Yesterday I got back from my London trip. It was one of those vacations where I didn't really plan anything ahead of time (except my plane ticket and hotel of course) so I didn't really know what I was going to do once I got there. I've been in big cities before and so in a lot of ways I knew what to expect. Still, there were a couple of things that were pretty surprising to me.
First, the bad so I can get that out of the way:
- There are smokers EVERYWHERE. It's disgusting. People don't smoke indoors, but they stand right outside of the door and it's just as bad. They also walk everywhere smoking so whenever I was outside and there were some people around I couldn't get away from it.
- The service. I didn't think it was going to be as bad as it was. Half the people I interacted with seemed like they couldn't be bothered to speak to me or even acknowledge I was there. I went to a restaurant and was seated and made to wait to order while people who arrived after me got seated and had their food served. It wasn't that bad everywhere and there were some good places, but I was still really surprised at how spotty it was.
- Some really weird lines queues I had to stand in. Like at the movies where there is no separate box office if you just want tickets. Or at the airport where they make you go through at least twice as many as I've been through at any other airport in America or Japan.
- I had such a hard time understanding and being understood by people. I really don't know how to account for this, but I would, for instance, go to cafe and order a cup or earl grey tea and the person would think I was asking for yogurt tea and look at me like I was a complete moron. Or I'd have someone on the street ask if I wanted to go on a bus tour and I'd just walk past and say "No thank you" and then the guy starts to ask me in Spanish as if I hadn't spoken English. I was also tripped up by the different phraseology in a lot of instances.
- And everything closes so dang early! I would have thought a city as big as London would stay awake past 8 or 9 PM.
Now for the good and surprising:
- Food. It was inexpensive, good quality, and there were vegetarian options everywhere and clearly marked on menus or packaging. I was a little worried I wouldn't have many options, but aside from some instances of bad service and one sub-par meal everything was pretty fantastic.
- Shopping. I went looking to buy books - used books - on several days, and after a few false starts I found some real gems in a couple of shops. I'd say that half my luggage was filled with books on my flight back, and it hardly cost me anything.
- All the free and tourist-y stuff. The British Museum, the London Eye, Hyde Park, Kew Gardens, the Prime Meridian - all that stuff and more I really enjoyed more than I thought I would.
Uhh, you know, this wasn't really the best format for me to talk about my trip. It makes it look like I had more bad experiences than good ones, but that is entirely not true. There were so many fun, serendipitous things that happened, like seeing the musical for Once, which is a great movie and which I hadn't known had been adapted. And I saw The Tempest (my favorite Shakespeare play) at the Globe Theatre just by chance because it had rained that day and some people must have given up their tickets. And then seeing a giant Pride parade and party at Trafalgar Square that I hadn't known was happening until I just walked into it.
Yeah. Good trip. Would go again.
Posted July 1st, 2013 at 6:58 AM by Overlord Drakow
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