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Travel Talk

Local hosts share their insights

Discover London’s unique hidden gems with a taxi driver

Meet Mark Monroe, London’s iconic taxi driver who’s been in the industry for 15 years! He is fascinated by the quirky hidden gems and he believes that they have very interesting stories behind them that can tell a lot about city's life.

Hundreds of thousands of visitors drove with Mark during those 15 years and we are sure, they all heard pretty impressive stories about London from a man who drives the streets of London every day. GlobeTrott Travel is excited to bring those stories to independent travelers in the format of a digital walking tour.

Are you are wondering why taxi drivers? London’s iconic black taxis are known all over the world and their drivers, also known as cabbies, provide services that are considered to be the best in the world. They spend hours studying the streets of this impressive city and they must have a thorough knowledge of the city before starting to work as cabbies. Can you just imagine what thorough knowledge means? It means that they know every corner, statue, and brick on the street and can tell fascinating stories that only cabbies know.

We sat down with Mark and asked him a couple of questions about his profession, the tour that he developed for GlobeTrott Travel, and London. Enjoy!

For those who might not know that, what is so special about London cab drivers? How and why are they different from all the other cab and taxi drivers in the world?

Mark: To become a London taxi driver or ‘Cabbie’ I had to enter a process called "The knowledge". The examination to become a London cabbie is possibly the most difficult test in the world — demanding years of study to memorize the city’s labyrinth of 25,000 streets and any business or landmark on them.

How do you hunt the secrets and hidden gems in London? How do you find out about them?

Mark: When I was studying “The Knowledge” the examiners would make you go out and find the most peculiar points of interest in London, also many other taxi drivers have shared their knowledge with me, some hidden gems I have just stumbled upon whilst driving around London.

London's smallest police station by Mark Monroe

You have an interesting motto “Keep your eye on the doughnut, not the hole”. Why do you think it is important or way more interesting to get to know the quirky side of London?

Definitely keep your eye on the doughnut! Don’t waste your time pursuing something that isn’t there. I love all the famous tourist attractions in London but I was always fascinated with the quirky hidden gems. They seemed to have a much more interesting story behind them.

Savoy Court Lane by Mark Monroe

What would be the main 3 reasons you would say it is “A MUST” to visit London?

London has a vibe like no other city. London is an old city with a preserved history that can be seen all around you. London is a city that just keeps giving, as Samual Johnson wrote “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life”

What do you like about sharing your stories and interesting facts about London with travelers and other curious minds? What is it that you like about being a local storyteller?

A few years ago, I started a YouTube Channel partly as a way of documenting everything I’ve learned about London. I wanted to share that knowledge with other people and not let it just go to waste. The best reaction I can get is when people tell me they’ve learned something new, something they hadn’t known before. If I get that reaction I know I’ve done a good job.

Mark’s hidden gems tour is already available on GlobeTrott Travel app. Mark will guide you to places such as London's smallest square, London's oldest restaurant, he will tell you quirky stories about farting gas lamp and the quirky side of the Savoy hotel driveway. Download the app and explore London with ease while feeling like a local friend is showing you around.

App is available in app stores. Download now.


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