London Calling

My time in London has been very hectic. I’m staying out of the central London area because everything near the attractions is really expensive. I’m out near Greenwich and the O2/Millenium Dome which really isn’t so bad. I have to spend about £6/day on the train, not including the underground fees. It still is cheaper than staying in the city center.

Since I’ve been here I’ve visited Maritime Greenwich and the Observatory museum (where the Prime Meridian is located and John Harrison’s clocks), the Tower of London, Westminster Abby, the Kew Gardens, the British Museum, the Science Museum, the Natural History Museum, the Victoria & Albert museum, and I’ve seen four movies in Leicester Square, catching up on everything I’ve missed in the last several months. There are still a bunch of places I haven’t visited including the Imperial War Museum. I visited St. Paul’s and Parliament on previous visits so I’m not too in a rush to see those.

I’ve found myself having to get used to having conversations in English again. I had gotten very used to only speaking in brief phrases when going to stores or ordering food in a restaurant. Now I can use full sentences like “I’ll have the fish and chips with extra tartar sauce, no vinegar on the chips but please put on some salt”, but I still find myself using fragments like “one fish and chips”. Its bizarre, but true.

London is by far the most diverse city outside of the US I’ve seen on my trip. In fact it probably beats most US cities other than Los Angles or New York. It is an expensive city even with the recent changes in the Pound relative to the Dollar. (that just means it used to be really, really expensive). Entrance to the Tower of London and Westminster Abby was expensive at £17 and £15 respectively. This is more than offset by the fact that entrance to all the museums in London is free. Also if you purchase an Oyster card (which you should do if you will be spending any time in the city) makes taking the Underground more affordable.

The weather here has been cold and rainy. Before I arrived they had a brief heat wave with temperatures getting up to the 90’sF (35ish C). Since then the temperature has been in the 12-20C (60’s F) range.

I enjoy London. It has made the short list of places I’ve visited that I’d consider living. The biggest downside is the cost. I saw the prices on some flats at real estate office and they were expensive to say the least.

I’ll be here a few more days before heading to New York and then to Chicago. If you are in either one of those cities and would like to meet up for drinks send an email to

10 thoughts on “London Calling”

  1. If you have an interest in something unique, wander out to the kensington end of hyde park, do some photography of the Elfin Oak ( … too bad photography of the tree has been made more difficult by the need for the ironwork surrounding it (long story, too many idiots in the world)… still, worth seeing

  2. I definitely suggest you hit the Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms. It was the bunker that Churchill and the Cabinet used during World War II, and it was basically just sealed up when the war was over, so many of the rooms are in the exact condition they were during the war, including original maps on the walls and so forth. The Churchill museum portion is also pretty interesting.

    • I did get to the Cabinet War Rooms. That was one of the more interesting museums I’ve ever visited.

  3. Gary, try to get into Covent Garden or the Camden Market on Camden High street. The Camden market is only open on Sunday morning, but it is pretty cool.

    The public aquarium near the London Eye is also awesome. The eye is pricey but on a sunny day it is quite the view.

    • I’m not going to do North America like I have the rest of the world. I’ll go to certain states and provinces in shorter trips. Banff, PEI, and the Bay of Fundy are high on my list for Canada.

  4. I think that you are absolutely right about London being one of the most diverse cities in the world. I actually think it tops any of the cities in the US.
    I also have had similar experiences after spending much time in countries where all you can do is politely point or briefly order the daily special or a drink.
    I am surprised to hear it is so cold there.
    I look forward to your posted about NYC and Chicago. Here is my post about Boston:

    • LA has it beat. Easily. I don’t think there is any city on Earth which compares to LA for diversity. You can drive down a road and encounter enclaves of Japanese, Koreans, Persians, Mexicans and tons of others scattered around. Whites aren’t even the majority in LA, which London certainly can’t say.

  5. So you are going back to US finally. Good luck. Let us know how it feels to be back in your country after two years.

  6. Hi Gary,

    If you get chance I recommend you take a trip over to Holland Park – I only recently went up there and it’s a great place for nature shots, one of the best you’ll find in Central London. While some of it is landscaped, a lot of it is actually quite wild and there’s a lot of wildlife there.

    Conversely there’s also the japanese garden which is truly stunning with lots of Koi Carp in the pond. If you go in the next couple of days you may well see the baby moorhens that are nesting there too (they were there at the weekend) – not to mention the peacock!

    You may also enjoy Hampstead Heath for a similar experience – huge wide open spaces.

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