London was a great surprise to me. I travelled to England many times as a teen, first taking the ferry across the channel and later taking the Eurostar train. England to me was buying “crips” with vinegar at Woolworth, taking double-decker buses across small cities, listening to Oasis (I liked them better than Blur) and bitching about the overall gloomy weather.

I dreaded the price of accommodation in London. Indeed, trying to book a hotel or hostel online was pretty frustrating. Most places were either overpriced with terrible reviews or overpriced and so far from London we had to zoom out from the map quite a bit to see where they were located. We eventually got lucky and booked a room in a nice neighborhood for an acceptable price, thanks to Expedia.

While accommodation remains expensive overall, food was much cheaper than I thought it would be—and much better too. There were tons of ethnic restaurants around the city (mostly Indian, Chinese and Italian) and a nice meal for two was around £20. A quick lunch in a pub for two was between £10 and £15. This is not cheap but definitely not as bad as I remembered it. And the food was good! I remembered all these “weird” English combination from my previous trips (chips and vinegar, mint sauce and meat…), but we had none of that. Fish and chips was good and Indian food with a British twist is very tasty.

I couldn’t get enough of British English. People just sounded so polite and so proper! And the signs cracked me up. In North America, they are mostly interdiction, such as “do not…”. The one that basically says “do not let your dog poop everywhere” is a good example of how elaborate and proper signs can get. Oh, and it took us a while to understand the “free withdrawal” signs above the ATMs. No, it’s not about free all-you-can-withdraw money (damn!) but rather about the fact that these particular ATMs don’t add an extra bank fee charge.

Indian Curry
Beer Menu
Feng’s Beer
Double-Decker Bus
Red Phone Booths
Funny Signs
Free ATM Cash? Seriously?
Look Right! Traffic
Evening Newspaper
Football Teams
British Souvenirs
Red Souvenirs

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  1. Delph July 10, 2010 at 9:49 am

    Je n’y suis allée qu’une fois il y a bien longtemps et j’avais bien aimé. Il faudrait que j’y retourne un de ces 4 mais ça fait un peu loin maintenant…

  2. Tulsa Gentleman July 10, 2010 at 10:01 am

    As a traveler I liked England because everyone spoke English. Well, maybe not the cab drivers. Seriously, I found people in the UK to be exceptionally civilized.

  3. Yogi July 10, 2010 at 10:24 am

    I liked the “Way Out” signs. Two decades ago the food wasn’t very good and accommodations were very expensive.

  4. barbara July 10, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    Salut Zhu,

    I really have to go back just for London. When D& I went the last time in 1995, the Eurostar was not yet at Gare du Nord,so we flew over. First and last time I fly to London; the eurostar is very efficient!

    Once our current situation is settled and we are living a calmer life, we want to travel to nearby countries. Re-do Dublin(trip we canceled),go back to UK,etc,etc.The choice is vast 🙂

    Happy trecking and grosses bises xx

  5. DianeCA July 10, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    Looks like you are having a really good time. And I love the Chips stop sign. Fish and Chips are surprisingly good, simple food. Although in Norway we generally don’t deep fry fish, its an abomination to one of our most plentiful resources 🙂 While you were in Europe you should have come and visited us. A plane from London to Norway takes about and hour and is fairly cheap!

  6. RennyBA July 10, 2010 at 6:08 pm

    I have been in London several times, I love the city!! So much to see and do and it is truly unique in the whole world. It has its own special personality. All the photos are lovely, but right now as hot as it is here the cold beer looks the best.

    By the way I am glad you like my new layout on my blog 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Poem July 10, 2010 at 7:09 pm

    I like listening to British English as well, they do really sound very polite. I hope I can visit London one day and see what this amazing city has to offer.

  8. Jorge July 10, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    London is a great city, I never had to deal with hotel rooms since I was paying a room as a student in a family home. I do remember that rent was quite expensive. We would travel around England every weekend, it is quite a beautiful country. Europe is just so different and magical, I hope I will return soon to visit. I cherish my month-long backpacking trip around the continent 🙂

  9. kyh July 11, 2010 at 3:51 am

    I used to like American English due to their casualness and thought that Brit Eng was too prudent! But I’ve since developed a liking for it – it’s elegant and the Queen speaks it! 😉

  10. Lizz July 11, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    It sounds like you had a lovely time! I’m still cringing at the meal costs, but I’d still love to travel there someday.

  11. Zhu July 12, 2010 at 5:31 am

    @Delph – Oui c’est sûr, d’être en Europe était l’occasion pour nous !

    @Tulsa Gentleman – I totally agree! People were so civilized and proper… even drunk!

    @Yogi – Well, accomodation is still expensive but food is better for sure.

    @barbara – I had only taken the Eurostar once before this time, in 1998. Otherwise, I used to take the ferry from Brittany. The train is very convenient, I love it!

    @DianeCA – Unfortunately, it’s not cheap to travel in Europe, especially at this time of the year. This is why we choose to stick around in the U.K and in France.

    @RennyBA – I agree, it has its own personality and it’s a vibrant city!

    @Poem – I’m sure you will get the chance, you are fairly close to it after all now.

    @Jorge – The country is nice, I agree. It’s often a matter of timing though because the weather can make you feel miserable… I’d visit again in the summer.

    @kyh – I know, I do find American English easier to understand (because I’m so used to it) but I love hearing British people talk.

    @Lizz – Food is quite expensive in Europe compared to Asia or North America so I’m not even that shocked.

  12. London Caller July 12, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    Have you seen “Free Cash” yet? Ha ha…
    I recognised that pub – it’s a Wetherspoon, right?

    Nice English pubs are tucked behind the alleyways.

  13. Linguist-in-Waiting July 14, 2010 at 9:43 am

    That is the first time I saw fish and chips served with peas! And you prefer Oasis to Blur? Seriously? 🙂


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