Monday, June 21, 2004

The Top-10 Things I'll Miss / I Won't Miss from London

I noticed the differences between London and New York, or in a greater sense, the UK and the US, once I spent about five minutes outside of JFK, just fresh off my 7-hour flight home. While I’m happy to be home, there are some things that I’ll miss about the UK, and there are also some things I thank God I don’t have to deal with them when I’m home. The following are two lists; one containing the top-10 things I’ll desperately miss from London, and the other containing the 10 things I’d rather live without. Without further ado, here are the top-10’s!

Top 10 Things I’ll Miss About London

10) The cars seen on the streets of the city

It’s cool living in a place where it seems that everyone owns a BMW, Mercedes-Benz, a Porsche, or some derivative of a MINI. Oh yeah, and Aston Martins. And Jaguars. The occasional Bentley. And you can’t forget those “charming” Smart cars, either. I think the whole “anti-SUV” feeling in London is pretty cool, too. Because, seriously, what the hell do you need an SUV for in a city?

9) The fashion

Okay, to be honest with you, the fashion in England isn’t exactly all that. But, after being in Europe for six months, coming back home to see people in my neighborhood wearing baggy jeans and shirts that come down to their ankles makes me feel that I’ve stepped back in time to freaking 1998. Face it, urban fashion needs a fucking makeover in the States. Anyone wearing the “latest” Roc-A-Wear denims, Tims, and a t-shirt that comes down to their knees is a fucking fashion dinosaur. At least in London, they’re TRYING to change. And don’t tell me that the urban look “isn’t a fashion trend, it’s a movement.” Yeah, whatever, just like them gold/platinum teeth. Get something new, muthafuckas.

8) Bella Italia

Michelle and I know this restaurant all too well. Nuff said. (Also deserving of this slot: Khan’s Indian Restaurant…mmmmm….)

7) The Tube

I’ll miss that ol’ Underground. It’s the cleanest, most well-funded subway system I’ve been on, and while there are clear flaws with the system, nonetheless, you have to appreciate the innovations that the Underground has going for itself. I’ll especially miss those electric bulletin screens that let you know when the next train is coming, and how many minutes are left till the train arrives to the station.

6) London Taxis

The black cabs of London are charming, to say the least, and an inseparable part of London city life. These babies fit 5 people in the back, and, get this, take credit cards. Good shit! And the drivers are always up for some good conversation, especially if they think that you’re an American. Whooo boy…J

5) The Museums

One of the best parts about visiting and living in London is that the major museums are free to enter. The number of world-class museums in London is simply amazing, and it’s a joy to know that it doesn’t cost much of anything at all to be entertained and to learn something new. The five best museums of London are the Victoria and Albert Museum, the National Gallery, the British Museum, the Tate Modern, and the interesting Imperial War Museum, though there are plenty of others that are excellent, as well.

4) The drinking age

I go from being in a place where no one cares whether or not I drink, to a city where they freaking ID you for everything. Liquor became an unquestionable part of my life in London, and now, I have to go through withdrawal as I return to a country with a silly drinking age restriction at 21. (Then again, fuck withdrawal, I’m getting the goods anyway.) Five more months till I’m legal… How the fuck can you die for your country at 18, but you can’t drink? It’s so fucking stupid. Long live England!

3) The English Accent (and being one of the few Americans from SU to understand it)

It was just cool. Now, I’m back to hearing the New Yorker accent, which is cool, too. I can live without the Long Island accent, though.

2) The “Tuck and Roll” off of “Routemaster” double-decker buses.

It’s a Londoner trait to be able to hop off a still-moving, open-back, double-decker bus, and smoothly glide your way onto the pavement. Called the “tuck and roll,” if not executed properly, one can embarrassingly bust their ass as they step off the moving bus, completely subject to the forces of gravity and momentum. By the end of my stay, I was able to pull off the Tuck and Roll so well, tourists ALWAYS stopped me to ask for directions to Buckingham Palace, or to Harrod’s.

1) British Media

From the “Page 3” girls of the Sun , to the special documentaries on BBC 2, British media, flat out, puts American media to shame in sheer informativeness, entertainment, uniqueness, and personality. BBC News, for example, would rather spend the time needed to get a story across, than to get time to air commercials. The Independent contains some of the best news stories available in journalism. And of course, there’s Big Brother, replete with cursing, nudity, and occasional violence. (Blows away the American version by far). British commercials are also excellent, as well. Let me put it to you like this…I only had three channels to watch in my flat; BBC 1, BBC 2, and Channel Four, and I had more enjoyment watching those television channels than I did in Syracuse with the 40 or so channels we have available there.

Top 10 Things I Won’t Miss About London

10) The traffic

God, that traffic is atrocious. That’s the only city I’ve ever been to where the traffic is actually right up there with NYC’s.

9) No air-conditioning on Tube and London Buses

It wasn’t a big deal during the winter months I was there, but, boy, towards the end, London Transport’s stance on air-conditioning was bloody archaic. They couldn’t even put fans in the muthafuckas. And both buses and trains get REAL crowded. Good lord.

8) Drunk Brits after 11:30 PM

I’ve never seen a group of people so loud and obnoxious as Londoners when they’re drunk. It’s almost as if it’s expected of them to start a fight with you once they’re drunk.

7) Underage, older-looking girls

The chronicles of my bad luck with underage girls have become the stuff of legend during my stay in London. Now that I’m back home, I can finally look at a girl, and almost be dead right that a girl is the age she looks like.

6) Traditional British Menus

Haggis? Eel? Fish n Chips? No fucking thank you. Just give me the chips, thank you.

5) My flat

I sure as hell won’t miss the ants, (“letter of the day!”), the stuffiness, and the coldness of my flat in London. And I especially won’t miss my landlord. The bastard.

4) British milk

Imagine having milk that curdled consistently, on the very DATE of expiration. What kind of shit is that? I had cheese in my fridge a week after the milk was delivered to the supermarket. Other than that annoying factor, the milk was good.

3) Pubs closing at 11:30PM

It’s extremely weird and anal of Brits to have pubs close at 11:30 PM. It’s almost as if they really don’t believe in promoting a nightlife.

2) Tube stops running at midnight

This is related to the previous one. What kind of shit is that? A major city’s transportation network stops running at midnight?! Only buses are available when the Underground closes. Thank god the the NYC Subway System!

1) The horrible freaking exchange rate.

Finally, now that I’m back home, I have my original buying power. No more will I stare at my bank account helplessly as the exchange rate makes minced meat of my finances. 2 dollars for every 1 pound? Fuck that shit.


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