London

Alright, awesome, I’m here. Uhhh. Jet lag is crazy. It’s about three in the morning here and nine at night in Chicago. So I’m wide awake, and probably won’t be able to sleep until we have to get up and do stuff. I sort of have internet access, seeing as how I’m here and all.

Let’s see, where to begin. Even on the airplane I was feeling like my mother and I were hopelessly American. We ended up making ourselves look pretty stupid at every turn. But whatever. We got here. And everyone was really polite, even if they didn’t work at the airport. If you asked them where something was, they wouldn’t just tell you, they would go out of their way and walk you there. And the Underground is amazingly efficient. It’s so much better than the El. I guess they’re so well timed that you can jump off one train and go straight onto another. However, you do have to “mind the gap.” There’s a couple inches in height difference between the train and the platform, which is kind of alarming sometimes. My only real complaint about it is that there are no elevators or anything, which was a problem when we were carrying our luggage. But still, people are amazingly nice. Mom asked someone who was also traveling if there were elevators anywhere, and when they said no and we began to lug our stuff up the stairs, the man turned around and started carrying it for us.

Other things I’ve noticed so far:

-There really are little notices painted by the curb that say “Look right.” Course, mom still almost got hit by a car because she was looking the wrong way.
-And while we’re on the subject, the cars go fast and do not slow down or care if it looks like you are about to walk into the street.
-Londoners really know how to cross the street. They’ve got it timed to the second, or so it would seem. The cars go by so fast, but the second there is a gap they’re gone, and even if a car is hot on their heels, they never get hit or even seem to be concerned. There are crossing lights and stuff, but people don’t pay any attention, and there are some intersections that don’t have them which I really found myself wishing that they did.
-There are a hell of a lot of Muslims here. I mean, it’s very diverse, every room I walk into I hear someone speaking French, and many things are also written in German, so I’m assuming there are a fair few of those around. We were also served by a woman from Brazil, a couple of Scottish people (or maybe they were Irish, it’s hard to tell sometimes), and a few Arabs. I’m staying in the Hilton, and I have not found a single WASP actually working there, aside from the Scot/Irish/whatever people. And on a hopefully not too racist note, all the black people here are business people. No gangstas. They all have very sleek black suits, well shined shoes, and a shiny black laptop. Sometimes rimless glasses as well. Really, the ghetto people here seem to be the Arabs.
-And for all their niceness and politeness, I do detect a hint of dislike or condescension. Mostly from the people that have to work with us, though…no surprises there. Waitresses and airline stewardesses, mostly. The people I relate to the most here really are the Arabs,since they’re not as confined culturally. At least, they’re more expressive and such. But at the same time, they just see me as a white person and some of them seem a little hostile as well.
-This is getting long.
-It’s COLD. I thought us Chicagoans were tough with the cold and wind, but I was shivering even though I was wearing a sweatshirt and jean vest, and there were people in t-shirts or less walking around comfortably. But as I made the comment to Mom: This is the kind of cold that they people who live here don’t feel. It’s inside of them too. I’m loving the British, I really do, but you got to admit that they’re kind of uptight and cold inherently.

Despite all that, I’m enjoying myself so far. We’re going on a Beatle walking tour or something tomorrow, and hopefully checking out some art galleries and such. Hopefully we’ll get more into the swing of things and get less touristy. Though I will be taking pictures…I didn’t have a camera today, and there was so much stuff I wanted to get a shot of.

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~ by madamespider on August 20, 2007.

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