When I wrote my post about my trip to London, naturally I wrote more about the adventure than the random details or what was going through my head at the time between the adventure bits. I thought I might mention a few of those random moments or things that stuck with me. Not an exhaustive list, just a few.
- The Parks
Nothing against France, but their parks can be a bit… Organized. Don’t get me wrong, I love them and they’re mighty impressive to wander through, but sometimes it’s nice to go into a park in the middle of the city and be able to forget you’re in the middle of the city. I would say it’s quite easy to do this in Hyde Park, than say, the Tuileries Garden in Paris. A different park for a different mood, I suppose.
- University Challenge on the BBC
(Or shall I just say the BBC itself? Their programming is so extensive and of such high quality that I could only wish the CBC had such a presence in my own country) University Challenge is a gameshow on the BBC wherein two universities compete, with four members per team, against each other to answer challenging questions. A simplistic game show that, depending on your own knowledge of everything from science to history, can make you feel quite intellectually inferior. While we only caught one episode with our hosts in London, I found myself not only feeling uncultured and uneducated but also craving more. Fortunately, many of the episodes can be found on Youtube.
- Pub Tipping guilt
After a long day of walking through the city of London, who could say no to a pint (or two) in a British pub? Not us. However, while we were grateful for the friendly and efficient service, the thought of tipping didn’t even come up in our conversation until after the second time we patronized a busy bar near Trafalgar Square. As students in France, tipping wasn’t really considered to be an obligatory thing, unlike what I have been used to in Canada. In France, servers are typically paid a regular wage and thus, leaving a tip was usually a euro or two on a meal! Not even close to the 15-20% that a North American might be tempted to leave. We never got around to asking our hosts or fellow pub patrons what the standard behaviour was in this regard, despite our guilt, a guilt that only deepened after each visit. Though I’ve since been told by an English friend (and the internet) that the guilt was as needless as tipping in our case.
- Free museums
Free museums. Freeeeeeee museums. Enough said? I should think so. Non-existant in my experience back home. In France, it would depend on your situation. In London, you can literally walk right past the front desk and wander among portraits, paintings, and sculptures without paying a dime… unless you plan to see a special exhibit of course.
- Public Transit
Despite what many Londoners may think, they certainly have it good in the Underground. Clean, brightly lit, spacious, and a seemingly uncomplicated system. Both my Parisian friend and I felt that the system was quite good, and even though the local opinion seemed to differ on the subject, I was truly impressed with the metro. Perhaps the grass is greener on the other side, but compared to Paris, the Underground was could be considered nearly luxurious. Never once did we run into any issues navigating the system, though that might have just been sheer luck and good timing. Though we used the Jubilee line later that day, there was no sign of trouble until we saw the evening news.
Stay tuned for my next post about life being lived back in Rennes where I’m almost finished my first semester abroad!
*All the photos in this post are my own. Please credit/source appropriately if you’d like to use them.