Thursday, July 24, 2008

That's so British!

It was a beautiful weather in London this week with temperatures in the 80s, so after my meetings I wandered through a few markets. I found the "polite" sign above and also discovered that the meat flavored chip trend continues in Europe.

I love the vibrancy of the theater district, the beautiful parks and gardens and the interesting shops but I was also reminded of a few of the other pleasures of visiting London:

1) People are VERY polite. I sat across from a family on the subway and their 10 year old son said "yes please" when asked by his mum if he wanted water. He then said thanks after he was done, and after being handed a toy from his younger sister, he thanked her too. Such manners!!! Then he asked his mom if they were flying first class. She laughed, looked at me and said "how did I go wrong raising my children?" I told her I thought quite the opposite, which started a conversation with the son. He excitedly told me about his trip to Amsterdam last year on a PGL weekend. I asked what "PGL" was and he said "Parents Get Lost." :-) Apparently his school takes the kids to different countries for a weekend starting at age 8. I think that's great to start them out so young. In the US I didn't go on my first overnight school trip until I was 15! In Amsterdam 15 year olds go on vacation for 2 weeks without their parents!

2) When it's warm outside, it's steamy on the subways. They aren't air conditioned - which can lead to some pretty uncomfortable travel with packed cars of sweaty people (myself included). They open the windows on the subway cars to let in some air, but it's sometimes not enough to stop the windows from dripping....

3) Which leads me to my next observation: Dirty air. When you're zipping through an old tunnel and inhaling the breeze, you're bound to inhale the dirt that comes with it. You might think I'm being paranoid but I can tell you that the inside of my nose a different color after riding the tube. Tissues never lie. Ick.

4) The other shocker (which I really need to get over) is the cost. The British Pound is trading at roughly 2 to 1 to the dollar right now - so a dessert in a restaurant for 7.50 pounds is a $15 dessert, and a drink at the bar for 9 pounds becomes an $18 affair. A sandwich at a TGI Fridays type establishment is $16. I wish I could turn off the little calculator in my head when I go out but I haven't been able to shake it yet. I'll keep trying.

The meetings went well and I continue to really like this job. There's a lot of work to do, but I've always liked a challenge.

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