An American in London

London EnglandWhen you live somewhere, you become used to how things are. And when those things are no longer true, you take notice. Here are my musings from my last year’s visit to London:

– There IS such a thing as a clean public bathroom. Even in crowded places.

– Real coffee and the luke-warm brown liquid Americans call “coffee” are not one and the same.

– Tipping insanity exists only in America. Most other places will not make you spend half of your day trying to figure out who to tip, when and how.

– US fast food is way more disgusting than European fast food. Really, I ate greasy fish and chips in London without any complaints from my stomach. Here, just thinking about fast food creates a gastro-intestinal uprising.

– Talking about chips, aka. french fries. Turns out they can be made from just potatoes. One ingredient! American version of chips contain half of the periodic table of elements.

– And while we are on the subject, do NOT take hot fish and chips onto a tour bus. You will get yelled at for stinking up the bus. But on the other hand, you will be the only person who is not hungry. So yes, do take hot, smelly food on the bus. Getting yelled at is a small price to pay. We did it… Three times.

– Things older that 600 years exist and there are lots of them. Some of them you can actually touch. Just watch out for the guy wearing a big hat and carrying an even bigger gun.

– Tiny, hole-in-the-wall convenience stores in so so neighborhoods sell free range eggs and organic milk. So it IS possible to have a compassionate marketplace.

– Americans are litter bugs. We seem to assume there’s a tiny trash-picking fairy following us and so there is no need to walk the five steps to the trash can.

– There are a gazillion types of ciders. I tried about a dozen. Can’t remember my favorite… because you know… alcohol and brain cells don’t mix… need to try again.

– The real castles are nothing like the castles described in romance novels. They are cold, damp, drafty and not conducive to exposed flesh, because, you know… it’s cold, damp and drafty. Romance novels lead us to think castles were built so that the stable boys could seduce fair maidens. In reality, they were built to make it easier to see people approach… and kill them. Here’s an interesting historical tid-bit: when scouting for a place to settle, conquerors looked for the biggest hill around. If there were no such hill, they created one. Then they built the castle on top of that hill. And then they killed people. Oh wait, I take it back, killing people happened before during and after the whole hill experience. It’s just that after they built the castle, they could kill from afar… from the safety of their own home, so to speak. Why do I suddenly have a yearning to go play paint ball?

– One must read the train schedule very very carefully many times over. And then read it once again. And still, there is a risk of ending up on the other side of town without a direct route back. Yes, it’s possible to go one way, but not the other on railroad tracks. Don’t ask how. The tracks go both ways but the trains do not. We took a cab home. It cost us about 100 USD, but it was worth it.

– Visiting sacred places is an amazing experience. But I already knew that. I just wanted to point out that there was more to this trip than cider, deadly structures uhm, I mean castles, stinky buses and odd train routes. In all my travels, I would say England touched my heart the most. I hope to go back there sooner rather than later.

Hope you had fun reading this. Drop me a note about some of the humorous things you noticed during your travels.

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