London’s Paddington Station


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.

[tmt_info =””]Heavy-rail trains in England are operated by different companies, but the ticketing process is coordinated by just one website.  With a few searches on National Rail Enquiries, you can figure out how to get where you’re going by rail.[/tmt_info]

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.

[tmt_info =””]I have read that there is a statue of Paddington Bear, somewhere at Paddington Station.  Sadly, I didn’t know about it at the time, so I didn’t see it.[/tmt_info]

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.

[tmt_info =””]Service at Paddington Station dates back to 1838, while much of the modern station was built in 1854.  Tube lines began service to Paddington in 1863.[/tmt_info]

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