Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath


I’m now in Nuremberg, after a rough travel day yesterday. Here’s a general brain dump in bulleted list format on my short stay in London:

  • I thought London would be a lot like New York, except darker.  I actually liked London more than Manhattan for a few reasons:
    • It isn’t as dense or vertically packed, or at least didn’t seem like it to me.
    • Many of the buildings are pretty new, like New York, but the old buildings are ancient.  I don’t know how any of them survived the blitz, or if they were partially knocked out and then repaired, but there’s some impressive architecture to be seen.
    • There’s a lot more green in the city, and some pretty astounding parks.
    • The city seemed much cleaner. Part of this could be some massive restoration program prior to the Olympics, but I saw nowhere near as much graffiti or general deterioration as Manhattan.
    • Cars are all but banned in the city.  They are allowed, but you need some kind of special “green” pass, meaning that aside from taxis and delivery vehicles, the only cars I saw belonged to the ultra-rich.
    • There seemed to be a lot more money.  Part of that could have been where we were staying, but I saw so many people driving super-high-end cars.  I remember walking down a street, and every single car I passed had a six-figure (in dollars) price tag.  And this was parked on a public street.  When’s the last time you’ve seen someone park a Ferrari on the street in New York?
    • I didn’t hear a car alarm the entire time I was there.
  • That said, the city was insanely expensive.  I didn’t notice this at first, because I was like “hey, entrees are only like twenty bucks here!” but that was twenty pounds, or like $32.
  • I found London insanely polite.  My experience in New York was always that people were insanely impolite, but that was the price of living in a big city.  For example, when I was in New York and riding the subway on crutches, if I asked someone for a seat, the typical response was “go fuck yourself”.  In London, the Underground gives out buttons that pregnant women can wear so that others will give up their seats for them.
  • The food was generally pretty good.  Both Yelp and OpenTable are fully operational there, so we managed to get into some decent restaurants.  I did not have fish and chips while I was there, which is a shame, but I did have pretty decent Indian food twice.
  • I saw the changing of the royal guard at Buckingham, and I totally don’t understand any of the procedure, but found it interesting.  Of course, I don’t pay taxes there, so maybe I would have a different opinion of the large amount of overhead needed for tradition.
  • I went to the Imperial War Museum, which was decent, but not massive.  The big takeaway there was that I know so little about post-WW2 British military history.  The general collection was divided into WW1, WW2, and post-WW2.  I was trying to think of what that entailed: Falklands, Iraq, Afghanistan, …?  Turns out they have been in a few dozen military actions – basically, every time another bit of decolonization happened, there was another “war” or whatever you want to call it.  (“Emergency”?  “Conflict”?)  There’s also the Northern Ireland business.  Bottom line, I have a lot of reading to do.
  • We went to the Tate Modern and saw their Damien Hirst exhibit, which was pretty interesting.  That twelve-million dollar shark was there, floating in formaldehyde, as were the split-in-half cow and calf, the spin paintings, and the butterfly room.  The Tate Modern itself is pretty impressive – it used to be a power plant, and looks like one of those gigantic turbine facilities that some commando team has to blow up in a World War 2 movie.
  • 288 photos.  I’ll try to weed through them and post them to flickr when I have a real internet connection, which might not be until after I return.

And now I must go write.  I walked ten miles today, all of that before lunch, so I have more stories to tell, probably in another annoying bulleted list.  Stay tuned.


One response to “London”

  1. motel todd Avatar
    motel todd

    Sounds like a fun trip. I have heard England is really expensive – kind of like cali or ny from a tejas point of view – when I was younger I imagined the place was crawling with rock stars sounding like Johnny Rotten. I guess not.