London - what surprised you the most?

Feb 2nd, 2006, 05:18 PM
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 1,135
Big surprise? The huge crowd on Oxford Circus at X'mas time. I almost got crushed!
Brazilnut is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2006, 07:05 PM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 175
What surprised me was that reality surpassed the dream. My trip had been so long in the planning and at times I thought I would never get there. But I did and it was wonderful.
I landed at Heathrow with a one nights accomodation paid for and a telephone number. It was the number of a friend of a friend which I called at 11:00pm one night and Charlie said "I will meet you tomorrow". When we met, he said "How long will you be in London" "Three weeks" said I. "Well here are the keys to my flat and here is the key to the Rover. I am going to Portugal to play golf so will see you in a week." Charlie came back after a week and I stayed on for two more weeks and he and his brother showed me the town. They also introduced me to their friends and cooked for me. The whole experience was pure joy. I love London and the Brits and I hope you have as fabulous a holiday as I had.
sunsurfsand is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2006, 07:57 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 5
The air in the Tube is dirty and I found wet wipes & StriDex cleansing pads useful for frequent trips. The Tube map is useful but not at all to scale. The map booklet London A to Z is very useful. London is not so "Dickens" as I had thought it would be though there still are many narrow roads in certain areas. I never got used to looking right first when crossing a street. It seems all the small shops are owned by Pakistani. Young children greet each other with a polite handshake. It seems there are many schools that require their students to wear blazers/skirts. It seems many British think US Presidents are elected by the Americans they meet (hence their common requests for an explanation). Big Ben is not the tower or the's the bell inside the tower (which is never hear a recording over a loudspeaker). These are the things about London which struck me as unexpected when I attended university there in 1988 and on subsequent visits.
guy1202 is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2006, 08:08 PM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 19,000
The tube lines are shown to scale on the Central London bus map (available free in any Tube station).
Robespierre is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2006, 08:12 PM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 1,300
Good: Just about everything. As a kid growing up, my images of London were shaped by movies like the American Werewolf in London and National Lampoon's European Vacation, and I was very into Britpop (Eurythmics, Duran Duran, Culture Club, Human League), so I always imagined London to be a very cool city with lots of people with red mohawks.
Obviously pop culture had changed by the time I got there in the late '90s, but it was as cool, trendy, bizarre and eclectic as I thought it would be. And the multiculturalism was far beyond what I expected, and that made me very happy.

On the downside, I quickly learned that "moderate" when it comes to hotels in London is equivalent to "budget" in most other places.
martytravels is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2006, 11:55 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 39
aussiedreamer wrote:

>Loved that you just can be walking and >suddenly, 'bang' another historical site >that you've read about your whole life.

I would have to say that this was the most amazing thing about the place. Where I live, historic markers are for "John C. Freemont Campsite" and "Cemetary for victims of 1876 earthquake".

While driving from Windsor to Heathrow to return our rental car prior to going to London, we made a wrong turn and ended up driving through a meadow. There was a sign that said "Historical marker ahead."

So we pulled over expecting this historical event to be something as interesting as the historical events that I listed above. Well we accidentally came across the spot where the Magna Carta was signed.
artvark is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2006, 12:02 AM
Posts: n/a
>Young children greet each other with a polite handshake.

>Big Ben is not the tower or the >'s the bell inside the tower >(which is never hear a >recording over a loudspeaker)

Either you are pulling our legs or some Cockney has been pulling yours!
Feb 3rd, 2006, 12:07 AM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 633
The food was better than I had expected! As a matter of fact, I even love their greasy breakfast!

h2babe is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2006, 12:11 AM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 17,145
When you're on a plane that shows those SatNav things, it's worth watching it as you approach Heathrow, especially if approaching from the west. If approaching from the east, of course, you ought to be looking out of the window, since the view over the river still gobsmacks me.

One of the directional beacons is actually at Runnymede, where Magna Carta was signed, so the SatNav often gives you a countdown of how far you are from it.

Not the most obvious place to be featured amid all that high tech.
flanneruk is offline  
Feb 6th, 2006, 02:16 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 181
Big Ben is not the tower or the >'s the bell inside the tower >(which is never hear a >recording over a loudspeaker)

Ummm Having been up the bell tower and seen the thing in action all 12 chimes I can confirm that the bell is rung!
JimSteel is offline  

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