|Where I was slowly eating breakfast and chillin this|
morning, watching some British morning telly.
Since I don't count our first day in London our ACTUAL first day (because we were jet lagged, cranky, tired as hell and hating our lives) today was a beautiful first day.
I'll give you an abridged version of our day. We woke up at a semi-respectable time (10:30) and went for breakfast. We had only bought bread, peanut butter and jelly and some fruit last night at Sainsbury's (an awesome British grocery store we live across from) so we all ate that. Apparently a group was meeting in the lobby of our building to go to the CAPA headquarters at 11:30, but we were busy leisurely eating food since our bodies are still out of wack.
We rushed down at 11:30 to find everyone gone. So we had to get to CAPA in Kensington from Camden. We had never been on the tube before, forgot our Oyster cards, and didn't know the exact address. Long story short we pretty much rocked it. Apparently we took a roundabout way to get there, but we got there, only 30 minutes late.
|Natural History Museum|
|Some extinct dino. It was huge.|
Today was all orientations at CAPA, but being in Kensington allowed us to see a whole new part of London that was so different from our neighborhood. It was much more posh-looking, with the white flat buildings and beautiful structures. On our break we also visited the Natural History Museum which was impressive, as you might imagine.
Then tonight we went to a pub with other CAPA people called Doggett's Coat & Badge in London's South Bank. It was beautiful, like an upscale old-styled pub. If that makes sense. It had an amazing view of the skyscrapers and the dome of St. Paul's Cathedral.
Now, back to the title of this post. It's best not to assume anything in London. Some examples:
1. Don't assume you'll get any form of customer service, especially in restaurants. You know when you're at Chili's and an almost obnoxiously friendly waitress comes to serve you and returns many times to interrupt your conversations? That does not happen here. Your conversations are safe from intruders. They will leave you be till the day you fall dead in your soup from old age.
2. Going along with restaurant life, don't assume you have to tip. You can, but according to Ralph, our bartender friend from Doggett's, when a worker hears your American accent they immediately think tip, yay! Because they usually add the tip on your order anyway. Want to pay them double for an empty water glass for 20 minutes? Not me.
3. Don't assume Londoners will stand for your lollygagging. Walk fast on the sidewalks (left side, just like the road) or just do everyone a favor and hail yourself a taxi (which are black and awesome).
4. Don't assume London is like New York, which is a place I'm constantly comparing it to. The subway is dirty, noisy and generally unhelpful if you're trying to get somewhere you've never been before. The tube is clean, quiet, polite and so helpful I just want to say thank you and give a hug to a TFL worker (transportation for London). They have very clear signs that say things like "WAY OUT", a wonderful color-coded tube map, all in a beautiful sans serif. Also, I have a unhealthy love for the London Underground sign. As a designer, it is just gorgeous to me.
Above ground, there are also other helpful signs, such as "LOOK LEFT" written on the pavement so we don't get murdered by a deranged cabbie driver. For pedestrians, they have walk signs all over the place so you know when to walk. Yes, they have those in New York, but London has confusing roads that branch off and dance around each other which can be quite confusing.
Going back underground, there is a soothing, clear British voice that tells you what stations are coming up, where it is ending and to please "mind the gap." I had to explain to Kerri what that meant.* What a noob.
*It means be careful of the gap of space between the car and the platform when getting on or off the tube. Fall through and you will be laughed at but probably immediately helped by a polite Brit.
5. Don't assume alcohol in the UK is like alcohol in the US. Their serving glasses are bigger, the alcohol content is higher (my cider tonight was 4%). Beer (or ale I suppose) is like 7-8% here, back home it ranges from like 3-5%. But what's odd is that people drink so much more here-- but casually. Going to the pub after work on a Monday for a few drinks is normal. People my age in the US go to bars to get drunk. People in the UK go to pubs to be social and normal and awesome.
I'm sure I'll have more "don't assume"'s soon.
Love from London,