I've been in London almost two full months now and have now traveled the continent. During my travels, I've come across some great finds,not so great finds and everything in between. This got me to thinking the other day about things like; why I like London better than home, why I miss home,my favorite place to eat in Europe etc. etc. So I've compiled a few lists to share with you.
- ALWAYS book your hostel in advance;this will lead to not having a stressful night where you out until 12:30 in the middle of Rome going to door-to-door of hotels trying to see if they have 1) a room and 2) aren't 200euros for the night.
- English is everywhere! While this may not come as a surprise to you and it wasn't a 100% surprise to me. When you think about though, isn't it odd how probably any European country you can go to will have a majority of its people bilingual in their native language and also know English,while you can come to America and probably 3 in 10 people know another language?
- Some people really do we think we're stupid Americans; now, this goes back to my blog from Belgium, and how our taxi driver considered dropping us off in the middle of nowhere, because he knew we'd have no clue what was going on because we're "young americans". Or, I can tell you about a few different times when sitting on a bus or shopping in a market you see and hear the workers talking and pointing. Now usually, when I see this I don't get all paranoid and think "they're talking about me" "I just know they're talking about me" BUT,when they're ovbiously pointing at you and you hear words like "americana" you tend to wonder.
- I miss the old days of family vacations; So maybe this is more a realization then something I learned and yes, a bit sentimental *bust out the kleenex now*,but I realized how much I enjoyed the old days when I was young and cute, and went on family vacation every summer. My family wasn't the flying kind either. EVERYWERE we went we drove; Florida, California, Niagra Falls, Massachusets, South Dakota, Virginia and the list could continue. And while at the time,a 20 hour van ride with mom,dad,and the 2 little sisters was less than ideal, now looking back, I wouldn't have had it any other way. Sitting up front co-piloting with dad at 2am, rolling into a seedy hotel in a small town at midnightso we could get up at 9 and keep going, or making the random stop to see the "worlds largest man made well"(it's in Kansas, just in case you were wondering) . I couldn't tell you how many times I thought back to those days while backpacking.
- Italians definitally aren't known for their customer service; now I will admit that there were a couple of times we had GREAT customer service while in Italy. For the most part it was horrible. One great story is when I was ordering at McDonalds and began to order my food and the guy working just walked away, and so I stopped talking,thinking he'd come back. But, he just turned and motioned with his hands and told me to keep ordering,while he walked around and did other things. Or how everyplace I got change it was pretty much thrown at me. Or, while I can't expect everyone to know English, you would hope that they would at least try and work with you on communicating, BUT NO. At the post office,when I was trying to send a letter, the lady would just respond in Italian and not even try. Of course, I may be a little of a stickler on the good 'ol customer service after working in retail, as a waiter and on summer conferences.
5 reasons I miss home
- The countryside; I surprisingly miss seeing open fields,open roads,green grass, and the sky. I didn't realize how much I missed it until I got out of the city and saw fields and grass and clean sky again.
- Sigma Alpha Epsilon; even though I have enjoyed every minute of my time here in London and sharing it with the friends I have on this trip. There's still nothing that compares to sharing a memory or a great time with a fraternity brother. Also, I miss Sally's cooking.
- Having my car; while public transportation is great. It can get crowded and annoying. Especially when trains/buses run late or quit running. You don't realize how nice it is to have your own car and being able to jump in it whenever you want, until you don't have it.
- Coldstone Creamery;while Gelato is quite delicious,you can only really find it in Italy, and I've yet to find a delicious ice cream place in London,besides the BK and McD's down the block. It doesn't compare to the rich creamy ice cream and amazing mix-ins you can find at Coldstone Creamery. Whether its my personal favorite; Berry Berry Good or just chocolate w/ brownies. I miss my good 'ol Coldstone and miss the random trips that often turned into mini-adventures to the wonderful ice cream shop I often made with Steve and Chelcee this summer.
- The American dollar; I liked knowing that when something said it cost 1 it meant 1 dollar, 4 quarters, 100 pennies etc. Not, here where when it says 1# and I'm like, "Oh thats cheap" its actually 2 dollars. It's one thing thats hard to do when shopping. Is trying to not do the conversion and think "oh, this t-shirt says 10 pounds...WAIT thats 20 dollars!"
5 reasons I ♥ London
- Public Transportation; Even though at times its crowded and doesn't work. I LOVE being able to hop on the tube and be just a 20-30 minute ride to anywhere in the city at most! I love that I can hop on the bus and get around when the tube is broke,its great not having to worry about gas or parking or directions. Just hop on the tube and go. PLUS you get to people watch!
- Crunchies and Nutella; Crunchies are the most amazing candy bar ever that tastes better than anything you could imagine, almost better than ice cream! Nutella is an amazing invention, combining chocolate and hazlenut and considered a breakfast item that you can put on toast or graham crackers or if you're like me, you just eat it by the spoonful.
- It's easy to travel; Any European country is so accessable here! Belgium is a 45 minute flight, Germany is a 2 hour flight. Plus backpacking is the thing to do here and you can find hostels for 10euros a night!
- Global and Self awareness; so maybe that isn't the correct title for what I like about London, but it is to an extent. I've become so much more globally aware since being over here. You realize how much everyone else knows about the US, but how little the US knows about everyone else. My fall break made me want to minor in a foreign language, now that I see how useful it'd be and as far as the self awareness. I've leared alot about myself. About how stupid I was about things in the past, how much I miss my family and so much more, and I know it wouldn't have happened if I wasn't over here, away from my cozy little world I'd created.
- Ethnic food; its so easy to try new foods here. On Earls Court Road alone we have: chinese,italian,indian,thia,halal,American(McD's and BK), and a noodle company.
My London Favorites
- Favorite ice cream- hands down it was the gelateria in Florence, VERY GOOD (okay,so itts not in London, but)
- Favorite coffee place- its still Starbucks
- Favorite Tube Line-Picadilly
- Favorite Grocery Store-Tesco, its big and cheap and has EVERYTHING!
Those are just a few. There's a few least favorites, like my least favorite Tube line is the District line, its rough and usually late or broken.
Naturally, there's more to add or things might change as the time continues in London,but I just thought I'd blog about something fun and not my boring adventures backpacking through Europe.
I also learned something VERY sad today, we only have 42 days left in London! It just seems crazy because is July I was excitied and counting down from there and now its not so exciting.
Anyway, hope all is well in your life!