Here are a few observations about London thus far:
*** The people of London are gifted with super speed. I have been in big cities before and I have never seen anything like this. It is as though they are moving in fast forward all of the time and this is their natural pace. Impressive!
*** London has a great sense of pride in its history. The composition of the city is very telling about the character of this nation. It is hard to get your bearings in the city because you are looking at two cities at once. From Westminster Abbey, you can see the new mammoth IMAX building which is made of glass. You are on London Bridge and the Tower of London is on one side and there are skyscrapers on another. They feel no need to tear down the Tower of London to make room for corporate entities just because it is not an active site anymore. They love this city and its rich history and while they are happy to embrace modern architecture and all of the benefits of the digital age, they are not going to sacrifice their land to do it.
*** London is ultra green!!!! I am happy to report that London is a green city. If you drive in a low-emissions zone, then you must pay a fine. Green appears to be the force behind every major marketing campaign I have seen. We could learn a lot in the States from their efforts-going green does not mean sacrifice or low quality. (I will talk more about this when I blog about the food here.)
*** I never thought I would be a subway girl, but I am rocking the tube! This is the most dangerous place in the city if you are not from London. You will get run down. They don't mean anything by it, they just don't understand that with great superpowers comes great responsibility.
*** Coolest thing I have ever seen happened on the tube. There are escalators 2 people wide all over the place. If you want to ride down the escalator, you stand on the right side. If you want to run down the escalator, you take anything in your way out on the left side. Try and imagine it. It is like the running of the bulls on the left side. You can get at least 12x as many people down the escalator in this manner than if you take the slowpoke ride on the right side. Trust me, you only stand on the left side once before you get the point.
*** Londoners not only drive on the opposite side of the road, they walk on the opposite side too!
*** London loves its literature! This is not surprising given its rich literary history, but to see adverts for books on the tube walls and on signs in the city just tickles me pink! You see this very occasionally in big cities in the States, but in general, publishers do not pay to advertise to the average Joe like this because they do not get the bang for their advertising buck. Again, their is much we can learn here.
*** Shopping in the heart of the city is very much like shopping on Federal Hill back home. You have one store for your meats, one for your pastries and breads, one for your paper products, ... you get my point. It's fun, but it can be a little tiring too-especially when you have a packed schedule. I never thought I would appreciate the convenience of the chain stores soooooooooooooo much. Makes me feel a little bad because I love supporting the local store.
*** Sunday is still sacred in London. The markets and major stores are open, but don't plan on going out to get that early cup of coffee and a paper because you will be in for a shock and a hungry belly.
*** It is just as diverse in London as it is anywhere in the States. I have spoken to local people of all nationalities since my arrival. It looks like we are not the only melting pot in the world anymore.
*** London is surprisingly animal and child free. I have seen one cat and 3 dogs in the entire city since I arrived-and trust me, I have spent the majority of my time outdoors. And everyone knows I can spot a gato from a mile away. We are learning that most people commute into the city because it is just too expensive to live here, so city dwellers consist of young singles for the most part.