As my subway car rolled into Paddington Station, I felt a child-like thrill run through me. I couldn’t believe I was actually here, in the first London landmark I had ever learned about, where a lost bear from deepest, darkest Peru was discovered and befriended. Yes, when I was very young, Paddington Bear was my second-favorite stuffed animal, in a close race with Winnie the Pooh. I had heard the story a million times, about how he was discovered at Paddington Station, carrying a suitcase and wearing a tag that asked someone to “Please look after this bear.”
The bear, sadly, is fictional, but the Paddington Railway Station is quite real, and it provides a vital link in England’s transportation system. As an American, all of this train-riding is quite foreign — we just get in a car if we want to travel out into the countryside or hop on a plane to go to another city. But in Europe, trains are the way to go — not only because of the price of gasoline, but also because the railroads seem to go everywhere, and trains leave frequently.
As a result, stations like Paddington are quite crowded. Even so, I was able to easily figure out which train I wanted, and locate the appropriate track.
I was taking a Great Western train to Slough, then transferring to another train for the ride to Windsor. Because I had a London Pass and a Travelcard, both train rides were free. The Travelcard gave me access to the train, in the same way I used it for the Underground — you simply run it through the turnstile, it pops out the other side, you take the ticket, and the gate opens.
On the way back, I stopped at the Paddington Bear at Paddington Station kiosk, for a slightly overpriced souvenir. Leaving the station without taking home a Paddington Bear was out of the question.
The Underground station at Paddington is slightly separate from the heavy-rail trains. If you arrive by subway, you will need to take a short walk through passageways to get to the rail station.
The Paddington Underground station serves the Circle (yellow), District (green), Hammersmith & City (pink), and Bakerloo (brown) lines.