The first days I set foot in London, a year ago, I became a bit stressed....
Take your shoes off! Take your shoes off! You can bring bacteria from the outside, who knows what kind of illnesses it can bring... Those were the first words of my host family, when I went to London last summer for 3 weeks, with a scholarship.
My landlady... was an Iranian woman, quite obsessed, who asked me to open the bathroom window five minutes before taking a shower and to close it 15 minutes later, and if I didn't follow those rules... burglars could come in.
Those were the beginning of a long list of rules...fortunately I am quite peaceful, and I managed to suck up to her...:) and furthermore, when 10 days later, a stunning Russian woman came home, she was so guilty of everything, that I became quite invisible, thank God for bringing me calm (and thanks Helen, for coming and introducing me to the marvellous world of "Shellac" for the nails, unfortunately I still haven't put Shellac on my nails, because I find it quite expensive...).
Photo by tomylees @ flickr, license: cc by-nc-sa
I booked accommodation in a host family in zone 4 because it was the cheapest one I found, I had received a scholarship but they didn't give me much money, however, since the tube went through there, I though it wouldn't be so far...
Reality was quite different. I lived in... Sudbury Hill,(more information here) a place in the very OUTSKIRTS of London, where there are many many many Indian people, that Iranian woman of my host-family and me and the Russian woman, in that moment.
This picture is quite similar to the first day I arrived there, it was raining, and I was alone... in... London???!!!! I asked myself... where is that circus of Picadilly so famous??!!
Fortunately, with a lot of luck, I managed arrive to that house, asking people from there, who were quite polite, and met that special woman... and her family.
Every day, I took the tube to go to the centre of London, it took me an hour to arrive there, imagine, 1 hour!! when we arrived to Kensington - or was it Knightsbridge? - I started to like keeping sitting in the tube.... but before... I was bored from so much time there, all the time watching so many people... from Sudbury hill...
Those are some pics I took those days, as you can imagine, there were many people, I don't know if it was because of the Olympics, or because London is a crowded place... but I discovered I don't like shopping, when in Oxford street, all women are so crazy to go to Primark.... I can't understand why all tourists are there, if there is Primark everywhere in their cities...
This place, Trafalgar square, was my favourite, I usually went there, to sit down, see tourists, relax, take some pictures, speak with some people there...what I love from the British is that they are quite talkative.
An interesting place, Covent Garden.
In this place, Canary Wharf... The rich people who went there for the Olympics, had their boats there... so I decided to go there because I love seeing luxury ships (I'd love to see the inside of one) unfortunately nobody told me that if I was interested they would show them to me.
In London I learned something I never thought I could learn, and it was taking the tube on my own! The first days, I kept my mind thinking and thinking, and I was quite admired by how well they got their bearings, because I had always the same question, how can I know if I have to take the tube in this direction, or in the opposite side?
Thanks to a young sweet boy, who saw my lost face, I asked him why all people knew that, and he gave me the key of the story: you just have to see the posters which say "Eastbound" "Westbound" and know the meaning of those words. And just with that....taking the tube was easy for me!!!!!! Thanks sweet Londoner boy so much.
-You can use the tube for a long time, and remain single: One of the things more exciting for me, was to use the underground! However, that myth of knowing the boy of your dreams because he will see you in the tube and will start a conversation with you... it is a fake.. or at least, didn't happen to me...
-In London, the milk kills the microwave: If you have always lived in the country, as me, surrounded by cows, if your host family says to you "you can't warm up the milk in the microwave, if you do it, the milk, which is fresh, will spoil, and the microwave too" the first time I thought I didn't understand well because my English was quite rusty... the second time, I realised that I had no arguments to refute that.
-Leaflets about different religion everywhere: If you don't end up with a big amount of leaflets about religions you haven't been to London, and furthermore, the people who give you the leaflets are so so kind and they treat you as if you were such a beautiful and nice person, like a best friend! If they ask you about your religion, don't get offended, they don't consider it as a very personal question. Sorry but I had to throw them all away because if I didn't I would have to pay a good amount of money because I would surpass the maximum luggage weight.
-Churches are to have fun: The construction workers who took lunch seating in All Souls Church (in Regent Street) are all so so so blond and handsome. And they gave me free water every day (people from the Church, not the workers.... unfortunately).
-Chinatown is always the solution: If you want to eat well in London, without having to sell a kidney, go to Chinatown and eat in some non-Chinese restaurant (I discovered a Thai restaurant there which I really really loved!!).
-It is good you to know who is Usain Bolt: I realised that if you visit London in the Olympics and you don't know who Usain Bolt is, your friends will envy you a lot.
-Zone 1 is better than 2, this one better than 3 and this one better than 4: Which means that if you can be hosted in Picadilly Circus, don't choose others...
I am sure London has many things to discover and it is a city that in the beginning I didn't like at all... and in the end... I came back thinking it has something special, and I'd like to go back! London rocks, and I like the way British people are... In that time, I had the chance of visiting Brighton twice (I wrote about it in the first post of this blog).
Have you ever visited London? Is it one of your favourite cities, as it is of many people?
What do you think about the British? Have you ever lost a microwave to heating milk?