Sunday, March 30, 2008

Hello from London

I heard from Marc today and he had a lot to say about London! I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did!

Hi Jess,

I am staying in "central London" as they call it, city of Westminster.
A few random observations...

From what I see, London is not a city of skyscrapers.
Most building are in the 3 to 10 story range.
However, much of the architecture is classic and looks like it has been around for 100+ years.
The street intersections are not 90 degrees as a rule, they tend to wind and have smooth edges.
So, understanding directions is not always easy.

I would say, as a rule, the people are much thinner than in the U.S. (there are exceptions though).
Meals are not as large as we are used to, but there is enough.
They use ice very sparingly and, from what I've seen, don't use 'fountains' for sodas, like in the U.S.
Each serving comes from a can or bottle, so 'refills' are not free.
There are restaurants of every kind and they are everywhere.
Italian, French, McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Indian food, classic 'English' pubs, pastry shops, sandwich shops, etc.
Upscale, casual, you name it, they've got it and usually very close-by.

People walk almost everywhere and rely on public transportation - buses and the subway ('tube' as they call it).
And when walking, the pace is very quick for most people, especially during the workday.
They city has a very 'alive' feel at all times.
I wouldn't say the people are particularly 'friendly', but neither are they 'unfriendly'.

At lunch, most places are carry-out ("take away" they call it).
I think this has as much to do with the premium on space as anything.
People will usually take their lunch back to work.

Pounds and pence, not dollars and cents.
One pound equals just over two dollars.
London is Extremely expensive, especially hotels, much more so than even food.
If Americans are on vacation over here, they better be prepared to spend a lot of money (in U.S. dollars).
The exchange rate is what gets you.

I use my regular U.S. issued MasterCard credit card and the conversion is made to dollars on my bill,
when I look at my account on the credit card website.
Same thing when you take money out of a local ATM, although I haven't seen the conversion rate on that yet.

The weather is often overcast and rainy, as you might expect.
Today, was sunny and warmer than most days recently.
A long sleeve shirt and moderate jacket was okay for today.

Last night, I walked to Picadilly Circus, which would be the equivalent of Times Square in NY.
I left around 2am and had spent about two hours walking around.
Everything was open and people were everywhere: clubs, restaurants, shows.
Shows (plays) are very common here.
At Covent Garden Square, near the hotel, there are a lot of street entertainers:
musicians, singers, dancers, and just ad-lib 'acts'.
This afternoon, I (along with two other guys) were randomly picked as "volunteers" out of the audience by a juggler during his act.
One of the guys was from London and the other from Israel.
He used us as props and had us try to imitate him when he would do certain ridiculous things - just for a laugh.
At the end, he stood on my shoulders and juggled knives.
He was only around 140 lbs so not too big a deal.

In general, the streets and city as a whole are kept very clean.
They have government workers in uniform who walk around with cleaning items and a large waste area on wheels.
So they try to keep things clean throughout the day.
Whether this is true for all of London, not sure.

In the restrooms, the stalls have walls that go from the very bottom to the very top, same for the doors.
So, there is extreme privacy when using the stalls. Never seen anything like that in the U.S.

Hope all is okay with you and your bunch.
An update on Gizmo and Jackie is appreciated.
They are missed.

Will write more later.


It was so good to hear from him. He either pops in at the house or calls just about everyday. So, he has been missed.

Mike and I went up to Ormond Beach today for a nice ride. He wanted to check out some new boat ramps and I needed some paper to match the buttons I had for my page a week layout(PAW). It was overcast when I took this picture so the colors did not come through as well as I had hoped. However, they are baby blue, chocolate browns and white. Buttons were from walmart...who knew???
I love this layout though! Michael took this picture with his palm pilot!

My sister's plane was delayed in Atlanta. They are out for dinner currently and won't be getting in until late for baby. We will see them tomorrow.

******UPDATE!!!!! If you are on today, look at who's viewed my blog. You will see Marc popped in from London to check out his addition to my blog. That is just way neat!

Picture of the Day:

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