11 October 2008
I have taken a break from things for the last two weeks. Most of that time I spent in the United Kingdom. Anyone who knows me doesn’t have to ask what my favorite city is.
They already know it’s London.
In the cult classic movie 84 Charing Cross Road, there is a line that says something along the lines of “people go to London looking for different things”.
Some go looking for the London of great literature, the London of Charles Dickens or Samuel Pepys. There is the London of Sherlock Holmes, and Queen Victoria, Perhaps they go looking for the London of Beatles fame, or chic “Cool Britannia”.”
I took a stroll Thursday night, from Waterloo Underground (Near the London Eye and Big Ben across the river) all the way down to the Millennium Bridge. I then stared across the river with Christopher Wren’s masterpiece St. Paul’s looming high in the twilight across the Thames. During the dark days of the blitz, Churchill ordered St. Paul’s protected at all cost. If it burned, many thought London might as well.
While walking, I heard no less than 4 languages besides English.
London is truly the crossroads of the World.
My wife says I should do a web page for those visiting London for the first time.
It can be daunting navigating any city of 7+ million. Add to this the language barrier. Churchill was right that the USA, and UK are two people only separated by a common language. I can tell some funny stories about learning the British definitions of subway, central reservation, and pram.
London is very expensive. Especially now that those of us coming from the sates are converting a third world currency. It takes $1.70 to buy one British pound (£). A good cheap hotel room will cost you around 100£ per night so you can do the math.
If you want to stay at the County Hall Marriott overlooking Big Ben, and the Houses of Parliament, that will set you back 300 quid a night (£). The back side of the same building houses the Premier travel Inn at 90£ per night, and while you will not look out at Big Ben, your gonna save a lot of money and believe me that is where the British people who are visiting their capital on business or pleasure are staying!
Walking along the South Bank, or across St’ James’s Park on a sparkling Autumn evening is pure heaven to me. St. James’s Park has been a park for over 400 years. I was very conscious of the fact that I was enjoying the soft Autumn sunshine, and cool breezes like so many, many generations of people before me. Some great, and famous, but most long lost to history, as I shall one day be.
If you think a 140$ per night hotel room entitles you to a full American breakfast with ice in your cokes, and a huge hot shower, then London is probably not for you. If someone speaking another language makes you nervous instead of curious, stay home.
If you’re like me, and love meeting people who have had a different life experience. If you think of yourself more as a citizen of Earth than any one country, then London is for you. If you go looking for the London of Dickens or Pepys, or Holmes, then the movie is right –
God save the Queen,