London’s public transport is amazing. The tube is the most efficient system imaginable. One train every 3 minutes, stretching the full length of the platform, moving the maximum number of people possible - and it is full for hours.
We laugh at Japanese stuffing people into their transit system but boy the tube I rode today was so solid with bodies.
I wanted to check my pocket to see my wallet was still there, but there was no path for my arm to move legally towards my pocket. (My Wallet was still there.)
The city is clogged.
I wanted to buy some things in a junk shop. I had selected about £40 worth of goods. They were all folded and dropped into appropriate bags. I was holding the bags as the shop owner took my credit card. Then the fun began.
Here in the centre of the centre of the known universe, he can’t make a credit card work. In fact he knows there will be a problem and says it always takes a while to connect. So we wait. 9 attempts. 9 void slips. I take back my card and give him back the bags of neatly packed goods that will not be travelling across the globe. He claims it is because he can’t get enough internet bandwidth to connect so the machine needs to use a phone line. The phone can only get GPRS and I saw this on the machine myself.
Why is the internet so so bad here?
I have not had acceptable internet access anywhere across the whole UK so far. I was ready to accept that in the back blocks of northern Scotland but this is London where a reseller says it happens all the time.
We had exactly the same problem at a restaurant in York. It was not my card but the whole credit system that goes AWOL, regularly. We manage, we get by, we do those tourist things we need to do and credit cards do work in most places but, it is the failures that remain in your mind.
London more than York is a classroom. I have seen so many school groups wandering from all across Europe. In our own straw poll I suggest Italian as the main source of London tourists. Eastern Europe is however the main source of restaurant help. I have been asking where the table staff are from and the results have been mostly Hungary, Albania and Estonia. They find Australia so exotic and are amazed that we will fly so so far as tourists.
Final London observation! Brits love to stick things in their mouth. I have noticed so much smoking cigarettes and e-cigarettes. The e-cigarettes seem to need a different smoking technique. The 'fumer' seems to almost be hiding the electronic gun they are sticking down their neck. A normal cigarette is clearly on show as it has been for hundreds of years but these new sources of fumes are held totally differently. Hiding the tube is not so easy, mind you, they are so big.
It is not just smoking though, every second brit seems to be soaking up an ice cream or a chocolate bar or a bag of chips or something. It is so much that it is noticeable to our colonial eyes.
2 Weeks of travelling now and I am over the tiny rooms, having to write on my knees, unreliable internet, noisy external streetscape (the family argument outside my window is getting out of hand right now) and stairs, so many stairs, tiny skinny stairs where both elbows drag along the walls, just like the showers. I am sure my shower in York was measured in cubits. The whole ensuite was 1.5 cubits by 5.
I could write London off as a mistake.
I almost want to suggest it be closed. Put up a sign saying FULL.
it is still the centre of the known universe so you just gotta do it. And I did have some fun too…. Maybe that is the piece you should have read first, if I can ever get the internet to let me post it.