The Travel A to Z rumbles on – T for Tourist Thing

Yep you guessed it nothing new to write about this morning, so it’s back to the travel A – Z.

So what’s the most touristy thing I have ever done? That’s a big question for someone with a back catalogue stretching back 50 odd years and what exactly counts as touristy? Some of my best travel memories are of things like visiting the Pyramids of Giza, walking down the Siq to view the Treasury at Petra or taking a helicopter ride through the Grand Canyon. Loads of people do stuff like that so it’s not really that remarkable or interesting to read about.

However one of the things I really like is travelling on the top deck of double-decker buses. Let me qualify that, not the sort of bus that takes you to work, but sort that does city tours or those in the heritage business.

London Transport Green Line Bus at the Epping to Ongar Steam Railway

One of the reasons for this I suppose is the fact that my grandfather was a London Transport bus driver. Growing up in the 1960s I used to live in a part of London with no tube or rail station, so if we wanted to go anywhere we would have to get a bus and of course as child getting on a bus would usually be part of an adventure. Maybe a shopping trip to London’s west end or a visit to a museum.We’d clamber up on to the top deck in the hope of getting the seat above the driver for the best view in the house and then amuse ourselves by winding the windows up and down as kids do.

Former London Transport Routemaster on local bus route

It was only as I had to start using buses to get to work that this thrill evaporated, but by then the classic London Routemaster with its open platform at the back and conductor was being replaced by far less romantic vehicles. Oddly enough though, since I am no longer office bound I have taken to using buses over the tube because you get to see more of London.

Now so long as the weather is good I can think of no better way to get a feel for a city than to take an open top bus tour. I have done this is Bath and Edinburgh and it was terrific fun, but the maddest bus tour that I have ever done was when I working as a PRO. We’d been given the task of promoting the sale of tickets for London sightseeing tours so we decided to run a special press trip. Media were invited and we worked out an itinerary that took in all the tourist sites like the Tower of London, St Paul’s and the Houses of Parliament, plus a visit to the London Dungeon and a slap up meal at Planet Hollywood.

For that final sprinkling of stardust we hired the actor Stephen Lewis, better known as Blakey the bus inspector from the TV sitcom On the Buses. Lovely man, but a total loon when in character, precariously balanced on the seats, clipboard in hand shouting ‘Get that bus out!’ as we tore around London’s streets. Here’s Blakey in his prime.


4 thoughts on “The Travel A to Z rumbles on – T for Tourist Thing

    • Absolutely, there’s nothing wrong with doing the touristy thing. There is a lot of snobbery in the travel community about this sort of stuff to which I say ‘lighten up, it’s all about having fun’

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