sometimes, if there are two or three very close to the same distance, they'll give you their names, but often they'll ignore a station a short walk from an attraction and only mention the very closest station.

Often there is another station on another line that is easier to get to and you'd only have to walk three blocks or not have to hike up nearly so many stairs or change lines. This is the case with St. Paul's. There is a St. Paul Tube station, but I live on the district line, so to get to St. Paul's station, I would have to change lines. The guidebooks don't mention that you could get out at Mansion House or Cannon St. stations on the district line and the walk would only be a few blocks and since the district line is much closer to the surface than the other lines, getting up to the street level is much easier.

This was also true when we went to the Tate Britain. Following the guidebooks, I went to the nearest station on the Victoria line, but after we arrived at the museum, I realized Westminster station was just down the street, on the district line and it has lifts!

Although it obviously hasn't harmed to go through various line changes and haul children and strollers up various escalators and stairs, I now have a better understanding of the Tube than I did when I got here and figuring out that for me there are better routes than those recommended in the guidebooks has been very, very helpful.