Growing up I watch my dear aunt take my cousin, her only child, all over the world. These weren’t your usual jaunts to the beach or Disney World. Rather she went to Mallorca, Greece, Spain, the Gallapagos Islands. I smiled when my aunt told me she knew my cousin was no genius, not that she wasn’t smart, but she wasn’t extraordinary in anything that would make her monetarily wealthy of sorts, so she decided, waste not on education but rather travel and let her see the world. I thought to myself, what an amazing gift, the gift of travel.
- There’s a LOT of smoking. That’s one of the first things Ava noticed. I guess that’s what we do well in the US, the public service campaigns against smoking were really effect. Related to our trip to London, my daughter has also gotten hooked on The Crown (NetFlix) and if there’s a way to get someone to quit smoking, watch it. Many of the monarchy died by lung cancer!
- It’s smaller than you think. We’ll get into traveling in London in another post, but definitely on Day 1 a Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour is highly recommended. You get a really great overview of the city and then aids in planning from that point. I initially had plotted our itinerary on a map, trying to be most efficient with travel time and making the most of our trip. I was most pleasantly surprised at how little the distance is on a map of London.
- I always considered New York City a melting pot, in fact I believe it’s often noted as such in literature, but I was really impressed by the languages that we encountered in London. I dare say that I don’t think there are many actual native English in London. There was a lot of French, Russian, German, Scottish, Arabs to Middle Easterners, Japanese and Chinese. I think what was most interesting is that I wasn’t seeing this in settings were it would expected as such, like eating in a Chinese restaurant and having many around us speaking Chinese. Rather it would be sitting on a bus as a family spoke rapid french or friends walking down the street and speaking Russian to one another. We hardly heard English spoken around us. Many people that we encountered definitely were not native to England, like our B Bakery Bus Tour guide who spoke English with a heavy french accent.
- They love Coke in London. Maybe it’s because the London Eye is sponsored by Coca-Cola, but really most restaurants and eateries only had Coke as their soda option. Coke or Diet Coke. I’ve always shunned from allowing my children to drink “black sodie” but secretly a favorite of mine. It was only made easier for her to enjoy for the first time as I noted it had a slightly different composition than that in the US. ie, made with Vegetable Extract.
- Its definitely a LOT cleaner and obviously the taxes are spent a great deal on upkeep. What totally blew our minds was the use of cloth seating on trains and buses! That just seems so daring and yet so clean still!
- With that said, the architecture is exquisite! So much detail and ornamental decoration on everything from lamp posts to doors and windows.
- My daughter was slightly worried about being somewhere different, but rest assured, London wasn’t very much different than New York. Some bits of home could be found like McDonald’s, Tommy Hilfiger, J Crew, Starbucks, Whole Foods, Shack Shake, Nobu and Sushi Samba. There were some confusions with Pret A Manger, Zaras, Top Shop which she noted we have in the US but probably came to us from Europe. Oh and the kicker… Pizza Hut is FANCY in London!
- The differences from the Queen’s English to our English. Ava got such a kick out of some of the enunciation and words like Cockfosters and Shoreditch. We kept making errors like Picadilly Circle or Oxford Circle instead of Picadilly Circus or Oxford Circus.