London Comments

Old May 14th, 2005, 04:33 AM
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London Comments

Iíve made a brief visit to London, mostly for business and stayed at the Hotel St. Ermin, as a described in another post. Here are some general comments rather than a blow-by-blow description.

1. Many people love London. I am not one of them. I like London but donít love it. It is too familiar. We are inheritors of the British culture. London is us. When I travel, I want different culture, different language, different art, architecture, design scenery, etc. However, I certainly can understand why some people love London. It is very, very pleasant for a huge city. If I had to live abroad for 3 months, London would be my choice (Except for Venice). As a tourist, though, I prefer other places.

2. There were two big surprises. The first is how friendly and helpful everyone is. London didnít meet the stereotype of the reserved Brit. Strangers smiled, talked to and would spontaneously help you if you look lost or confused.

3. Surprise #2. The food was terrific. We had heard that London food was much improved but were still surprised. We had two of our best meals ever at the Cinnamon Club and the Lightship.

4. We had afternoon tea at several places. The Orangery had a very nice environment but the food was a downer, blah cucumber sandwiches and second rate scones and jam. In contrast, we stopped for a quickie at House of Frasier, a second tier department store, and had terrific scones with the best jam Iíve ever encountered. But donít go there for any special atmosphere. Oddly though, we never had a really good cup of tea anywhere. Must be a lost art there.

5. London is outrageously expensive. General rule: you spend pounds there like dollars back home. In other words, everything is double. The only real exception was pubs, where drinking cost about the same as I pay at home. And the beer is, of course, far better. And bitter.

6. We managed to save some by planning. We got the National Rail 2-for-1 coupons. That saved up $45 dollars going to St. Paulís and Tower of London alone. Our visit was short, but they could easily save $200 for a week visit where you visit many attractions. Also, all attractions were more expensive than the guidebooks say, since they raise the process every year (according to one of the tellers at the Tower of London).

7. You need a National rail ticket to use the coupons, so we took the Southern train rather than the express from Gatwick. It was fast and easy. Personally, I see no real to spend the extra $16 (a couple) to take the express in order to arrive 10 minutes faster.

8. We also saved money by booking the Lightship through Toptable. This gave us a 50% food discount, which we promptly threw away by ordering drinks before dinner. With tax and service, the 2 drinks cost us $28. At the Cinnamon Club two drinks cost us $32. At a pub, you can get *doubles* for $5. Moral: do your drinking before going to eat. Also note: if you ask for water, you will get bottled water that will add about $9 to your bill.

To be continued.
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Old May 14th, 2005, 07:22 AM
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I'll be staying at Jolly St Ermin's next week, would love to hear your comments on it.
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Old May 14th, 2005, 07:24 AM
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Sorry, I just saw your other thread on your review on Jolly St Ermin's. Thanks

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...p;tid=34619003
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Old May 14th, 2005, 09:38 AM
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I guess your post proves that saying about the eye of the beholder....I am very familiar w/Boston a US city often compared to London and I could not have found the London experience to be more different!! There is another saying that goes something like "Two completely different cultures divided by a common language" Not sure of the exact phrase, but I was taken aback by how *different* London was. Oh and BTW, I loved it!!
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Old May 14th, 2005, 10:50 AM
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>We are inheritors of the British culture. London is us.<

Balderdash.

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Old May 14th, 2005, 11:13 AM
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I find no similarity between London and any U.S. city I've been too. Sadly much of our "culture" is finding its way there--Starbucks, McDonalds, and various other chains. As far as everything else is concerned, I love the differences I see and feel, which is why we go there every chance we get.
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Old May 15th, 2005, 02:06 AM
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" find no similarity between London and any U.S. city I've been too."

Let's see. People look the same, dress the same and speak the same. Many of the stores are the same as we see at home. The culture is the same. The food is he same. Their great books and art are our great books and art. The building and store fronts mostly look the same. Sure there are some diffeerences, but there is far more regional variation withing the US than there is between the US and London.

You can't any of this about Rome, Venice, Florence. Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, Lisbon, Istanbul, etc. etc.

If you think that There is a major difference between London and us, then you have no perspective or real understanding of culture.

PS The notion that Boston is the US city most like London is bizarre. What dimbulbt would ever say that?
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Old May 15th, 2005, 02:10 AM
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">We are inheritors of the British culture. London is us.<

Balderdash."

Well, gee, this was a well-reasoned and and highly insightful comment.

Here's an honest question. Does this Ira person have a life?. I don't think that a single thread has ever been started on Fodors where he doesn't feel compelled to open his yap, usually with pointless blather like this.
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Old May 15th, 2005, 02:23 AM
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To a degree, I suppose I agree with you that London is a great deal like say New York or any other big American city.

I think the reason many feel that way is because of the common language. You can read the signs, you can ask questons of the clerks in the Underground, you can watch the telly and yes one would have to say that pre 1776 American history is to a large degree British history insofar as the inheritance of some of our institutions (but clearly not all).

One also gets the feeling that many of the problems of the American large cities have become, unfortunately, to infiltrate into London including problems such as crime in some areas. I have also read a thread on the BBC web site where a shopping mall in the UK is now banning folks wearing baseball caps and hooded sweatshirts. Wonder where they got that from.

Also the fact that if you walk down the street you see McDonald's, Burger King, Pizza Hut, KFC, the Gap, 7-11's, signs for Coca Cola etc.

It is clear that many youngsters and teens do like to emulate some of the things the Americans have imported again somewhat to the chagrin of their elders.

But believe me, if I blindfolded you and turned you loose in London without telling you where you were, you would immediately know you are not in the United States.

However, let me say this, if I did the same and turned you loose in Toronto, you would not realize you were in another country. As a matter of fact, many of our films and television shows are filmed in Canada, not in the UK.

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Old May 15th, 2005, 02:34 AM
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My impressions were very different when I visited London at three different points in time. First time was 1972, second 1990, and third 2004. At each visit, London seemed a large leap closer to American culture than the time before.
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Old May 15th, 2005, 03:46 AM
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The first time I visited London I did feel a little disappointed that it seemed so similiar to the US - Boston actually, where I had just flown in from. Many buildings, especially churches were of essentially the same design. This is no surprise as it was people from England who settled Boston, which is in New England - duh, I wonder how it got that name. So Imhornet, since you are the one who started this thread saying London and the US are so similiar, which city do you think it's most like?.

HOWEVER, I only spent a couple days there that first time, and the next time (and all subsequent visits) I have not had that feeling. Once you spend any time in London, really look around it's very different.
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Old May 15th, 2005, 03:56 AM
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>If you think that There is a major difference between London and us, then you have no perspective or real understanding of culture. <

Balderdash and sheepdip.
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Old May 15th, 2005, 04:41 AM
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Why, Ira! You've just given your version of cussing like a sailor. (I like your way better.)

I think London is still different enough from the States to make it a visit to a foreign country! However, and sadly in some respects, the world culture is homogenizing. This global village stuff is starting to look real.

Many people go abroad and seek out those experiences and parts of a country that have been Americanized, and then complain that "it just wasn't that different." I am NOT accusing you of that, Imhornet, just stating a fact as it is often presented in this forum.

Has anyone read "The Accidental Tourist?" Some people plan their trips around familiar (homelike)restaurants or experiences. Their motives vary, but the end result is always the same: their trip is never as satisfying as it would have been if they'd embraced new experiences instead of trying to eliminate them.
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Old May 15th, 2005, 05:00 AM
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>Has anyone read "The Accidental Tourist?"
Yes

>Some people plan their trips around familiar .....

Reminds me of the time I was eavesdropping (sorry, couldn't help overhearing..) on a conversation among some folks who were traveling through Europe on business:

"The London Hilton was so British".
"Yes, and the Paris Hilton is so French".
"Agreed. The Berlin Hilton was so German, and the Hilton in Amsterdam is so very Dutch".

So very TW3.

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Old May 15th, 2005, 05:46 AM
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Hey, everyone has a right to their opinions! Imhornet, thanks for taking the time to share yours.

I have to say I disagree with a lot of what you say, which I'm entitled to do, but wouldn't it be boring if we all saw the world the same way?

I do think that London can seem similar to many US cities on the surface (especially in terms of appearances - fashion, architecture, language spoken) but I believe that the differences are more numerous than the similarities and the outlook of our two peoples are very different, as is our approach to life, the universe and everything. We share much of our history, yes, but our present is not quite as homogenous.

Certainly, comparing countries like Italy, Spain, Portugal, Turkey to the US makes it easier to spot the many differences - there they are on the surface as well as deeper down...
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Old May 15th, 2005, 05:55 AM
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"We had heard that London food was much improved but were still surprised"

I'm not quite sure what age you're living in. London has some of the world's finest restaurants. You seem overly precious about everything. You remind me of the sort of person who'll complain about everything and lives in a caravan (or perhaps you call it a trailer?). What do you expect? A city comprises many things, and Venice? You couldn't get more touristy.
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Old May 15th, 2005, 05:56 AM
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I, for one, see no reason for further explanation from ira for saying "balderdash" to "London is us". Anyone who thinks London and any city in the US are just alike needs to be spoken to in far more explicit words than that one by ira.

Sure there are similarities, but no one in his right mind could say San Francisco and New York are the same, yet, surely anyone would find more differences between either of them and London! If a person were blindfolded and somehow tricked onto a plane and then plunked down in London, can anyone seriously believe he'd think he was in Peoria when the blindfold came off? Or even in New York? These sound like ideas coming from people who have never even been to London, but are only suspecting because we speak a "somewhat" common language, everything there is just like "us".
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Old May 15th, 2005, 06:33 AM
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Imhornet continues his in the box review of London here:

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...p;tid=34619481

Imhornet, you would have been better served to have tacked your 9. through 13. onto this thread or to have given your follow up post a more illuminating title than "London Review."

That you expected London to be full of stodgy, reserved people and dull food is an indication that you were working off of greatly outdated stereotypes.

I'm with Kavey, all opinions are welcome, but you're going to encounter some disagreeing ones. You have taught me something new. I have never heard Harrod's foodhall described as inexpensive nor the exterior of Harrod's described as a good place for watching good looking women pass by.
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Old May 15th, 2005, 06:41 AM
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I'll tell you a funny story...several years ago I was on a queue at a London underground station and the clerk was trying to explain to a family which evidently spoke and understood very little English the advantage of buying a family travelcard for the day rather than 3 single fares...he kept asking them if they were going to use the tube again that day. After about 3 or 4 minutes he gave up and sold them what they had asked for.

I stepped up to the window and said in my best American English, "I should like a seven day zone 1 travelcard." He looked at me and said bloody foreigners, they just don't have a clue."
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Old May 15th, 2005, 06:50 AM
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The day London becomes like any American city is the day I stop going there. What a tragedy that would be.
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