Sunday, July 19, 2009

A jolly good time in London

George Washington, this guy is pretty popular in England

This last weekend, George and I took a quick trip to London and Cambridge to eat Dim Sum, Malaysian food, good Chinese noodles, (actually decent) Mexican food, BBQ and corn bread, vegetarian food, pop-tarts, starburst candies and drink Mountain Dew and Dr. Pepper. Oh, and we saw some cool sights too.

London is probably the most international city in Europe (if not the world). Only about half the population are people of British decent, another 10% or so are other Western Europeans, and the remaining 40% are mostly of Asian decent--Indian and Pakistanis being the largest groups, followed by Chinese, Malaysian, other south east Asians, and apparently at least a couple of Americans and Mexicans.

Lyon is about 90% French, 7% Middle Eastern or North African, and about 3% other.

The huge diversity of the population of London leads to a huge diversity in the food choices (amongst other things, but I was just interested in food). Most of the things I mentioned above simply cannot be found in Lyon, and the few that can are pretty expensive, so our trip to London was heavily focused on food. We ate 4 meals a day, snacked non-stop, and even brought some stuff back with us. I'm sure I gained 10 lbs.

We also did a little shopping while we were up there. London is an extremely expensive place, but the exchange rate lately has been very favorable for the Euro so things didn't seem too expensive, and London had pretty much everything on sale. We bought 15 books for about 20 pounds ($30), bought a little clothing, and tried to buy shoes, but my size 10.5 feet are incredibly common, and everything I liked was not available in my size :-(

Oh, and shops stay open past 8 in London!!! Grocery store stay open until 11 or even midnight!!! And they are even open on Sunday!!!!!!!

We did go sight-seeing too. London is probably not as architecturally stimulating as Lyon, but it still has some really cool buildings.

Westminster Abbey and some cool building next to it.

We visited Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, the Parliament building, the London Eye, The Tower of London, the Tower Bridge, and most everything in between. When we were not eating (and sometimes even when we were eating), we were walking around checking out all the sights, or sitting in the incredibly hot, incredibly expensive subway system waiting to get to the next cool stop.

Short diatribe about the London Tube. The Tube is the subway system of London and it does a pretty good job of getting you around town, and even goes out to Heathrow airport to make it easy to get into the city. It's relatively fast, and there are lots of lines. It is also extremely crowded and not air-conditioned. With London's climate you would think the lack of AC wouldn't be much of a problem, but it never got above 75 when we were there, and it was still miserable in the subway system. Packed shoulder to shoulder in 90 degree heat is not a fun ride.

But it gets you were you need to be. And is only about 3 times as expensive as the Lyon metro system.

To make up for the extremely uncomfortable and expensive Subway system, London has made all of their museums free. And their museums are AMAZING! We only had time to visit an art museum (there are lots) and the Charles Darwin Museum of Natural History and they were both very cool. Being the nerd that I am, I liked the Natural History Museum more, but the art museum was cool too.

George is Art

You can spend a whole day in each of these museums, but you are not allowed to eat in there, so we could only spend a half a day at most. And before leaving the art museum we did walk past a piece of art that made us both very sad.

I miss my dog

After eating some Indian food, we decided to head over to the coolest bridge in the world. The Golden Gate Bridge or Brooklyn Bridge might be bigger, and some of the Roman Bridges of antiquity are more technically impressive (given the date of their construction), but the Tower Bridge in London is just cool. Viewing it from the side of the river it looks really cool. Walking across it is really cool, paying 14 pounds (21 bucks, for 2 people) to walk up 800 stairs to the top and watch a really short video about how it was created is not so cool. If you are reading my blog Tower Bridge people, your bridge is worth 8 pounds tops!

We spent 4 days hanging out in London and took one day to take the train up to Cambridge. Cambridge is a much smaller city than London, about 60 miles up the road famous for its universities (collectively named Cambridge University). The had very interesting architecture, lots of churches, and of course all the colleges of Cambridge.

King's College

I highly recommend a trip to London. It's a really cool city. For more pics, check out this.


Austin said...

Were you not able to take your dog because of the airlines snafu? I remember you had problems with the kind of crate you could bring him in. Whatever happened with that?

ErikC said...


I'm not a fan of London, but it sounds like you guys had a great time visiting.

michael said...

Yeah Austin, it started with the airline snafu and just got worse from there. Its remarkably expensive and difficult to move a dog that big to Europe, and then find a place for him to live.

So Tosh is living with the neighbors back in Seattle. I get sad everytime I see someone walking their dog :-(