Diane Trout (alienghic) wrote,
Diane Trout
alienghic

London



One thing that dampened my enjoyment of the city was a couple of days after arriving I got sick. Though I only had a fever for a 6-8 hours, the sinus infection lingered on through the rest of my trip. (And made the landing on the return flight quite painful).

One thing that rather immediately struck me was how many more bicycles there were, and the improved facilities compared to the US. There were usually bike lanes, with places for bicycles to get head starts when the lights changed. It seemed most riders were much more comfortable riding in the midst of traffic than here. A good number of cyclists had pollution masks. Not to mention, a significant number of bicycles were folders.

At one point my friends an I were waiting for a bus, and to pass the time I tried counting cars and bicycles. Where a car were four wheeled privately operated motor vehicles, I excluded buses, taxis, and motorcycles. In something on the order of 20 minutes I counted 42 cars and 15 bicycles. (Though since the street had two way traffic I might've missed vehicles on the other side of a bus currently passing in front of me. Also some of the bicycles may have been bike messengers instead of private transportation).

Another difference was how much denser the city was, with correspondingly smaller streets. The typical side street was the width of a large SUV (a SUV could drive down the street by putting both its tires on the sidewalk).

Major arterial streets were a little smaller than the typical arterial street near my apartment. (For those familiar with Pasadena, think Del Mar). The guide books claimed how horrible traffic in London was, but to me it seemed a bit lighter than here in LA.

The London underground (AKA the tube), the London metro system worked well, train service was frequent, and allowed one to relatively easily travel between all of central London. When we were looking for the sherlock homes museum I even discovered that the Baker Street station was a restored 1861 underground station.

As an aside, I learned why some people targeting the Gap were using the slogan "Mind the gap"--it's a common warning to watch your step when exiting a tube carriage.

Since Europe is relatively dense with a host of different languages and cultures, while traveling on the tube I heard a number of different languages. Also for a commuter who has memorized their trip traveling by tube doesn't require much mental effort, so I saw many people reading.

Although I think I do like LA's decision to use the honor system for its metro system, having to funnel everyone through turn-stiles is kind of annoying.

Another thing that struck me, the 10 GBP note has a picture of Charles Darwin on it, nor does it have the word "God" anywhere on it. (Unless it's micro-printed on it somewhere.) Here in the US we have enough trouble keeping Darwin in the schools.

On Sunday we went to Hyde park, which I think is about a square mile. One corner I found quite entertaining, it was called the "speakers corner", and was a space where people could setup the soap boxes (or step ladders) and try their hand at public speaking.

Being Sunday there were a number of religious types, but there was one guy happily critiquing Bush, Blair, the Iraq war, and America's haughtiness at its assumption that it's culture is the superior one. (Though I did think he didn't understand the problem with obesity in the US is class based).

Another interesting thing was staying in hostels, it provided much more opportunity to interact with people from other places. (Most continental Europeans thought London wasn't the best city to start with when exploring Europe, also one Italian was rather disapproving of English food).

As for touristy things, we went to the British museum and saw the Rosetta stone, as well as a large number of other Egyptian treasures shipped back in the late 1800s to early 1900s. We saw two churches, St. Paul's cathedral and Westminster Abbey (and I even managed to avoid bursting into flames, or at least sarcasm for the churches). Westminster abbey also served as a memorial for people considered important, so there was a section of memorials for famous poets, writers, and engineers in addition to royalty.

I managed to go see the tower of London while my companions went shopping. On an earlier day we all stopped by, but they'd already closed, but we did then see on of the Roman walls that were built around Nondoninium. A 2000 year old wall, around here 200 years is considered ancient.

Also one day I went and visited soulsong, I really enjoyed meeting her and hope she still wants to be friends . As I was mildly sick through the whole trip it seems likely that I may have given her whatever germ that was afflicting me by visiting

Also on the ride out to see her, I was also able to see some bits of the green English countryside. At her flat I was interested to see a combination washer dryer and her refrigerator is the size of units we consider "office" sized here. (Half the size of the typical household refrigerator.)

The last thing about London, I heard how London was supposed to be dreary and cloudy. While there it was sunny the entire time. I feel cheated, here I was trying to escape LA weather, and it followed me.

Considering I spent the past week doing quite a bit of walking, not eating as much, and being sick I expected that I might loose weight. When I left I my last measurement was 108 kg, when I returned it was 104.2 kg though it has bounced up to 104.8 for today. I am hoping though that it starts fluctuating in the 104s.

I'm getting tired of being a fat American.

I think one of the things that helped me drop 3 kg, was restaurants in Britain serve much smaller portions. For instance an omelette seems to be about half the size of one in the US, also cheese on omelettes is optional, not so here. Although it's not all nutritional happiness in Britain, they really like white bread there.
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