First let me say that I will be writing these blogs on a phone so the writing and pictures won't be in the same sort of format that I usually do I don't think. I'm still playing around with it and it's way more difficult to gather thoughts and insert pictures when I'm on this thing...so forgive mistakes and weird picture placements or whatever!
So...here I am, in England. My first impressions of this new continent aren't much different than being in New York City, if I'm being honest, but really, how different are all big English-speaking cities anyway? The big Asian ones (Tokyo, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur, Taipei...) they all do feel really really different from the western world, but apart from the landmarks that obviously give it away as London, it doesn't feel any different. And that's ok!
It's been a very nice change to come to a place that feels like home after so long away from the familiar. We went into a supermarket called ASDA and I nearly squealed with delight because it was a REAL (to me) grocery store! With actual choices and variety! And everyone understands me! We've pretty much been nonstop since arriving and the first thing I'll say is that three full days is not enough time for this city. One more would be ideal, two more a bit much.
Everything does seem a bit more posh when everyone has a British accent. And all the royal stuff around...fabulous. We went to the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. I'm not sure how much of it is true to tradition and how much is put on for the tourists...though I'm pretty sure the bit where the royal marching band played Michael Jackson probably wasn't going on hundreds of years ago.
Seeing all these things with my own eyes just blows me away. People are way more familiar with Europe and its landmarks and culture than Asia, so that's probably why I have over a hundred likes on my picture with Big Ben. It's also why I'm really excited to share these photos with people because they are so recognizable. I've been putting myself in European daydreams for as long as I can remember, so finally experiencing it is outrageous.
We went on a tour of the Harry Potter studios. IT WAS AWESOME. By far the best tour of something I've ever been on. It is the very Warner Brothers studios where Dan, Rupert and Emma went every day for 10 years. All the sets are there and there are thousands of props. Seeing the details on all the props that don't even get shown in the movies is insane. Outside in the backlot you could buy butterbeer and see Privet Drive and they even had Hedwig there! As an extreme HP fan, this was my highlight in London.
Here are some observations I've made about England so far:
-It's cold and rainy.
-I've been to a lot of big cities around the world but I don't think I've ever experienced such a variety of people from every walk of life. I'm not just surrounded by British accents but by every language imaginable. It's truly a melting pot.
-It's really expensive. Really, really expensive.
-Afternoon tea is a real thing. You get little cakes and sandwiches and a pot of tea and it's adorable.
-The shopping is unbelievable. Oxford street about blew my mind away. In the US, we have only a few lower-end cost shops like H&M and Forever21. There are SO MANY MORE here just like it. The fashion and shopping is insane and I'd kill to have a buttload of ££££££ to spend.
-The public transportation system is colossal. Between the overground and underground and buses it can get a bit confusing at times. Luckily we are familiar with how subways and things work, but I couldn't imagine this being the first time for someone using public transit.
-the money is super annoying. They have coins for 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 pence (cents) along with a £1 and £2 coins as well. The paper money doesn't even start until £5. My wallet weighs about a million tons.
-Everyone is dressed so well!! Coming from Korea where 80% of the women looked sloppy in tennis shoes, leggings and a big T-shirt all the time, this was a breath of fresh air. Men and women alike just seem to be way more put together and fashionable than in Korea.
-The mix of the old and new is crazy. There will be a BP next door to a 400 year old church. The contrast is shocking.
We are in Liverpool now and are headed to Paris this afternoon!! We came up here so Al could see all the Beatles things. Liverpool is nice! The architecture is really beautiful. But it's so cold!! Maybe being right on a body of water has something to do with it. And Liverpool accents are really difficult to understand even though it's English. I've had to hang on their every word.
It's time to get ready for the train to Paris so here are a few pictures...