Friday, August 1, 2014
Date Night @ London Ghost Bus Tours
The first time I watched the horror film, The Ring, at my friend's apartment, I made her accompany me to the bathroom (and basically any room for the rest of my stay) and we had to sleep with the lights on for the rest of the night. I still haven't been able to watch The Shining all the way through, and I regularly plan zombie-apocalypse escape routes in my head (FYI, I'd be totally screwed in my current ground-floor flat. Not enough time. Last year's top-floor abode would have been ideal). So when London's Ghost Bus Tour invited me to hop aboard their spooky ride around London's most haunted sites, my first question was, "May I bring a friend?"
Of course, I took my trusty, unflappable-by-ghosts-and-or-zombies sidekick AKA my husband, who cites 28 Weeks Later as "one of the best movies, like, ever - especially the opening scene" and made it into a sort of date night, since his uncompromising work schedule has made it difficult for us to see each other lately (boo. Not scary, "BOO!" but ... yeah).
A bit like being thrown into an episode of Jonathan Creek, the London Ghost Bus Tour serves its purpose as a good, light-hearted and entertaining tour of London, with a twist.
The tour departs from Northumberland Avenue - just a stone's throw away from Trafalgar Square - on a black, refurbished original Routemaster bus, also known as the "Necrobus". I had to run for the bus from Covent Garden because I overstayed my welcome with a glass of red wine (oops). When I got there, I immediately spotted a shadowy, ghostly figure occupying a seat on the lower deck of the bus before realizing it was John. My bad.
Onboard, we were serenaded with creepy music throughout (reminscent of haunted fairground rides - my favorite, which is ironic I know, given my fear of all things scary) and a coffin-like interior, complete with velvet shades, flickering lamps, and dark red upholstery. So far, so macabre.
The bus trundled its way around popular monuments and sites of historical significance, whilst the "conductor" gave all the gory details of murders, hauntings, executions and the like. A few comedic moments featuring an unexpected guest provided full-on (not to mention long-lasting) belly chuckles from the crowd of Americans behind me (oh, we're an enthusiastic bunch, aren't we?). And I'm not sure what was more entertaining - the comedic interludes, or the expressions of passers-by outside (especially as the bus did a slow drive-by of pub-goers enjoying the warm summer's evening).
I won't spoil any surprises, but there are a few laughs and scary surprises aboard the London Ghost Bus Tour - nothing that made me clutch at John in terror, but certainly some that created a slightly hair-raising atmosphere. For historical enthusiasts, some little-known facts are also revealed, which make the tour useful for future pub quizzes as well.
If you're a first-time visitor to London or want to combine some sight-seeing with spooky stories (and rest your tired feet), then the London Ghost Bus Tour is for you - winter would be a terrific time to take the tour, as the evenings get dark around 4 pm and you'll (literally and figuratively) feel the chill up your spine as the bus winds its way around the darker corners of central London. Tours depart promptly at 7:30 pm and 9:00 pm and last for approximately an hour and a half.
I was generously hosted as a guest by London Ghost Bus Tours. For more information on tickets and times, visit the London Ghost Bus Tour website.