London - what surprised you the most?

Jan 31st, 2006, 12:04 PM
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The amount of black dirt that collects in my nose.
Mucky is offline  
Jan 31st, 2006, 12:16 PM
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<The amount of black dirt that collects in my nose>

I was born in London but grew up about 75 miles out of the city, in the country, but moved back to London just over 10 years ago. When I first got here I too was quite disgusted at the black dirt that I was daily collecting in my nose (I used to visit regularly but it wasn't something I'd noticed before).

What surprised me most? The fact that after 4-5 months it stopped, and has never happened since!! I guess even in short spaces of time, our bodies evolve and adapt!!

There's good and bad everywhere and I'm pleased that some of you had better experiences here than you were expecting
Tallulah is offline  
Jan 31st, 2006, 01:17 PM
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How "politely friendly" people were. Not at all the stereotyped, stand-offish Brits we usually picture.

Not overly familiar, but genuinely helpful and friendly.
RufusTFirefly is offline  
Jan 31st, 2006, 02:06 PM
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totally agree with comments on the very good quality of food available--biggest surprise---corn in a tuna sandwich! Don't avoid places like Harrods for special snacks!
kygogirl is offline  
Jan 31st, 2006, 02:37 PM
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the WONDERFUL EHTNIC FOOD! I didn't expect to eat so much Indian and Chinese food! Yum, yum! We ate at Haandi (136 Brompton Road near Harrods) twice in 7 days.

How EXPENSIVE it was in London. I knew it wasn't cheap, but whoa.

How much I LOVED London. It's definitely a city I want to return to. I loved the food, the people, the sights, the shops, and just the 'feel' of it.
vivienleigh is offline  
Jan 31st, 2006, 02:53 PM
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I adore London and also find the people generally wonderful and friendly, but what suprises me every time is just how crowded and loud London streets are. On a recent trip I found it nearly impossible to walk next to a friend and hold a conversation when we were on any of the main thoroughfares during the day. This was particuarly obvious because we then travelled to Paris and had no problems walking and talking.
zeppo2 is offline  
Jan 31st, 2006, 10:32 PM
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Ditto the food, the street-crossing challenges, pubs and the demeanor of the natives.

Adding: Although I was advised by a former Londoner to avoid the tube at all costs ("absolutely Victorian," she said, and not in a good way), it was one of my favorite things about the city. It seems everyone rides the Underground - suits, pensioners, young kids, families and tourists. Great cross-section of the city as well as astoundingly good service, IMHO.

Also, buying a newspaper from a REAL, LIVE PERSON. No vending machines, just people who take your money and chat a little, then hand you today's edition.
Worktowander is offline  
Feb 1st, 2006, 02:48 AM
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Worktowonder, it sounds like your old friend hasn't lived here in a while - the Tube is much cleaner and more efficient than it used to be.

I must say you're all being very generous about my home town. Come one, have a good old b*tch. I won't mind!
Kate is offline  
Feb 1st, 2006, 05:09 AM
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- In bars: they are so reserved! I ended up meeting everyone else except the English.

It's not being reserved, we generally just don't want to talk to anyone else! When I visited the US I found it quite annoying that people tried to speak to us all the time, even while we were eating a meal. I really don't want to make smalltalk with people I don't know, and I don't feel inclined to let everyone know where I'm from! We just consider it rude I'm afraid.
Charley1965 is offline  
Feb 1st, 2006, 06:44 AM
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Charley - I think you're provng the case for English reserve!

Actually, I think Londoners are genrally a bit more private/rude than other English people. London's such a mentally crowded place full of workers and visitors that we tend to stick to our own. Much like New Yorkers and Parisians. Big city syndrome. I'm always amazed when I venture out of London to other parts of England that people in shops and bars are so friendly and chatty!
Kate is offline  
Feb 1st, 2006, 06:50 AM
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For a city with a lot of mass transit that people make great use of, London's air quality leaves a lot to be desired.

And I surprised myself by my ability to use the Tube system without any problems whatsoever. Great design!

bookchick is offline  
Feb 1st, 2006, 08:14 AM
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Tallulah, I really hope that your body hasn't adapted so much that the black stuff is now in your lungs....yuk !

Mucky is offline  
Feb 1st, 2006, 09:06 AM
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Mucky, believe me, that would be the least of the problems my body has to deal with... It's generally too busy consoling my liver!
Tallulah is offline  
Feb 1st, 2006, 11:55 AM
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Mucky is offline  
Feb 1st, 2006, 12:04 PM
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I was surprised by how friendly and kind everyone was on the streets and on the tube. I guess I expected people to just go about their business, not noticing others in the big city, but that's not what we found. Younger people always offered their seats to my 60 year old mom and one time, she was sitting in a different part of the carriage from me during rush hour and not feeling well, a woman asked my mom if she was alright and if she needed anything. Most kind!
aggiegirl is offline  
Feb 1st, 2006, 12:06 PM
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bookchick, you should have been there before London was a "smokeless zone" when coal was commonly used for heating. The famous "London Fog" was actually smog, and was deadly, killing hundreds every year. (BTW, what we call fog is "mist" over there).
Passepartout is offline  
Feb 1st, 2006, 12:13 PM
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Coming from rural Australia and having travelled to London many times over the past 30 years - it was the air quality - or lack of it - that surprised me most. Although it had certainly improved by my last visit in 2003. I can also relate to the dirt up the nose!
prue is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2006, 02:23 PM
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Charley - I think you're provng the case for English reserve!

Yes, I think I probably am aren't I! I have lived and worked in London all my life, so it's the norm for me. Do agree that elsewhere in the country it's usually friendlier. I found it really odd in the States that so many people spoke to us. It was refreshing at first, then after two weeks it was really annoying. We couldn't wait to get back to Gatwick and be ignored.
Charley1965 is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2006, 03:24 PM
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My first trip to London was a crazy one. I just wanted to go to Europe and was flying standby. We had a trip planned for Paris, but the flight was full and we ended up in London without a clue as to where to stay and what to do. I was fascinated with the tube, double decker buses and taxis. I had to ride them all. I even have photos of the telephone booths and royal mailboxes. I loved the history of the city and the usual tourist sites. The only thing that disappointed me was the food. Our only decent meals were in Chinatown and at French or Italian restaurants. I didn't try the Indian. I tried to find a good English meal since I was in England, but it wasn't for me.
uptowngirl2418 is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2006, 03:53 PM
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Big surprise? The Roman Wall. Say, what? A Roman Wall in London? I was a stupid kid. It's the history that "lives" all around you. Go to the Old Bailey and sit in on a trial. Still one of my most vivid memories from that first trip.
mclaurie is offline  

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