The highlights of my brief, brief trip to London:
-it was weird to be in a country that speaks English, but not quite my English. An elevator is a lift, real estate is to let instead of for rent, and people move homes instead of just moving. I was also very conscious of my American accent and how it marked me as an outsider.
-connected to that is the feeling that I was almost home, but, again, not quite. I saw so many things that connected me to the years I spent in the US (food products, cultural icons like Paddington Bear, the language) but at the same time London had a very obvious European vibe. Plus, people drive on the wrong side of the road. There’s nothing like feeling almost at home but then almost getting run over because you automatically look left instead of right before crossing to make one feel like an outsider.
-Harrod’s has to be the most decadent place on earth.
-watching the World Cup game between the Netherlands and Brazil was quite an experience. We watched in a pub near Leicester Square with the expectation that we would lose the game. You can imagine our reaction when all of a sudden, we were winning. Holy cow, that was an exciting match! One friend was so excited she pretty much kept bouncing off her stool, while the other expressed the sentiment that it was nice that we were winning but she felt bad for the opponents. I totally got what she meant and it leads me to the conclusion that we’re just really not competitive.
-The changing of the guards was impressive. Not so much because of what was actually happening in front of Buckingham Palace (there were too many people and I was too short to actually see much) but because it was an illustration of the power of touristic attractions. Because so many people come to watch it, it continues to be a hot attraction. Even when most people don’t even know what’s going on (ourselves included. We were so unprepared).
-3 days is too short. We had time for two museums (the Victoria and Albert Museum and the National Gallery) but could only spend about 20 minutes to half an hour in each. I definitely need to come back.
-We spent the last day on Portobello Road in Notting Hill. We had our morning coffee in a cafe that was serving more cocktails than coffee by 11:30 AM. The barkeeper actually sighed when I asked for three cappuccinos and he had to put his cocktail shaker down. Then we ate lunch on this beautiful upstairs terrace – some kind of Asian restaurant that served really good fish and chips.
Obviously, I need to come back.