‘We’re going to walk 25km’: London tourists bemused by rail strikes | Travel & leisure

Çhris Hwa couldn’t believe his luck when he logged on to buy tickets for the Harry Potter theme park. “I thought it was my lucky day – there were so many tickets. Then I realized what was happening,” he said.

Hwa, who had flown from his home in Los Angeles to visit his sister in St John’s Wood, north London, became one of thousands of tourists caught up in the biggest rail strikes for three decades.

With the trip to the attraction near Watford abandoned, Hwa walked to Madame Tussauds with his sister Christine Schelander instead. “We were going to see the changing of the guard [at Buckingham Palace] but it’s too far to walk really.”

Outside the celebrity waxworks attraction in central London a large queue of bemused tourists was forming. Ben and Tam Green, and their daughters Harper and Bella, were on a lengthy trip from Australia with family, staying in Ledbury, Herefordshire. They had planned to arrive on Tuesday but came down on Monday instead due to the strikes, squeezing in a trip to Buckingham Palace inspired by the jubilee celebrations.

Ben and Tam Green with daughters Harper and Bella wait in the queue at Madame Tussauds
Ben and Tam Green with daughters Harper and Bella wait in the queue at Madame Tussauds. Photograph: Jill Mead/The Guardian

Ben said: “Now we’ve bought hop-on, hop-off bus tickets instead of taking the tube. The bus was very busy.” They planned to take the bus back to Ledbury, an hour longer than the train journey.

Sara Varela and her father, Carlos, had hoped to visit the Tower of London but faced a trek from their hotel in Baker Street. “We don’t know what we’ll do now,” said Sara. “It’s more than an hour’s walk. We might be able to take the bus.” Their flight from Gatwick leaves on Wednesday. “We really hope all this will be finished by then,” she added.

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At a nearby bus stop, puzzled tourists questioned the driver about its destination as a throng waited to get on.

Mihai Noaptes with his wife, Lonela, daughter Adina and son Theodor
Mihai Noaptes with his wife, daughter and son. ‘We need to find information about what is going on,’ he said. Photograph: Jill Mead/The Guardian

Around the corner, in Baker Street, Mihai Noaptes, his wife, Ionela, daughter Adina and son Theodor were about to go into the Sherlock Holmes Museum. They had to walk for 40 minutes from Camden in the heat but were more concerned about their flight home to Romania. “We are leaving tomorrow afternoon, going to Luton from Camden. We don’t know how we’ll get there if there’s still disruption. We need to find information about what is going on.”

A few doors down, a group of 41 students from La Mola high school in Alicante, Spain, were visiting the London Beatles Store after walking across town from Russell Square. They did not know about the strike action. “We’re going to walk 25 kilometers today, we’re a bit exhausted,” said student Magda Caceres.

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