Having lived here for almost a year previously, people are usually surprised to hear I didn’t do an awful lot of “tourist” type stuff while I was here; just didn’t have the money. Living expenses were high for someone working in a sandwich shop.
Yesterday Sly and I jumped on the Underground and headed to the Tower of London, a location I’ve only ever passed under. The cost was an astounding 22 quid each but, arguably, worth it.
Visiting with a hoard of other tourists, of which I must include myself, is quite eye opening. The biggest thing I’ve found is the ettiquette, or better phrased the lack of, surrounding the way that people move through crowds.
Being North American, I find solace in movement on the right side of the walkway/trail/road as I wander from place to place. We’ve adapted by attempting to walk on the left in order stay in the flow. I’m not sure if other tourists are attempting the same or if, culturally, they just sort of wander in all sorts of different directions wherever they are going everywhere or just while on vacation.
And it’s frustrating as fuck. I dislike crowds to start with but dealing with this random movement has driven me batty on several occasions. I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to it.
Beyond that, London is just like any other large cities with a few major exceptions:
- Transit system throughout the country, let alone London, is amazing. Trains run on time, cost slightly more than a bus coach and are crazy fast in getting you where you want to go.
- Money is strange. In the touristy areas you’ll find all sorts of ways to be parted with your currency in outrageous fashion. Walk a half- to a click away and suddenly you’re able to feed two with a pint each for under 12 quid.
- Culture is taken seriously here. I’m not sure if it’s just because we live in a backwater that’s just barely reached a century in age or if we’re just a shitty city. It’s been interesting to talk with people who know of Calgary simply because of the Stamped. Interesting and embarrassing. I wouldn’t mind being able to take advantage of real, quality theater or even have access to different forms of art within the confines of our city. Perhaps it already exists and I haven’t seen it but until I’m told otherwise, Calgary is shit.
I’m glad we’re coming back to do another week here before leaving; always feels as though I’ve missed something important when I go.