Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Canary Wharf

It's been nearly a month of commuting to Canary Wharf for work, and I have to say, it's been pretty miserable.

There are only two ways to reach the Wharf, and you get a "which is the lesser of two evils" choice: either the DLR or the Jubilee line on the Tube. The DLR comes in from the City, and it's actually pretty spacious and travels above ground. The negative is that it connects to Bank station (aka the station from hell), it's quite slow and costs a bit more than the Tube. I take the Jubilee, and it's notorious for being unreliable, especially on weekends. Truthfully, I don't mind the "is it running?" factor nearly so much as the crowd factor.

For the first week of work, I sucked it up and dealt with being squished on a daily basis and becoming uncomfortably close to strangers. Close as in, "oh, I can smell that you've had cheese for breakfast" close. After breathing in hot cheese breath for about a week and sweating like a pig in my extra warm woolen coat, I caved and decided to start going in earlier and earlier until I figured out when the crowds weren't so bad. Which means I have to be out of the house by 7:10AM at the latest. Ouch.

There are some nice things about the Jubilee line though. Through some unspoken understanding, people actually queue to board the trains the closer you get to the Wharf. This does not happen anywhere else in London - it's unique only to those that are Canary Wharf bound. I get on around Waterloo station, which is about 5 stops away from Canary Wharf station, and I queue to get on the train. It's pretty marvelous.
Canary Wharf Station
Some other weird things about the Wharf other than the transport:
  • It's much too clean. Like bizarrely, freakishly clean.
  • It's got its own security so you see loads of people in fluorescent vests with dogs lurking about.
  • All of the buildings are connected underground through an extensive shopping mall, which gets especially packed during lunch hour. Which leads us to the next item...
  • You could theoretically never emerge into the actual world with air and sky and all that business, but instead spend all of your time underground - the Tube connects to the mall, which connects to your office building. When did Canary Wharf Group decide that people should live like moles?
  • There are many more people underground than aboveground in Canary Wharf. Can you say "ant farm?"
  • There's a plaza with a bunch of clocks that were originally meant to show the times of major financial centers of the world, but now it just shows the time in London. A bit narcissistic, isn't it?
Photo: Lucy Hayward
It's seriously twilight zone over there, and I'm not sure I like it...

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