A friend said to me the other day, “living in London – did anything surprise you?”
I’ve been living in the UK for just over two years now, and boy did I have an image of what this would be like. I love my life living in London but some things really did surprise me before I settled in to my new expat life.
The trains are so expensive!
Before I moved to the UK, I had dreams – big dreams – of flinging myself around the country on the Great British Rail Network. I would wind through the Scottish highlands and dash across fields of daffodils in Wales – all while dutifully studying, reading, or whimsically looking out of windows listening to music.
However, I soon found out that without some kind of sugar daddy arrangement or a recent lottery win I would be staying put.
A day trip to London for example, from Exeter, sounds lovely. I’ll wake up nice and early, and walk down to the train station. The Exeter train station is awesome, it was built in 1851. A nice historical start to the day! Three hours on a train meant I can do my reading for the day, and the way home I can write up those notes on my handy dandy laptop. If I wanted to do this the next day it will only cost me … £75.
I’m sorry, WHAT? Seventy-five?? As in, nearly one-hundred? As in, I could fly RETURN to any of 34 countries?
You mean I could fly to Frankfurt for £9.
Grab a hostel for£16 a night.
And still have £33 to spend on food and fun for the weekend – for the same exact price.
Ok. Lets make that next week, no emergency fares right? Oh…£75.80… right.
Enter here, my deep seated love of my 16-25 rail card, which gave me 30% off. Despite which, most trips were still prohibitively expensive. Sadly, I am now 26 and I regularly sacrifice a goat (I don’t, don’t worry) to the gods of train travel for the 26-30 rail card to be rolled out nationally.
How much people care about the “right side” of an escalator
Ok guys, I get it, you’re a Londoner you’re important and very busy and London time is money! But for real, there is no need to SHOUT at that little old lady, she’s hanging on for dear life – these escalators go so quickly, and are so high! The next train will be here in 3 minutes! Maybe, you could leave your house 3 minutes earlier… but that’s not a very popular opinion 😛
I have sat through a 45 minute discussion between two friends commuting, talking about how they think that there should be a guide given to tourists who buy passes to tell them that standing on the right is mandatory. There are announcements over the tanoi, about standing on the right. The BBC have an article discussing this, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-23444086, the BBC!!!
Long story short: walk on the left and stand on the right. If you deviate you will be shouted at in a London accent regardless of age or infirmity.
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How bad the coffee is!
Ok. Look. I KNOW! “ooohh you’re living in London and it isn’t good enough”. Well no, but also yes. I’m from Adelaide, we have the best coffee (fight me, Melbourne) and I haven’t been able to find that isn’t bitter and burned, or weirdly sweet (no sugar added?) or that I needed a mortgage to afford – (£9.80 for a small is NOT something I can condone).
The only time I have found coffee that I truly, absolutely and wonderfully enjoyed was in Summer 2014. I was walking to the British museum when I realised I had been a bit enthusiastic and it didn’t open for an hour, so I wandered around Great Russel Street and saw a shady alley way with some tables. There was a man in a flat cap standing behind an incredible shiny and brass cart. He called his mobile café “The Espresso Cart” and he knew coffee – we talked about roasting, brewing, the best places we have been for the beverage.
And now he’s gone. I don’t know where he went. That nameless stranger who owes me nothing abandoned me in this sea of bitterness.
Where is all the good coffee? It must exist, the previously mentioned very busy and important escalator shouters must need caffeine to fuel that commute based anger? Seriously, if you know of decent coffee in London – let me know in the comments!
Now I know this post sounds a lot like complaining about living in London– and it is (a little) – Which is why I will make up for all this sarcasm my next post where I PROMISE I will wax lyrical about how much I love this city (because I really do)!
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