Hey, Kids– Big Ben, Parliament…

For those of you not familiar with National Lampoon’s European Vacation, Charity and I have been laughing about the following clip since we arrived in London, especially on yesterday’s Hop-on, Hop-off tour.  Little did we know… well, first the clip…

We had so little sleep yesterday, we decided to take it easy and sleep in today. The big plan for the day was to go to the British Museum and perhaps King’s Cross train station (Harry Potter geeks unite!) to play tourist.  No problem. The subway system here, or “The Tube” as the locals call it, is fast and efficient. With all of the experience we’ve had on other metro systems, this one proved to be quite easy to navigate for the last couple days, so we were confident we knew the best way to the museum when we left at about noon today. We got to the nearby “home” station in a few minutes, deciding to wait to eat breakfast somewhere near the museum.

Our first hint that something was amiss:  instead of seeing the Tower Hill stop, we see Liverpool Street.  A quick glance at the route map on the train wall showed us that we had actually gotten on the wrong train from the start.  Instead of being on the District Line like usual, we had actually jumped on the Hammersmith and City Line.  No problem– we would just ride it in to King’s Cross and do our Platform 9 3/4 thing first.

Well, long story short, that was sort of a bust.  There was some construction at the station from platforms 9 onward, and although they actually filmed between 4 and 5, most of that was coned off for some reason.  Oh well, we took some lame pics and made a beeline for the Tube again.  The museum stop we were aiming for is on the Northern Line which had a stop at King’s Cross, so that was going to work out beautifully.  We hopped on the southbound train and settled in for the ride.

Mistake number two: the Northern Line actually has two separate tracks which run paraellel to each other through different stations, and of course, we realized after two stops that were on the wrong one.  Ha!  No problem again.  We could 1) ride it out for five or six more stops, switch to our familiar District Line, and continue our morning’s original plan which would require one more Line change or 2) get off, go back three stops, and switch to the correct Northern Line track which would take us directly to the museum stop.  We opted for #2 as it seemed the easier route.  Right.

We got to the station where we supposed to change to the parallel Northern track but couldn’t find where to do that.  No problem, right?  We could switch to the Victoria Line, get off at the next stop, and switch back to the Northern again and be back on track.  Except there’s a lot of construction on many of the Lines over the weekend, and unbeknownst to us, that stop is closed for the day.  *sigh*

So by now, you should realize that this carried on for quite a while longer; we had one more Line switch to the Picadilly.  And we still hadn’t had breakfast since the whole trip was supposed to take no longer than 30 minutes.  By the time we finally made it to an alternative museum stop, it was nearly 2pm, and we had taken five different trains and lost our sense of humor somewhere in the Tube.  OK, maybe not completely– we kept laughing about the Griswolds’ “Big Ben, Parliament” moment as King’s Cross was constantly threatening to trap us again and again.

All in all, we had a great day and will likely go back to the British Museum again this week as we didn’t have nearly enough time to explore the place (good thing it’s free!).  And I definitely have a new-found respect for the Tube and will not underestimate it anymore.  Also, I’ll be paying attention to which Line we jump on tomorrow morning and make sure it’s the District Line.  For funsies, see if you can find some of the aforementioned lines in the following Tube map.  Also, the stations we visited (there and back– intentionally or not, successfully or not) today were King’s Cross, Bank, Euston, Warren Street, Green Park, Russell Square, Victoria, Embankment, Leicester Square, and Tottenham Court Road.  Our “home” station is Bow Road.  There will be a quiz later.

London Tube Map

London Tube Map