I just got back from visiting my friend Carrie in London. I haven’t been out of the country in a while and this was a very easy way to do so without learning any new words (except for “cheeky”) and without shelling out some extra dolla dolla pounds for housing. This way I could save them for making phone calls from cool red phonebooths.
Yes, I realize this blog is NYC-centric (as am I of course), but I wanted to reflect a little on my trip and my excuse is that Wikipedia lists London as a “sister city” to NYC. I think that counts. And if you don’t agree, then just stop reading this! (GEORGE ARE YOU STILL THERE? Please don’t actually stop!) I’m not really sure what a “sister city” means and I already closed the wikipedia link so I’m going to reflect upon a couple things I think London could learn from New York as well as a couple things I think New York could learn from London, like getting our own Big Ben.
London – get out your moleskine and take some notes:
Get some grids! Your street system is way too winding and I was very intimidated before my journey because I am used to the efficient grid system of NYC (well at least of the majority of NYC – parts of downtown still make me mad sometimes). With that said, *for the most part*, I somehow found everything I was looking for without having to ask anyone for directions. I’m really surprised that I was able to do this on an old-school paper map as my cell phone navigation system of course did not work abroad. There was just one situation where I walked around for a thousand years trying to find a particular restaurant and had to give up, then when I got back to Carrie’s and looked it up on the interweb, I realized that my guidebook had put it in the wrong area of town. Thanks, Lonely Planet. And I spent quite some time trying to find Vertigo 42, a bar with great views of London from the 42nd floor, but I did eventually find my way (with the help of a concierge at a hotel).
Smile a little! I was *shocked* I tell ya at how unfriendly / unhappy most of the people I saw were. If you’re from London and reading this, sorry, I’m not sorry. It’s the truth! It was really weird for me because I love talking to people and it was odd being in a pub with Carrie and not having a crowd of people around us hanging on our every word (amirite?). People pretty much kept to their own groups, one of our friends got yelled at for looking in someone’s general direction, and no one stopped when I tried to ask them where the heck I was, which is probably why I got so good at using the map.
New York – your turn:
Get some more history! It’s really a shame that, as far as I know, the oldest stuff you’ll find in NYC is only from around the 1600s (I’m talking about YOU, Trinity Church Cemetery). And, it’s even more a shame that I haven’t really explored Manhattan from a historical stance. I have plans of reading some of the books on the Barnes and Noble table labeled “All About New York” and I’m going to explore the places and neighborhoods mentioned in these books, but that is for another entry. Everywhere you look in London there are buildings from the 1100s, 1200s, 1500s! Two of my favorites that I managed to jump in front of:
Improve your transit system! Aside from when a train to Richmond shut down and almost prevented me from seeing my college friend Kathryn, there really aren’t that many issues with the London Metro. MTA has issues EVERYday (and made me a half hour late to work just this Monday). I don’t know why, and maybe it is just because I am used to subway systems in general now, but it took me about a day to figure out the London metro and about two years to figure out the NYC subways. Also, there are *cushioned* seats on the subway! It’s like I’m in my living room, just with fifty extra people and no Real Housewives on the screen. It is also much cleaner than our system, something I’ve missed since being back.
And to conclude this entry, because I want to share more pictures, I have picked out three things that I think are essential to every great city that both London and New York have plenty of: