Believe it or not I’m in London. In an internet cafe/Subway store in Tottenham Court Road. This is my fourth day here (not in the cafe, it’s my second day in the cafe 🙂 and so far I have made the following observations about life in the English capital at the start of the 21st century.
- London drivers are insane. I mean seriously insane. If someone drove like that in Perth the police wouldn’t try to pull them over, they’d open fire.
- It’s extremely difficult to get a decent orange and mango juice. On the rare occasion I’ve actually been able to find anything labled “Orange and Mango” it’s turned out to also have banna, apple and even stranger things in it which means it’s not orange and mago and doesn’t taste like orange and mango. And I’m not just talking about small bottles, I can’t even find cartons in the supermarkets (or at least in the local Sainsbury’s which to be honest is the only place I’ve looked).
- There do not seem to be any rubbish bins in central London. I spent a good part of Saturday afternoon wandering the streets near the guildhall looking for somewhere to dump a not-orange-and-mango juice bottle and had to give up and take it hme with me.
- Edmonton (where I’m staying with my Uncle) is not a good part of town. It’s rather like the Jasmine Allen estate off The Bill, but with shorter buildings. The local market looks like something out of James Cameron’s Dark Angel – minus anyone as good looking as Jessica Alba. The local police station is all barricaded up, obstentiously for renovations but I suspect this is just a cover so the bobbies can hide from the locals.
- English notes are still made of paper. This means that when you carelessly shove them into your pocket they get all crumpled up and have to be flattened out before you can use them to buy anything – unlike Australian polymer notes that just pop back into shape.
- There are Starbucks everyehere. I always thought those gags about Starbucks in The Simpsons were exagerated. They’re not
- The tube (underground railway system for those not in the London know) is pretty quick, clean, and efficient, but the stations (particularly the big multi-line ones) are like rabbit warrens. And all the pedestrian tunnels are one way, so to get around from platform to platform you have to follow all the arrows or have security guards descend on you with batons (all right, probably not with batons :). I changed trains from the Picadilly line to the Central line at Holborn the other day which involved going down a tunnel, then another tunnel, then into another tunnel, then up some stairs, then down another bendy tunnel, then down a sloping tunnel, then up the other side of the sloping tunnel, then down another tunnel, then down some stairs and then through another tunnel and out on the platform. This was in the middle of a mass of hurring people – I seriously felt like we were all rats in some kind of maze 🙂
- The British branch of Burger King (Hungry Jacks to us Aussies) cannot make a burger to save their lives. I had one yesterday when no other cullinary option presented itself. I had to open the burger to see if there was any meat in it – there was but it was completely tasteless. And you’d think that you couldn’t mess up fries, but somehow they managed to make them like eating hot crunchy cardboard. No detectable flavour at all.
That said I’m having a great time 🙂 Just went to the British Museum to see the Rosetta Stone and Sutton Hoo finds which were impressive – but nothing on the central courtyard. The building was constructed as a big square with a large courtyard in the middle. For the millenium they decided to plonk the historic reading room of the British Library (which was being rebuilt elsewhere) in a specially constructed block in the middle, then roof the entire courtyard over with glass. It’s incredible. You step out of the already large rooms of the museum into this gigantic dazzling white space (the walls of the museum have been cleaned up and the library shell and courtyard floor are marble) which just completely smacks you in the face. It’s HUGE. Then when you’ve come to terms with massive expanse, you walk across it into the reading room, and get smacked in the face again because it’s so massive as well! It’s one of the most incredible spaces I’ve ever been in in my entire life 🙂
I’ve also done the Museum of London, Victoria Station and taken lots of photos around Battersea Power Station.
(If this is cut off suddenly it’s because I’m out of time on my machine 🙂