London - what surprised you the most?

Jan 28th, 2006, 06:33 AM
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London - what surprised you the most?

I had the chance to travel in Europe and Africa but I am about the do my first trip to London.

Next May after 15 days in Paris we will take the Eurostar and cross the Channel, we already found a flat in Soho, so at least that part of the puzzle is solved.

Our stay will only be 7 days so I am working hard on our itinerary even thought we will probably not followed it religiously.

Now my questions: on your first trip to London what surprised you the most? What was not the way you imagined? So good or bad let me know.
LuckyLuc is offline  
Jan 28th, 2006, 07:41 AM
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What surprised me the most was how many lovely parks there are in London as well as all little "nook and cranny" gardens you see everywhere. I've always made it a point on each of my subsequent trips to spend as much time as possible visiting St. James Park and Regent's Park, my two favorites.
bettyk is offline  
Jan 30th, 2006, 12:29 PM
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The sea of people and cars really surprised me. And also the food turned out to be really good, quite a surprise after all the bad reputation.
Kintore is offline  
Jan 30th, 2006, 12:36 PM
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I was surprised to find French people jumping the queue even in London. I had seen it in Paris, but imagine my surprise at the Tower of London, where I had not expected to have to say, "J'ai fait la queue avant vous." Now I arm myself with that useful French phrase everywhere I go.
sandykins is offline  
Jan 30th, 2006, 02:10 PM
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I was also surprised to find how much I liked the food. I had some terrific meals in London (after spending 8 days in Paris before hopping on the Eurostar that was quite a lot to live up to!).

luveurop is offline  
Jan 30th, 2006, 02:16 PM
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Easy. How friendly the people were. Brits have a reputation as being highly reserved. No so! They among the friendliest I've ever met.

lmhornet is offline  
Jan 30th, 2006, 02:21 PM
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What surprised me was that London completely lived up to my expectations. Being a voracious reader since a young age (including a great deal of Brit lit) I had a pretty well rounded fantasy London in my head. I was a little worried that I was too excited. I was in no way let down. Loved it!

Oh and I concur that the food was very, very good!

Enjoy your trip.
cpd is offline  
Jan 30th, 2006, 02:38 PM
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Flowers... flowers flowers everywhere! Here in the US, we tend to have lawns in front of our house, especially where I grew up in Miami. Flowers were few and far between. In London, however, every little townhouse, no matter how narrow, had a little flower garden in front, and likely one in back, as well, brimming with all colors of flowers. There were flowers in pots hanging from the lampposts, flowers in little circles in the streets, flowers everywhere! I loved it
GreenDragon is offline  
Jan 30th, 2006, 03:17 PM
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Another vote for the food in London. I don't know how the UK got such a reputation for bland, boring food, but I've had very few bad meals in the UK. The gardens were also a nice surprise.
P_M is offline  
Jan 30th, 2006, 03:26 PM
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Having lived near the Canadian border a large part of my life and visiting there often, I imagined that London would be like Canada, and that Canada was like London. WRONG!

Sure, there are similarities, but London was WAY cooler than I thought it would be. The food is great, the people are friendly (but surprisingly to me I didn't find them AS friendly as Parisians!) and I even had one woman at the bus stop ask me if I was from the states, and then say "May I ask you a question?" I said "Sure," and she said words to the effect of "What is going on with your president?" I said "I wish I could answer that." Sometimes British candor just comes out of nowhere!

We loved walking along the south Bank of the river near Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, walking the Millenium Bridge towards St. Pauls Cathedral, a flight on The Eye, Westminster, Trafalgar, and going to the British Library's special documents room. We also went to Les Miserables in Picadilly one night. WOW.

It's gorgeous. It's somewhat expensive. But it's worth it.


jules4je7 is offline  
Jan 30th, 2006, 03:28 PM
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what surprised me about london, was ME! and how long it took to get used to looking RIGHT when crossing the streets. really amazing it is so embedded in one's safety habits to take your "last look" in the "wrong" direction there.

luckily, the painted prompts on street have probably saved many lives!

also pleasantly surprised by the good food.
lincasanova is offline  
Jan 30th, 2006, 03:42 PM
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I was struck by how incredibly CHEAP everything was. Having come from the Continent, I could hardly get over the fact that my fish & chip dinner cost ten bob, and a beer was a florin. A tanner would buy a cuppa (3d for a parkin), my new suit cost 40 Guineas, and even a pack of Player's Navy Cut was only 2/6. I think the hotel was £12/7/6.

Of course, when I got back home to Kansas City, a gallon of regular gas was 17¢ in 1963.
Passepartout is offline  
Jan 30th, 2006, 04:42 PM
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The food--everything I ate was wonderful. Even the ready made things at the markets. Great Indian food everywhere too!

The people were much friendlier than I expected.

Pubs--you read about them, they sound fun, but are even neater than I imagined. Great beer too.

Starbucks on every corner...literally. I got sort of sick of seeing them, it seemed so opposite of what I expected.

Traffic--I knew it was a big city, but it was worse than I thought it would be, and the city was pretty dirty. (To me, it was almost worse than Rome.)

London, IMHO, was more "modern" than I expected. Did not have that European feeling I get in Paris.

I do like London though, but the things that surprised me were things I was not expecting. Everything else (Tower, Westminster, etc. etc.) exceeded my expecations. Have fun!
StephCar is offline  
Jan 30th, 2006, 04:56 PM
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I was surprised by the juxtaposition of the ultra-modern with the very old. Then I remembered that Prince Charles complained about the modern elements in the city, and I knew what he was referring to. But I loved the contrast. It grounded the history of the city and yet showed its modernism.
travelgirl2 is offline  
Jan 30th, 2006, 05:30 PM
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I'd agree with lincasanova, I was amazed how difficult it was to cross the street. Luckily a British friend we were traveling with, put his arm out to stop me from walking in front of a car. I too, learned to read the painted arrows.
Although it is a big city it has a comfortable small feeling about it and very friendly.

Have a great trip.
travelatte is offline  
Jan 31st, 2006, 04:12 AM
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"Author: P_M
Date: 01/30/2006, 07:17 pm
Another vote for the food in London. I don't know how the UK got such a reputation for bland, boring food"

The reputation was *highly* deserved until 20-25 years ago. Then the immiigrants started coming en mass and changed everything.
lmhornet is offline  
Jan 31st, 2006, 04:18 AM
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+ The humour. I adored it. You can take my Micky any day in London.

- In bars: they are so reserved! I ended up meeting everyone else except the English.
kleeblatt is offline  
Jan 31st, 2006, 09:21 AM
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Just back. loved it all. Also a vote for the food. Much closer to 'home' food. Pubs are great here too, but there is something about English pubs. A vote for Pret a handy, and the mushroom soup was very appreciated on cold afternoons. Loved that you just can be walking and suddenly, 'bang' another historical site that you've read about your whole life.

Windsor castle was also great to see. Buckingham Palace was nothing like I had pictured in my mind. I thought possibly one of the more boring buildings in the city.
aussiedreamer is offline  
Jan 31st, 2006, 10:26 AM
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What surpised me the most during my first visit is that I didn't love it. I adore British history and thought myself quite the Anglophile...I expected to visit and want to move there...but I didn't.

missypie is offline  
Jan 31st, 2006, 11:23 AM
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The government issued sign in a park that said, "People who do not clean up after their animals are rude, inconsiderate and unhygienic."
We'd use "curb your dog"
kamahinaohoku is offline  

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