Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Week 1 of the London Fog

I have a few minutes before heading out, so I may as well start this whole travel log thing. I've been in London for about a week now, but it actually seems like much longer. I'm already becoming attached to the city and beginning to feel less like I live here and am not just a tourist.

What strikes me most about London is the overwhelming history that seems to permeate every aspect of the city. New York has tons of history, of course, but the history must be sought out. In London, every corner has some significance, every park has been written about by some famous English author, every pub was home to Virginia Woolf, Dickens, or the like. The local Londoners, as well as the tourists, are fascinated by the history of this great city. Even to those who have lived here all their lives, London is magical and never quite conquered... but not in the same way as New York. New York is so big that no one can quite conquer it, but every facet of London, even the seemingly mundane, is in some way awe-inspiring and humbling.

One would think that 4 months is more than enough time to see and do everything in a city. But do everything worth doing in London... I would have to do everything. I'm taking a trip to Greenwich in a few days, then heading to the National Portrait Gallery for the evening, and (of course) finding a pub in Trafalgar Square afterwards. I've found that the best way to find things is to simply get lost. When I was searching for my new office, I stumbled upon St. Paul's Cathedral. On Saturday I went for a run, got lost, and found the Thames, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, and Hyde Park (I was very lost). 

So I guess I'll tell you about the very obvious and surface level aspects of the London culture that I've picked up on. Everyone is always on time. Strangers are friendlier. There is a very wide range of accents... but don't mention anyone's accent because it reflects education level. Pubs and bars serve food, but you order it all yourself at the bar. No tipping. Quids = bucks. No salads, just sandwiches. Anything not vegetarian is just called "meat." Beer is served by the pint. Don't try to keep up with the English when you're drinking... it's not possible.  Busses are actually very efficient. The tube is expensive and closes at 12:30 am. Last call at pubs is 11 pm. A full English breakfast consists of tea, "pudding" (pound cake), two fried eggs, sausage, and bacon. They love their fish and chips. Museums are free. Parks ("squares") are everywhere. Streets do not have numbers, are very windy, and no one seems to know the names of them. Everyone loves America and everyone loves Obama. 

That's all for now, but I'll update later. 

1 comment:

mjr said...

Good stuff. Look forward to the next. Have to get there someday. Enjoy.