I’d left America before, but I went to Canada. Does that really count? My most recent two week trip was to London. As a suburbs girl I was worried about the usual things: crime, crowds, and traffic. But aside from traffic, several crowded tube rides, and black boogers from air pollution, I found the city easier to live in than I’d anticipated. Grocery stores were close. The tube was easy to navigate.
As far as being in a different country, the lack of language barrier really helped. However, there were some surprises.
- Lack of water fountains: I might’ve seen two water fountains the whole trip. I’m not a crazy water guzzler, but access to water is nice.
- Paying to use the restroom: I only had to pay once, 50 pence. This was the hardest thing to wrap my head around. No one wants to think about counting out change when you have to pee. It’s as ridiculous as the luxury tax on tampons.
- Paying for grocery bags: The first day in London I went to the grocery store. It was an express store so it was cramped and people were zipping through. I went to a self-check out with my basket full. After discovering the bag fee, I didn’t make that mistake again.
- Pedestrians don’t have the right of way except for in zebra crossings: I almost got hit by a double-decker bus multiple times.
- The stoplights or almost anything to do with driving: The stoplights in London go from red to red and yellow before turning to green. Why that happens is beyond me. Cars drive on the left side which is obvious. Signage is different. I’m so glad that I didn’t drive.
- Ice in drinks: Personally, I don’t care for ice in my drinks, but Americans are accustomed to having our drinks packed with ice. In London, you’re lucky to get three ice cubes.
- Restaurants: Americans are used to fast paced service, and I’m not a patient person. Going to a restaurant in London was frustrating as no one is in a hurry to serve you. I sat at a restaurant for twenty extra minutes waiting for the waiter to bring my check before I realized that I needed to flag him down.
- Pound coins: Any amount under five pounds you will get in pound coins which will mingle with your change and make purchasing things more stressful.
- Lack of AC: London weather is so nice that air conditioning is basically useless, so many places don’t have it. It got up to eighty degrees two days during my trip which meant propping open all of the windows in the flat.
- Converters: Using converters so you can charge things and plug things in is a nuisance, but it’s easy.
Regardless of all the little things, London was amazing and I’ll definitely be sharing more about it as the week goes on.